Labor’s love lost

first_imgIn Boston, they call it “the Grand Bargain.” The recently completed labor negotiations that integrated the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and the state Highway Department workforces have been widely praised for being cost-effective while keeping workers and union bosses happy.These days, such success stories are rare, and more necessary than ever, said three local leaders involved in the negotiations, during a discussion Wednesday night (Feb. 23) at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS).“I think we are in the earliest stage of what could be the largest experience with labor unrest in our lifetime,” said labor expert Thomas A. Kochan at “Collective Bargains: Rebuilding and Repairing Public Sector Labor Relations in Difficult Times,” an event co-sponsored by the Taubman Center for State and Local Government and the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at HKS.The conversation took on a somber tone in light of the anti-union political sentiment sweeping state governments around the country — and the resulting pushback by growing crowds of fed-up public employees. But the speakers also rallied around the idea that Massachusetts’ public-sector unions can lead by example.“We have a golden opportunity to address these issues in a creative way,” said Kochan, George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management, professor of engineering systems, and co-director of the Institute for Work and Employment Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. “And I’m afraid that if we don’t, then these 70,000 people in the streets in Madison might just escalate to hundreds of thousands, or even millions, around the country.”Over the past week, Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin and Indiana have defected to Illinois to avoid having to vote on legislation that would eliminate or at least weaken collective bargaining rights. Similar measures are being proposed in Ohio. In all three states, union supporters have been staging protests as Republican leaders argue for aggressive measures to balance state budgets.In putting together the speaker series, said David Luberoff, executive director of the Rappaport Institute, “we tried to think about issues that were timely and important, but we had no idea we’d be this timely.”Kochan called the charge against public unions “a virus” sweeping the country. A treatment, in his view, would mean smarter negotiations by public-sector unions that are based on up-to-date numbers and greater transparency about labor negotiations in the digital age.“It had to be transparent,” he said of the MassDOT negotiations. “It’s not your father’s labor relations of the past, where there are a lot of backroom deals that drive collective bargaining.”Many labor disputes are resolved through collective bargaining and arbitration, a form of dispute resolution that takes place outside the courts in which unions and employers agree to abide by a third-party arbitrator’s decision. But while both have come under scrutiny from lawmakers and the public, they are not as effective at getting union victories as they seem, Kochan said.“Arbitration is way overcriticized for what it does,” he said. “Arbitration is also not a panacea.” Collective bargaining is also not a universally effective tool for public unions, he added, because many trades, such as teaching, negotiate at the district level, making it difficult for employees to wield power in large numbers.Public dissatisfaction with government and labor union unrest have “come to a boiling point,” said Rep. Martin J. Walsh, a Democrat representing Dorchester.“I view what’s going on in this country as almost an attack on the middle class,” he added.The problem in most states, including Massachusetts, stems from a twofold “lack of trust” regarding unions, said Jeffrey Mullan, CEO and secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Taxpayers don’t trust public employees to do their jobs efficiently, he explained, and labor doesn’t trust government officials, who come and go with election cycles, to look out for their interests.“I call them the We-Be’s,” he said of jaded public employees. “‘We be here before you came, and we be here after you go.’”The best way to build trust on all fronts, he said, is to empower state workers. “That was a philosophical underpinning of the Grand Bargain,” he said. That requires allowing workers to feel like they have a say in labor negotiations, as well as educating the public about the critical jobs public employees do.There is an untrue perception that public-sector union workers are overpaid, Kochan said. If one controls for workers’ job skills and levels of education, he said, public employees earn 11 percent less than their private-sector counterparts nationally. (Taking government workers’ generous fringe benefits, such as health coverage, into account lowers that difference to 3.7 percent.)The media plays a large role in stoking anti-union sentiment, Walsh said. There’s already a negative public perception of unions, especially those representing government employees, and “the media continues to push that.”Union workers once represented a third of the private-industry work force; they now account for only 7 percent. The public sector has not seen the same rate of decline — 36 percent of government employees are in unions — but current events could mark a turning point for union representation and, by extension, the middle class, Kochan said.“We allowed that to happen [in the private sector] gradually, quietly, and without much uproar,” he added. “The lesson for the public-sector unions is: Make this visible.”The problem in most states, including Massachusetts, stems from a twofold “lack of trust” regarding unions, said Jeffrey Mullan, CEO and secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Taxpayers don’t trust public employees to do their jobs efficiently, he explained, and labor doesn’t trust government officials, who come and go with election cycles, to look out for their interests.last_img read more

