Tag Archive: lockout

What We Should Learn From the NFL Referee Lockout

promoted by Rosi

Over the past few years, Governor Christie and his counterparts in Wisconsin as well as other states along with their allies on the Democratic side of the aisle have created an environment where public employees have become the scapegoat for much larger and usually unrelated issues.

While it was popular over this time period to hear talk about how much the union members received in terms of pensions or overtime or whatever else, there was never really any talk about why these types of things (you know, basic health benefits, a reasonable wage increase and some help in retirement after putting in 10, 15, 20 years) shouldn’t also be available to EVERYONE.  The whole class warfare argument has been turned on its head where the coverage should have been less on how private sector workers were blaming public sector workers (or non-union workers blaming unions) as opposed to the basic underlying question of why someone should work the way they do under circumstances that could leave them high and dry at any given time, even though the fruits of their labor benefitted those who may not deserve it (see all of the insane packages that executives got for failing companies).

And the outrage was, in all honesty, misdirected during this time.  We have seen a massive push towards the corporatization and dumbing down of education over the last few years (starting with Bush’s NCLB) – especially here in NJ with Christie’s push for more private corporate funded voucher schools.  But even though having professional teachers teach our children is something that directly impacts every parent, that wasn’t the message we were being told.

So of course it took something that really impacted everyone – watching NFL games (snark seeping through) to show what so many people whose voices were drowned out by the propaganda machine and sheep mentality have been screaming for some time – it takes professionals to do the job that they are supposed to do.  Whether it is professional referees (who, by the way, routinely get calls wrong, just as everyone gets things wrong from time to time in their job) or professional teachers or professional policemen, firefighters or engineers – we need the right people to do the job that the profession calls for.

This post from the other day really nails it:

But the real scorn should come from the fact that the league replaced unionized workers with scabs and is jeopardizing the safety of its players to save pennies on the dollar. This is America, though, where we apparently don’t care about our fellow workers or the modern day gladiators who are ruining their lives one hit at a time, as long as the right team wins the football game.

But it also goes deeper than that.  Whether it is the NFL referee lockout, the fight against teachers or other public workers (here, in Wisconsin, in Chicago or wherever else) there is another common thread – the disdain for reasonable retirement benefits – the “defined benefit”.  And as I stated earlier, this should be something that everyone deserves, so the scorn shouldn’t be on those who still have it, but those who are denying it to their workers – union or not.   Even looking at the resolution of the NFL referee lockout, we find that:

The league made a major concession to keep funding a pension plan for the next five years before transitioning that benefit to become a 401K plan. There is even a slight increase in the pension benefits plan from 2012-16.

Interesting.  What is the big elephant in the room as it relates to NJ’s finances and credit rating?  The unfunded pension liabilities – something that after strongarming additional concessions on, Governor Christie is STILL blowing off.  With the “risk” (and I use risk instead of “widespread fraud”) in the stock market and the transition from “defined benefit” to “defined contribution”, this just puts more people’s retirement at risk while Governor Christie and his counterparts squeeze as much out of workers – the real producers – as they can before stealing the retirement funds invested in the stock market they rigged.

It’s too bad that (1) it took a blown call in a football game to highlight this and (2) most people won’t even connect the dots to see the bigger issue of fairness at the workplace.

NJ Nets & NBA: Dysfunction and Excess Among the 1%

Not a pretty picture: Millionaire players and mega millionaire owners duke it out over money while the rest of us who enjoy professional basketball are relegated to dark screens and closed arenas. What with the high ticket costs and concession prices, attending this sport, as with football and hockey, is becoming increasingly an event for the wealthy.  Exhibition games were supposed to have begun this month, but as of now the season has been cancelled through the end of november.

Wealthy players and owners are arguing over how to divide up the revenue and whether to lower salary caps.  In fact the sport has become more about money than the game, driving away fans of modest means, particular in low income cities like Newark where people love basketball but watch it on TV if they can afford their cable bills.

The solution is to reduce player salaries and owner profits so that tickets become more affordable. What a novel idea!  So great an idea that undoubtedly the 1% nationally will reduce their own exorbitant salaries and excessive profits.  A  nice thought for a snowy Saturday when electric power just went off.  

State Worker Lockout?

CWA has a problem.

