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Working on Thanksgiving — It’s a Good Thing

November 26th, 2014

A lot of noise lately about retail establishments making their employees work on Thanksgiving Day.  The critics lament that it should be a day for families to be together and the retailers are money hungry and insensitive to employee needs by remaining open for business.  Well, how about all of the other workers in America who always work on Thanksgiving?  About 25% of all workers will work on a holiday this year.

For as long as I can remember, my Father and/or my brothers worked on Thanksgiving Day.  They are bulk milk truck drivers.  They must go to the dairy farms and load the milk from tanks into their bulk tank and drive the milk to the milk processing plant (creamery).  This work must be done 365 days a year.  Cows do not have the day off.  

So who else is working on Thanksgiving? Well, for starters:

  • Police officers
  • Firefighters
  • Hotel and motel employees
  • Radio and television employees
  • Stadium and arena workers in the NFL
  • Disneyland employees
  • Hospital / health care workers
  • Airport and airline personnel
  • Highway toll booth workers
  • Railroad engineers
  • Bus drivers
  • Dairy farmers
  • Our military!

The beauty of America is freedom.  Some people prefer to work on the holiday, maybe they prefer it to being alone, maybe they love their work, maybe they prefer it to being with relatives they don’t like (cynical me, I know), or maybe they just like the overtime or double time pay they may earn.

Boycotting and chastising retailers who are open for business of Thanksgiving Day is a “cause” that I am just “not buying”.   

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America — A Generous People

November 23rd, 2014

U.S. charities give billions annually to those in need.  It is no surprise that the Gates foundation rates #1.  In 2013 the Gates foundation gave $3.2 billion to charities around the world.  The second largest giver was the Ford foundation.  The third largest giver was the Walton foundation (Walmart).   

So you are wondering, where does Buffet fall?  The Buffet foundation comes in fifth.  Individual giving amounted to 72% of charitable giving in 2013 at more than $335 billion.

It will also not surprise you to learn that the U.S. was by far the most charitable nation giving to world-wide causes.

How does all this money get generated?  To achieve this incredible and generous level of giving, our nation resourced 40 million employed workers and sold $6 trillion dollars of goods and services.

(Above information from Dr. Oliver McGee)  

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Our National Day of Thanksgiving …. and Unity

November 22nd, 2014

Although most people know Sarah Josepha Hale as the author of the poem, Mary Had A Little Lamb, she also has a legacy of writing on women’s issues and campaigning for a national day of Thanksgiving.

Prior to the Civil War, Hale was troubled about the nation’s lack of unity.  She believed that a day of national unity would prevent the breakup of the Union.  In 1860 Hale wrote “This year the last Thursday in November falls on the 29th.  If all the States and Territories hold their Thanksgiving on that day, there will be a complete moral and social reunion of the people of American in 1860.  Would this not be a good omen for the perpetual political union of the States?  May God grant us not only the omen, but the fulfillment of our dearest wish!”

In 1863 Hale wrote to President Lincoln directly, asking him to put his authority behind the cause.  On October 3, Lincoln issued a proclamation making the last Thursday in November a national day of Thanksgiving.

Hale’s purpose behind the common day of thanksgiving was to promote unity.

Perhaps our nation on this Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2014, could use a dose of unity to bring together the ever growing division between the two political parties in America.

It seems to me that one can’t have logical and well-meaning differences of opinion about how the government should be managed without the opposing political partisans labeling the “other side” as stupid, evil, uncaring, racist or sexist.

Sarah Josepha Hale was a widow with five children when she began supporting herself through publishing her poems and writings.  She became editor of Ladies Magazine.  As editor, she leveraged the causes she was passionate about including property rights and increased wages for women and expanded educational and career opportunities for women.

Interestingly enough, she was not a proponent of women’s right to vote.  She argued that politics was inherently immoral and corrupt.  However, she did understand the power she had through her publication and advocating for changes in marriage laws and for women to go to college.  Women did begin to study at seminaries and academies.  She published literary works of women giving them a platform for their ideas and advocacy for suffrage, abolition and temperance, and ultimately greater opportunities for everyone.

