Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘Mark E. Anderson’

Should a firefighter or police officer be paid more than minimum wage?

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Mark E. AndersonI do not live in Scranton, Pennsylvania, nor do I know the political leanings of the mayor or the city council; however, I do know that their actions, cutting the wages of city employees to minimum wage, are shameful. By the way, that wage cut applies to firefighters and police officers as well as a myriad of other city employees.

The employee’s unions are fighting back and are taking the city to court:

The trio of unions – International Association of Firefighters Local 60, the Fraternal Order of Police E.B. Jermyn Lodge 2 and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 2305 – expect to soon file several new legal actions, said their attorney, Thomas Jennings. Those actions would include:

  • A motion in Lackawanna County Court to hold the mayor in contempt, due to paying 398 city employees minimum wages in their paychecks Friday, even though a judge on Thursday and Friday ordered full wages.
  • A lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Scranton under the Fair Labor Standards Act alleging the city has failed to pay wages on time and failed to pay overtime.
  • Another federal complaint alleging violations of the Heart and Lung Act, because benefits of disabled police and firefighters also were cut to minimum wages without first having a required hearing.
  • A penalty petition with the state workers’ compensation commission over the minimum wages.

“Pick a law. They violated it,” Mr. Jennings said.

The city is claiming that it had no choice as it only has $133,000 in cash on hand as of Monday but owed $3.4 million dollars to vendors, not including employees:

A payroll every two weeks amounts to $1 million, officials said. To free up cash to pay overdue bills, particularly health coverage, the mayor on June 27 announced he was indefinitely cutting salaries of all non-federally funded employees to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. This way, the payroll every two weeks would amount to $300,000, though [the mayor] pledged to pay all back wages once the crisis is resolved.

Sure, he will pay the workers back once the crisis is resolved, and I bet while he is at it he will toss in some oceanfront property in Arizona and a bridge in Brooklyn.

Now, of course if you go through the comments sections on any news story about the goings on in Scranton you will find that they are, unfortunately, quite typical these days. Those fatcat public employees and their unions are all to blame for Scranton’s and the nation’s woes. Yep, that cop who at 3:00 am is chasing down a guy who just robbed someone’s house is the problem. The firefighter who pulled a sleeping child out of a burning home is the problem. That guy over there who tests the tap water to make sure it is clean and safe to drink; it is his fault that Scranton and the nation as a whole is broke.

This blog originally appeared in Daily Kos Labor on July 11, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mark Anderson, a Daily Kos Labor contributor, describes himself as a 44 year-old veteran, lifelong Progressive Democrat, Rabid Packer fan, Single Dad, Part-time Grad Student, and Full-time IS worker. You can learn more about him on his Facebook, “Kodiak54 (Mark Andersen)”

Veterans working for government contractor forced to attend anti-union meetings at Fort Lewis

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Mark E. AndersonYou survive two combat tours and you come home and find a job as a mechanic, refurbishing the Stryker combat vehicles that protected you while you were in a hostile land, with a government contractor that pays a decent wage. The workforce is about 50 percent veteran and 50 percent civilian. Your work place is on post at Fort Lewis, Washington.

You and your coworkers want to join Local 286 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). Your employer, General Dynamics, does not want you to join a union.

Jason Croic, a Marine combat veteran, is one of those veterans:

We have had these meetings where they provided one side of the story. The message is we won’t be as employable to the Army as we are now because we won’t be as versatile. Being non-union, they say we are more attractive to the Army because we can be moved around easier. I think it’s bullshit the way they are talking to us,”says Croic. “You think when it’s prior military veterans who have done their part, they wouldn’t do this kind of thing to us.

The employees of General Dynamics Land Systems have scheduled a vote for union representation for June 29th. For the past month the employees have been forced to sit through anti-union meetings every day.

General Dynamics Land Systems President Mark C. Roualet [stated] “We believe it is important for our employees to have both sides of the story, and that is exactly what we have been trying to communicate during the meetings you describe. We have conducted these meetings in a non-threatening and non-coercive manner and in according with applicable laws. Meetings held since January 2012 have not been charged as training and have not been billed to our customer.”

