Saturday, September 3, 2016

Unions/Prevailing Wage Legislation/Analysis of effects


  • My View: Unions are more than just a parade and candy

    • By Ron Welte

      Posted Sep. 3, 2016 at 2:00 PM

      On Labor Day, Rockford United Labor will be hosting its annual Labor Day Parade in downtown Rockford beginning at 10 a.m. from Seventh Street and Sixth Avenue and ending at Davis Park.
      Hundreds of proud and dedicated union members and their families will march along the route waving and handing out candy to the onlookers. They are the people that have sworn to protect and serve our community, build and fix our roadways and infrastructure, teach and transport our school children, deliver our freight, construct our buildings, restore our power and telephone service, help the less fortunate, work in our factories and build our cars and trucks.
      Their local union leaders serve on various boards and committees, such as Transform Rockford, Alignment Rockford, Chicago/Rockford Airport, Rockford Public Library and United Way. Many members of the Building Trades unions devote thousands of volunteer hours at various community centers and other nonprofit social service agencies on much-needed building projects and construct countless handicap accessible ramps at homes for those that are in desperate need.
      Among their current community projects are the Winnebago County 911 Memorial and the complete restoration of the carriage house at the Northern Illinois Community Foundation headquarters — plus, the many other community projects involving neighborhood cleanup and painting/repair work of various homes and social service agencies by other local unions throughout the year, not forgetting that 33 percent of the individual contributors to the 2015 United Way campaign came from Union members.
      Our area local unions support education with their financial and "helping hand" support of United Way’s “Success By Six” reading program for schoolchildren in both public and private elementary schools. The Building Trades’ annual Spring Trades Expo invite high-schoolers from around the region to explore other paths to a successful and rewarding career, in lieu of college.
      The need for a good education, work ethic and high school/GED diploma is stressed to all those in attendance and that, absent these three requirements, acceptance into an Apprenticeship Program will be difficult. Additionally, ongoing communication occurs with area community activists in the recruiting of minorities and others into a Building Trades career.
      Last, but definitely not least, collective bargaining between unions and public/private employers set the standard in the community for wages, workplace safety rules and health care/pension benefits for all workers.
      While some individuals proclaim that Prevailing Wage Laws (PWL) are a direct cause for our state budget woes, an independent study jointly conducted by the University of Illinois and Michigan State University strongly points to the contrary. The study shows that any new construction jobs gained in that industry without the existence of a PWL, that any new jobs linked to the repeal would be significantly offset by job losses throughout the rest of the economy, roughly 3,300 net jobs lost.
    • Also, more than $44 million in lost state and local taxes would be realized and another $116 million lost in federal tax revenue. While employer contributions to worker benefits would dramatically decline, the study outlines that, in all likelihood, total construction costs would not be greatly reduced should a PWL not be in place.

      Each year would see seven more construction worker fatalities without a PWL and the facts show that less apprenticeship programs are available in non-PWL states. The negative results are comparable in all eight regions involved in the study. That is why“Strong Unions Build Strong Communities.”
      Ron Welte is a retired IBEW Local 15 Business Representative and delegate to Rockford United Labor.

      Above is from:


      Below is the conclusion such a University of Illinois study.  The entire study is available on line at


      Findings from this study indicate that Illinois’ prevailing wage law (PWL) is associated with positive labor

      market outcomes for construction workers at costs that are either negligible or fully offset. Additional labor

      costs associated with the statewide PWL are outweighed by other substantial positive impacts for the state

      economy and Illinois taxpayers. In all likelihood, total construction costs would not be greatly affected by repeal

      of the PWL due to potential changes in workforce, productivity, and management practices associated with

      the policy change. Indeed, repeal of Illinois’ PWL would likely cost the state money, result in job losses, and

      reduce construction sector efficiency.

      This study forecasts that employment in the construction in-

      dustry would likely increase should the statewide PWL be repealed.

      However, any new jobs linked to repeal would be significantly off-

      set by job losses experienced throughout the rest of the economy.

      These indirect effects of repeal would result in about 3,300 net jobs

      lost, in a total GDP contraction of more than $1 billion annually for Il-

      linois, more than $44 million in lost state and local taxes, and rough-

      ly $116 million in lost federal tax revenue. Within the state, the nega-

      tive results are comparable for each of the eight regions studied.

