Friday, June 30, 2006

New York, The Magazine, July 10, 2006

New York, The Magazine, July 10, 2006

New York's Best Lawyers (Advertorial)

Whether You’re Litigious or Laid-Back—You’re Going to Need a Good Lawyer
They’ll protect you at your most vulnerable points.
By Lori Tripoli

Say what you will about the legal profession, mighty CEOs no less than newly minted college graduates need educated fighters who dicker and bicker and shout and squabble so they don’t have to. The conventional wisdom is wise indeed: Nobody likes lawyers until they need one.
Odds are you are going to need one. Whether you’re working out a deal to lease new office space for your business or threatening legal action against your upstairs neighbor because an overflowing bathtub flooded your condo, you’ll eventually require expert legal assistance. In the office, at home, because of a sudden interruption to your everyday life, or because a chronic problem just keeps getting worse, you’ll want an attorney’s advice.
There is indeed a direct correlation between major life events and lawyers. In the world we all live in, our rites of passage are typically accompanied by legal issues—even where there is no evident “problem.” Employment lawyers are good folks to talk to if you’re getting a new job or being promoted. You’ll talk to trusts and estates lawyers if you make a million or a bankruptcy lawyer if you lose your shirt. Getting divorced obviously requires a lawyer but, in the age of the prenup, so too does getting married.
Even if you manage to avoid retaining and paying a lawyer directly, you’ll feel their influence. Attorneys have reviewed the contracts you’re offered, approved your employee manual, gone line-by-line over that 20-page real estate lease, or overseen financing for the new bridge you’ll drive across on your way to work.
Property TransfersIt’s no wonder, then, that the practice of law itself has become highly specialized and that nearly every genus of daily life is inevitably enmeshed—for better or worse—in a legal web of some sort. Some attorneys, for instance, simply focus on real estate transactions, handling everything from financing and purchases and acquisitions to leasing and joint venture agreements, for everyone from big-time developers to individuals buying their first condo.
What can seem like a straightforward transaction, a basic sell-buy arrangement, can actually become fairly complicated as mortgage contingencies, engineering inspections, and the extent of any repairs is bargained over. Is that crystal chandelier in the dining room staying, or will it be replaced with a cheaper lighting fixture? Will the drapes remain? What if the sellers want to stay in the home for a few more months until their new place is ready? What happens if the bank is moving slowly in approving the buyer’s mortgage? What if lightning strikes and the place burns down before the purchaser has even moved in? Suddenly, a seemingly simple transaction becomes much more involved. Add to the mix the emotions of both buyer (perhaps investing her life savings) and seller (whose attachment to his about-to-be former home may lead to some foot-dragging), and tensions can escalate. Of course, with a good lawyer, many potential pitfalls can be avoided before they even rise to the level of being a problem. Much can be hammered out during the contract-negotiation phase, when buyer and seller flesh out the specifics of their agreement. “The contracts are there to protect your interests, not to waive them,” explains Samuel Zylberberg, a partner in the New York City office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges.
In a booming real estate market, there are plenty of deals for real estate lawyers to negotiate. But during a downturn, a real estate lawyer’s work becomes that much more important. “When the market is great, everyone keeps buying and selling and everyone is happy,” Zylberberg says. When the market shifts downward, however, “contracts get tested and loan agreements get tested because borrowers go into default,” he explains. Especially in those situations, it’s that much more important to have gotten good counsel in the first place.
Living—and Resting—in PeaceDomestic “deal making” is also a legal potpourri in any number of ways. “There’s been no slowdown in divorces,” says Eleanor Breitel Alter, a partner at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman in New York City. There are even a fair number of repeat clients and “some recidivism,” says Donald Frank, a partner in the New York City office of Blank Rome. Before walking up the aisle in the first place, some people prefer the safety of a prenuptial agreement to protect them from what they darkly suspect is inevitable. “I used to see prenuptial agreements in second marriages, but I’m seeing a lot more of them in first marriages as well,” observes Frank. Prenuptial agreements are increasingly popular among young professionals, Alter reports. Some people even want to do agreements in the middle of a marriage, she adds.
Partnership contracts are not just for the married and marriageable. “People sometimes want to have agreements if they are living together but aren’t married or can’t be married,” Alter explains. Gay couples, for instance, might “want to make arrangements that are binding with respect to children or finances,” she says.
Domestic law doesn’t have to be contentious. Having a baby “is very often…the first impetus for doing a will,” says Jay Waxenberg, a partner in the New York City office of Proskauer Rose. Other major life events, such as marriage, a parent dying, a big inheritance, or simply buying a life insurance policy may also trigger the sudden desire to have a will, Waxenberg adds.
“There is not a lot of litigation compared to the number of people dying and the number of wills admitted to probate,” Waxenberg says. (Tell that to anyone who has bickered with siblings even when their parents have made very clear, very equal provisions.) At the same time, you “very often” do have “valuation issues when dividing up an estate equally,” Waxenberg adds. How do you value a family business, for example? Or a work of art? “This is a very people-oriented practice,” Waxenberg says of his line of work. Helping people determine when to give money to their children, at what ages, and how to structure the gift, is all part of his job.
“You have to write your will assuming you are going to die tomorrow,” Waxenberg says. And don’t let it gather dust, he advises. Come back to it every now and then as circumstances change. Your sister-in-law, once a happy stay-at-home mom, might have gotten divorced and no longer be in a position to serve as guardian for your four kids. Your brother in California might be the most responsible candidate, but suppose your kids are still young teenagers when tragedy strikes. “Faced with the trauma of both parents dying, they’ll then be uprooted from their friends and shipped to the West Coast,” Waxenberg notes. That’s not a legal problem, he observes, but, then again, the best kind of lawyering looks beyond strictly legal considerations. Business lawyers help clients with their businesses. Personal lawyers help clients with their personal lives. For example, provisions on behalf of the guardian should sometimes also be inserted into a will, advises Gideon Rothschild, a partner at Moses & Singer in New York City. After all, someone taking on your kids might need a bigger house and a bit more money. What’s good for the guardian is good for the children.
“You don’t want to leave things to chance,” Rothschild adds. “You can name a backup guardian. Some parents like to name their own parents as guardian but at some point those grandparents may not be able to handle the job.” Naming an alternate is almost always a very good idea. “Trusts and estates law is more than just wills,” Rothschild says. Healthcare proxies, powers of attorney, guardianship proceedings, and setting up trusts are part of the mix. “We add significant value to the process,” Rothschild says, especially since part of his job is “to minimize the estate tax the heirs are going to have to pay.”
Uncle Sam, of course, isn’t the only threat to one’s assets. Nor is it just your heirs who might be bickering for bigger pieces of the pie. Lose a big lawsuit—say, if you’re a doctor nailed in a malpractice action—and your assets could be in jeopardy. Trusts and estates lawyers like Rothschild help protect your life’s earnings from any future creditors via offshore trusts and similar instruments.

Office PoliticsLegal snafus can emerge while you’re still living, of course, and the workplace is a prime place for them. Tired of that guy in accounting asking you out on a date? Offended because the mailroom staff keeps telling dirty jokes within earshot? “Clients consult with us for a variety of reasons,” says Laurie Berke-Weiss, a partner at Berke-Weiss & Pechman in New York City. It doesn’t have to be as momentous as a wrongful discharge, or race and age discrimination. They might just have a mean boss and are looking for ways to make their lives less unpleasant, Berke-Weiss notes. Sexual harassment is likewise not always the overt scenario with a leering boss compelling sexual quid pro quos for job security or advancement. Far more mundane improprieties could get a second look from a lawyer’s eyes.

At the high end of employment law, you might need a lawyer to vet your contract. New York may be an at-will employment state, but top executives, high-profile editors in the publishing industry, and diverse Wall Street-types are often fortunate to have formal employment agreements in any event, according to Miriam Clark, a partner at Ritz & Clark in New York City.
An employee presented with a noncompete agreement might likewise want an attorney reviewing the arrangement. Noncompete agreements “seem to be more prevalent than in years past,” Berke-Weiss says. They might also be relatively clandestine as they are often buried in the employee handbook or stuck within a deferred compensation plan, Clark cautions.
Other workplace problems that arise might concern disability or leave issues. Wage-and-hour matters, which typically involve disputes about overtime work, are also increasingly prominent and are sometimes fairly complex if, for example, employees feel that their reclassification as supervisors is just a ploy to exempt the company from paying extra money for extra hours, according to Berke-Weiss.
Privacy issues also come into play, usually because employees are unaware of how little privacy they have. “Employees don’t necessarily understand that the desk and the equipment belong to the employer,” Berke-Weiss says. That can be problematic in a variety of situations. For example, if you’re leaving the company for another job, you may have kept all sorts of personal information on your office computer’s hard drive. Those residues of personal life and personal opinion actually belong to the employer.
Separating from your employer, whether voluntarily or not, may involve additionally vexing legal concerns, not the least of which are trade secrets—which, quite understandably, employers will fight hard to protect. Fights can also break out over ownership of customer lists, Berke-Weiss notes. If you’ve been canned and offered severance and a separation agreement, you might want to have a lawyer look at the document before you sign it. Taking the short money now may disserve you and your family in the long run.
The most amicable conclusion to a job—like retirement—deserves full legal review as well. There are frequent pension-related problems that arise both during employment and afterward, advises Julian Birnbaum, a partner at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard in New York City. A pension plan itself might be in jeopardy, or there may be some technical problems in how they’re set up or paid off. Pension plans are sometimes modified and “people want to make sure they are not losing benefits or being shortchanged in a conversion,” Birnbaum says. A labor and employment lawyer can decipher those changes.
Righting WrongsOther lawyers focus on protecting their clients when their lives have gone dreadfully wrong. Bad things happen—a car accident, a physician who had a few martinis before surgery, a medication that causes deleterious health effects. The victims want justice and they want money.
“If something happened to them that was someone else’s fault and they got hurt, the first step is to ask a lawyer to determine whether there is a case,” says Walter Alton Jr. of Walter G. Alton, Jr. & Associates.
“The public has become more litigious because they are more aware,” Alton says. Paradoxically, people are now more cynical as a result of media coverage of high jury awards to plaintiffs who look just like them. Yet the vast majority of cases settle for relatively small figures early on, but press coverage of exceedingly generous awards skews perceptions. “That’s the kind of publicity that prejudices jurors,” Alton says.
Still, personal injury suits are fights that Alton relishes. “Helping injured people and their families is the best part of my job,” Alton says. “You can make a difference in their lives,” he says. “You can’t bring them back to the way they were, but you can correct a wrong to some degree,” Alton notes.
And that, after all, is what the adversarial system is supposed to do.
Next: When You'll Need a Lawyer as You Travel Life's Path
Legal AidHere are some of the reasons you might need a lawyer as you travel life’s path:
Getting MarriedEven if you’re vowing to be married forever, consider the other implications of saying “I do.” A bit of legal advice could come in handy—as, of course, could a prenuptial agreement making arrangements should anything go wrong between you and your beloved.
Having KidsNow might be a good time to update your will, arrange for a guardian for your children, and think about financial arrangements (college tuition, trust funds) for your family.
Getting a Good JobIf you’re fortunate enough to have an employment contract, have your lawyer peruse it. Make sure you’re getting the most you possibly can. What will happen if you’re fired? Is notice required? Severance?
Buying a HomeMake sure you understand just what you’re buying. Are you purchasing “as is,” or did the seller promise to make some improvements?
Financial SuccessThe better you’re doing, the more you might need the advice of a tax lawyer or trusts and estates counsel to maximize your earnings and minimize your legal vulnerability should things head south.
Financial CalamityA bankruptcy lawyer might be needed in the worst-case scenario, but getting some sound legal advice before reaching the brink of financial ruin could mitigate some negative consequences.
Life’s Little Mishaps— Car Accidents, Slips-and-FallsAccidents happen, and you—or someone who’s come into contact with you—might just be prompted to say, “I’ll sue!”
DivorceEven before calling it quits, you might obtain legal advice to protect yourself.
DeathOkay, you won’t need a lawyer if you’re the deceased, but your family may need legal help in administering your estate and transferring your assets to your heirs.

