Archive for Friday, November 18, 2011

New labor coalition forms to fight Brownback initiatives

Terry Forsyth, president of the Working Kansas Alliance, speaks Friday during news conference announcing formation of the group.

Terry Forsyth, president of the Working Kansas Alliance, speaks Friday during news conference announcing formation of the group.

November 18, 2011, 12:29 p.m. Updated November 18, 2011, 2:54 p.m.


— Organized labor was roughed up during the last legislative session. Union leaders say the next session, which starts in January, will be even tougher.

“We are fighting back,” said Terry Forsyth, president of the newly formed Working Kansas Alliance. He was flanked on Friday by more than 50 union members during a news conference held in conjunction with the Kansas AFL-CIO biennial convention.

Forsyth said he will oppose efforts by Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, and many Republican legislators to start a 401(k)-style plan for public employees. He said that doesn’t fix the funding problem in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, which was caused by the state failing to contribute enough into the system.

He also predicted there will be a repeat of last session’s fight over a bill to limit the rights of union members to participate in political campaigns. That bill passed in the House with only Republican votes and prompted a rare demonstration in the House gallery that resulted in union members being kicked out.

Brownback has said he is working on improving the state economy and bringing more jobs to Kansas. He is set to unveil new tax and school finance plans.

His spokeswoman, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, said, “Clinging to outdated ways of doing things won’t work and taxpayers can’t afford it.” She added, “In the last decade, Kansas actually lost private sector jobs. We’re starting to turn that around, but there’s a lot of work to do. To grow Kansas, we need to control spending while reforming taxes and regulation.”

Forsyth also warned there will be an attempt in the 2012 legislative session, which starts in January, to do away with the state minimum wage law, which was increased in 2010 to match the federal minimum wage law and prior to that had been $2.65 an hour, the lowest state minimum wage in the country.

Forsyth said he hoped that labor’s success earlier this month in overturning a law in Ohio that limited the bargaining rights of public-sector unions and a movement to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signal that the public is getting unhappy with politicians with anti-labor agendas.

“As we saw in Ohio, initiatives that impede the ambitions of working people are rightfully viewed by voters as being too extreme. We believe Kansans will draw the same conclusions regarding the similar policies being pushed by the governor and members of the Kansas Legislature,” he said.

Earlier this week, Walker canceled plans to attend a fund-raiser in Wichita, which the Sedgwick County Republican Party said was also to feature Brownback. Labor groups claimed credit for the cancelation because they said they planned to bring thousands of workers to protest Walker’s appearance in Kansas.

Forsyth said the Working Kansas Alliance would also oppose plans to push more of public school and social service funding onto local governments.

“This fight is not about political parties and labels. This fight is about what is right and what is wrong,” he said.


Chris Golledge 6 years, 6 months ago

In the past I've been ambivalent about unions, but I am starting to think that they could have a large influence on lowering the multiple of what the executives make over the average worker. If you look at the average worker's pay as X, then you can calculate a number M * X , where that is what the average exec makes. M has been growing a lot in recent years.

overthemoon 6 years, 6 months ago

I agree and have also been ambivalent about Unions while still understanding the need for a voice for the workers. There has been corruption and misdirection among Unions over the years, but I think the assault they are facing is refocusing the organizations on the fundamentals of workers rights that affect union and nonunion workers (everybody) alike. I really hope to see a very proactive and effective third voice or party coming out of the working class to balance the lopsided and gridlocked 2 party system.

itwasthedukes 6 years, 6 months ago

Enter the thugs set to continue to rob the tax payers and loot the treasuries. KPERS has been underfunded for years yes even under sebelius. Should we continue to ignore the problem? Oh wait maybe the feds can just bail us out. Why do Unions get a pass when they are a big part of the budget problems?

JustNoticed 6 years, 6 months ago

I like my thugs better than your thugs. It's time to eat the rich.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 6 months ago

Sebelius didn't underfund KPERS. The legislature did that. The legislature appropriates funds.