      If the prevailing wage were to be repealed in Illinois, it is esti-

      mated that an additional seven Illinois construction workers would

      lose their lives on an annual basis. Extrapolated over the span of a

      decade, approximately 70 additional Illinois workers would suffer

      fatal work-related injuries in the construction industry due to the

      repeal of the state’s PWL. It can also be anticipated that employer

      contributions to both legally-required and fringe benefits for con-

      struction workers would dramatically decline.

      Additionally, the data examined in this study strongly affirms

      the claim that state PWLs are supportive of construction appren-

      ticeship programs. Study findings suggest that state PWLs sup-

      port the construction training system, a critical component for an

      industry continually concerned about the availability of sufficiently

      skilled workers.

      Finally, this study finds no substantial evidence that state PWLs are harmful to African-American partici-

      pation in the construction industry. Claims that states with PWLs have reduced African-American participation

      in construction are based on simplistic analyses which are, at best, descriptive and unconvincing. More ad-

      vanced work finds no evidence that PWLs act to the detriment of African-American workers.

      In summary, prevailing wages for public construction projects in Illinois provide numerous positive eco-

      nomic and social impacts for both construction workers and the state on the whole. This study predicts that

      repeal of Illinois’ PWL would not result in savings for taxpayers or the state or lead to increased employment

      of African-American construction workers. Rather, repeal of Illinois’ PWL would result in job losses throughout

      the state’s economy, increased construction worker fatalities, and declines in valuable social impacts such as

      construction worker benefits and training opportunities.

      Larry Morrissey says he won't run again for Rockford mayor


      ROCKFORD — Three-term Mayor Larry Morrissey will not run again for the city's top job in 2017.
      Morrissey, 46, an independent who has been mayor since 2005, made his announcement this afternoon at City Hall.

      "I'm just ready to move on to another chapter of my life," Morrissey said in an interview before the announcement. "It's not so much about being tired with the job, but I think there is an opportunity for me to take the experience I have and continue to do the kind of work I'm passionate about."