New York, The Magazine, July 10, 2006

The (July 3-10, 2006) issue of New York, The Magazine contains a special advertising section -- "The New York Area's Best Lawyers." Included is a list of lawyers excerpted from the 2007 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, a referral guide which will be published in September 2006, and has been compiled from a peer-based voting process. Laurie Berke-Weiss (ILR '71) is listed as a Labor and Employment lawyer.

NEW YORK BEST LAWYERS (Advertorial) in NEW YORK The Magazine, July 10, 2006

Laurie Berke-Weiss
Berke-Weiss & Pechman
488 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Labor and Employment Law

The Modesto Bee (California), June 28, 2006, Wednesday

Copyright 2006 The Modesto Bee
The Modesto Bee (California)

Distributed by Knight/Ridder Tribune News Service

June 28, 2006 Wednesday


HEADLINE: Stanislaus State HR team wins national competition: Students defeat Cornell, are awarded $3,000 prize

BYLINE: Christina Salerno, The Modesto Bee, Calif.

Jun. 28--It was like David facing Goliath.
The human resources team from California State University, Stanislaus, fought its way to the top Monday, beating defending champion Cornell University during a two-day Society for Human Resource Management competition in Washington, D.C.
"Cornell is the premier team in the country, and we knocked them out," said Ed Hernandez, the Stanislaus State team's adviser and a College of Business faculty member. "In terms of the big picture, it puts CSU Stanislaus in a unique position on a national scale. We are a campus that is not supposed to be winning this. The other schools didn't even know who we were."
Hernandez, calling from a Texas airport on his way back to California, said the team was "crying and jumping" with joy after winning the championship.
It is the first national championship title for the team, which includes students Alfonso Valencia of Winton, Rosie Borjon of Escalon and Crystal Jack of Volcano. They were awarded a $3,000 cash prize for the win.
"We have a reputation as the team that studies the most," Hernandez said. "We studied a year or two in advance, as much as twice a week. We take it dead serious. But that's what it takes to break to the top."
The teams were quizzed on human resources knowledge, as well as general management, business and economics. The questions included definitions, laws, dates, deadlines, common practices and human resource theories.
The competition is in a format similar to the television game show "Jeopardy."
The competition began with 400 college teams from around the country. After capturing the state title in February, the Stanislaus State team won the 2006 Pacific Western Region Human Resource Championships in Honolulu in April. The win advanced them to the national championship in Washington, D.C.
The team lost to Cornell during opening rounds Sunday, but then scored consecutive victories over Utah State, North Carolina State and Southwestern Minnesota State. In Monday's semifinal round, Stanislaus State defeated Cornell and then outscored Utah State to win the national crown.
Bee staff writer Christina Salerno can be reached at 238-4574 or
Copyright (c) 2006, The Modesto Bee, Calif. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News. For reprints, email, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

The NewStandard, June30, 2006, Friday

Dissident Teamsters Still Agitating for Union Democracy
by Brendan Coyne

June 30 – The long-running battle between reform-minded Teamsters and the union's current leadership shifted gears this week with the opening of the organization's 27th convention in Las Vegas.

But observers see little fundamental change in the union's future coming out of this year's meeting, which began Monday and closes today.

Teamster delegates meet once every five years to nominate candidates for the union's General Executive Board and to vote on resolutions.

With about 7,000 attendees and 1,800 delegates considering dozens of resolutions and candidates, Teamsters communications director Galen Munroe said the 2006 convention compares “favorably” to those in the recent past.

Indeed, the Las Vegas meeting's day-to-day happenings and results look very similar to the last convention in 2001 – a fact that radical workers' rights activist Tom Wetzel said is unsurprising. He told The NewStandard that union conventions are similar to political ones: “managed and largely pre-determined.”

“Traditionally, union convention politics are dominated by paid officials of locals and the international,” Wetzel said. “The whole paid hierarchy of any union has an agenda – usually focused on maintaining their status – and dissident voices are consistently out-voted. It is really kind of a political machine.”

The key to changing that, Wetzel suggested, is grassroots efforts like the 30-year-old Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), which agitates for more local control and direct member participation in decision-making processes at the national level. Wetzel said that the concept, known as “union democracy,” is the key to organized labor's long-term stability and growth.

“Unions right now are so 'top-down' that they suck up the resources that should be used for rank-and-file organizing and mobilizing,” said Wetzel. “With so much power, energy and money at the top, members get neglected and organizing campaigns have, historically, foundered. TDU has fought for a long time to try to get control of, and give control to, union locals, and [to] democratize bylaws.”

This year is no different for TDU, which brought a slate of thirteen proposed resolutions to the convention, including bids for more-transparent financing, greater control for member locals and mandatory member-approval of dues increases. As of press time, none of the TDU resolutions had been approved, and most do not even appear in the official tally presented by the Teamsters leadership.

The convention delegates had approved all 43 resolutions announced prior to the convention, including one prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, another pledging to organize workers at the international communications company Quebecor, and a promise to support FedEx workers' right to organize, according to information provided by Teamsters officials. Wednesday, the union approved a motion initiating a campaign to tighten roadway safety for truckers across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

In its press releases and daily updates, the official Teamsters apparatus has highlighted the number of attendees, unity and “progressive” reforms approved by members. It has not acknowledged TDU's daily reports of dissent and tension on the convention floor.

The TDU leadership says its proposed reforms are designed to open up the union's internal processes to rank-and-file members. By pushing for mandatory votes on dues increases and member oversight of contract votes, the reformers hope to both wrest control of the union's levers of power and re-engage members in the political processes inherent in the workers' rights movement and outside politics. In addition, TDU has called for a “Membership Bill of Rights,” a three-part measure that would enshrine members' rights to participate in contract negotiations and elect shop stewards – the lowest position in organized labor and the people with whom rank-and-file workers have the most contact.

The Bill of Rights would also guarantee that local union elections are conducted through mail-in balloting, a method union strategists say increases turnout.

Seven of TDU's regional vice presidential candidates qualified for the fall election, as did one of its trustee candidates and seven of its nominees for vice president at-large. Results of presidential delegate voting are expected today.

Citing strict constitutional laws, Munroe declined to comment on the upcoming election or TDU's ongoing struggle to change the face of the 103-year-old union. Teamster President James P. Hoffa's campaign did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

At about 1.4 million members, the Teamsters are one of the largest unions in North America, and its leadership has always tried to play down cleavages during conventions, said Michael H. Belzer, an industrial relations professor at Wayne State University and former TDU activist. He agreed with Wetzel that holding such “managed” events ultimately hurts the rank-and-file.

“Most unions are organized on a classic democratic-centralist principle,” said Belzer, who served as co-chair of the Chicago chapter of TDU from 1979-1986. “When it comes to conventions, most of the issues have already been decided, and there's a desire to present a united front to the outside world – regardless of the circumstances. It is still relatively unusual to see any sort of a showdown at union conventions.”

TDU formed in reaction to rampant corruption and apparent apathy among Teamster leadership during the mid-1970s and has been trying to crack the union's power structure ever since. Most of the changes have been incremental but not insignificant, said Cornell University labor-studies professor Richard Hurd. He noted that TDU managed to get direct elections – a provision imposed on the union in 1991 following a racketeering settlement with the federal government – enshrined in the constitution in 2001.

In addition, TDU was instrumental in getting Ron Carey elected president in the organization's first-ever direct election in 1991. Hurd described the feat as “TDU's most important achievement.”

The victory was short-lived, as Carey resigned in 1998 in the face of a campaign fund-raising scandal. Carey was not a TDU member, but his administration was more open to the organization's goals than that of successor Hoffa, added Hurd.

Now, with the staged nature of the convention and the overwhelming notion that the union has already taken a progressive turn by joining Change to Win (CTW) coalition, TDU's prospects for pushing through change this year remain slim. The Teamsters, along with several other major US unions, left the AFL-CIO last year and co-founded Change to Win.