KS 6 years, 6 months ago

You want to know why the jobs have left this country? This is a classic example. If I were an employer with the opportunity to relocate my company to someplace without unions and the heavy burden of government rules, etc., I would do so in a heartbeat. Oh, I am starting to hear more of that "giant sucking sound" that ole Ross Perot used to talk about. I see this next election cycle as being one of the nastiest and most violent on record. The liberal dems in control are not going to go away easily and with 75% +/- of the country agreeing that we are going in the wrong direction, I truly feel for the future of this country if we don't do something. It ain't like the good ole days and it never will be again. The problem is that folks will not wake up and realize it until it is too late. If you want to protect our future, some of us are just going to have to do with less to rebuild what once was a truly great county.

Now, if that doesn't stir up liberal Lawrence, I am not sure what will. Have a nice day. I will post no more on this subject. Let the personal attacks roll.

JustNoticed 6 years, 6 months ago

There are no Liberal Dems in control. There are nothing but Corporate water carriers pretenders.

SnakeFist 6 years, 6 months ago

"If I were an employer with the opportunity to relocate my company to someplace without unions and the heavy burden of government rules, etc., I would do so in a heartbeat."

Sure, if you were an employer you'd want to locate where you can pay a few dollars a day, provide no benefits, and dump your leftovers into the ditch. But if you're an employee, a consumer, or just someone who lives near a factory, you ought to be grateful for unions and government regulations.

chootspa 6 years, 6 months ago

Yes, some of us are going to have to do with less to rebuild this country. That "some of us" is the 1%, who continue to make more than ever even as the middle and lower classes have been crushed. We encourage risky investing behavior and outsourcing with our tax code and then somehow have the delusion that giving them an even bigger slice of the pie makes the pie bigger.

Enjoy that 40 hour work week, KS.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 6 months ago

Unions brought us the 40 hour work week, paid vacation and sick leave. Unions brought us workplace safety laws. Yeah, I can see why the right wing nuts commenting here despise them more than say Bank of America with it's attempt to impose a $5 per month debit card fee after benefitting a few years ago from the bush bailouts...

thinkagain 6 years, 6 months ago

Brownback Administration policies are so destrctive to the average Kansan and his cronyism is so DC beltway, he is energizing unions in KANSAS.

overthemoon 6 years, 6 months ago

pretty amazing, isn't it? in a 'right to work' state. (doesn't that really mean 'right to gouge and fire workers at will'??)

Armored_One 6 years, 6 months ago

And you think that an employer shouldn't be able to fire an underperforming employee without jumping through a few dozen hoops?

Unions trash the concept of the phrase "minimum wage". There is no member of any union that I know of that works for "minimum wage". Look to the UAW as an example.

Unions drive the price of everything up, mainly so that employers can afford to pay the bastages the huge wages they "deserve".

To some extent, the bargaining rights of unions NEED to be curtailed. I have no qualms with a decent wage, but when postal workers make 3 and 4 times minimum wage starting the first day they start working, something is a bit off center.

Drop their wages down, and force businesses to make the same appropriate cuts in their prices, and this economy will turn around before the next presidential election. 7 bucks is a huge increase from when I started working, but it needs to be adjusted again.

10.50 an hour is much more sustainable. It will, of course, hurt small businesses, but you can't have a blizzard in the middle of a heat wave. Once the economy gains it's strength back, there will be more people capable of spending more money again, which will help teh small businesses out.

It's not pretty, and will ruffle a lot of feathers at first, but, frankly, I'd gladly scrap the unions, nationwide, rather than scrap the nation as a whole because they refuse to think on a larger scale than just themselves.

overthemoon 6 years, 6 months ago

No, I don't think under performing employees should be unaccountable. And there are certainly problems with some unions in some industries. But the answer is not to dismantle unions or the idea of workers rights but to find a way to make a cooperative effort between workers and employers to improve the workplace and the the business. Some companies do this without the need for unions as they respect their employees and treat them well. Some companies don't and will take every opportunity to take advantage of their workers whether through unfair pay, poor or dangerous working conditions, or simply disrespectful and dehumanizing employment practices.

From what I can see, most of the bigger and more vocal unions are realizing the new role they need to play in today's economy...keeping jobs and production going rather than just fighting for wages or benefits. This change needs to be recognized and developed so that Unions can play a proactive role in job creation and training of new employees.

Armored_One 6 years, 6 months ago


Federal and state laws concerning pay.

Disrespectful is in the eye of the beholder, as is dehumanizing.

