Tag Archive: SEIU

Trenton Earned Sick Leave Gets its Day in Court

Update: After three hours of argument, Judge Jacobson threw out the lawsuit, saying it had no merit.


Last week, I posted a diary about a press conference and rally in support of Trenton’s Earned Sick Leave bill. Voters approved that bill overwhelmingly last November, but business interests are attacking it. Today, those interests presented their case to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson.

A group of a few dozen supporters rallied outside the Mercer County Courthouse in Trenton. Here are some highlights.

There was a representative of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association observing the rally. He would only speak off the record, but he promised to send me the justification for their lawsuit that we can publish. If he does, I will post something in the comments to this diary.

Daily Beast Article; How Public Sector Unions Divide the Democrats

A few days ago 12/29/2014 a article entitled How Public Sector Unions Divide the Democrats…..”Paying for all those pensions inevitably means less money for parks and schools. It’s a conundrum Democrats can no longer ignore.”  was posted on the website the daily beast. (Full Article here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/a…

I think this is a good article to discuss for the meritts that that article proposes, and not blindly say “its not true” or I disagree.  There seems to be some valid points here, and not to defend 100% the Senate President and some of his colleagues with their pension reforms they passed in 2011, but maybe there was some merit to their thinking.  

The article makes a great point that Democrats particularly progressives wish to offer more services in the way of things like full day pre-k, free college education, sustainable procurement, and more, but these all come at a cost.  Unfortunately I don’t think it’s palatable for the public to consider a European approach with income tax rates around 30-40% to pay for public services, so we are left to decide what can we afford.   What has to give? Do we forgo much needed new services to pay for our obligations of the past?

Another point brought up is the concept of work rules, which I agree that there are protections that are provided to shield workers from political privy, but what about the basics of a managers right to change procedures to increase efficiency?  Do certain work rules get in the way of creating true change?

We can possibly see this in a national example of the President who came into office in 2009 with a lot of big idea’s, but in implementing those ideas some things like the healthcare exchange went wrong.  Could this be partly because of bureaucratic rules and procedures that would make anyone’s heads spin?  If so, were these rules created by managers stuck in the past or did they have more to do with the union contracts dictating work ratios and so on.

As I said in the beginning of my post, i’m not trying to skew things in one direction or another i’m only trying to have an open dialog on creating the balance of the Public Unions will and the needs of the people government is supposed to serve.  

Women’s Equality Day Highlights

As I reported yesterday, a group of elected officials, activists, and ordinary citizens converged on Trenton to heighten awareness of the plight of minimum wage workers and urge passage of a state-wide referendum in November to raise that wage from $7.25 to $8.25. There were about 25 speakers over the course of the hour and a quarter news conference. Here’s the highlight reel, with comments from most of the speakers, edited for time.



Buono to make Silva official at Monday event

Milly SilvaFor only the second time in American history, the candidate for Governor and her running mate are both women. Expect to see women and girls in force when Barbara Buono makes the announcement official that SEIU1199 labor leader Milly Silva is her pick for New Jersey Lieutenant Governor.

Buono to announce running mate

Monday, July 29 – Doors open 10:30, event 11am

Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel & Conference Center

2 Meadowlands Plaza, East Rutherford

RSVP to attend.

BREAKING: Buono running mate is labor leader Milly Silva

We are hearing the LG choice has been made, and the invitation to run has been accepted.

Barbara Buono’s running mate will be labor leader Milly Silva, the Council Vice President and Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU United Health Care Worker’s East, New Jersey Region.

We’ve got two women running at the top of our ticket in November.  

Coalition of Groups Protest Outside Christie’s Women’s Conference

Governor Christie sponsoring a conference on women’s issues is like the Westboro Baptist Church sponsoring a forum on decorum at funerals. Nevertheless, while the mainstream media (other than one Star-Ledger reporter) was inside the Trenton War Memorial protected from the intermittent rain, Blue Jersey was outside talking to an enthusiastic group of protesters – men as well as women – who handed out leaflets describing Christie’s true track record on women’s issues. The video below airs some of the comments from the demonstrators – leaders of advocacy groups as well as ordinary citizens.

Rush Holt: Rocket Scientist & Mechanic & Jeopardy Winner & Jeopardy Host

I collect winning anecdotes about my old boss, Representative (he prefers it to Congressman) Rush Holt, this is a new favorite. Can’t help it. He’s a cool dude. Here’s a new one, from my friend, Deputy COS/District Director Sarah Steward:

You’d know that you work for a good guy if he was out of the car before you knew it, kneeling in a puddle, changing your flat tire on the side of the road in Trenton without making you feel dumb even though your own foolish driving mistake was to blame for the popped tire. If, you know, such a theoretical thing ever happened. In unrelated news: I work for a good guy.

