Posted on 07/02/2015 by William Kauffman
In a move that will save thousands of union jobs, Governor Tom Wolf vetoed House Bill 466; a bill that would have privatized the sale of liquor and wine in Pennsylvania. The bill was passed by the State Senate last week by a vote of 27-22. Privatization of the Wine & Spirits stores would jeopardize more than 4,700 jobs, as well as cut off a strong source of desperately-needed revenue for the state. "Privatization is a reckless option for lawmakers to take. Governor Wolf obviously saw that this was a bad business decision that would cost the Commonwealth jobs and revenue," Council 13 Executive Director David Fillman said. "I hope lawmakers begin to focus on important priorities like passing a fair budget, and down the road I hope they pursue modernization of the liquor stores rather than privatization." The Democratic leadership in the legislature has said they will oppose any attempts at overriding Wolf's veto.
Posted on 07/01/2015 by William Kauffman
Governor Tom Wolf vetoed the entire Republican-backed $30.2 billion state budget on Tuesday within a couple hours of receiving it. This is believed to be the first time in modern history a governor has rejected an entire budget instead of just parts of it. Wolf proposed a sound budget in March of this year that would have properly funded education, lowered property taxes, taxed Marcellus shale drillers and raised the minimum wage. Republicans in the legislature did nothing to work with the governor and attempted to pass their own budget without him – a bare bones budget that does nothing to address the state’s revenue problem, continues to give the drillers a free pass and has next to nothing for education funding. “Governor Wolf did the right thing,” Council 13 Executive Director David Fillman said. “Now that Republicans have played their political games, it is time to get serious. The state can only operate so long without a budget until this starts drastically disrupting Pennsylvanians’ lives.” Per the governor’s letter to all state employees, continue to report to work and you will continue to be paid. This veto takes the governor and legislature back to the negotiating table until they can hammer out a budget that all parties agree on. AFSCME will continue to advocate for a fair budget like Governor Wolf’s that has priorities in favor of working people and moving Pennsylvania forward.
Posted on 06/29/2015 by William Kauffman
A rainy day could not stop AFSCME members and staff from getting fired up for Unity Day at the AFSCME Conference Center this past Saturday. More than 600 people passed through to get free information from the 30 vendors in attendance. Various departments of AFSCME Council 13 were there along with Central Labor Councils, law services, CLUW, CBTU, PEBTF, AFSCME Health and Welfare Fund, Delta Dental, Concordia, United Way, Rick Smith Show, BBS Solutions, National Vision Administrators, Oasis of Hope, PA AFL-CIO and many more. Along with the plethora of information available, attendees enjoyed free food, games and entertainment in a fun atmosphere for all ages.
Posted on 06/25/2015 by William Kauffman
The June 30 state budget deadline is rapidly approaching and a budget will likely not be passed in time. The Office of Administration has indicated there are no plans for interruption of state services that AFSCME members provide. State employees will continue to go to work and receive their paychecks as the budget process unfolds. It appears the GOP-controlled legislature is going to attempt to pass a budget without Governor Tom Wolf. Their budget is rumored to include pension reform and liquor store privatization. According to the AP, Governor Wolf told Democratic leaders that he would reject a Republican plan if it fell short of his priorities. If the Republicans get a plan on Wolf's desk and it is vetoed, it would be back to square one, forcing the governor and the legislature to negotiate a new budget. The obvious intent of the legislature is to be able to go back to their constituents and say they tried to pass a budget, but the governor would not agree to anything. The reality is, Governor Wolf offered a sound budget proposal that would bring in revenue while lowering taxes for middle class families, and the GOP legislators completely rejected it. Wolf’s plan would also make Marcellus shale drillers pay their fair share and restore the devastating funding cuts made to public education. The Republican leaders are pursuing a dangerous plan that would jeopardize jobs and pensions, while also ignoring the need for increased revenue and a higher minimum wage. We continue to stand in favor of the governor’s proposals, and we encourage members to contact their State Representatives and State Senators and urge them to pass Governor Wolf’s budget. Council 13 will keep members up to date every step of the process.
Posted on 06/16/2015 by William Kauffman
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Posted on 06/04/2015 by William Kauffman
On Thursday, June 4, labor leaders from AFSCME Council 13, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) testified their opposition to PA Senate Bill 1 to the House State Government Committee. Also testifying in opposition to the bill was the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. Big money, corporate interests such as the Commonwealth Foundation and the PA Chamber of Business and Industry were also there to testify in favor of jeopardizing state employees’ defined benefit pensions by passing Senate Bill 1. The hearing lasted more than three hours, and was the first opportunity for testimony on the bill since the Senate rushed the 410-page monstrosity through within a week of its introduction in May. The complicated bill includes a plan to put new state employees on 401(k)-style pension plans and force current employees to increase their contributions or take reduced benefits. In other words, it is asking workers to sacrifice even more to repair a pension system that was devastated by economic recession and employers’ failure to pay their fair share.
Posted on 06/04/2015 by Jennifer George
PCN will air the town hall discussion regarding pensions and PA Senate Bill 1 tonight, June 4. Retired AFSCME member Joyce Culpepper shared her thoughts about how an attack on the current pension system would affect retirees.
On the schedule, the roundtable discussion is called "Pensions Forum." For a listing of PCN viewing times, click here.