      He said he doesn't have another job lined up and will serve until May, when his successor will be sworn in.
      Morrissey's political future had been the subject of widespread speculation. The mayor, who won a three-way race in 2013 with 44 percent of the vote, had said he would decide around Labor Day whether to run for re-election.
      His decision not to run follows a tumultuous year involving an affordable housing development on South New Towne Drive, part of a plan to deconcentrate poverty at Fairgrounds Valley apartments on the city's west side by building 49 units on the east side. Neighbors were vehemently opposed the plan and comments from a divided City Council prompted the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate potential fair housing law violations. Aldermen hired outside lawyers from Hinshaw & Culbertson to advise them on the issue, generating more than $200,000 in legal fees.
      The City Council approved a plat map that gave Gorman & Company, the developer, the go-ahead on the project. But at this week's official groundbreaking, Gorman CEO Gary Gorman acknowledged the risk the mayor took by backing the project.
      "Larry Morrissey put (political) capital on the line," Gorman said. "He stood in front of people who weren't happy with him on one unpleasant night and said, 'I support this project. Unequivocally.' "
      Morrissey said the housing battle was not his Waterloo.
      "Obviously, there has been a tremendous amount of acrimony, conflict over that," he said. "I'm very proud we're taking it on. We're not running away from it."
      Morrissey's career has been marked by his head-on style, a politician who was not afraid of challenging the status quo, whether it was union contracts with police officers and firefighters, fighting for pension reform in Springfield or backing embattled former Police Chief Chet Epperson despite little support from the rank-and-file.
      "Yes, it is messy," he said of governing. "It is supposed to be messy. It is intentionally hard. But that's how we get our civic muscles. We use them. In fact, that is the very essence of what our country is all about."
      Morrissey, who practiced law before he was elected, said he wasn't planning on returning to the courtroom. But it's time for him to do something else.
      "I still love the work, but I'm just not interested in running again," he said. "It's not that I couldn't do it; I just don't want to right now.
      "I'm happy to pass the baton to others. My hope is that we've established a trajectory that makes it possible for the next mayor to pursue excellence everywhere for everyone."
      Three candidates have announced that they're running for mayor.
      Pam Connell, a first-term alderman from Ward 6, announced in May that she would run as a Republican.
      Community activist Rudy Valdez, a former manager at United Technologies Aerospace Systems who in 2010 was picked by Morrissey to be his educational liaison, said in July he would run as an independent.
      Third Ward Alderman Tom McNamara, whose father served as mayor, announced in July that he would run as a Democrat.
      Morrissey said that he thinks the next mayor faces two top issues — excessive use of force by police officers and the availability of affordable housing.
      "At this point in time I don’t plan on endorsing any candidate for mayor," said Morrissey, who added that he will endorse ideas and left open the possibility of an endorsement later in the campaign.
      Morrissey is an advocate for livable, walkable cities. His focus on redeveloping the city's core earned him the nickname "Downtown Larry."
      His administration helped stabilize finances at BMO Harris Bank Center with the city-owned IceHogs hockey franchise as an anchor. The UW Health Sports Factory, City Market, and luxury lofts and apartment development happened under his watch.
      So did a referendum for a 1 percent sales tax to rebuild city infrastructure. The measure passed three times and the money was used as matching dollars to finance more than $100 million in projects that included reinvestment in aging gateway corridors to downtown such North and South Main streets and West State Street, Morgan Street bridge and remakes of Harrison Avenue and Airport Drive.
      "As a result of our work, we have been able to invest more in public infrastructure than at any other time in our community's history," he said.
      In the next six months, Morrissey said, he'll continue working with downtown developers on hotel projects. Gorman wants to turn the Amerock building downtown from an empty factory into an Embassy Suites hotel and conference center that would cater to sports tourists, convention-goers and other travelers who prefer downtown environments. Joseph James Partners is turning the Millennium Center, 200 S. Madison St., into a 40-room hotel with a restaurant and other amenities. The company also continues to pursue a project at 134 N. Main St., where it wants to put a 76-unit hotel.
      Morrissey said he'll also work in Springfield on getting state historic tax credits restored for Rockford. Those credits have helped development in the central city.
      Morrissey, who was single when he was first elected and now is a married father of four, said, "I'd be kidding if it wasn't part financial" of his decision not to run. Base salary for the mayor in 2016 is $127,000.
      He said dealing with crime, poverty, violence, police use of force and other issues he faced as mayor have given him a unique skill set.
      "As I’ve scanned opportunities out there, my belief is that I will find a position that will allow me to leverage a lot of the experience I have.
      "I’m passionate about cities."
      Brian Leaf: 815-987-1343;; @b_leaf
      A look at Larry Morrissey's administration
      Infrastructure: With the passage three times of referendum for 1 percent infrastructure tax, Morrissey’s administration had a pool of money it has used to leverage more than $100 million to rebuild major, aging transportation corridors.
      Downtown: A cornerstone to downtown development is the $24.4 million UW Health Sports Factory, developed in partnership with the Rockford Park District. It is expected yearly to attract 500,000 visitors downtown. Lobbying in Springfield by the city helped it become one of five cities to receive River Edge tax credits designed to make turning old buildings into loft apartments, stores and restaurants, and perhaps a 160-room Embassy Suites hotel in the former Amerock building, profitable.
      Public safety: Police services are being moved from one downtown headquarters to three district stations around the city where officers and supervisors can develop relationships with people in neighborhoods to help them fight crime.
      Police reform: The 2009 shooting of Mark Anthony Barmore, an unarmed black man who was shot by police in the basement of a church, accelerated change within the police department regarding use of deadly force. It also led to creation of the Winnebago County Integrity Task Force, led by Illinois State Police, to independently investigate all local officer involved shootings. Many communities nationally are forming similar task forces to investigate officer involved shootings in after a series of high-profile incidents.
      Veterans homelessness: By pooling resources and information with partners in a process called collective impact, Rockford became the first city in the country to reach functional zero on homelessness among military veterans.

      RockStat: Data generated through governmental services is being used to measure quality, efficiency and effectiveness of critical city business processes and services. The city says RockStat has improved transparency in city government by sharing the data with the public.

      Above is from:

      Judge recommends continued negotiations over Illinois union contract

      Dan Petrella Times Bureau

      SPRINGFIELD — An administrative law judge has recommended that the Illinois Labor Relations Board send Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration and a union representing 38,000 state workers back to the bargaining table to continue negotiating over wages and health care benefits.

