Archive for the ‘unions’ Category

NJEA Agenda on Health Insurance

Ed Richardson, president of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), spoke to Steve Adubato last November (airing this weekend) where he points up all the ways the NJEA has worked to reduce health insurance costs and then introduces the Fix the Unfairness initiative since those ways have obviously failed.

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Fixing Their Unfairness

The McCarran-Ferguson Act is basically a ‘name your own price tool’ for insurance companies in that it exempts them from federal regulation to the extent they are regulated by the states, even if that regulation is bogus.*

In the private sector one of the countervailing forces against increasing insurance costs is having the insured pay some of those costs. That concept came to New Jersey in 2011 when public employees had to pick up a portion of their premiums and they have now come to realize how costly monopoly pricing is.

So what to do? Lobby for repeal of McCarran-Ferguson? No, the NJEA has another fix in mind.

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United Mine Workers Update (3)

Update 1: 4/29/17

Update 2: 5/8/18

On Thursday, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) “introduced the American Miners Act of 2019, legislation that would secure pensions and healthcare benefits for our nation’s retired coal miners – including 500 Virginians affected by the recent bankruptcy of a Colorado-based mining company” by, in part, transferring money “to the 1974 Pension Plan to prevent its insolvency.” Where will the money come from?

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Sweeney Pension Path Ends With Hiring an Actuary

New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney visited Tom Moran at the Star Ledger to explain the pension reform recommendations that his Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup came up with. First question, how much would it save?

First off, a 401(k) is not a Cash Balance Plan. Two completely different animals that a lot of lay people are confused about*.

What we have here is another instance of a bunch of bureaucrats proposing ‘solutions’ they ran across on the internet or that are palatable to their campaign-donor constituency and then looking for an ‘expert’ to validate their whims.

Though, when asked to finger a villain, Sweeney did not hesitate.

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Pandering for 2020

With the New Jersey budget debacle behind him our governor has some free time to commiserate with one of his constituencies that is also facing some hard times despite his best efforts.

Here are Governor Phil Murphy’s remarks at the AFSCME Convention including attacks on Christie, Trump, Oklahoma, the Koch Brothers, and the DeVos family. In reading this (if you so choose) keep in mind that this is the governor of the state with the highest taxes in the nation making it virtually impossible for ‘working’ people to live here.

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Janus v. AFSCME Decision

Before speculating on what this will do to union membership and multiemployer plans let’s read the Supreme Court opinion. I see a basic flaw in both arguments that I will present in the next blog but, for now, here are some excerpts that I found pertinent:

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Labor’s Last Best Weapon: Lying

From the front flap of The Rise of the Working-Class Shareholder: Labor’s Last Best Weapon:

David Webber uses cases such as Safeway’s to shine a light on labor’s most potent remaining weapon: its multitrillion-dollar pension funds. Outmaneuvered at the bargaining table and under constant assault in Washington, state houses, and the courts, worker organizations are beginning to exercise muscle through markets. Shareholder activism has been used to divest from anti-labor companies, gun makers, and tobacco; diversify corporate boards; support Occupy Wall Street; force global warming onto the corporate agenda; create jobs; and challenge outlandish CEO pay. Webber argues that workers have found in labor’s capital a potent strategy against their exploiters. He explains the tactic’s surmountable difficulties even as he cautions that corporate interests are already working to deny labor’s access to this powerful and underused tool.

I can’t speak to the first seven chapters of the book but that last chapter (The Retirement “Crises” and the Future of Labor’s Capital) makes the case that the pension crisis is a fraud perpetrated on the public by “billionaire conservative activists Charles and David Koch and their organization Americans for Prosperity, as well as Enron billionaire John Arnold and his Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) and other allies [who] are determined to reform public pension funds in ways that would destroy labor’s shareholder activism.” (page 213).

To that claptrap of a chapter I can speak.

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