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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Health Care Providers Union YES

Category: Labor
Posted: 08/27/14 01:52, Edited: 08/27/14 01:57

by Dave Mindeman

Republicans don't like unions.

Rep. Tara Mack, (R) Apple Valley seems especially upset about the home health care providers union that was just formed via a positive union vote....

"I strongly believe in the right to free association, but the government should not use its power to make private, independent care providers into employees of the state," said Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley. "The law passed by Minnesota Democrats in 2013 gives government greater power to decide how a mother provides care for her disabled child. There are significant concerns about the conduct of this election given that barely one in 10 affected providers supported public sector unionization, but any regulations agreed to between the union and state could affect all care providers. In light of the United States Supreme Court decision from late June, I hope the Dayton administration will respect the independence of providers who do not wish to participate in this arrangement."

Hmmm...very somber tone. You would think that these independent care providers were looking at impending doom.

She seems to be insinuating that this is some kind of a government takeover. Except the State of Minnesota was already paying them. The only difference now is that they have someone to represent them in wages and working conditions. In light of the fact that they barely make a living wage, I would think that might actually be a good thing.

And I am a little puzzled that Ms. Mack wants to use some kind of 1984 analogy in that "government" will decide "how a mother provides care for her disabled child". What? It seems to me that government mandates were already a distinct possibility because although these workers are hired by the families, these particular workers are paid via Medicaid through the State. The reality of this is that a union can now intervene if these workers or the working conditions that may be regulated by the State of Minnesota are not what the workers or providers want or expect. There is now an advocate....someone with contract strength to intervene.

And then there is the election. Yes, there was a low percentage of participation....but those that voted were in the affirmative by 60%. But if that bothers Ms. Mack or the providers who didn't vote, the question has to be asked why didn't they voice there objections by a negative vote? And why didn't Ms. Mack's concern translate into encouragement to get out and cast a negative vote? Democracy works only when you participate. Apparently opponents of this union think participation is optional in all aspects.

And speaking of optional, recent court rulings seem to indicate that union dues may be optional. Which seems a little unfair in that if the union manages to increase wages or get better contracts, all of the providers will probably benefit.

If Rep. Mack wants the "independence" of providers who did not participate then I think that should also mean that they do not get any of the benefits that the union might negotiate. But I doubt that will happen.

Some of Rep. Mack's Republican colleagues sense an advantage in the possible "opt-out" provisions - because another GOP statement was issued on the same subject....

Minnesota Republican lawmakers tentatively welcomed the new union, saying it in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, it "would be the first union in Minnesota to operate under the concept of employee freedom."

This union forms (as part of the SEIU) with a number of obstacles but it does exist. If the union is able to bring needed changes for all of these workers, then I think the union will be able to whether the storm and benefit everybody.

They will have to fight for that existence every step of the way, but it is still a major step forward for unions in Minnesota. Maybe the tide has turned.
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Hey DFL - The (L) Still Stands For Labor

Category: Labor
Posted: 05/05/14 14:48

by Dave Mindeman

The Democratic Party has always been associated with the working class. They defend the worker - they promote the middle class. At least that is what they are supposed to be doing.

Now I figure if guys like Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty can figure it out then for Pete's sake, this should be a no-brainer for Democrats.

Santorum has a book out that speaks to his party about working class people. He believes that they can never represent workers until they allow for at least an occasional increase in the minimum wage. He rightly states that the GOP has represented the "job creators" and ignored the "job holders" - at their peril.

For once Santorum makes some sense and Democrats should heed the message. The minimum wage is Democratic bread and butter and that is why it is so frustrating to see wage bills stall in Congress without a fight. And in Minnesota for Democrats to bottle up a minimum wage bill over semantics.

Too many Democrats are letting the Chamber of Commerce have a bigger place at the table than they deserve. They have been wrong about the economy, wrong on taxes, and incredibly wrong on minimum wage.

And as long as I'm on a blue collar rant - let me bring up NAFTA and other free trade agreements.

THESE ARE NOT FREE TRADE DEALS! They are trade deals bought at the expense of worker protection. Free trade that exploits labor is not "free" trade at all. It costs us middle class wages, it costs us jobs, it costs us economic growth. All of that so that business can make more profits that they can hold in offshore accounts to avoid taxes.

It is NUTS!

I have heard more than one political commentator say that John Kerry would have been President in 2004 if it weren't for NAFTA. There is a portion of western Ohio that has never forgiven Bill Clinton for signing NAFTA and those auto workers either stay home or hold their nose and vote Republican - because they feel betrayed. And they were!

As for Minnesota, this is the DFL - with a BIG L for labor. Get back to your roots Democrats. Defend labor. Promote labor. Win with labor.
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Minimum Wage Bill "Compromises" Creates Flaws

Category: Labor
Posted: 04/15/14 00:58

by Dave Mindeman

The compromises that occurred with the minimum wage legislation are very evident. The raw numbers are good and necessary, but the indexing portion has left enough ambiguity to throw a wrench to the works.

Some analysis done for MinnPost posted by David Brauer was especially disconcerting....

Had Monday's deal been in place since 1976 (the year lawmakers increased the state minimum to $1.80 an hour), the minimum wage would stand at just $3.91 today, not the current $6.15 (and all calculations assume a governor doesn't override annual increases, a power the deal grants).

Standard indexing was taken off the table and a lesser form of increases was established in law. This method will NOT keep up with inflation and periodic adjustments will, again, be necessary.

But Republican gubernatorial candidates seized on another provision that will almost certainly become a political football....

Under the DFL deal to raise the state's minimum wage to $9.50 per hour with an inflation index starting in 2018, Minnesota's Commissioner of the Department Labor and Industry can suspend indexing the wage for up to 12 months -- if leading economic indicators point to a "substantial downturn in the state's economy."

Since the Commissioner of DLI is appointed by the Governor, this will become an executive branch option on minimum wage.

This creates a scenario whereby Republican candidates (and the current ones have already stated this) will take the opportunity to halt wage increases for the low end of the wage scale - while Democratic governors will more than likely let the upward adjustment go through.

This will be another means of pitting business vs labor in our quadrennial race for chief executive of the state. Business will side with Republicans and Labor will side with the Democrats.

Now, if the GOP wants to establish a precedent that contends they will always be denying low wage earners any kind of raise, then that is the chance they will take in the electoral process. The election mailers will be out in full force - and there may be some difficulty for Republican candidates to persuade 350,000 workers affected that voting GOP will be to their benefit.

Yes, business will like it and it may help fundraising - but corporate "people" aren't voters....and votes is still the final arbiter.

This minimum wage law hasn't quite fulfilled the potential it could have. I am glad that it passed, but compromises here were unworthy of the effort.

Only time can tell us if we achieved full value for our workers.
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