“I think this year is going to be difficult for TDU,” Hurd said. “Change to Win is viewed – rightly or wrongly, we don't know – as a progressive voice within the labor community. It is highly unlikely that the Teamsters will adopt any major changes until they see if this thing works out.”

The “thing” Hurd refers to is CTW's plan for a new paradigm in worker organizing. At it's founding, the coalition cited the need to focus heavily on organizing US workers and pledged to institute a plan to organize whole industries, consolidate smaller unions and refund money to unions that achieve organizing goals.

“The whole issue centers on who has the best growth model and what can bring more short-term efficacy,” Hurd said. “Is the consolidation model Change to Win is operating on ultimately going to help US workers? Or is [TDU presidential candidate Tom] Leedham right, and grassroots, rank-and-file worker action is what organized labor needs?”

The Ithaca Journal (New York), June 24, 2006, Saturday

Copyright 2006 The Ithaca Journal (Ithaca, NY)
All Rights Reserved
The Ithaca Journal (New York)

June 24, 2006 Saturday 1 Edition


HEADLINE: Darts & Laurels

BYLINE: Readers

Honest women:
Good deed will brighten future

LAUREL: From the Casey Family to the young ladies who found our daughter's purse at the Buttermilk Softball Fields on June 14 and drove out to our house to return it. You are truly special and remarkable! Our heartfelt thanks and gratitude! We will always remember your kindness. Your actions beautifully display the Golden Rule: "Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you!"

LAUREL: From Kaile Tsapis to the Ithaca Agway from the Lehman Alternative Community School: Thank you for generously accommodating two weekends in a row of sell-out chicken barbecues! Your kind generosity helped us carry out educational objectives in Washington D.C., New York City, Cooperstown, and San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. Your support is greatly appreciated.

LAUREL: The Sciencenter would like to thank high school students Xannie Baker, Meredith Buchberg, Laurel Joy Gabard-Durnam, Lindsey Staley, and Jingwei Zhang of Ithaca High School and Leslie Fisher of Dryden High School for their volunteer work at the Sciencenter. These students are members of the Chemsations!, who presented 10 entertaining chemistry demonstrations at the Sciencenter during the past school year. Their love of science and commitment to offer interactive and engaging Chemistry experiments was shared by visitors of all ages. The Sciencenter's appreciation is extended to each student, who generously offered many hours to learning, practicing and sharing the demonstrations with our community.

DART: From Kathy Fowler to Superintendent Pastel and the Board of Education of the Ithaca City School District. I was on The Commons on Saturday, June 10, for a rally for the Ithaca City School District Educational Support Professionals. I find it absolutely appalling to hear yet again that the BOE and Superintendent Pastel are refusing to negotiate in good faith. Then, Monday's Ithaca Journal report of the rally was very disappointing. The reporter failed to quote the two professors from the Cornell Industrial and Labor Relation School or the director from GIAC who spoke on our behalf. She did quote Roy Dexheimer, who was not even there! He stated that the ESP's only work 10 months. Most of the entire ICSD teaching staff only works 10 months! I hope both the BOE and Superintendent Pastel give the ESP's a fair contract soon and I hope The Ithaca Journal does a better job at fair reporting.

LAUREL: From Robert Bohdan to Gene Endres of Ithaca College and WICB. The "Plastic Shopping Bag Revue" thanks Gene for his last minute techno-wizardry in producing music for our Ithaca Festival parade entry. Without his version of the song "Garbage" accompanying our group we would have only been garbage.

LAUREL: From Anne Grant. As I went to Green Hills Cemetery in Dryden on Sunday to place flowers on my husband's grave the quiet beauty of this memorial garden struck me. Freshly mowed grass, lovely old trees reaching heavenward, small American flags fluttering in a gentle breeze, multicolored flowers in containers as far as I could see. I thought what a peaceful final resting place and said a silent thank you to the Harris family (Rita, Ray and Brent) for the many hours they devote to keeping this treasure in such beautiful condition. They weed, water, plant, trim, mow and rake seven months a year. All this work so we can have a place of tranquil beauty for our departed loved ones, surely a labor of love for history, community and small town American pride. It is with gratitude that I say "Thank you" to the Harris family for this unselfish gift.

LAUREL: From Florence Knapp to the two young men who helped my neighbor after he fell in front of the DMV today. Your help was very much appreciated.

LAUREL: From Dale Parker, GIAC teen program leader. I would like to thank all the cooks who participated in the Real Men Cook event. Your dishes were incredible. I would also like to thank all the people who attended the event and also those who couldn't but gave a donation to the teen program for your caring for our youth made this event a big success.

LAUREL: The VFW 961 Veterans Van Fund Committee sends a very big laurel to the businesses that donated items to be raffled at our fund-raiser day, April 15. All three P&C Stores, East Hill Car Wash, Hunts Auto, Harley Davidson, Napa, Personal Touch Salon, New Images Salon, Joe's Restaurant, Lucatellis, Valley House and Max's Holiday Inn. Also thanks go out to the many people that donated cakes and other items, plus thanks to all the ones that helped. Due to everyone we had a successful day and we can make sure our veterans get to their appointments at hospitals, doctor's offices or other medical facilities.

LAUREL: From Hillside Children's Center. Thank you to Don McKechnie, piano technician, and the Ithaca College School of Music for the donation of a piano to the music program at Hillside Children's Center's Varick campus. McKechnie and members of the school fixed, tuned and delivered the piano at no charge.

LAUREL: From Meredith Wells. A big "thank you" to the volunteers who participated in the Groton Alumni "Staff Appreciation Day" continental breakfast held at the Groton Elementary and High Schools, and the bus garage on May 2. Again volunteers gathered on May 3 to help in the mailing of 4,000 Groton Alumni newsletters. The volunteers worked endlessly to sort, fold, tape, stamp and mail the newsletters and without their effort the job could not have been completed. Groton Alumni volunteers are "shining stars."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ascribe Newswire, June 26, 2006, Monday

Copyright 2006 Ascribe Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Ascribe Newswire

June 26, 2006 Monday 4:01 PM Eastern Time

HEADLINE: California State University, Stanislaus Student Team Claims National Human Resources Games Title


California State University, Stanislaus is now the home of the 2006 National Human Resources Games champions.
Battling from behind to turn back a challenge from Utah State University on Monday afternoon, the CSU Stanislaus student team claimed its first national championship during the exciting two-day Society for Human Resource Management competition held in Washington, D.C. Utah State held the lead until the last round when CSU Stanislaus came up with some key answers to pull ahead and hang on with correct responses to some difficult questions.
Leading the way for CSU Stanislaus was Crystal Jack of the tiny Calaveras County community of Volcano who was named Society for Human Resources Management Leonard Brice HR Student of the Year in May. The award goes to the nation's top HR student, recognizing academic excellence with overall organizational leadership within the field. Ms. Jack also received the J. Burton Vasche Award at the June 3 CSU Stanislaus Commencement. The Vasche Award, named in honor of the University's first president, is presented to the graduating senior who displays the highest standards of leadership, cooperation, participation, service and scholarship.
Teaming with Ms. Jack for the championship performance were Alfonso Valencia of Winton and Rosie Borjon of Escalon. Dr. Ed Hernandez of the CSU Stanislaus Management, Operations and Marketing Department faculty, who coached the team to a runnerup finish to Cornell University in 2004, served as advisor.
"California State University, Stanislaus takes great pride in this tremendous accomplishment by a very talented team in bringing home this honor," University President Dr. Hamid Shirvani said. "This is a well-deserved title and demonstrates that students here can match up with the best in the nation. They have spent long hours working very hard to prepare for this and are wonderful examples of the caliber of students and faculty we have at CSU Stanislaus."
The CSU Stanislaus team had to rebound from a narrow opening loss to rival Cornell in Sunday's upset-filled opening round, but came back to score consecutive victories over Utah State, North Carolina State, and Southwestern Minnesota State. In today's semi-final round, CSU Stanislaus avenged its earlier defeat with a win over Cornell and then outscored Utah State 5900 to 5400 to cap the championship performance.
Dr. Amin Elmallah, Dean of the CSU Stanislaus College of Business Administration, proclaimed the championship performances that have also included two Pacific Regional titles and two California crowns as a shining example of the high performance levels by University students.
"Our student human resources management teams, under the guidance of Dr. Ed Hernandez, have consistently performed very well at the state, regional and national levels," Elmallah said. "The first place finish as the 2006 national champion is an attestation to the quality of the College of Business Administration academic programs and to the excellence of CSU Stanislaus education programs. We are very proud of their achievement and congratulate them on this great honor and distinction."
The CSU Stanislaus team advanced to the national tournament after beating defending national champion Fresno State for the Pacific Western Regional Championship in Honolulu in April.
- - - -
CONTACT: Don Hansen, CSU Stanislaus Public Affairs, 209-667-3997, cell 209-620-7251,

Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2006, Tuesday

Los Angeles Times

35,000 GM Employees Accept BuyoutThe automaker says it will save billions by reducing its healthcare and pension costs.
By John O'Dell, Times Staff Writer
June 27, 2006

