March 2, 2012
AFL-CIO sees Local 49 Bending the Health Care Cost Curve
Operating Engineers Local 49 has managed something almost nobody else in the United States seems able to achieve. We've got the cost of health care coverage going down instead of up.
“We didn’t really have a choice,” said Jim Hansen, quoted in a recent AFL-CIO feature as identifying the central challenge to costs being that roughly 85% of the Local 49's annual health care expenditures were drawn for only 17% of the 33,000 participating union members and their dependents — a ratio very similar to the nationwide average.
February 28, 2012
Unions are no longer important?
That's what some say, that unions were important back in the day, but they've out-lived their purpose. They won us reasonable work shifts, overtime pay, maternity and family leaves, sick pay, holidays, and other great stuff -- but now that that's all done we don't really worry about losing any of that, right?
Did anybody ever make that argument when it comes to the U.S.
February 15, 2012
What should be done about unions?
What have unions ever done for us?
- Maternity leave
- Sick leave
- Weekends off
- Overtime pay
- Child Labor laws
- Health insurance coverage
- Workplace safety laws
- Military leave
- Paid holidays
The list goes on. If you want to read a longer list, not just the highlights, it's been compiled by same people who brought that MoveOn video to our attention, the New Hampshire Labor News, for their recent article: "
April 7, 2011
Streetcars play an increasing role, as the DC Streetcar Land-Use Study documents, and for good reason. The upfront costs are lower than light-rail, while businesses (and commercial real estate values) react much more vigorously than they do to bus rapid transit (BRT) proposals.
2) Return on Investment is Reliable, Investors React
In terms of taxpayers dollars, the Goody Clancy DC study found “streetcar offers a better ratio of benefits to costs compared to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or Light Transit. While BRT is less expensive to implement, it does not generate the real estate investments to the same degree that streetcars can.” In other words, with a lower implementation cost than light rail that stability and predictability is what businesses and property owners like. Long-term, they know the traffic patterns and support for use are reliable.
3) Urban Rail Transportation Stimulates Economic Development
With so many elected officials trying to create jobs and reverse shrinkage of tax revenues, studies on the light rail projects in Minneapolis, Portland, and Denver reveal more benefits than just the immediate job creation from the construction projects, there’s lots of other new real estate development, too, including especially housing when the lines are well-sited.
4) Transit Is Not an “either/or” Choice
Some state legislatures are leery of the investment as they look at funding for the repair and maintenance of existing roads, highways, and bridges. Yet a new (or better) Transit system reduces wear, freeing up more money and reducing infrastructure maintenance costs in transportation budgets.
5) If Highways Are the Answer We’d All Move to L.A.
I don’t want to decry development in Southern California, but the smog and traffic jams are legendary. Most developed areas don’t have the land to give up for more highways, toll-roads are far from a free solution even though they shift the maintenance costs, and most communities favor fewer big roads as the cost to our environment and impact on our quality of life becomes more evident.
3) It’s Efficient
It’s a simple fact, person-throughput is increased when a greater share of travelers in any given transportation corridor are riding rather than driving. Risks shrink, quality of life blossoms, and systems that mitigate commuter congestion coincidentally result in revitalized commercial and retail growth – again, because business investors recognize and gravitate to the predictable. While there are pitfalls to be avoided, there are numerous studies that show what’s working and what hasn’t; the data is real, so re-inventing the wheel isn’t the first step.
7) If You Build It, They Will Come
When you consider areas such as the Pearl district of Portland it’s obvious why that city is always high on lists of desirable places to live; urban development was phenomenal, and some estimates suggest streetcar ridership is 7 times higher than a bus alternative would be. Either way, it spurred billions of dollars in development projects, which translates into jobs and other tax revenues for the city – and isn’t that what every state or local government needs?