This example proves to me that well-meaning and thoughtful people can have different opinions about major political issues and government practices without resorting to name calling, disparaging jokes, condescension and ascribing negative motives to those with different perspectives.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Unity Day in America.

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Minimum Wage or Join a Union or

September 3rd, 2014

I just heard the President say that if he wanted to make more money he would join a union.  Bad advice.  The best way to improve your worth in the employment market place is to get an education.  Don’t join a union.  Join an employer who pays based on performance, effort, skill and education required.  Unions don’t employ people.  Employers employ people.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a summary report that showed a very small percentage of workers are paid minimum wage.  In a nut shell the report stated that 5.8% of workers with no high school diploma earned minimum wage, compared to 1.5% of workers with a high school diploma.  Less than 1% of college graduates are in minimum wage jobs.  The study also verified that most minimum wage workers are in the service industry and are under 25 years of age.  The value of a job is determined by the amount of knowledge, skill and effort required to perform the job.  If you can learn the job in 7.25 hours, you will probably be paid $7.25 an hour.  The way out of poverty is not joining a union, which actually costs you money (dues and fees) — it is getting an education and joining an employer!   All the best.

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Minimum wage hike won’t matter much.

February 18th, 2014

Few jobs are actually paid minimum wage.  Most workers get $10 an hour and way more.  So the hype about the minimum wage hike is a political poke to Republicans to make them look mean and make Democrats look caring.  Most employers with federal contracts are already paying employees $10.10 or more, so the EO is more for show than for real change.  As far as Executive Orders go, requiring employers to pay $10.10 if they have a federal contract is pretty mild.  Remember Affirmative Action is mandated by an Executive Order!  People think it is the “law of the land”.  It is an Executive Order.  Any president can rescind it.  They won’t.  The best way to improve workers’ lives is to allow the private sector to prosper and grow by reducing the strangling regulations and threats of more regulations.

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How To Get The Flu At Work

January 10th, 2014

I am recovering from a nasty post holiday cold.  Since I am retired, I did not have to make that dreaded, guilt filled, phone call to the boss “I’m sick and not coming to work”.  So that’s a relief. A good way to get the flu or cold is to be a teacher, nurse, store clerk, flight attendant, bank teller or IT support person.  I don’t have one of these jobs, however, I came in contact with someone from each occupation over the holidays.  So is there anyway to escape getting the flu?  Yes, according to the “Health and Prevention: Social Distancing Guidelines for Workplace Communicable Disease Outbreaks” here are some prevention techniques.  1) avoid people 2) if meeting people is unavoidable, meet in a large room and stand as far away as possible 3) do not shake hands 3) cancel travel plans 4) do not socialize with coworkers 5) do not go to workshops or training sessions 6) do not take public transportation - walk or cycle 7) avoid church and PTA meetings 9) avoid gyms - don’t exercise 10) tell your boss you are working from home.  If you follow all of the above you may not get a cold but you may lose your job!

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Generosity at Work

September 24th, 2013

The best bosses and leaders get results by generously giving credit where credit is due.  Jack Welch wrote about the “generosity gene” today in his LinkedIn blog.  Welch writes:

“You’ve seen the generosity gene in action and maybe you’ve even been lucky enough to experience it – a boss who’s overjoyed when you nail an assignment, who’s euphoric to give out promotions, who thinks the very best part of his job is when one of his people gets to go home and tell the family, “I got a raise today.” Unfortunately, you’ve probably also experienced bosses missing this piece of DNA. …. They sit in meetings with the company brass and take credit for ideas spawned in the ranks. These types are wary, in fact, of anyone beneath or beside them looking good. To them, business is a zero-sum game.