In the largest employee buyout in U.S. corporate history, General Motors Corp. said Monday that nearly a third of its 113,000 manufacturing workers in the U.S. have agreed to quit or retire this year in return for cash payments of as much as $140,000 each.
The program would cost GM nearly $4 billion but is expected to save money in the long run by reducing the company's healthcare and pension costs as it struggles to reverse huge losses and adjust to its diminished share of the U.S. auto market.Rick Wagoner, GM's chairman and chief executive, said that shedding 35,000 unionized workers would increase the company's cost reductions by $1 billion a year. All of the job cuts would be effective by the end of 2006, he said.
The numbers announced Monday are preliminary because employees who waited for Friday's deadline to sign up can change their minds until June 30.
Wagoner said that 30,400 workers chose to take an early retirement incentive, meaning that GM gave many a cash payment and would retain liability for their pensions and healthcare. An additional 4,600 workers took buyouts, severing all ties with GM in return for cash payments of $70,000 to $140,000.
The GM workers are represented by the United Auto Workers and the International Union of Electrical Workers-Communication Workers of America.
Also Monday, Delphi Corp., GM's largest parts supplier and a former subsidiary, said that 12,600 of its unionized manufacturing workers in the U.S. had applied for a GM-funded early retirement program. A separate buyout offer to 14,000 other Delphi workers expires late next month.
Delphi filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2005 and has said it intends to close 21 of its 29 U.S. factories and slash about 24,000 jobs from its manufacturing payroll — a 75% reduction — as it struggles to stay in business.
GM has agreed to cover the costs of the Delphi buyouts and early retirements under a cost-sharing plan negotiated when it spun off the parts maker in 1999.
Wagoner said he would be unable to disclose the total financial impact of the GM and Delphi "accelerated attrition" plans until the automaker reported its second-quarter results next month.
He earlier had estimated that GM's massive restructuring, a program instituted last year as the company tallied mounting losses from its North American automotive operation, would shave $7 billion from annual operating costs. The employee buyouts bump that to at least $8 billion, he said Monday.
GM lost $10.6 billion last year and has seen its share of the U.S. market shrink steadily for several decades in the face of fierce competition from foreign automakers, particularly Japan's Toyota Motor Corp.
Wagoner, who said GM was "coming very readily on the road back" to profitability, announced a turnaround plan late last year that included closing 12 U.S. and Canadian plants and cutting manufacturing employment by at least 30,000 jobs by 2008. The buyout and early retirement results announced Monday put the company two years ahead of schedule on the job cuts, Wagoner said.
But GM still has a long way to go.
"This doesn't push them over the hump. That will require the return of consistent repeat customers," said David L. Gregory, a labor law professor at St. John's University in New York and a former GM assembly worker.
And because most of GM's departing workers are retiring, the cost savings are merely accelerated "since most of them would have retired anyway within the next few years," said Ken Elias, a partner at Maryann Keller & Associates, an independent auto industry consulting firm.
He said that GM's savings were likely to be eroded by the massive incentive program he expects the carmaker to launch this summer to keep pace with rivals DaimlerChrysler and Ford Motor Co.
"The trick will be to stabilize market share and sell lots of trucks and sports utility vehicles," Elias said. But, he added, "I think that big gas guzzlers will be a tough sell."

On the plus side, the high percentage of workers taking the buyouts and retirement incentives "means they are taking GM's efforts seriously and recognize there has to be major retrenchment in U.S. auto industry," said Jay Waks, head of the labor law and employment practice at New York law firm Kaye Scholer.

"It takes some of the pressure off" for when GM begins negotiating a new labor agreement next year that is likely to hinge on major concessions by the unions, Waks said.

GM announced the buyout numbers after the stock market closed. Its shares rose 34 cents to $28.09 in after-hours trading.

The Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2006, Monday

Local Union Leaders Bear Brunt of Workers' Ire Over Givebacks
By Kris Maher
Jun 26 2006
The Wall Street Journal
(Copyright (c) 2006, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)
A growing number of local union leaders in a variety of industries, including autos, steel and airlines, are being voted out of office by members dissatisfied with cuts in pay and benefits that have been part of recent labor agreements.
One indication of this backlash is the increasing number of challengers local presidents are facing in elections, in addition to the local presidents and other leaders who have recently been ousted. Local leaders are facing the most pressure in ailing industries where companies have sought the biggest givebacks on pay and benefits from workers in recent years.
As a result, many companies with unionized work forces could face a change in the tenor of their labor relations, as local leaders either newly elected or facing challengers from within the ranks feel more pressure to stem cost-cutting efforts.
Heading a local union has traditionally been a coveted position easily defended by incumbents who have greater access to resources and are more visible among members. But that visibility has turned into a liability in today's concessionary environment, say many local presidents and other labor experts, even though big contracts are typically negotiated by a union's national leadership with little input from local leaders.
"Local presidents are under tremendous pressure. I think there has been a significant increase in turnover among them in troubled industries," said Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. "They're the ones that have to go back to the members and say this is what we negotiated."
Several local United Steelworkers presidents recently lost elections and blame the outcomes on disappointment among members over job cuts and changes to seniority rules that the union agreed to in its 2003 labor contract with U.S. Steel Corp.
"I think it was mostly frustration," said John Mazzoni, who lost his position as president of a Steelworkers local in Braddock, Pa. "I get along with everybody, but it was a radically new contract." Andy Miklos, president of a Steelworkers local in Clairton, Pa., who beat back two challengers, said he didn't blame members for venting their frustrations. Local presidents "were the ones who members were able to get at," he said.
Similar shake-ups are occurring in other industries. This month, United Auto Workers members who work at a Delphi Corp. steering plant in Saginaw, Mich., elected a new president, unseating a two-term incumbent, and the elected representatives of the Air Line Pilots Association chapter that represents pilots at Northwest Airlines also replaced its top officer.
Mike Hanley said the Delphi workers who elected him are feeling "frustration and uncertainty" over the buyout offer recently negotiated with Delphi and General Motors Corp. by the union. He pledged to improve communication with the local's 3,400 active and 8,000 retired members. The departing president couldn't be reached for comment.
The departing chairman of the Northwest pilots' union had negotiated concessions for its 5,100 active members that included a cut in pilot pay of 15% followed by a second cut of 24% since December 2004. Will Holman, a spokesman for the union, said "differences of opinion" among pilots about the negotiations "propelled the elected representatives to elect a new chairman."
At the same time, the national leadership of many unions remains largely insulated from members' ire. Labor experts say this is partly because national officers are typically elected by hand-picked delegates at conventions and rarely face serious challengers. Earlier this month, Ron Gettelfinger was reelected president of the United Auto Workers in an uncontested election at the union's annual convention.
Some labor experts, however, said they would be watching the Teamsters convention, which begins today, for signs of a challenge to James P. Hoffa, the union's general president who is up for re-election. Unlike other big unions, the Teamsters' election for top national officers, which takes place in September, is based on a vote of the entire membership. Tom Leedham, the top officer of Teamsters Local 206 in Portland, Ore., which represents truck drivers at United Parcel Service Inc. and warehouse workers among others, is challenging Mr. Hoffa for the third time.
Rich Leebove, spokesman for Mr. Hoffa's campaign, said the Teamsters "are more unified, more diverse and more democratic than at any time."
Despite the increase in unrest at the local level, concessions don't usually disappear when challengers are elected. "It's unusual for a change in leadership to make a difference in a situation that is really driven by economics," said Richard Hurd, a professor of labor studies at Cornell University.
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Times-Picayne (New Orleans), June 25, 2006, Sunday

Copyright 2006 The Times-Picayune Publishing Company
Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

June 25, 2006 Sunday


HEADLINE: AFL-CIO hopes cash carries a union card;
$700 million plan might aid organizing

BYLINE: By Jaquetta White, Business writer

If a plan outlined by the AFL-CIO last week is carried out, $700 million in union members' pension funds will be used to finance a wave of post-Katrina development, including thousands of affordable homes, hotels, hospitals and other commercial enterprises.
But the AFL-CIO hopes its sizable investment also will build something else in New Orleans that might not be quite as welcome to the city's business managers: a strong union presence.
"Our investment there is because we certainly want to be a part of the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans," AFL-CIO Gulf Coast Recovery Coordinator Arlene Holt Baker said. "Certainly at the end of the day, we want jobs to be union jobs."
Baker said those moves signal the start of a growing union movement in New Orleans with the goal being to win support for unions so that workers will push for them.
"At the end of the day, we certainly are hopeful that we will have more people in the region -- having looked at the work done by unions and having seen the lives of the people improved by unions -- saying that unions do rock and can change the economic face of a city," Baker said, borrowing from Mayor Ray Nagin, who, after the investment was announced, exuberantly proclaimed, "Unions rock."
To prepare for the work, the AFL-CIO plans to create a work-force training and job development center in New Orleans. The center would train workers in four or five construction trade jobs so they presumably will join unions and work in the area.
Following Loews' footsteps
Projects developed through the AFL-CIO initiative will be both financed by union money and built using only union labor, a strategy that has successfully bolstered union ranks in New Orleans at least once before.
The Loews New Orleans Hotel was built in 2003 using money from union pension funds and union labor. It is now one of only two hotels in the city to employ unionized workers. The other is the Fairmont Hotel New Orleans.
When the Loews was developed, the unions got the hotel operators to agree not to stand in the way of union recruitment efforts once the building opened.
Though much of the AFL-CIO money will go toward building homes, it's possible some of the commercial construction financed by the latest round of AFL-CIO money will carry a similar agreement regarding union laborers.
"Hopefully we can piggyback (on that idea) with new buildings coming here," said Robert "Tiger" Hammond, president of the AFL-CIO Greater New Orleans Central Labor Council and business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. "We could do the same thing with those buildings that they did with the Loews."
Muted response
Business interests in New Orleans -- as in most cities -- have had an antagonistic relationship with unions, arguing that they hamstring the economy with costs and work rules. But immediate reaction to last week's AFL-CIO initiative was muted.
Darrius Gray, president of the Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association, said the group's members are digesting the news and have not formalized an opinion of the plan or its implications for their businesses.
"Right now would be premature to discuss it," Gray said. "We'll probably have a statement next week."
Jay Lapeyre, chairman of the New Orleans Business Council, lauded the union investment in New Orleans but said he is wary of investment that comes with strings attached and would want to be sure the investment doesn't come with government privilege. The Business Council has taken no position on the matter so far.
"If the fact is it's their money and they're putting their terms on their money, that's OK," Lapeyre said. "But if they're looking to have laws passed that prevent people from doing things that make good business sense, then I have a problem with that."
Obstacles abound
If the unions are able to get a toehold in the flurry of new construction expected to take place in the area over the next several years, it would be a noteworthy step given that New Orleans has historically been anything but a union town.
"In general, unions have had a very marginal presence throughout the Gulf Coast and throughout the South," said Jeff Grabelsky, director of the construction and industry program in Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
That peripheral presence can be explained in part because unions are most dominant in states that had strong industrial development during the 19th century, Grabelsky said.
Louisiana has been a largely agricultural state. It's also what is known as a "right to work" state. That means that to form a union, at least 50 percent of eligible employees in a workplace plus one need to agree to do so, and only workers who sign up join the union. In other states, if more than half of the eligible employees decide to join, everyone automatically becomes a member.
"I would say to you it is certainly not one of the strongest areas for unions," Baker said. "Because the right-to-work laws have simply been more prohibitive."
Union supporters often point to the hospitality industry as an example of the constrictive nature here. Although about one-sixth of the metro area's residents were employed in the hospitality industry before Katrina, the Fairmont and Loews hotels remain the city's only unionized hotels, despite several failed attempts to organize other lodging facilities.
"We need more than a toehold. We need people to recognize that we're not going to rebuild this city without skilled workers and collective bargaining," said Wade Rathke, chief organizer for the Hotels and Restaurants Organizing Council, which led a push to lift the wages paid to hospitality workers in the late 1990s.
But Rathke appeared pessimistic that the AFL-CIO investment would do much to improve opportunities to establish unions in New Orleans.
Hoping to leave their mark
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations represents 53 national and international labor unions and about 9 million people, according to its Web site. Members are teachers, truck drivers, engineers, painters and laborers, among others. Baker said the association is "not dissuaded" by the city's history or "prohibitive" laws.
"Quite frankly, we are encouraged," she said. The investment "gives us an opportunity now and hopefully with that we can change laws."
What could change the tide are the endorsements of grateful residents happy both to have homes and jobs thanks to unions, Baker said.
"Hopefully they look back one day and say this opportunity was given to me through a union," Baker said. "I was able to get this job. I was able to build this home. My children were able to go to college. It was all through an organized labor effort."
It is a reasonable strategy, Grabelsky said.
"When the people of the Gulf Coast see the ways in which unions can contribute to the well-being of their communities, the environment becomes much more friendly to unions and to the right of workers to organize for an effective voice on their jobs and in the community."
. . . . . . .
Jaquetta White can be reached at or (504) 826-3494.