Christie has painted them into a corner.

If pension and health benefits are not legislated then come June 30th there will probably be an impasse at the negotiating table. It is well known that the CWA plan will not be accepted by Chrisite and the Chrisite plan will not be accepted by CWA. The ” middle plan is the Sweeney plan which neither Chrisite nor CWA would accept.

There would be no contract agreement.

Then what? CWA can ask it members to vote on a bad contract that will not be ratified. CWA leadership is telling its members now that if there is no contract then they will just keep negotiating.


CWA DOES NOT HAVE  binding arbitration. Without a ratified contract Chrisite can just “call in ” those workers who are deemed essential.Thousands will be locked out.

Chrisite would love this!

Also a non-ratified contract can throw the whole budget out of whack and then Christie can blame the CWA for a state shut down.

With 4 weeks to go CWA better understand that they are being ” played” by Christie and if they do not soon come up with a strategy that can get pension and health care reform off the table they might be the villain in a State or State worker shutdown.


Nurses beat lockout

We’ve been following the lockout at Bayonne Medical Center, and I thought I should share this statement just put out by the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union:

The announcement by owners of Bayonne Medical Center that they would end the lock-out Friday morning at 7:00am is their admission that they were unable to run the hospital without the real healthcare workers; that the lockout was illegal at every level; and that replacing dedicated healthcare workers with replacement workers was a terrible idea from the very inception.. This is a victory for the strength of the healthcare workers, who stood together against an enormous onslaught against their rights; a victory for patients who will now receive quality health care.  It is also a testament to the support we received from our Mayor, Mark Smith, from our Congressman Albio Sires, and from our County Executive Tom DeGis, and our County Freeholders.

Under the law, our workers will be working under the original contract, and any attempt to impose the hospital’s last offer during bargaining is illegal, and we will challenge them every day, in the hospital, in the public and in the courts if they attempt to strip our members of their rights and working conditions. We are ready to get back to our patients’ bedsides, and ready to get back to bargaining.

Update: Here are the remarks from Representative Albio Sires:

“I was happy to hear that the members of HPAE staff would be returning to work tomorrow at 7am.”. “Once again it is imperative that both sides return to the negotiating table  and continue negotiations until a successful conclusion of this bargaining process is reached.,” said Congressman Sires. Congressman Sires further added, “I will continue to work with Mayor Smith to ensure quality health care for the residents of the City of Bayonne and Hudson County.”

Bayonne Medical Center to lock out union nurses tomorrow

Updated: Hopeful gives us the HPAE Statement:

Statement in response to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center’s 9PM  deadline

Englewood, NJ

On June 5, 2009 Englewood Hospital and Medical Center notified Michele  McLaughlin, President HPAE Local 5004, of the Medical Center’s intent to  spend additional millions of dollars for temporary replacement nurses  unless the nurses “….are prepared to ratify a new contract by June 8th at 9:00PM.”  Englewood Medical Center ended negotiations on Saturday  June 6th at 5PM due to personal schedules and left the bargaining table  with no viable settlement offered.

“The medical center is not bargaining they’re making sound bites for the press which is exactly what this is.”  Stephanie Orrico R.N. lead spokesperson for the negotiating team continues, “We have addressed the Medical Center’s critical issues of length of the contract and the extension of the work day but they refuse to address the issues that are necessary to retain and recruit nurses, safe staffing and flexible shifts.”

The hiring of the US Nursing Corporation to replace those nurses ‘locked out’ is more than the cost to EHMC to settle the nurse’s contract.

“We are deeply disappointed by the medical Center’s actions”, says Michele McLaughlin, “we are ready to go back to the bargaining table and we are ready to go back to work.”

No further negotiations have been scheduled.

From NJ.com:

Bayonne Medical Center nurses and healthcare workers who belong to the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union will be locked out tomorrow, a BMC spokeswoman said today.

BMC spokeswoman Allyson Miller said that temporary workers have been hired and will be on the job today. HPAE spokeswoman Jeanne Oterson confirmed that union members were told about the decision. She said that her nurses would show up to work tomorrow anyway.

The article says that talks broke down last night. The nurses last gave us an update with their side of the story last Thursday. For now, it appears the nurses are showing up tomorrow and the hospital plans to lock them out.  Stay tuned.