A couple of million dollar or more fines concerning those topics, and no other employer will want to go down that road. State employees would file with the feds and non state with the state first and later with the feds, depending on the outcome.

The world may not be black and white, but answers should be.

chootspa 6 years, 6 months ago

I agree. He's just part of "What's the Matter with Kansas."

Scott Drummond 6 years, 6 months ago

"Blowin' down this old dusty road, Yes, we're blowin' down this old dusty road, Well we're blowin' down this old dusty road, Lord And we ain't gonna be treated this'a way!"

Woody Guthrie's great words to live by.

chootspa 6 years, 6 months ago

“Clinging to outdated ways of doing things won’t work and taxpayers can’t afford it.” <--- I love a good ironic statement in the morning.

Yes, Brownback. The outdated ways of doing things didn't work in the 19th Century, so why do you think they'll work today?

rtwngr 6 years, 6 months ago

To all of you state workers: I think you should pay for your own retirement like the rest of us.

Getaroom 6 years, 6 months ago

Not that operating unions the age old way is a comforting thought, but really your's is a broad statement "the rest of us". Who are you including in that fold? Many folks outside of organized unions have retirement plans that do receive contributions from employers.

kernal 6 years, 6 months ago

Have you forgotten many employers contribute to 401-K plans? But, I'm willing to bet you're self-employed with no employees and won't be taking SSI since you're a rightwinger and SSI is a socialist program. If you're close to 60, I hope you have a least $2 million set aside and good luck with not losing that during the next crunch.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 6 months ago

You are ignorant. State workers are required by state law to contribute 4% of their gross wages into KPERS. Newer employees are contributing 6%. They then pay state income taxes but not federal on those contributions. The problem is that the legislature did not follow through on their end of the deal. They did not match employee contributions at even close to the rate the actuaries told them for decades was necessary. That makes republican lawmakers more like lawbreakers in my view. Perhaps they should be deported to Missouri being criminals and all in that regard.

Plus pension benefits are a portion of total compensation packages. Take home pay is generally lower for state employees than comparable jobs in the free market you right wing nuts love so much. KPERS is part of that total compensation package at least so far as the nonexistent state contributions not employee contributions go. Finally why do you begrudge something someone else has?

chootspa 6 years, 6 months ago

I think the rest of us ought to have defined benefit plans like we used to back before our corporate overlords decided to plunder them for CEO perks.

JustNoticed 6 years, 6 months ago

They work. They pay for what they get whether it's a wage or a benefit or a retirement package. No one is asking for something they haven't earned.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

Warren Buffett: The Super-Rich Have Been Coddled Long Enough By A Billionaire-Friendly Congress

Read more:

In an op-ed in the New York Times Monday, the Oracle of Omaha calls on Congress to ask him and other "super-rich" Americans to contribute more to the federal government.

Buffett called for the immediate increase in the tax rate for those making more than $1 million, and for a new, higher tax bracket for those making more than $10 million — including dividends and capital gains.

And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000," he writes. "You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation."

Buffett also called on the so-called "Super Committee" of 12 members of congress tasked with $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts to exceed that, in order to restore the nation's confidence in Washington.

He said Congress seems bent on protecting him and other wealth Americans from taxes as if "we were spotted owls or some other endangered species," but added they can do their part.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress," he writes. "It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice."

overthemoon 6 years, 6 months ago

No need to look far as there is no 'mob' nor any 'anarchists'. what you're seeing is real honest to gawd patriotism and democracy at work. I know its scary when it comes from 'the other side', but eventually you'll realize that you will benefit from the rebirth of American 'For the People' democracy !!

Jayhawk1958 6 years, 6 months ago

Yeah those people in the photo sure look like "thugs" to me.

Jan Rolls 6 years, 6 months ago

Sam the sham must be nuts bringing walker here. Walker won't be around long anyway the way the petitions are being collected. Correction sam the sham is nuts.

verity 6 years, 6 months ago

Monsters rarely see themselves as monsters. I think that Perry is just a flim-flam man who doesn't actually believe in religion and his rightwing agenda---he's just using it for political and financial gain. Sam Brownback, on the other hand, seems to actually believe he is God's gift to us. Logic has no place in his equation.