Portland Tribune, June 23, 2006, Friday

Portland Tribune

New blood for the brotherhood Local Teamster aims to unseat Hoffa’s son

Issue date: Fri, Jun 23, 2006
The Tribune

A month ago, the federal government tried to put to rest the ghost of Jimmy Hoffa, the famously mobbed-up Teamster leader who disappeared in 1975. Acting on a tip, the FBI dug up a farm outside Detroit in a hunt for Hoffa’s body. The agency made headlines but was not successful.

Today, with much less fanfare, Portlander Tom Leedham is trying to put to rest another vestige of Jimmy Hoffa — the famous leader’s son, James P. Hoffa, now head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Leedham, a trim man with dark eyebrows and a trademark bushy mustache, is trying to unseat Hoffa in this year’s election for the storied union’s top job.

Leedham’s campaign, his third try for the post, sheds light on the strange world of internal union politics as well as on the state of organized labor.

Following years of declining union membership nationwide, the Teamsters are now at the heart of labor’s efforts to reshape itself for the future.

But at the same time, it’s a union that, as Leedham’s candidacy shows, is still trying to cast off its storied past. Indeed, says Leedham, “Going to a Teamsters convention is like going back in time.”

Which is exactly what he’ll do tomorrow, when he hops on a plane to Las Vegas.

There, he’ll spend a week at the Teamsters convention, trying to ensure he has the 5 percent of the delegates necessary to appear on the union’s ballot later this year.

While it’s difficult for a challenger to win over enough delegates to get on the ballot, winning votes in the union’s general election this fall won’t be, Leedham says.

The members know the union needs to transform, he says: “They realize that flashy PR and somebody with a family name is not going to do it.”
The Hoffa campaign is conducting “an air war,” he said.
“We’re going member to member.”

Reform already may be norm

If Leedham’s self-styled underdog campaign wins, he will take the helm of a union that’s 1.4 million members strong. The position pays a salary of more than $250,000 — a hefty raise over the $73,000-a-year salary he makes now as secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 206, which has some 2,800 members and is based on Northeast 162nd Avenue.
Leedham says the hefty raise is not what he is battling for — in fact, he argues, it’s one of the things he is fighting against. “We have union officers in this country who are millionaires,” he says.
“That’s not the way labor is supposed to be.”

Leedham talks a lot about reform, but his pitch has become a harder sell thanks to the surprising direction taken by the Teamsters of late.

Once a symbol of old-guard, strong-arm politics, last summer the Teamsters joined with a union whose aggressive grass-roots style has been hailed by some as pointing the way for a resurgent labor movement: the Service Employees International Union.

The two unions teamed with others in forming a rival group to the AFL-CIO called Change to Win, saying the labor movement needs to change itself and focus on organizing new workers to join unions to gain better pay and working conditions.

Because of Change to Win, said Richard Hurd, a professor of labor relations at Cornell University, “many of the more progressive forces within the union are getting engaged in this new venture.” As a result, Hoffa may have stolen Leedham’s thunder.
“I think that limits his potential,” Hurd added. While Leedham “certainly is a very important voice within the organization, I think it’s unlikely that he has much of a chance.”

The debate over the Teamsters has effects well beyond the union’s membership. Because of the Teamsters’ vast pension funds, political influence and financial holdings, if indeed corruption is lingering in the union, that “has an enormous impact on the public,” said Edwin Stier, a New Jersey-based former federal prosecutor. Stier was hired to clean up the union but resigned two years ago claiming Hoffa had obstructed his efforts. He said the union is a lot cleaner than it used to be but still has “pockets” of corruption.

Union long tied to Portland Few remember it today, but the Teamsters are a union with deep ties to Portland. Organized crime featuring the Teamsters had a hold on gambling dens, the Portland Police Bureau and City Hall. As a congressional committee report said in 1958, if not for a dispute among local union leaders, “gambling and law enforcement in Portland would now be completely under the domination of a teamster-backed (sic) underworld.” Portlanders did not seem all that worried, however — they elected Multnomah County Sheriff Terry Schrunk mayor even after he was indicted on Teamster-linked racketeering charges. In any case, the news coming from Portland and other cities helped inspire a backlash against organized crime by the federal government as well as from union membership. A new reform-minded movement sprang up called Teamsters for a Democratic Union. In 1991, TDU helped elect a like-minded candidate to head the Teamsters: Ron Carey, who became the darling of progressives and the Democratic Party. In 1997, however, he fell in a scandal in which his administration, in a contested election against Hoffa’s son, was accused of funneling union dues through the Democratic Party and back into his campaign. He was expelled, and Leedham — then a vice president for Carey — jumped into the fray. In the 1998 election Leedham won 40 percent of the vote. Running again in 2001 he took only 35 percent. But judging by the vehemence with which Hoffa’s campaign says Leedham has no chance, it appears that Hoffa is not taking this challenge lightly. Hoffa spokesman Richard Leebove says Leedham, who received national attention in his previous campaigns, is not getting as much media coverage today. The reason, Leebove argues, is that Leedham is not “a serious candidate”; rather, his campaign is “kind of a vanity thing.” Leebove said there is no truth to the claims of Stier, the former federal prosecutor; instead, Leebove said the lawyer was just unhappy that he’d fallen out of favor with Hoffa because the federal government was not satisfied with Stier’s efforts. Hoffa has fully reformed the union, Leebove said, making it the “most democratic union in the country,” and the reform faction Leedham represents is “fighting for relevancy within the union. They have slayed all their dragons. Democracy has taken hold in the union. … They’re like the French partisans fighting against the Nazis — well, the war is over. All Leedham is reduced to is rear-guard whining.” As far as Leedham’s talk of organizing, Leebove notes that membership in the Portland-based Local 206 has dropped about 20 percent in the past five years. “He hasn’t done any organizing,” Leebove said, adding that on the national Teamsters scene, Leedham has been “missing in action.” Told this, Leedham chuckled and agreed he’s been low-profile. “He’s right — I’ve been doing my work. He doesn’t understand that I have a job in a local union.” As for his local’s declining membership, he says, “We’ve had companies go out of business.” The fact is, he added, under Hoffa “the International has lost 150,000 members.” As for democracy taking hold in the Teamsters, Leedham said, “We have our foot in the door of democracy is more like it.” While he supports the goals of the new Change to Win coalition, Leedham said breaking up the AFL-CIO was a mistake. Here in Oregon, he says, the discussion in the labor movement has become not about advancing forward but about restoring the movement to “where we were” before the breakup. Today, Leedham maintains that he has a far better chance at winning than ever, arguing that union members’ pay and benefits have suffered under Hoffa even while dues have gone up. Asked what he’ll do if he loses a third time, he declined to answer, saying, “I have no intention of losing.”
Email Nick Budnick

WBEN Radio (Buffalo, N.Y), June 23, 2006, Friday

The text below does not include Art Wheaton's name but the link to Dave Debo has his name and voice on the radio.

Workers Face Buyout Deadline At Delphi
Friday, June 23, 2006 07:45 AM - WBEN Newsroom

Listen To AudioWBEN's Dave Debo reports
Exclusive WBEN Windows Media Audio

Detroit, MI (AP/WBEN) - Thousands of United Auto Workers union members face a deadline today to take General Motors Corp.'s buyout offer to retire early and take up to $140,000 to sever nearly all ties with the nation's largest automaker or to keep working.
Local workers say it's not so much the numbers that are delaying the decisions. It's the thought of ending a way of life.As of last week, about 25,000 workers had decided to leave GM one way or another as the struggling company tries to shed 30,000 U.S. hourly jobs by 2008 as part of its restructuring plan. In March, GM announced that it would offer buyouts or early-retirement incentives to all 113,000 of its hourly employees.
UAW officials figure that at least 30,000 will end up leaving, letting GM reach its goal two years early. In addition, 8,500 more workers at Delphi Corp., GM's former parts operation, already have signed up for similar offers, although their deadline is at least 45 days away. Some Delphi workers will return to GM under an agreement with the UAW.

MSN Money, June 23, 2006, Friday

MSN MoneyJune 23, 2006, Friday
The Basics
The 100 best values in public colleges

Even with tuition climbing at double-digit rates, there are deals to be had. Kiplinger's survey shines a spotlight on schools that combine great academics with reasonable costs.
By Brian Knestout, Kiplinger
Between registering for classes, making new friends, navigating an unfamiliar campus and, oh, yes, studying, new college students have plenty of worries. The prospect of graduating with a crushing debt shouldn't be one of them.
But considering the way tuition charges have rocketed in the past year, a little worry isn't just prudent, it's unavoidable. Tuitions at public colleges are 12.5% higher, on average, this year than they were a year ago, according to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. That's on top of the 9.6% increase in the fall of 2002.
But the averages hide staggering tuition increases at some campuses, as lawmakers take aim at college budgets in the scramble to make state budgets balance. Auburn University, in Alabama, hiked in-state tuition and mandatory fees by 17% this fall (to $4,426) in response to a 6% cut in state appropriations -- and that was before Alabama residents soundly defeated the governor's call for higher taxes. Students in New York marched across the state to protest a 28% increase in state university tuition, triggered by a 20% state budget cut.
In California, the legislature lopped $410 million off the University of California's budget, an amount equal to the total funding for UC-Berkeley. That led to a 30% increase in the in-state cost of attending each of UC's eight campuses. Students have sued to try to roll back the increase. Students in Maryland, who were hit by a 6% increase in the fall of 2002 and an additional 5% increase this past January, also sued, arguing breach of contract. They lost, and tuition rose another 13% this fall. State regents in Arizona gave up their proud position of offering the lowest in-state tuitions in the country and whacked students at Arizona State and the University of Arizona with a 39% tuition increase, the largest percentage increase in the country.
And skyrocketing tuition is only half of the story. Colleges are tightening their belts, too, resulting in things you're not likely to see in the next recruitment fliers: bare library shelves as acquisition budgets are slashed; empty administrative offices as jobs are eliminated; and more crowded classrooms or fewer courses as faculties are squeezed.
Hunting for excellent education, reasonable priceSo it's high time to cast a critical eye across a public college landscape to see which colleges give students the best bang for the buck. Our exclusive survey of U.S. public colleges and universities shines a spotlight on schools that combine great academics with reasonable costs. (To view Kiplinger's complete list of college values, follow the link below.)
As our database shows, there are still dozens of places where students can get an excellent education for a reasonable price. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tops our list for a fourth consecutive time, despite a 5% tuition increase this fall. How? Despite the hike, total costs for in-state ($11,290) and out-of-state ($23,138) students remain reasonable, especially when judged against private schools with similar academic reputations.
For Graham Long, a senior from Charlotte with a double major in political science and peace, war, and defense studies, saving money doesn't mean sacrificing quality. "My dad pays my tuition, which he couldn't do if I were going to a much more expensive private school," says Long, who is active in student government and sings in a school choir. "The academic climate is terrific, the professors are incredible, and I'm getting a great education without having to take on any debt."
High-caliber academics and generous financial aid are also keys to UNC's top ranking. Chapel Hill's ability to meet 100% of the shortfall for students with financial need sets the school apart from the pack. "Need" is the difference between a college's cost and the amount formulas calculate a family can "afford" to pay. A school that meets 100% of need offers enough grant money, loans and work-study jobs to fill the gap.
Chapel Hill's sterling academics and reasonable cost let it draw top-notch students without having to rely on beefy merit-based scholarships, saving the money for those with need (the school does offer merit-based scholarships, but it primarily uses private donations to fund them).
Out-of-state dealsThe nation's best deal for in-state students is, unfortunately, available only to North Carolina residents. So this year we applied our evaluation to out-of-state total costs to uncover the best bargains for out-of-state students, too.
Drumroll, please: Backed by its strong academic and financial aid scores, UNC-Chapel Hill comes out on top again. But some schools actually turn out to be better relative values for out-of-state students than for locals. Consider Truman State University, in Kirksville, Mo. It ranks ninth on the list of in-state bargains, but rises to second when ranked on the cost to students from outside the Show-Me state.
Erin Smith, 22, had a lot of choices when it came to college, because she was accepted to all 10 of the schools where she applied, including Vanderbilt, Emory and the University of Iowa in her home state. Smith chose Truman because of its rigorous political science curriculum and low out-of-state tuition -- $14,409 this year.
Her decision paid off. Good high school grades and ACT scores earned her a full scholarship. She'll graduate this December with a 4.0 grade point average and has applied to Harvard, Stanford and Columbia law schools. But Smith, who won the 2001 Miss Iowa title, might put the law on hold if she wins a Rhodes scholarship for which she is being considered. "Some of the things I've done at Truman might not have been possible at another school," she says. "I go to a school big enough to offer all the opportunities of a large state school, but small enough for me to know the university president personally."
Finding the right college is a highly individual decision that no list of "bests" can encompass. But our list of schools, ranging from small (sixth-ranked New College of Florida, with 650 students) to small planet (University of Texas at Austin, with nearly 40,000), and from big city (University of California, Los Angeles) to college town (University of Virginia, in Charlottesville), is a good place to begin you search.
How the cream risesWe determined our rankings based on data provided by more than 500 public, four-year colleges and universities to Peterson's, a division of the Thomson Corp. We supplemented Peterson's data with our own reporting.
We cut the list to the 200 schools with the highest percentages of the 2002-03 freshman class scoring above 600 on the verbal and math components of the SAT I, or scoring above 24 on the ACT.
We culled that list to arrive at the top 100 schools based on several other measures of academic quality -- including admission rates, student-faculty ratios, the percentage of faculty with the highest degrees in their field, how much each school spends on instruction for each student, how much each school spends on its library facilities, and four- and six-year graduation rates.
Finally, we ranked each school on a combination of quality and cost components. We looked at total cost for in-state students (tuition, mandatory fees, room, board and estimated expenses for books and supplies), the average cost for a student with need after subtracting grants (but not loans), the average cost for a student without need after subtracting merit-based grants, the average percentage of need met by aid, and average debt a student accumulates before graduation.
We repeated the procedure using out-of-state total costs and average costs after aid to determine out-of-state rankings. Overall, our scoring places greater weight on quality, which accounts for about two-thirds of the final score, than on cost.
One catch to these bargains is that you've got to gain admission. That's a tough hurdle at four of our top 20 schools (UC-Berkeley, William & Mary, Virginia and UNC-Chapel Hill), where 40% or fewer of applicants get in.
Total in-state costs among our top 100 range from $7,913 at Appalachian State University to $17,616 at UCLA. Out-of-state costs range from $13,316 at the Mississippi University for Women to $33,473 at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
That's not cheap, which is why we credit schools that are generous with their need-based aid. Besides Chapel Hill, other schools that meet more than 95% of need include Colorado School of Mines, Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Michigan State University and University of California, San Diego.
Great deals that aren't on our listOur database lists 100 great deals at traditional, four-year public schools with broad-based curriculums. But some off-the-radar schools merit special attention, too.
First are the military and service academies, including the federally run Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and Navy academies, as well as two public colleges, The Citadel, in Charleston, S.C., and Virginia Military Institute, in Lexington, Va. All seven are highly selective and offer tremendous opportunities. The federal service academies charge no tuition and actually pay students a stipend to attend. The Citadel charges $15,655 for in-state cadets and $24,066 for residents of other states. VMI charges $13,050 for in-state cadets and $25,762 for others.
All seven require applicants to pass physical exams and physical-fitness tests before entering. Applicants to the federal academies (except for the Coast Guard) must also obtain congressional or military nominations and must complete a multiyear hitch of military service after graduation. For these reasons, we did not include the schools in our final rankings.
Two other schools were not included on our final list because of limitations in the curriculums they offer. North Carolina School of the Arts ($9,430 in-state; $20,030 out-of-state) offers degrees in the visual and performing arts only, and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry ($13,702 in-state, $18,602 out-of-state) offers bachelor degrees in a limited number of majors tailored to environmental study. While these limitations keep the schools off our list, either could be a fabulous bargain for students seeking these specialized curriculums.
There is also a little-known bargain hidden in the Ivy League. Many alumni of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. (including our editor in chief, Knight Kiplinger), know that the school is actually a unique hybrid -- part privately endowed university, part land-grant state institution. Students in the Colleges of Architecture, Arts & Sciences, Engineering and Hotel Administration are part of private Cornell, and they pay for it -- $28,754 in tuition and fees for the 2003-04 school year.
But three Cornell undergraduate colleges -- Agriculture and Life Sciences, Human Ecology, and Industrial and Labor Relations -- are state schools. That means they charge much lower tuition -- $14,624 for New York residents, about half the cost of private Cornell, and $25,924 for others. The cost of room and board, $9,529, is the same for all.
Students at the three land-grant Cornell colleges have the run of the campus and sit in the same classes with students enrolled in the privately endowed colleges. The only difference is that their tuition is cheaper. We couldn't rank Cornell's public colleges with the other schools on our list because the university does not track statistical data for financial aid separately by college. But getting an Ivy League degree at a discount may well be worth its weight in gold.
All contents © 2003 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

The Ithaca Journal (New York), June 21, 2006, Wednesday

Copyright 2006 The Ithaca Journal (Ithaca, NY)
All Rights Reserved
The Ithaca Journal (New York)

June 21, 2006 Wednesday 1 Edition


HEADLINE: About ECornell


eCornell provides many of the world's leading organizations with online, asynchronous, professional and executive development in the areas of strategy, leadership and management development, human resources, financial management, and hospitality management. . Details:
About NTIS
The National Technical Information Service is an agency of the Department of Commerce that serves our nation as the largest central resource for government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business-related information available today.
eCornell plan offers online course discount to government employees
From Ithaca Business Journal reports
ITHACA - eCornell has signed a distribution agreement with the National Technical Information Service to provide discounted tuition for online management training and executive development to almost 10 million government employees at alll levels.
eCornell's content and its Structured Flexibility model of course delivery are designed to focus on skill development with a direct emphasis on improving workplace performance and building organizational capability. Developed by faculty authors from Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and School of Hotel Administration, eCornell courses are led by instructors in the subject matter who personalize the learning experience for each participant. Through NTIS, government employees and agencies can take advantage of these programs at almost 25 percent below eCornell's prices.
"eCornell is excited about its agreement with NTIS. We appreciate the opportunity to honor the dedication of our public-service employees by offering them reduced tuition so they can more readily afford the same executive education and professional development that has proven so effective in the private sector," says Chris Proulx, eCornell's President and CEO. "Discounted tuition will be available to individual employees as well as to government agencies that want to purchase these courses for their employees. This initiative provides a great opportunity for government employees at all levels to engage in a collaborative and personally engaging learning experience that will be timely and relevant to the challenges they face in the government sector."
eCornell's course completion rate of more than 90 percent and consistently high student ratings make it one of the most effective training options available to the government. Available to all federal, state, and local government employees and the military, eCornell's programs target mid- and senior-level leadership, emerging managers and other high-potential employees, and human-resources professionals in five key content areas:
(right triangle) Leadership and strategic management
(right triangle) Financial management
(right triangle) Management essentials
(right triangle) Human resources
(right triangle) Hospitality and foodservice management.

Federal News Service [Cong. Hearing], June 20, 2006, Tuesday

Copyright 2006
The Federal News Service, Inc.
Federal News Service
June 20, 2006 Tuesday

LENGTH: 14905 words





MR. BOLTON: Well, I certainly hope they hear you in New York, Mr. Chairman. SEN. COBURN: Well, I assure you it's going to be on an appropriate bill.Mr. Ambassador, thank you. We have a vote on, which I have to take. We will take it very quickly. I'll come back. We have actually two votes. I'll get there and hopefully be back here in about 15 minutes and we'll resume the hear-ing.The hearing is in recess until that time.(Recess.)The committee will come to order. Because of some flight delays and prob-lems, I am going to introduce in the order in which I am going to ask for testi-mony.Dr. Ann Bayefsky is a senior fellow with Hudson Institute, professor of the Touro Law Center, and editor of the U.N. watchdog, Before join-ing Hudson, she was an adjunct professor and associate research scholar at Co-lumbia University Law School and has done extensive human rights work for many years.Ms. Claudia Rosett is a journalist-in-residence at the Foundation for the De-fense of Democracies. She writes on international affairs with a focus on de-mocratic movements and despotic regimes. She has been widely credited with breaking the oil-for-food scandal and other aspects of waste, abuse and corrup-tion at the United Nations. Currently based in New York, Ms. Rosett has reported from Asia, the former Soviet Union, Latin America and the Middle East.

Dr. Thomas Melito is a director in the international affairs and trade team at the U.S. Government Accountability Office. He is responsible for GAO's re-view of international finance, multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund. His education includes a B.S. in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University, an M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University.


Dr. Melito?
MR. THOMAS MELITO: Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to be here today to discuss the United Nations' internal oversight unit and procurement process in the con-text of the U.N. Capital Management Plan, or CMP.The U.N. headquarters buildings are in need of renovation, since they no longer conform to current safety, fire and building codes and do not meet U.N. technology or security requirements. However, effective implementation of the CMP is vulnerable due to a range of weaknesses in existing internal oversight and procurement practices. Today I will share with you the findings of two re-ports that we released on these topics in April 2006.First I will focus on the need to strengthen the budgetary independence of the U.N.'s internal oversight unit, OIOS. We found that current funding ar-rangements adversely affect OIOS's budgetary independence and compromise its ability to investigate high-risk areas. Second, I will also focus on our as-sessment of the U.N.'s procurement processes according to key standards for in-ternal controls. We found that to the extent that the CMP relies on current U.N. processes, implementation of the planned renovation is vulnerable to the procurement weaknesses that we have identified.I will now highlight our main findings. First, U.N. funding arrangements constrain OIOS's ability to operate independently as mandated by the general as-sembly and required by international auditing standards. OIOS is funded by the U.N.'s regular budget and 12 extra budgetary revenue streams. U.N. financial regulations severely limit OIOS's ability to respond to changing circumstances by reallocating resources among these various revenue streams.As a result, OIOS cannot always deploy the resources necessary to address high-risk areas that emerge after its budget is approved. In addition, OIOS is depending on U.N. funding programs for resources as compensation for the ser-vices it provides. This is a conflict of interest, because while OIOS has over-sight authority over these entities, it must obtain their permission to examine their operations and receive payment for its services. Moreover, the heads of these entities have the right to deny funding for the oversight work OIOS pro-poses.By denying OIOS funding, U.N. entities have avoided OIOS audits, including high-risk areas. For example, OIOS was prevented from examining high-risk areas in the U.N. oil-for-food program, where billions of dollars were subsequently found to have been misused. OIOS funding concerns are potentially relevant to the CMP since the ultimate number of auditors who will work on the CMP and their funding sources have yet to be determined.OIOS reported that it had extra budgetary funds from the CMP for one auditor on a short-term basis, but that level of funding was not sufficient to provide the oversight coverage intended by the general assembly. To increase oversight coverage OIOS assigned an additional auditor exclusively to the CMP, using funds from its regular budget.We may now turn to our second finding: addressing weaknesses in the U.N.'s procurement system. To the extent the CMP will rely on the current U.N. pro-curement process, it is vulnerable to weaknesses that we identified in our April report. For example, the U.N. has not established an independent process to consider vendor protests. The lack of an independent bid protest process limits the transparency of procurement by not providing a means for a vendor to protest the outcome of a contract decision. Such a process could alert senior U.N. of-ficials of failures by procurement staff to comply with policies and procedures.In addition, the U.N. has not demonstrated a commitment to improving the ca-pabilities of its professional procurement staff, despite long-standing short-comings. Furthermore, it is yet to complete action on specific ethics guidance for procurement officers. Due to significant control weaknesses in the U.N.'s procurement process, the U.N. has relied disproportionately on the actions of its staff to safeguard its resources. However, recent studies indicate that procurement staff lack sufficient knowledge of procurement policies, and the U.N. has made only limited progress towards adopting ethics guidance for its procurement staff.We also found that the U.N. has yet to incorporate guidance for construction in its procurement manual. In June 2005, a U.N. consultant recommended that the U.N. develop separate guidelines in the manual for the planning and execution of construction projects. These guidelines could be useful in planning and execut-ing CMP procurements.In conclusion, the weaknesses in internal oversight and procurement we iden-tified could adversely impact implementation of the CMP. However, these con-cerns should be considered within the context of the pressing need for renova-tion of the U.N. headquarters complex.Mr. Chairman, this completes my prepared statement. I'll be happy to address any questions.SEN. COBURN: Thank you. I'm somewhat taken aback by your last statement. So, regardless of how sloppy it is, go on and do it?MR. MELITO: The issue is, because of the age of the building and the state of some of the systems in the building, there is a threat of catastrophic fail-ures. Last fall, they had a failure in the electrical system which caused their system to have part of it fuse, and it had a great threat of a fire and they had to evacuate the building. If the electrical system was to fail catastrophi-cally, if the heating and air-conditioning system was to fail catastrophically, we would be facing a situation where we have to do a very rapid renovation, a very rapid procurement on the fly. So that just needs to be weighed up, weighed against the issues of the system.SEN. COBURN: I understand, but that's asking the wrong question. You can do both.MR. MELITO: Yes.SEN. COBURN: And you don't do one without the -- if construction was started today, it'd still take five years to finish it.MR. MELITO: Yes.


MS. ROSETT: Exactly. And on that, if you could see -- yeah, probably, it would make some difference. And the difficulty is this: The U.N. will promise you transparency. In fact, they describe themselves as -- they described oil-for-food as transparent; they described the Procurement Department to myself and a col-league in the media, George Russell of Fox News -- it was our story that brought the name of Alexander Yakovlev into the press as somebody clearly engaged in funny business in the Procurement Department.When we first went to see the Procurement Department, as we began reporting that story, they assured us that the Procurement Department had been through a reform, that they were transparent, their website was transparent, they had no major concerns about corruption at all.SEN. COBURN: Which is totally opposite of the testimony of Dr. Melito?MS. ROSETT: Yes, that's correct. In fact, they -- they sent us off us say-ing -- we did not ask at that point about Alexander Yakovlev, per se. We went to ask: Are there are concerns about corruption scams. So, no, we were told, it's all airtight; it's all been cleaned up; it's all fine. This is the pat-tern over and over. So the test is real transparency, and I'd suggest that that doesn't consist of promises. We've had promises for years. It consists of the actual documents. Thank you.SEN. COBURN: Dr. Melito, your comments on that?MR. MELITO: Increased transparency is definitely a worthy goal. In the con-text of the CMP, it would definitely benefit CMP to be more transparent. I do want to give just two caveats of that. Certain security arrangements of the CMP would have to remain non-public.SEN. COBURN: That's understood. That happens in our government.MR. MELITO: And also certain businesses who are party to information would probably also have to be assured.SEN. COBURN: Give me a good example, because when I was U.N. in New York, I did proprietary information. Give me an example of proprietary information that somebody would have who is going to do asbestos removal in U.N., or somebody that's going to do the new plumbing, or somebody that's going to put the new air-conditioning units. What's the proprietary information that would allow them to black out the whole contract so that the people could not see what we're spending and what we're getting for what we're spending?MR. MELITO: It usually comes down to issues of the individual firm's pricing structure and keeping that hidden from its own competitors. It doesn't neces-sarily get into their techniques, although it could, but it's usually about how much they're charging for very individual micro things. But you could defi-nitely bring to the public the total costs. Total costs should be brought up.SEN. COBURN: And the cost of their subcontracts?MR. MELITO: Again with some caveat --SEN. COBURN: Well, with caveats of security.MR. MELITO: Yes.SEN. COBURN: So what I hear all the time is "proprietary." That's the excuse to not tell you anything, because we have something proprietary. And there is no rule within the U.N. today, other than their own rule, that says they have to have that. There's no bylaw of the U.N. that says they have to say.MR. MELITO: The risk, though, is that if you actually were telling bidders in advance that their information would be public, they wouldn't bid, which would then greatly inflate the price of the contract because you'd have a very narrow set of bidders, potentially.SEN. COBURN: And by saying that, you're assuming that the price of the con-tract isn't inflated today?MR. MELITO: I'm saying we haven't made any analysis of that, but if it's a competitive system, you want more bidders.MS. BAYEFSKY: If I might add, what we do know is that the G77, for example, thinks that they're entitled to some of these contracts by the fact of their ge-ography. So that entitlements here are, according to the majority of the U.N. members -- is not on the basis of anything remotely resembling the ability to do the job, but, in fact --SEN. COBURN: Who you're friends with.MS. BAYEFSKY: Correct.SEN. COBURN: And that's why subcontracts, and that's why transparency on contracting, and that's why an ability to challenge a contract, as you men-tioned, in terms of, I think you call it, a vendor protest is so critical in the contracting.MS. BAYEFSKY: Indeed.