The generosity gene is the exact opposite mindset. It’s an in-the-bones, personality-deep craving – to help other people improve, grow, thrive, and succeed. …….. Generosity gene managers inspire trust, and in doing so they unleash productivity and creativity. Their people become fonts of ideas and innovation and paragons of commitment to customers and the work. …. They know they’ll be loved and rewarded for their efforts. Isn’t it great that, in the process, the company reaps the benefits too?”  Jack Welch

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U.S. Companies Drop Health Coverage

August 16th, 2013

In response to rising costs and mandated changes brought on by the PPACA (Obamacare), a growing number of U.S. organizations are dropping health coverage for retirees or replacing it with subsidies to retirees to purchase plans through the individual market, according to an Aon Hewitt survey.

I personally experienced this exact change when 3M Company ceased their health care coverage for retirees.  3M now provides a subsidy to purchase individual plans.  The guarantee by President Obama that “if you like your current plan, you can keep your plan” was not much of a guarantee after all.

According to Aon Hewitt consultants, 60% of U.S. employers are reassessing their retiree health strategies because of PPACA and more than half have indicated a strong interest. 40% of companies that have already decided to make the change have moved to directing retirees to the individual market and often include a subsidy.

Individual sourcing strategies create significant savings opportunities for the companies.

In the past, employers encouraged use of and used the Medicare Advantage plan due to the savings, but now these plans are challenged because federal funding cuts took place to pay for Obamacare — leading to increasing premiums, reductions in benefits and plans exiting in certain locations.

Aon also reports that employers are also pursuing settlements or benefit buyout options and purchasing annuities to provide an income stream in lieu of medical coverage.   Current tax and legal obstacles make this option difficult, but this could change too.

It’s a complicated subject and it is definitely not business as usual.

(Above information from SHRM article “Employers Reassess Retirees Health Strategy” August 2013)

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Employers R Using Social Media 2 Recruit

April 23rd, 2013

LinkedIn remains the most popular site for recruiting and screening candidates.  SHRM released new research showing organizations are increasingly using social networking sites to recruit job candidates.  77 percent of respondents use social networking sites to recruit candidates, which is up from 56 percent in 2011.  Interestingly, 57 percent do NOT have any kind of policy — formal or informal — for using social networking sites to screen candidates.  Insert red flag here!  A major reason respondents said they do not use or are cautious about using social networking sites is legal concerns of discovering information about protected characteristics, such as age.  The practice will undoubtedly continue and issues of relevance, effectiveness, legality, validity and cost are new frontiers for Employment Managers.  (Information gleaned from April 23, 2013 SHRM Weekly News.)

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The Four C’s of Success

March 27th, 2013

Recent polling of U.S. managers and executives uncovered that the following four competencies are important for employee success, should be a priority within their organizations and that employees should be measured in these skills.  They are:

Critical Thinking  – ability to solve problems, make decisions and take appropriate actions

Communication — ability to synthesize and transmit ideas in both written and oral form

Collaboration and Team Building — ability to work with others including those with opposing points of view

Creativity and Innovation — ability to see what’s NOT there and make something happen

Source:  2012 Critical Skills Survey, AMA and published by Society for Human Resource Management

Other findings:  Managers thought it was easier to develop these skills in students and recent graduates than in experienced workers suggesting that students and recent graduate may be more open to new ideas than experienced workers with established work patterns and habits.

If you are an “older” worker, take a look in the mirror and be sure you are open to new ideas, change and continuous learning!

Another finding:   68% of CEOs say fostering a skilled workforce should be a top government priority, but only 3% think government has been effective in doing so.

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Time for Teacher Performance Pay

September 18th, 2012

Pay Matters!!