Yes, many labor unions became much the same as the corporations they were fighting---all about top management. But the policies of the government today are reinvigorating labor unions. It's all about balance and hopefully we will be smart enough to be more balanced in the future.

When people can buy public office, our whole government is being privatized and privatization means one has to make a financial profit.

bszemere 6 years, 6 months ago

Unions are useless. I was a shop steward at a place once. We were trying to restart the union presence there. Our union abandoned us, hung us out to dry. When I has issues with a manager, the union abandoned us. I don't think paying someone $20 a paycheck and getting nothing is a good deal. Just let us work. stop the stupid rules, the forced union membership. Unions have priced us out of the world labor market. It should be a basic freedom that we work were we like, as long as we like. The business do it to us, give us the same right. All states should have right to work. Anything less is not freedom.

Bob Forer 6 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like the problem was not with the right to organize, but your particular union. the workers should have shopped elsewhere for better representation from another union.

kochmoney 6 years, 6 months ago

You do realize that you can't be forced to join a union, right? This state is a "right to work" state, but even in those states with strong unions, union membership is optional.

You still have to pay fees in some states (not KS) if the union is negotiating your contract, but you don't have to join.

bszemere 6 years, 6 months ago

One only has to look at Sebelius and her issues with governing in Kansas and with Obama. They are both failures and Brownback has been stuck with the mess both forced upon Kansas, as well as the rest of the US. Note he doesn't blames her. This notion of the GOP and rich going out to steal from Americans doesn't pass the smell test. Look at the billion dollar warchest Obama is building for the '12 election. That's not from schoolkids, college kids and the elderly. He has people like Buffet, Soros, Jobs, Gates as heavy contributors. Who else would put the head of one of the biggest companies in the world (and leading job exporter) in charge of making jobs. That's like letting the fox guard the hen house. If anyone is in the pocket of big business its Obama and the Demorats, far more than the GOP. I trust Brownback more that Obama to do something right.

kochmoney 6 years, 6 months ago

Stop sniffing the Fox, man. It's very bad for your cognitive functioning.

kochmoney 6 years, 6 months ago

1929-39. An apt analogy. It's time for someone truly progressive to come and give us some real liberal legislation instead of giving into arguments for moderation. Good on you for spotting the problem. Too bad the right is running with a Dickensian plan.

kansanjayhawk 6 years, 6 months ago

One problem with unions of late is their blind acceptance of the liberal agenda! We need unions to once again represent the working man and the family values that he represents! We need these unions to work to get policies enacted in Kansas --like tax reform-- that will get high paying "living wage" jobs back. Many of us are tired of the union bosses always siding with the Democrats and the liberals! We are sick of them being in the tank and not using their minds to consider alternative approaches to getting jobs back here!

kochmoney 6 years, 6 months ago

There's your problem. The working man has been tricked into thinking he should support tax cuts for the rich and service cuts for the poor in exchange for some harsh sounding rhetoric about abortion and marriage. Unions do represent the TRUE interests of the working class, but dupes like you are lead to believe that they don't.

kansanjayhawk 6 years, 6 months ago

oh--so I guess we should just open up our wallets and give the government whatever amount the liberal "do-gooders" think they need--you seem to be the duped one! We need to have a balanced approach and in a time when the Kansas economy is contracting we certainly don't need to continue to grow government at all levels.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 6 months ago

"Many of us are tired of the union bosses always siding with the Democrats and the liberals! We are sick of them being in the tank and not using their minds to consider alternative approaches to getting jobs back here!" ==== KJH. May I humbly suggest we need to move beyond some of this rhetoric? Substitute "the super rich" for union bosses and Republicans for Democrats and 'conservatives' for 'liberals' and you have an all-purpose rant. Unions, particularly in Kansas are pretty toothless...right to work state and all that. Excesses by all concerned are the problem, not specifically workers, IMHO. I do, however, admire your persistence. If you work, did you get a morning break or a lunch hour? Have any benefits to your job? Perhaps we need a bumper sticker: "If you worked 8--9 hours today, thank a union."

kansanjayhawk 6 years, 6 months ago

very much pro-union just think that there needs to be some balance in thinking.

Fossick 6 years, 6 months ago

How is this new labor coalition any different from all of the previous labor coalitions?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.