College students to perform two operas

first_imgSaint Mary’s College will look to hit the right note this weekend as six students perform two short operas this weekend. The performances of “The Old Maid and the Thief” and “The Telephone,” both by Gian Carlo Menotti, will showcase the talents of students involved in a one-credit opera workshop, associate professor of music Laurel Thomas said. “In the semesters we do opera workshop, students can receive one credit for taking the class,” she said. “The term ‘opera workshop’ is used quite loosely, in the sense that we might do a one-act opera in its entirety, or we might do several scenes from different operas, which is how the term is usually used.” Thomas said the College presents a staged musical performance each year within the music department, with the exception of every fourth year, where the College teams the music and theatre departments to create a full-length musical. “Every fourth year we do a large musical together,” she said. “We are currently in discussion about doing a smaller musical every other year, and we tried this last fall when we collaborated to produce ‘Into the Woods’ by Stephen Sondheim.” Thomas said she is responsible for selecting music each year that caters to the students’ skill set. “I always choose the opera or opera scenes based on the students in the department who are musically capable and interested in working hard on a production,” she said. Thomas said the operas she selected this year are comical, and will showcase each performer’s talent. “I hope that people will enjoy the music, find the singing of high quality, but mostly, that they will be able to laugh and have fun,” she said. “The Telephone” runs about 20 minutes long and is about a female character, Lucy, who is on the telephone with Ben, who is trying to propose to her. “It is an earlier case of a problem we still have today — technology getting in the way of true communication,” Thomas said. The plot of “The Old Maid and the Thief” reflects the history of 1930s — the era in which it was written. “‘The Old Maid and the Thief’ reflects Menotti’s view of this town and its inhabitants,” she said. “Though it is a comedy, the female roles in this opera are not necessarily all likeable. It was the first opera written for radio broadcast, another indication of its era.” The operas will be held on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Little Theatre in Moreau Hall. Tickets are free for students and cost $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens and $8 for faculty and staff of the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College and Holy Cross College.last_img read more

How to spot and avoid phishing scams

first_imgThis is placeholder text continue reading » This post is currently collecting data… ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrcenter_img Have you ever received an email or text that just didn’t seem right? Maybe it was addressed to you and supposedly from a company you knew, but something felt a little off? It may have been a phishing scam.Phishing happens when fraudsters try to trick you into sharing personal information like passwords or credit card data. These scammers may try to get you to click a link for what you think is a legitimate business or offer. Then, they hope you’ll enter your information on their fake website, which oftentimes match the look of the legitimate website. The link may also download malicious software that could harm your computer and steal information stored on it. Once fraudsters have your information, they may use it to try to get into your existing accounts or open new accounts in your name.If you’ve clicked on a link you suspect was fraudulent, don’t be embarrassed. Scammers continue finding new ways to trick even the savviest among us. If you think you’ve given a scammer your information by accident, go to identitytheft.gov for specific steps to start your recovery from identity theft.last_img read more

Entertain with the bright city lights as a backdrop

first_imgEven the bedrooms at 48/30 O’Connell Street, Kangaroo Point, have beautiful views.Sit in the outdoor spa and watch the city light up as the sun sets or entertain with the Brisbane city as a backdrop. The 424sq m property has high ceilings, open-plan living, a dedicated bar and an entertainer’s kitchen. The master suite has an ensuite with spa bath, a walk-in wardrobe and a private balcony. The three remaining bedrooms have balcony access. The property is on the market through Simon Caulfield and Courtney Maguire of Place Kangaroo Point. In Morningside, the three-bedroom townhouse at 1/73 Pashen St offers city views from the private main bedroom. The view from the deck at 1/73 Pashen Street, Morningside.Set in a complex of three, the property has a lounge room opening to the front courtyard and an open-plan kitchen and dining space flowing out to the rear courtyard through sliding door. The lights of the CBD can be seen from the back entertainment area. Upstairs, there is a family bathroom and three bedrooms, including the master suite with walk-in wardrobe, ensuite, private balcony and beautiful views.The balcony is big enough for an outdoor couch to relax on while soaking in the vista. The home is being sold by Tony O’Doherty and John Keating of Belle Property Bulimba. The view from the entertaining area at 35 Laidlaw Parade, East Brisbane.The property comes with a private 10m deep pontoon, wine cellar, cinema and guest quarters. The property will go to auction on Saturday, July 27, at 11am and is being marketed by George Trovas of Ray White Bulimba. Step into the two-storey penthouse at 48/30 O’Connell St, Kangaroo Point, to enjoy stunning 270-degree river and city views. More from newsNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market12 hours agoNoosa unit prices hit new record high as region booms: REIQ12 hours agocenter_img The stunning view from 48/30 O’Connell Street, Kangaroo Point.The bright city lights and stunning views from these Brisbane homes are sure to attract buyers like moths to a flame. In East Brisbane you can sit on your back deck at 35 Laidlaw Parade and watch the boats float by with the River City in the background. The five-bedroom home is spread across four levels with views from the master suite, living spaces, swimming pool and office. last_img read more