      The Rauner administration asked the labor board in January to declare that contract talks with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 have reached an impasse, which could clear the way for the administration to impose its terms on the union. That, in turn, could precipitate a first-ever strike of state workers.

      In a 250-page recommendation issued Friday, Administrative Law Judge Sarah Kerley found that the state and AFSMCE have reached an impasse on many issues, including wages and health care, but she recommends against allowing the state to impose its final contract proposal in full.

      “If the State were able to implement its entire last, best, and final offer, the implications and impact would be so enormous that, when applied to this case, it would be destructive of the collective bargaining process,” Kerley wrote.

      Although wages and health care benefits are among the issues on which Kerley thinks the sides are at an impasse, she recommended that negotiations continue on those subjects because the state hasn’t provided the union with sufficient information about its proposals.

      On wages, the state has sought a pay freeze and the implementation of a merit pay system, while the union has sought across-the-board raises for its members. On health care, the state has pushed for union members to take on a greater share of their insurance costs, but the union thinks those proposals would shift too much of the burden onto its members.

      Negotiations had been ongoing for nearly a year when the Rauner administration moved to have an impasse declared. The union has said for the past several months that it is willing to continue negotiations.

      The administration has accused the union of making unreasonable demands at a time of unprecedented fiscal challenges for the state, but AFSCME counters that Rauner has an ideological bias against the collective bargaining rights of public workers.

      While negotiations have been acrimonious, Kerley said both sides generally have bargained in good faith.

      “Despite their many differences in philosophy and approach, I find that record before me, taken as a whole, reflects that each side sincerely hoped to reach agreement, though they had vastly different views of what that agreement should look like and had varying levels of optimism about whether they would actually be successful,” she wrote.

      Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said the administration appreciates that Kerley “concluded that we have been bargaining in good faith for a fair deal on behalf of taxpayers.”

      “We are reviewing her opinion to evaluate the next steps as the rest of the agreed-to process continues,” Kelly said in a prepared statement.

      Meanwhile, the union said it was largely vindicated by Kerley’s recommendation.

      “We are pleased that today’s recommendation underlines what AFSCME has been saying all along,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said in a written statement.

      The union said it, too, is reviewing the recommendation, noting that it doesn’t think the two sides are at an impasse on some of the issues cited by Kerley.

      “We hope the labor board’s final ruling will affirm the hearing officer’s recommended order to resume negotiations,” Lynch said. “But there is no need to wait — Governor Rauner should direct his representatives back to the bargaining table now, to work with AFSCME and develop a compromise agreement that is fair to all.”

      The state and the union now have time to respond to the recommendation and to each other’s responses. The labor board could make a final determination at its November meeting.

      Above is from:

      Boone County Board of Health Announces New Administrator


      By Mark Mayhew


      Posted: Sep 02, 2016 11:52 AM CST


      The Boone County Board of Health announces its new administrator for the Boone County Health Department.

      Amanda Mehl, RN, MPH, begins her duties September 6.

      She's a registered nurse and has a Master's Degree in Public Health.  She has served the Boone County Health Department since 2012 as the Director of Personal Health Services and worked at the Winnebago County Health Department in various roles.

      Mehl says public health is in transition and facing a number of obstacles. She says the department's priority will be to prevent the spread of disease, promote health and protect the public.

      Above is from:

      Great Lakes Basis RR



      Chicago rail bypass alternatives will be revealed later this month

      Federal regulators have given the company that wants to build a 278-mile freight rail bypass around Chicago until Sept. 20 to come up with route alternatives.

      The Office of Environmental Analysis of the federal Surface Transportation Board granted the extension to Great Lakes Basin Transportation after it made a last-minute request for an extension on Monday, the original deadline for submitting the route alternatives.

      Under Great Lakes Basin Transportation’s original proposal, the double-tracked freight line would run from southern Wisconsin into Illinois and on to Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties in Indiana.

      During a public comment period on the proposed rail line earlier this year, thousands of people showed up at public hearings and meetings to protest and 3,500 comments were received by the Surface Transportation Board.

      Great Lakes Basin Transportation Managing Partner Frank Patton said earlier this week that his company was reviewing those comments and people will see some of their suggestions included in the new route alternatives.

      Alternatives proposed during the public comment period included not building the rail line at all and one supported by Porter County Commissioners that would take it out of Porter County and put it on mostly existing railroad rights-of-way further south.


      Above is from: