The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 5, 2011
A.M. Reading: Labor Day editorials, columns; Bee online comments Q&A; the 'grand bargain'; AZ prison visitors' fee

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifThe last Labor Day?
Let's get it over with and rename the holiday "Capital Day." We may still celebrate Labor Day, but our culture has given up on honoring workers as the real creators of wealth and their honest toil -- the phrase itself seems antique -- as worthy of genuine respect. (Washington Post)

Notices begin process of eliminating California government jobs
The state has warned nearly 3,300 California state workers this year that their positions may disappear as the government grinds through a slow-motion layoff process that aims to shrink its workforce over the next few years. (Sacramento Bee)

Stuart Leavenworth: FAQ on online comments and letters
My column last week floated the question of whether it is fair for The Bee to keep letting online posters - many of them unnamed - comment on signed letters by readers. It generated scores of responses. ... Since so many readers had concerns and suggestions, below I offer some answers to frequently asked questions about The Bee's online commenting system. (Sacramento Bee)

Viewpoints: A grand bargain: Tax hike, pension fix
When it comes to technology, innovation and the arts, California often sets the bar for the rest of the country. Unfortunately the same can't be said about California's fiscal governance as the state limps from deficit to deficit, diverts spending from critical services to pay off past debts, and all too often enacts budgets that penalize job creation. But that could soon change and in so doing, California could set a powerful example for Congress and President Barack Obama. (Sacramento Bee)

Editorial: Organized labor may be under attack, but let's not forget that America would be a very different country without it
The nation pauses to honor working men and women on Monday, but few are feeling the love. There have been glory days for American labor in the past. There may be great days for American labor in the future. Then there's Labor Day, 2011. The latest report shows 9.1 percent of workers remain unemployed. The other 90.9 percent are nervous. Hopes for the job market's quick recovery are gone. Organized labor is taking a beating, a trend that analysts say has dire consequences for the U.S. middle class. (Los Angeles Daily News)

Surprises among top-paid state workers
Illinois' top-paid employee isn't Gov. Pat Quinn, and it's also not Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride. The state's top earner for 2010 is William Wood, the assistant medical director and staff psychiatrist at the Singer Mental Health Center in Rockford. (Jacksonville Journal Courier)

SB 5 battle: Why it's so big
Opponents and supporters of Ohio Senate Bill 5 agree on one thing: The outcome of the Nov.8 referendum on the law limiting collective bargaining rights of 360,000 public union members in Ohio will have a lasting impact on the state. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Our View: State workers' input must be part of solution
As we celebrate the long Labor Day holiday weekend, we find ourselves this morning reflecting on the role and relationship of organized labor, and in particular that of state employees. (Norwich Bulletin)

Viewpoints: The whole nation benefits when labor unions are thriving
America's greatness was not built by financial titans. It was built by women and men of average means who understood the value of a hard day's work and joined together to demand fair compensation for helping their companies to thrive. It was those workers who created the economic freedom FDR spoke of so many years ago, building the most robust middle class the world has ever known. (Sacramento Bee)

Penalties increased for contraband at state mental hospitals
It's now a misdemeanor for visitors to provide contraband, such as tobacco, currency and wireless communication devices to patients at the state's mental hospitals, including Atascadero State Hospital. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill to increase safety at the facilities, the state announced Wednesday. (San Luis Obispo Tribune)

What does Labor Day stand for?
To many people, Labor Day means a three-day weekend. Picnics, barbecues, a farewell to summer -- and one last hurrah before the new school year gets underway in earnest. But Labor Day, which always takes place on the first Monday in September, was created to honor the contributions of the nation's working men and women and their achievements. Here's how the U.S. Labor Department describes the holiday: "It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country." (Los Angeles Times)

Viewpoints: Unions pivotal to U.S. future
Millions of California workers don't have much to celebrate this Labor Day. State unemployment once again has crept up to a lacerating 12 percent, second-highest in the nation, and the specter looms of a double-dip recession. (Sacramento Bee)

Unions say pension changes to prompt flood of public sector retirements
Thousands of public sector workers are forecast to retire within the coming months as the Irish government plans to introduce changes to the pension scheme next February, union leaders have warned. (Irish Examiner)

Is Oregon headed to another ballot fight over political money for unions?
Oregon public employee unions, which have spent millions of dollars fending off ballot measures that would curb their ability to raise political funds, are gearing up for the possibility of another expensive initiative fight in 2012. But it's not at all clear that union critics have the wherewithal to launch a battle that could resemble this year's bitter struggles over collective bargaining rights for public employees in such states as Wisconsin and Ohio. (Portland Oregonian)

Despite Gripes, Troopers Get Unusual Perks
At an Aug. 22 demonstration, state troopers protested the layoff of 56 new police recruits by saying they are "unique" among state workers. They displayed a sign indicating that troopers are "24/7" in their duty to respond to emergencies around the clock, while regular state workers are "8 hours/day." Those numbers are beyond dispute. But other numbers, contained in state salary and benefits records obtained by The Courant, reveal some pluses to troopers' jobs that many regular "8 hours/day" state employees lack. (Hartford Courant)

Wisconsin state workers feeling effects of new budget
This isn't going to be one of the happiest of Labor Days for organized labor in Wisconsin. (Green Bay Press Gazette)

State employee unions struggle to maintain clout
When John McCarthy left the private sector for a job as a legislative liaison with the state Department of Labor, his colleagues did not try to conceal their opinions of public employees and their unions. "They said, `It's a contradiction in terms. Nobody works for the state,' " McCarthy recalled. That was in 1979. (Connecticut Post)

Maine labor leaders call 2011 'best of times, worst of times'
When Republicans took over the State House a year ago, organized labor in Maine was understandably nervous. (Bangor Daily News)

Inmate Visits Now Carry Added Cost in Arizona
For the Arizona Department of Corrections, crime has finally started to pay. New legislation allows the department to impose a $25 fee on adults who wish to visit inmates at any of the 15 prison complexes that house state prisoners. The one-time "background check fee" for visitors, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, has angered prisoner advocacy groups and family members of inmates, who in many cases already shoulder the expense of traveling long distances to the remote areas where many prisons are located. (New York Times)

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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