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Sherman A1

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Member since: Sat May 13, 2006, 07:37 AM
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St. Louis Metro workers declare victory, secure agreement preserving retirement security

After Metro workers waged an aggressive campaign that included leafleting passengers and the general public at garages, bus stops and MetroLink stops, the Bi-State Development Agency (Metro) and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788 have reached an agreement on a fair contract that preserves workers’ retirement security in the form of a defined benefit pension plan, increases wages, and improves health care coverage.

“This is an historic day and a big victory for all of St. Louis. Working people in this city have been under attack for years, but today, Metro workers and their allies reversed the momentum,” said Local 788 President Mike Breihan. “We drew a line in the sand and said, ‘No, you can’t take what little we have left.’”

Breihan announced the agreement Sept. 17 at the Missouri AFL-CIO’s 27th Biennial Convention in St. Louis and was greeted with a standing ovation from the roughly 200 union delegates in attendance.


Metro management attempted, on numerous occasions, to racially divide workers during the negotiations.


Ameren plans to replace 2 coal plants with gas, renewables

Ameren Missouri predicts big additions of wind and natural gas to replace two coal plants it will retire during the next 20 years, and it expects to add another 10 megawatts of utility-scale solar by 2016.

The utility’s energy plans are part of a comprehensive generation plan it is required to prepare for regulators every three years. Its 2014 plan lays out the beginnings of a move away from its traditional reliance on coal power as the fuel faces ever stricter environmental regulations.

“We’re looking at retiring about a third of our coal power fleet as they reach end of life,” said Ameren spokesman Warren Wood.

The utility had already revealed it had planned to retire its Meramec power plant in south St. Louis County by 2022. Now, the utility says it will retire its Sioux plant in St. Charles County by 2033. Together, they produce about 1,800 megawatts of power.


Freelancers Union to stop offering health insurance

The Freelancers Insurance Co. will withdraw from the market and serve its insured members through Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield in 2015, the Freelancers Union announced on Tuesday. The 250,000-member organization at the same time is expanding its health-center model, aiming to take it nationwide over the next five years.

The decision by the Freelancers Union to ease out of the insurance market stems from changes in the market. The union's groundbreaking low-cost health plan was not compliant with the Affordable Care Act—an ironic circumstance, given that its insurance was designed to be affordable to thousands of freelancers and sole proprietors in New York who had few lower-priced options prior to the debut of the state's Obamacare health exchange last year.

In August 2013, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that exempted the union's for-profit subsidiary, Freelancers Insurance Co., from selling its plan on the state's insurance exchange, the New York State of Health. With the blessing of state insurance regulators, the subsidiary was allowed to let members renew their policies before the ACA took effect Jan. 1, 2014. Under the law, organizations no longer could restrict coverage to members of certain groups, as the Freelancers Union did.

"We took time to understand what lay ahead," said Sara Horowitz, executive director of Freelancers Union, and its founder almost 20 years ago. "Now we're taking the opportunity created by the ACA to go to scale."


Trump Entertainment Seeks Union Concessions: Bankruptcy

Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., the Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino operator, said it will soon file a reorganization plan for secured lenders to convert some of their $286 million in old debt into equity and new debt not requiring cash interest payments.

Assuming everyone else is on board, the lenders will provide $100 million in new capital, the casino operator said. First-lien lenders, including Icahn Partners LP and affiliated funds, were owed approximately $285.6 million plus $6.6 million in interest when the Chapter 11 reorganization began this month.

The proposal depends on concessions from the union, New Jersey and Atlantic City. The company filed papers on Sept 26 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware seeking permission to modify the existing union contract.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump last week asked the judge to take his name off the company’s properties: the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.


New Orleans Union Membership Set to Double After Hotel and Casino Workers Win

The number of union members in New Orleans’s tourism industry is set to double. The hospitality and gaming union Unite Here and Teamsters Local 270 are in contract negotiations with Harrah’s Hotel and Casino after winning a card check election among 900 hotel and food workers.

According to the Times-Picayune:

The local Teamsters Union will represent the 150 or so employees who work the front of the hotel, bellmen, valets and front desk workers, as well as those in the hotel's warehouse. Unite Here … will represent the remaining 750 employees, who work in housekeeping and food service.

About 70 percent of eligible employees expressed interest in union representation during a formal card check held in March, giving the unions legal authority to begin negotiations, said Scott Cooper, director and secretary-treasurer of Unite Here's New Orleans local.

With 70,000 tourism related jobs in the New Orleans area, and tourism accounting for almost $6.5 billion of New Orleans’ economy, unions have ample opportunity to expand in New Orleans. Unite Here currently has only three contracts in the city.


Union Accuses Bravo of Unfair Labor Practice

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees is ramping up its fight with Bravo Media over the reality show “Shahs of Sunset,” alleging in a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board that the company is guilty of “unfair labor practice,” the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town reports.

The filing came after Bravo Media said it would dismiss the editorial crew. As previously reported, Ryan Seacrest Productions said it could no longer work with striking editors and Bravo took over the production.

Members of the crew have been striking since Sept. 10, when they began an effort to join the union, the Times notes.

The report adds: “According to the Motion Picture Editors Guild, an entertainment labor union, preliminary contract negotiations had just begun when the company announced that it would be “unable to continue working with the editors that were previously engaged on this production.”

October 2

National French Fried Scallops Day,

International Day of Non-violence,

National Custodial Workers Day,

& World Farm Animals Day.

Older people benefit worldwide from the rise of social pensions

Many nations bracing for a demographic tidal wave of older people are scrambling to create pensions that provide some financial security in old age.

Only half the world’s population now can expect to receive even a basic pension in their later years, according to the 2014 Global Age Watch Index, released today to coincide with the United Nations International Day of Older Persons.

But in a dramatic shift in policy, many countries are creating universal pensions for their old, the report found. In more than 100 countries that have established social pensions, financial conditions for older people have improved dramatically.

“Some countries have really seized the mantle,” said Toby Porter, chief executive of HelpAge International, a nonprofit that produced the annual study, which ranks 96 countries on the social, physical and economic well-being of their elderly. “Brazil, Chile, China and Mexico are showing that it’s possible … The rise of social pensions signals a shift in thinking.”


Hyatt to pay ousted workers $1m in boycott-ending deal

Hyatt Hotels Corp. has agreed to pay $1 million to 98 Boston-area housekeepers who were fired five years ago and replaced by lower-paid, outsourced workers, at the time triggering a backlash that drew national attention — and a stern scolding from Governor Deval Patrick.

The settlement, to be announced Friday, could give some workers as much as $40,000, depending on their years of service.

In exchange, the hospitality workers’ union that brokered the deal will call off its five-year boycott at the three full-service Hyatts in the area. The union estimates the boycott cost the hotel chain about $6 million.

“There are plenty of companies that make token gestures, and this is not token,” said Brian Lang, president of the hospitality union, Unite Here Local 26. “This is very significant.”


Court workers authorize strike over unfavorable contract negotiations

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco court workers voted Monday evening to authorize a strike due to unfavorable negotiations over their contracts with court management.

Service Employees International Union Local 1021 members had from Wednesday to today to cast their ballots, which resulted in a 91.3 percent vote announced this evening in favor for a strike, union organizer Steve Stallone said.

There has been no date set for the strike but it can happen at any time, Stallone said.

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