By:    Karla Wright, Compensation Consultant

Reforming teacher pay is a hot topic.  Many believe that offering performance based pay, such as bonuses and incentives,  will motivate teachers to perform at a higher level.  The misconception that money motivates is widely held.  In order to have a logical and truthful discussion about the connection between pay and teacher motivation, we must look at actual behavioral science studies that disprove the myth that money is our number one motivator. A recent WorldatWork study found variable pay (bonuses and other incentives) is not among the top five concerns of workers.   (SHRM 7-28-2011)  Daniel Pink, in his book “Drive:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”, says that it is a mistake to believe that money is the best way to motivate ourselves.  Money is a widely used external reward – the old carrot-and-stick approach.  The underlying assumption that if you dangle a carrot out in front of an employee (a bonus, incentive, more money) that the employee will perform better, work harder, and change their daily behavior.  It is simply not the case.    It is somewhat insulting because the carrot-and-stick approach operates on the premise that the worker (teacher) is holding something back and not giving their full effort. Workers, including teachers, dive into their daily work for reasons that are intrinsically motivating, such as feelings of appreciation and respect, believing you are making a difference, providing value to people and society, and the pure satisfaction of learning, accomplishing, discovering and sharing.  These are the factors that motivate us to do a good job and be the best we can be.  (Daniel Pink, 2009)

As we create and develop pay for performance plans for teachers, we absolutely must rely on studies that show the true correlation between pay and motivation.  We should not rely on the simplistic idea intermittently applied variable pay practices will be in and of itself a motivator for teachers.  When a teacher makes a decision to forego a break to spend an extra ten minutes with a struggling reader, we all know he/she is not doing it because they are going to get more money. 

I do absolutely believe that performance-based pay systems are much better than seniority or time -in- grade pay systems. If we don’t fall into the pay is a motivator trap, we can build wonderful performance-based pay systems that reward behaviors that result in the learning and behavioral outcomes that are valued.   In Iowa, Governor Branstad and Department of Education Director, Jason Glass support looking at ways to improve the attractiveness of the teaching profession.  Iowa legislators from both parties have said they are open to linking teacher pay with classroom performance.  The devil is in the details.     One approach for identifying, communicating, developing, monitoring and rewarding the desired teacher behaviors is called Multi-Rater Feedback.  It has been used in businesses over the past decide with great success.  Employees and supervisors like it.  Standards are established together with the workers (teachers) and employer (Principal, Board, Education Association).  Carefully crafted levels of achievement and behavioral activities are decided upon and documented.  Teachers receive feedback from their students (college professors are used to this!), from parents/guardians, from supervisor or mentoring personnel (principals, team leaders, superintendents), from colleagues and peers, and could include self ratings as well.  This would be an elaborate set of standards and not an easy one page form to complete by one supervisor/principal.  The feedback would be confidential.  Teachers could choose some students and parents and the supervising authority would choose some students and parents as well.  This avoids stacking the deck.  An outside facilitator tallies the outcomes and delivers results back to the Principal and/or teacher.   It is possible to develop a numeric score or grading system from which teacher base pay could be associated. 

Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan has urged teachers to support performance pay, noting that although “test scores alone should never drive evaluation, compensation, or tenure decisions,” not including student achievement in teacher evaluation is “illogical and indefensible”  (Gratz, 2009) In addition other indicators of success, such as student scores and grade or whole school results could be tabulated into some type of pay system as well.  These various standards of specific teacher behaviors, student outcomes, school results (maybe others) then become the formula for determining teacher pay.    This is performance-based pay.   It is not an incentive system.  It is not a this-for-that seniority system.  It is a reward system that sends a powerful message that the teacher is paid for outcomes that are valued and important for achieving the desired and agreed to results.  Teacher performance pay plans have met with some, but limited, success to date.  There actually is not evidence of substantial student achievement or teacher performance improvement.  Teachers are mixed in their reactions to the various plans. 

Teachers’ sense of fairness is essential to acceptance.  There must be a sense of fairness where the procedures and formulas used for distributing pay are respected and accepted.  Historically unions, including teacher unions, have been against performance evaluations.   