So right. Last night, Rush was a hands-on trainer at Princeton meeting – hosted by ACLU-NJ, Garden State Equality & the Unitarians- teaching how to lobby legislators to vote to override Christie’s veto on marriage. You don’t often find people in Holt’s position giving out the secrets of what makes people like him, or legislators, tick. Very useful.

Jeopardy: We don’t usually note fundraisers here, but one I want to is Rush Holt’s Jeopardy fundraiser Thursday night. Holt, 5-time Jeopardy winner and the man who reduced the mighty IBM supercomputer Watson to a helpless little Atari in Jeopardy, will play Alex Trebek to a bunch of smartypantses.

Contestants:

Tom Byrne (former Dem state chair)

Marie Corfield, LD-16 Assembly candidate, former Jeopardy contestant for reals

Lizette Delgado-Polanco, SEIU ED & Buono’s pick for DSC vice-chair

Princeton Prof. Jeffrey Eugenides Pulitzer Prize winning author

Gov. Jim Florio (defending his title as 2012 winner)

Professor Sean Wilentz, Bancroft Prize-winning historian on the Princeton faculty

Assemblyman John Wisniewski, NJDSC chair

Judges:

Gov. Richard J. Codey

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, chair Buono for Governor  

This event’s always fun, the contestants fun. And I’m pumped my candidate and friend Marie Corfield is playing. But I’m a mass of jelly to meet one of my favorite authors, Jeffrey Eugenides, now on the Princeton faculty teaching creative writing, and the author of Middlesex (which shed much light for me on what life can be like for an intersex person, like one of my friends is) and captured 1967 Detroit perfectly, the year I moved there. And The Virgin Suicides, so good.

Got a cool fundraiser coming up? Hit us up in comments.  

Troy Singleton Goes to Work with SEIU & Nursing Home Workers

Singleton Nursing Home Visit 003 This morning, Assemblyman Troy Singleton spent two hours at Cinnaminson Center Nursing Home – in his 7th Legislative District. He took a tour of the building with some people who work there and leaders of the union that represent them, 1199SEIU. He stopped along the way, to take up the tasks the workers were engaged in, taking care of the medically frail and elderly folks that live there. With one worker, he helped vacuum the floor, with another he delivered mid-morning snacks (chocolate milk, pudding, other treats, depending on diet). And he set the table for the residents’ lunch, which workers do every day there. In therapy, he helped with the trivia questions that help keep old minds alert, and saw what it’s like to help people in wheelchairs work out.

We need more of this. To be sure, there’s an element of a good politician upping his profile in his District. But honestly, if we had more electeds spending their time this way, going out to see just what happens in people’s lives after they sponsor a bill or cast a vote, our decision makers would make better decisions.

Yonette Vails, a certified nursing assistant (C.N.A.):

I think it is so important that the people who make decisions about funding our nursing home see the extent of care that we give to the residents. We don’t only provide care. We provide support and companionship that is so critical to the health and well-being of our residents.

You know what C.N.A.s make? About $11-13 dollars an hour. Can you imagine what it would be like if all of our electeds knew what it was like to work hard for elders, take them to get washed and to the bathroom, make sure they’re eating and drinking? To be that intimate with people who need you every day – for $11/hour and benefits that often have to be fought for? I’d like to see all our legislators do this, and each union offer it. Imagine what it would be like to watch Chris Christie get through a day of teaching math, or music or world history. He wouldn’t know what to do beyond exercising his authority.  

SEIU Rally TODAY at 4 in Jersey City to Celebrate Win, Put Pressure on NY

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ has proven for 7,000 New Jersey building cleaners that, especially in tough economic times, there is power in a union.

With just four days to go until SEIU’s contracts expired with office building owners throughout the state, and a strike already having been authorized, SEIU negotiated a contract that will see wages increase by over 10 percent over four years throughout the state and benefits such as health care continue. In an economy in which the middle class is bearing more than their share of the downturn, it is inspiring to see a union winning these benefits for people currently making around $12 an hour.

But the work is not over. Today at 4 PM in Jersey City at 101 Hudson Street, joined by several elected officials including Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Assemblymen Charles Mainor and Jason O’Donnell, New Jersey workers will rally both to celebrate the new contract and to support their colleagues across the river in New York, who also face a January 1 deadline but have not reached a contract. The New York deadline is one of many upcoming deadlines throughout the country of contracts still not renegotiated as most SEIU contracts expire in 2012.

The formal member vote on the new contract will occur in early January – but this one already looks like a winner. We at Blue Jersey congratulate SEIU for keeping middle class New Jersey jobs and hope that New York office owners follow suit soon.

PS A related movie recommendation for the holiday weekend – Bread and Roses tells the (fictionalized) story of a SEIU organizing drive in LA. It’s a bit over the top but fun and worth watching.