SEN. COBURN: Any comment? Go ahead. MR. MELITO: It's the GAO's position that the U.N. procurement system, in general, has serious problems, and it's a systemic problem in terms of lack of investment in training. There's a real breakdown in terms of the management's responsibility; who has to do what, when. We reported on these deficiencies in April. I do want to say, though, it's possible for the CMP to be sort of fire-walled from these problems, since it's a relatively focused unique procurement. And I do think the U.N. should explore ways of isolating itself from these larger procurement problems, which will probably take several years at least to fix.SEN. COBURN: Well, I want to assure you that the money that this country's going to spend is going to request that type of isolation, that type of control, or each year we'll be fighting it on the floor and we just probably won't appro-priate it unless we get that kind of assurance. Dr. Bayefsky?


MS. ROSETT: It's called an ethics office. It's a cover up for not having an ethics office.SEN. COBURN: All right. Any final comments?MR. MELITO: I'd like to just reiterate that the issues the OIOS have deter-mined really do make the CMP vulnerable. The U.N. should consider ways of mak-ing sure that OIOS has the independence to at least oversee that project, and that can be done, because in the case of peacekeeping, there is an assured source of funding for oversight of peacekeeping. They can create the same thing for CMP.And, similarly, for the procurement process, they should firewall, create some kind of process or strategy which mitigates or eliminates whatever risk CMP procurement will have.SEN. COBURN: All right. Thank you.You each will receive some questions from the committee. If you wouldn't mind answering those to us within two weeks of the time you receive them, we would very much appreciate it. We do appreciate you preparing the testimony, testifying before us and the work that you've done. The hearing is adjourned.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

USA TODAY, June 21, 2006, Wednesday

Copyright 2006 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

June 21, 2006 Wednesday


How can owners find great workers? Often, it's as simple as sticking to seven basics

BYLINE: Jim Hopkins

The U.S. jobless rate has sunk to 4.6%. Competition for accountants and other highly sought workers is white-hot. Big corporations are beefing up employee benefits.
No wonder small companies are struggling to find workers: 46% of those surveyed last month said they found few or no qualified applicants -- up from 41% in April, says the National Federation of Independent Business. Last month's share was one of the highest in more than five years, the trade group said last week.
Heather Nolte knows all about it. The owner of a boutique baby-apparel maker near Austin got just 11 resumes after advertising for an administrative assistant. She got more than 100 a year ago for the same job advertised the same way. "Applicants are scarce," she says.
Small businesses often don't have a human resources department, so owners relegate hiring to their spare time -- but it should be their top priority. "Your most important function is to hire people," says David Ramp, a small-business counselor in Birmingham, Ala.
Write a job description
Job descriptions drive the hiring process. Yet, small employers rarely use them, says Eileen Levitt, founder and president of the HR Team in Columbia, Md., a consultant to small companies.
Writing a job description forces owners to review other jobs in their company that should be redefined. Maybe the receptionist has become the technology expert, even though there's now enough revenue to justify adding that work to a new position.
Descriptions also help owners set pay ranges, plan interview questions and evaluate the new employee's performance. Ron Zagel, president of Jonathan Stevens Mattress, a manufacturer and retailer with 38 workers based in Grand Rapids, Mich., uses a three-page description for sales jobs.
It covers the waterfront, from greeting customers "warmly and promptly within 60 to 90 seconds" to writing customer thank-you notes by hand. Zagel always has a lawyer review descriptions to comply with labor law.
Gauge the market
Learn what other employers pay in wages and benefits. See how many other companies are looking for the same skills. Know the basics. Ramp is "amazed" at how many small employers don't know the minimum wage or jobless rate. He is a counselor at the Small Business Development Center at the University of Alabama.
This is a good time to learn the full cost of a new employee: Social Security, Medicare and possibly workers' compensation costs. Attracting a qualified worker might mean starting to offer medical benefits that would extend to existing workers, too.
Looking for an accountant? They're in such demand now that you'll probably need to hire a headhunter. Sarbanes-Oxley regulations put in place in 2002 don't apply to small private companies. But the rules have created huge demand for accountants.
Outsourcing, anyone?
Tech work such as website maintenance is another hard-to-fill job. Yet, like accounting, it can be farmed out to companies specializing in helping small companies. "You just write ... a check once a month," says Brendan Courtney, a senior vice president at Spherion, a staffing company in Fort Lauderdale.
Indeed, the entire hiring process for any job can be turned over to a professional employer organization (PEO), which will also help train employees, write performance review forms and create medical and other benefit plans.
For example, Integrated Staffing, a PEO in Peabody, Mass., creates job descriptions and screens applicants. "Clients make the final decision about who to hire," says President Laurie LaBrie.
Spread the word
Tell family, friends, business associates and -- especially -- employees that you've got a job to fill. It's cheaper than hiring a headhunter or paying to advertise.
"Networking, friends and family are probably the best way to source good employees," says David Minor, head of the Neeley Entrepreneurship Program at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.
Small employers also overlook job fairs and schools. In Rowlett, Texas, Techni-Tool found one of its best employees by talking to high school teachers when the industrial cutting tools distributor needed a bookkeeper. The Rowlett High School student Techni-Tool hired worked part time after school, proving his abilities until he started full time after graduation.
"Found a diamond in the rough," says Gary Turner, vice president of the 14-employee company.
Plan the interviews
List managers and other employees who'll speak to applicants. Write down questions to be asked. And make sure all applicants are asked the same questions so you can make an apples-to-apples comparison among candidates.
Small employers aren't always schooled in what interview questions are legal. An employer might wonder whether a young woman plans to have kids, or whether a mother has reliable daycare, says LaBrie. Instead, she says, tell the applicant that the job requires showing up each morning at 8, then ask, "Can you be here?"
Near Boston, has created a six-part interview process that would rival any big corporation's. Yet, the company, which matches buyers and sellers of business products and services, has just 49 workers. BuyerZone requires multiple prescreening phone interviews followed by face-to-face interviews and then reference checks.
'Sell' your company
Small businesses, competing against big corporations with blue-chip benefits, can fight back by promoting their own virtues. Take job security: Levitt says her small-business clients are less likely to lay off workers because owners know each employee.
Also, small-business employee health benefits are sometimes superior to those at big self-insured corporations. Small companies buy medical benefits that are subject to state regulatory mandates often requiring extras, such as chiropractic care, that self-insured corporations don't have to offer, Levitt says.
Nolte, the baby-apparel designer, doesn't offer medical coverage to her three employees at Glamajama in Kyle, Texas. She competes for workers by promoting other benefits: flexible hours, especially appealing for mothers, and a creative environment with a chance to learn clothing design.
Check resumes and references
Finding a qualified employee works only if the applicant really is qualified. Confirming resumes and references is a step that too many employers -- including big ones -- fail to heed.
The board at retailer RadioShack was surprised in February to learn from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that CEO David Edmondson lied on his resume about two degrees from a Bible college. Edmondson resigned.
Levitt says she's seen it all when sifting through job applications sent to her small-business clients: Applicants lying about college degrees or disguising prison work as a real job.
"It's amazing how many things on resumes are manufactured," she says. "It's so prevalent, it's not even funny."
3 tactics may boost revenue
Small companies that hire and manage workers in three specific ways are more likely to boost revenue and profits, a university study out today says.
The companies had 22% higher revenue growth, 23% higher profit growth and 67% lower employee turnover than those that didn't use the preferred hiring and management tactics, says the study by Cornell University and the Gevity Institute, a human resources consultant near Tampa.
The 323 U.S. companies examined averaged 53 employees each and were in a range of industries. The tactics producing better results:
*Make sure job candidates fit the overall company culture, not just the job. If they don't, they're more likely to quit prematurely, increasing costly turnover.
This also is true at big corporations, says Christopher Collins, an associate human resources professor at Cornell. But a bad hire's impact is disproportionately greater at a small employer.
*Don't micromanage workers. Offer broad direction, then trust them to manage their time. Showing confidence in employees gives them a bigger stake in the business, so they tend to work harder, driving revenue and profits higher.
*Promote a "family" workplace culture. That boosts company loyalty, reducing turnover. For example, owners can take each employee to lunch. Or they could organize events drawing together all workers, so they get to know each other better.
Blog about employment and more online
Join the conversation about hiring workers and other small-business management topics on our Small Business Connection blog at Posts you'll see this week:
"Monster and the other jobs sites work, but I think you end up hearing from many candidates who don't have the right experience."
--Debra Caruso,
DJC Communications, New York
"Unless you're Apple or Ducati, you need to think of your job posting as the place to sell your company's culture and potential."
--Steve Huot,
BroadSpire website designer, Los Angeles
Also online
*Get the latest news at
*Are you an entrepreneur? Join our Entrepreneurs Panel at
Small Business Connection
A monthly series about managing small companies. Earlier installments at Got an idea? E-mail USA TODAY's Jim Hopkins at

GRAPHIC: GRAPHIC, B/W, Marcy E. Mullins, USA TODAY, Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (LINE GRAPH)