A three year study showed that rewarding teachers with bonus pay, in the absence of other support programs, did not raise student test scores.   The  researchers state that even though test scores did not go up, it does not imply that other plans would not be successful.   (Springer, Vanderbilt University, 2010) 

Teacher associations have historically opposed performance pay plans.  The  Principal Investigator for the Vanderbilt study states “we believe there is an important lesson here:  Teachers are more likely to cooperate with a performance pay plan if its purpose is to determine whether the policy is a sound idea, than with plans being forced on them in the absence of such evidence and in the face of their skepticism and misgivings.”  (Springer, Vanderbilt University, 2010) The Vanderbilt study used the assumption that pay would motivate.  They found that pay did not motivate and some pretty large amounts were paid out.  Teachers do not respond to pay like rats do to pellets.  It will take more than financial incentives to improve student achievement. 

The flawed logic of many performance pay plans is that additional pay will motivate teachers to work harder and that teachers know what to do to improve student achievement, but they aren’t motivated to do it.  Those assumptions say teachers value financial rewards more than student success.  Does anyone really think that teachers are willfully withholding effort and will only really offer help if someone holds out money (a carrot)?  Not only is it flawed logic, it is demeaning.  And for sure it is not motivational.     (Gratz, Educational Leadership, 2009) How the plan is designed and managed is extremely important for overall teacher satisfaction with and belief in the plan.  Changes to teacher compensation practices require strong vision and will.  Understanding what truly motivates teachers will and should drive how the system is designed and managed.  Pay is a necessary transaction but not a magic bullet that will motivate teachers to care more or serve better.  Teachers will continue to be motivated by the same set of factors that have always motivated them. 

We should change how we pay teachers to reflect the valued behaviors and desired outcomes.  We should get rid of the time in grade, treat everyone the same, across the board, pay systems.

Although research so far puts limitations on the effectiveness of performance pay for improving education outcomes, the current “time in grade” seniority systems absolutely provides no enhancement to education outcomes.  Performance pay systems that set up desired standards, behaviors and outcomes and measures the results from multiple sources and inputs and then summarizes that data back to the teachers provides the mechanism to change behaviors and outcomes through teacher communication, training, development, mentoring, peer review, etc.  

We can only manage that which we measure.      We must remember to manage “what counts” as well as what is “countable”. 

Performance pay can work!  Pay matters.  Reward results.  Time to connect desired behaviors and valued achievements to teacher pay.   

Drive:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Pink, 2009

“Reward Practices Impact Perceptions of Fairness”, SHRM, July 2011

“Teacher Performance Pay:  Synthesis of Plans, Research and Guidelines for Practice”, Heneman, Milanowski and Kimball, February 2007, Consortium for Policy Research in Education

“Teacher Performance Pay Alone Does Not Raise Student Test Scores”, Matthew Springer, Vanderbilt University, September 2010

“The Problem with Performance Pay”, Donald Gratz, Educational Leadership, November 2009

“Separating Myth from Reality” Hulleman, 2010

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The American Workplace

September 5th, 2012

What will it take to get America to full and productive employment again?  Here’s a few ideas:  ensure students get the skills and education to compete and be successful; complete new trade agreements to expand America’s exports; cut the deficit and rein in government spending; keep taxes low and seriously reform regulations and regulatory agencies’ missions.  Of course it wouldn’t hurt if we had some huge technological advancement like we did in the 1990’s that skyrocketed productivity and employment during that period.  We need more entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.  But until then, we can:  halt the implementation of Pelosi’s 2000 page health care law and the resulting 10,000 pages of regulations; mandate E-verify nationwide; hold fast on the eroding power of unions; promote flexibility in the workplace by allowing options such as receiving time off work rather than pay for work over 40 hours for non-exempt workers; promote inclusion of workers and students with disabilities; replace outdated laws (FLSA for one!) and non-value-adding regulations and executive orders; increase visas for those with science, engineering and math skills; replace Pelosicare with provisions for individuals and small businesses to form purchasing pools for insurance coverage; promote health care price transparency so health care consumers KNOW what they are buying; urge state governors to rein in public sector unions to control costs associated with employee benefits (including paid sick leave payouts upon terminations) and retirement programs — and specifically move toward employer-employee shared insurance premium, health care costs and retirement savings; repeal the Davis-Bacon Act; restore the NLRB to non-partisan status; oppose amnesty for those who knowingly violate our laws and thereby disadvantage those who obey our laws; work for a nation-wide “right-to-work” status — making it unlawful for a union to collect fees from non-union employees; halt lawsuits against Arizona, end federal funding to universities that provide tuition reduction to illegal immigrants; and enact legislation to codify the requirement that all union elections be determined by secret ballot under NLRB supervision.    Note:  many of the above ideas are from the SHRM 9-4-2012 report, GOP Platform Addresses the American Workplace.