By the way, the customer Mr. Roualet is talking about is the United States Army and by extension taxpayers; however, in a letter to General Dynamics Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash) noted that General Dynamics has coded funds being used for union busting for reimbursement.

General Dynamics Land Systems spokeswoman Marie Remboulis stated.:

General Dynamics is a fair and equitable company that wants to take care of our employees. From that perspective we believe it’s important for our employees to have both sides of the information. We have conducted these meetings in the spirit of openness in a manner that is in everything way applicable with regulatory laws.

Yep General Dynamics is so fair and equitable that they let the union post meeting notices on the bulletin board; however have repeatedly blocked union organizers from holding meetings at Fort Lewis. They are so fair and equitable that they have lied to veterans by telling them that they are less valuable to the Army if they are union members.

General Dynamics is crying poverty to the employees while they fly corporate executives into Fort Lewis to make anti-union pitches. Which combined with the almost daily anti-union meetings is turning the employees towards the union.

As a veteran I feel it is disgraceful what General Dynamics is doing to these men and women. How much money has General Dynamics made off of making war machines over the years? How many billions or triilions of dollars? And when the men and women who used these war machines come home and work for General Dynamics they are told that joining a union will make them worth less to the Army. What a crock of shit. General Dynamics just wants to keep whatever profit they make off of the American taxpayer to fund their corporate jets and to pay big dividends to their investors and for their stock price to go up. They don’t give a rat’s ass about the men and women using the machines they build or the men and women who refurbish those same machines.

Solidarity to the employees of General Dynamics Land Systems. I hope you are soon represented by IUOE Local 286.

This blog originally appeared in Daily Kos Labor on June 27, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mark Anderson, a Daily Kos Labor contributor, describes himself as a 44 year-old veteran, lifelong Progressive Democrat, Rabid Packer fan, Single Dad, Part-time Grad Student, and Full-time IS worker. You can learn more about him on his Facebook, “Kodiak54 (Mark Andersen)”

Law Office Fires 14 Workers for Wearing Orange Shirts

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Mark E. AndersonWhere I work, we get donuts on payday Friday. At one law office in Florida, workers go to happy hour after work. They all wear the same color shirt so they look like a group when they go out for happy hour.

A lot of places get crowded for happy hour on Friday nights, so it makes sense to me that they would wear a visible color so group members could find each other. On one recent Friday,

14 workers wearing orange shirts were called into a conference room, where an executive said he understood there was a protest involving orange, the employees were wearing orange, and they all were fired.

The executive said anyone wearing orange for an innocent reason should speak up. One employee immediately denied involvement with a protest and explained the happy-hour color.

The executives conferred outside the room, returned and upheld the decision: all fired, said Lou Erik Ambert, 31, of Coconut Creek, a litigation para-legal who said he was terminated.

Fourteen people fired because an executive was paranoid about some type of worker protest that wasn’t even happening. And people say we don’t need unions today because the “job creators” don’t do things like this? Seriously?

This is perfectly legal too as Florida, like most states, is an at-will state. With few exceptions at-will means the employer is free to discharge individuals for good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all and the employee is equally free to quit, strike or otherwise cease work.

Some of the employees who were fired for wearing the same color shirt spoke to a local newspaper. “There is no office policy against wearing orange shirts. We had no warning. We got no severance, no package, no nothing, I feel so violated,” according to one. Another said “I’m a single mom with four kids, and I’m out of a job just because I wore orange today.” One wants us to know they weren’t protesting: “To my mind, protesting is where you put your foot down, and you’re not working. There was none of that today.” But that doesn’t matter—all that matters is that their boss thought they might be protesting.

Fired for wearing orange without warning and because of the paranoid delusions of a “job creator.” His assumption that his employees were protesting management just cost 14 people their livelihoods. This is so wrong on so many levels and is just one more reason why unions are necessary.

This blog originally appeared in Daily Kos Labor on March 21, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mark Anderson, a Daily Kos Labor contributor, describes himself as a 44 year-old veteran, lifelong Progressive Democrat, Rabid Packer fan, Single Dad, Part-time Grad Student, and Full-time IS worker. You can learn more about him on his Facebook, “Kodiak54 (Mark Andersen)”

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