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Outsourcing — That Is So Last Century

July 11th, 2012

 Did you know that for every job outsourced overseas, two jobs are created in the U.S.?   Business school freshmen learn this in Management 101 class. 

It works like this.

When a company outsources overseas (or within the U.S.) it cuts its cost.  The competitive product results in more sales.  It hires more employees to process the orders and make the product.  

Result:  MORE jobs.

During 1991 to 2001 India and China took on outsourcing roles.  Their economies grew by 2.8 million jobs.  U.S. based employment (multinationals) grew by 5.5 million jobs.

The economic growth of the 1990’s was NOT because of a higher income taxes on businesses and dual income couples making $250,000.  It was a result of advanced technologies, global communications and phenomenal productivity all fueled by computers, innovation and the free market WHICH INCLUDED a global network of suppliers – we call outsourcing!

President Obama’s Plan

President Obama wants companies to shut foreign outsourcing.  That means:  no savings, less profits, less tax revenue, and fewer jobs.    

So the President wants to hurt corporate growth, job growth, and reduce tax revenues.   

Is this all the Obama campaign has for a reelection strategy?

If the President was serious about the economy he would be honest about the importance of outsourcing to our overall economic health.

But then ….. that would require understanding economics.

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More Onerous Federal Regulations

February 24th, 2012

The Office of Federal Contract and Compliance Programs has issued more bureaucratic steps for employers to take to meet Affirmative Action requirements.  There is no study that shows adding these numerous data collection and recordkeeping requirements will help increase disability hiring.  One new rule requires employers to ask applicants if they are disabled TWICE during the hiring process and once a year after they are hired.  Employers don’t see the value added and also are requesting “safe harbor” to ensure they won’t be sued for violations of the ADA by asking individuals if they are disabled.  The OFCCP has selected 7% as an arbitrary goal for employers to use for hiring people with disabilities within all job groups.  Again, no data supports that 7% is a reasonable goal; and using an arbitrary percentage is a new precedent.  In the past employers have set utilization goals for protected class groups based on the availability of individuals within a protected class.  Another new rule requires accommodation requests be in writing and responses given within a specified time period.  These requirements actually will impede the good will and constructive dialogue between applicant/employee and the employer regarding accommodation needs.  The OFCCP is dropping this on employers without sufficient time for employers to overhaul their data collection software and processes.   

Other concerning requirements are:  more recordkeeping, more sensitivity training and an annual review of all physical and mental job qualifications with a written explanation as to why each requirement is related to the job.

This last requirement is what I call “Karla’s Full Employment Act”.  As a job analyst and documenter, it will give me more work to do.  I’ll get paid, the employer will pay me, the cost of the company’s product or service will go up.  But will more qualified people with disabilities be hired?  These minutia requirements do not affect change.   They only add cost.   Employers’ willingness and readiness to hire qualified people, with or without an accommodation and regardless of disability are the keys to having a workforce that mirrors all people. 

The feds seem to never give up on the notion that employers will do the wrong thing and not the right thing.  It is in the employers’ best interest to do the right thing — and they do. 

These new OFCCP / AA requirements are just a small sampling of the continuous bombardment of onerous regulations on employers.     

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New Union Election Rules Start April 2012

February 20th, 2012

Employers plan for “quickie” union elections.  The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Dec. 21, 2011, approved a set of sweeping revisions to the rules governing union election procedures. The change was designed to speed up union representation votes and make it easier for organized labor to recruit and gain new members.The final regulation, which some opponents call the “quickie” or “ambush” union election rule, will take effect on April 30, 2012. Mark Pearce, chair of the NLRB, says the primary goal of the rule change is to reduce litigation in union election cases.  Mike Enzi, R of Wyoming, says, not so fast.  Enzi, ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee intends to challenge the rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).  This law allows the Senate to introduce a resolution of disapproval to prevent an agency from enforcing a rule.  It is unlikely the Senate would get the votes and even so President Obama would veto, so it appears largely symbolic.   Enzi states “…..the rule….will allow union bosses to ambush employers with union elections before employers have a fair chance to learn their rights and explain their view to employees.”  (which is required by law btw)  Enzi said “I plan to lead the fight against their onerous rule ….. It is disappointing that union advocates believe their best chance to succeed when it comes to union elections is to ensure that only one side of the story is able to get out.  Instead of using backdoor political maneuvers to boost anemic union memberships and smother our nation’s struggling economy, this Administration should help America regain its strong financial footing.” 

So far the NLRB has been unable to muster the support for the ”check off” procedure to replace “secret voting” for employees when deciding if they want to have a union represent (come between) them and the employer.  Once again, elections have consequences.  Obama’s hand picked NLRB members are cleverly issuing rules and regulations (which are as binding as law) that affect the employer and employee relationship.  

Unions gain their life blood through employees’ dues and fees.  Union organizations need members to stay alive and relevant.  Unionized workers have historically voted Democrat.  More members means more money for union management, more elected officials who are Democrat, AND more unelected administrative bureaucratics with authority to issue rules (like the afore mentioned) that favor union growth. 

Elections have consequences.

Above information from SHRM Weekly Issues Report and Employment Law Update.  

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Union Statistics and Presidential Politics

February 17th, 2012

The public sector has the largest percentage of union workers at 37%, which is more than five times that of private sector workers at 6.9%. 

Over half of union members live in just seven states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Ohio.

States with union membership rates below 5% are: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Presidential wannabe, Rick Santorum, coming from Pennsylvania, has had a pro-union record, supporting positions usually favored by Democrats.  Stale union practices (such as across the board pay increases) undermine desired employee performance-based compensation systems that recognize and reward productivity, initiative, excellence and results.   

The percentage of workers who were members of a union dropped slightly from 11.9 percent to 11.8 percent in 2011; however, membership actually rose by 49,000 workers, up to 14.8 million people.  These numbers are from a Jan. 27, 2012 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report and the SHRM Legal Posting. 

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Welcome Indiana!

February 16th, 2012

Gov. Mitch Daniels, on Feb. 1, 2012, signed into law a bill that makes Indiana the nation’s 23rd right-to-work state. Under the new law, individuals are neither required to become nor prohibited from becoming members of a union. The law makes it a Class A misdemeanor to require an individual to become or remain a member of a labor organization, or to pay dues, fees or other charges to a labor organization, as a condition of employment. The law also establishes a private right of action for violations, including the ability to obtain damages, civil penalties and attorneys’ fees.The law becomes effective immediately but does not abrogate existing collective bargaining agreements. The law extends to all contracts entered into, modified or renewed after March 14, 2012, but does not retrospectively invalidate existing union contracts. The law also does not apply to governmental employees or employees subject to the Railway Labor Act. Finally, the law does not prevent unions from collective bargaining or striking.   (Info from SHRM Feb 2012)Bottom line:  employees who work for an employer that is covered by a union contract, do NOT have to join or pay fees to the union.  Note, however, all employees are still confined by the prevailing labor contract, regardless of whether they pay the union a fee or not.  For example, pay scales are set and controlled by the contract.  All employees are treated the same.  Some say this is fair.  Some (myself) say treating every one the same is not fair.  Some employees deserve rewards that differentiate them from the good employees — either because of their exemplary performance or because of their inadequate performance.  I believe in performance based pay.  Treating everyone the same leads to mediocrity.  The exemplary employees move on to other organizations where they DO get rewarded.  Inadequate performers stay on and drag down productivity, morale and organizational effectiveness.

Welcome Indiana to the world of employee choice!   

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More Regulations

November 11th, 2011

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is initiating requiring MORE data.  This agency is the one that oversees affirmative action plans of federal contractors.  The agency would seek information on employer leave policies including religious leaves.  Compensation information would be reported by each individual rather than groups; and expanded to include contract and day laborers.   The Society for Human Resource Management leveled opposition citing violation of the Paperwork Reduction Act.  SHRM along with CUPA-HR (College and University Personnel Administrators) urge that only legitimate information be collected and in the least burdensome way possible.  Time will tell.  This is just yet another example of the constant layering on of governmental, bureaucratic paper work — without any direct and verifiable value added for employees, employers, our nation and society.  Although these requirements “make work” for us HR professionals — it adds nothing to the productivity of America — and in fact, adds costs and makes each employer a little less able to compete in a tight world market.      

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Executive Pay

October 17th, 2011

I’m listening to the protesters complain about CEO pay and wondering —  where’s the outrage over outrageous professional athlete and movie star salaries.    I wonder if the protestors know that as of last year, owners of corporations (stockholders) have the right via the so-called “say on pay” provision of the Dodd-Frank bill to have their voices heard regarding CEO pay of public held corporations. Shareholders of publicly traded companies get to vote on executive pay.  Currently, there is additional legislation in the pipe line to have more control over and limit the amount of CEO pay.   Next in line will be professional athletes and movie stars salaries and maybe even writers of fiction books.  Really? why should the person who makes up a story about Harry Potter make 1,000 times more money than me?  I can make up stories and tell lies too.    It’s only fair that she share her money with me.  Tongue in cheek.  Get my point?   We have provisions to direct and manage CEO pay through corporation Board of Directors.  The market place will expose atrocities and mistakes and eventually will self-correct.  I don’t think we want another Federal Board of Bureaucrats to determine CEO pay.  When Senator, Barack Obama, proposed a bill to cap and control CEO pay.  The Frank Dodd bill did not go that far.  But the protesters want it, the Democrats want it and there is pending legislation in the wings waiting for the right (or should I say left) legislative mix to pass it.    Having voiced my opposition to government regulation, I absolutely do agree that some CEO salaries are obscene and not necessary.  Board of Directors:  do your job — or government will do it for you.    

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Get A Job!

October 12th, 2011

The health care industry has added four million jobs over the past decade.   Specifically consider the field of MEDICAL CODING.  In 2013 there will be a transition to an upgraded coding system and a recent Forbes article predicted that those in demand medical coder jobs may earn up to $80,000.  (Sounds high to me, but that’s what the article said.)  Most community colleges offer training.  DMACC offers online or late afternoon and evening courses and their website states “Medical Insurance and Coding is one of the fastest growing medical office specialties.”  Coders take physician supplied medical diagnoses and transfer to codes for purpose of reimbursement and recordkeeping.   The upgraded ICD-10 codes have been seen with trepidation.  However, 3M Health Information Systems claims the expanded choices will help physicians with diagnosis identification and coders will not be burdened with  learning thousands of new codes.   Nevertheless, the U.S. Department of Labor is projecting a shortage of coders in the near future due to retirements and also the impending coding transfer.  Comparisons have been made to the Y2K computer programmer hiring phenomenon.              So if you’re looking for job, a career move, or continuing education after you work your day job – check out Medical Coding!   By the way, some coders work out of their homes.              Want a job?  Get trained!  You’ll have a job!              Sources:  3M Health Information Systems; DMACC; Dept of Labor; Forbes

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