Thursday, September 17, 2009, September 17, 2009, Thursday

September 17, 2009, Thursday

House Party Hires Former Jupiter President as Head of Community & Analytics

House Party, a leading consumer activation and experiential marketing company, announces the hiring of digital marketing pioneer Peter Storck as the company's first Senior Vice President of Community and Analytics. Storck's overall responsibilities will include strategic positioning, community growth, and analytics refinement. House Party's word-of-mouth marketing platform specializes in engaging thousands of qualified consumer advocates to host in-home parties where a brand or product is at the center of the party. Managed via a proprietary, customized online community space for each brand event, consumers engage both in home and online to explore and promote brands they love.

"As House Party continues to grow as the leading in-home activation marketing company, we need to continue to develop and evolve our overall platform so that we are consistently helping our clients to achieve their marketing goals," said Kitty Kolding, CEO, House Party. "Peter Storck was one of the world's very first digital marketing experts, and he is going to help lead House Party to the next level of providing and demonstrating value to current and potential clients."

Prior to joining House Party, Storck founded and led Points North Group, providing top technology, media and marketing companies with consumer and industry research, strategic insight and guidance. Clients included Google, Time Warner & AOL, Disney, Comcast, Dell, Texas Instruments, Thomson and many other blue-chips and startups.

Previous to that Storck served as president of Jupiter Research, which he helped build into a $65 million syndicated research business. Earlier in his seven years at Jupiter, he was senior vice president of research, and before that, launched and directed the firm's online advertising practice, the first of its kind in the world.

Before Jupiter, Storck worked on state and national political campaigns dating back to 1984 and served as an advisor in Congress. He also taught writing at Columbia University.

He is a member of the Advisory Board of leading online ad industry conference, ad:tech. He has appeared as an interactive expert at ad:tech and other industry conferences as well as in media such as CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week and Advertising Age.

He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial & Labor Relations from Cornell University.

Storck lives in Larchmont, NY with his wife, daughter and son. He will work out of House Party's Irvington, NY office.

About House Party

Founded in 2005, House Party ( is a leading consumer activation and experiential marketing services company that engages thousands of qualified consumer advocates who host in-home parties featuring a brand, product or element of entertainment programming. Managed via a proprietary, customized online community space for each brand event, consumers engage both in home and online to explore and promote brands they love. Today House Party stands alone as the most trusted, influential and comprehensive medium for generating in-home marketing results. Headquartered in Irvington, NY, House Party is dedicated to creating and executing successful, high-impact, consumer activation campaigns for a diverse range of industries and Fortune 1000 companies: NBC, Kraft, Ford, Johnson & Johnson, Canon, Gerber and Microsoft Xbox among them.

Roll Call, September 14, 2009, Monday

Copyright 2009 Roll Call, Inc.
Roll Call

September 14, 2009, Monday

HEADLINE: Trumka Ascension Could Activate Labor Movement


The AFL-CIO will coronate Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka as its new president this week in Pittsburgh, where the labor federation is holding its 26th constitutional convention.

Trumka, the organization's No. 2, is running unopposed to replace outgoing President John Sweeney.

The longtime union official is expected to be a more recognizable face for the federation than his predecessor. The incoming president, who has become a regular on cable news stations in recent weeks, will also likely log more hours on Capitol Hill than Sweeney, particularly to lobby on behalf of the Employee Free Choice Act, health care reform and other big-ticket legislative items.

"He's the most qualified person to succeed John," said Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, an AFL-CIO affiliate. "You'll find someone who'll be spending lots of time getting candidates elected and then making sure they fulfill the promises they make to labor."

"Rich is a much more aggressive person in dealing with the issues," he added.

But Trumka, who declined to be interviewed, also inherits the reins of one of the largest players in the fractured organized labor community, whose membership has struggled in recent decades.

Even more, scars still linger from the 2005 split of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Service Employees International Union and other unions that left to form the rival coalition Change to Win.

Led by former Rep. David Bonior (D-Mich.), talks allegedly are ongoing to re-unify the groups, although they have yielded few tangible results to date.

Trumka told reporters less than two weeks ago that his ascendency increases the chances that the wayward unions will return to the fold soon.

On Friday, Change to Win Executive Director Chris Chafe suggested in an interview that his member unions con-tinue to work with the AFL-CIO unions but the wayward affiliates are not exactly champing at the bit to rejoin the fed-eration.

"That remains an open question," Chafe said of a possible reunification of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win. "There's been solid good-faith initiatives for many months to try and arrive at a framework for how affiliates can work together."

"What we have to do now following Rich's expected election is to come to those tables and explore how we can continue to do issue-related work together and see if anything develops beyond that," he continued.

A labor official with a Change to Win member union was more blunt: "I don't think anybody's really talking about reunification."

Alex Colvin, a labor historian at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, said Trumka's successful nomination hinged in part on his ability to satisfy concerns that the breakaway unions would rejoin the AFL-CIO with Sweeney's longtime No. 2 in charge.

"Trumka was strongly associated with the AFL-CIO split," Colvin said. "The fact Trumka is succeeding Sweeney means that those fears didn't play out."

What perhaps sealed his fate as the group's new president, Colvin said, was a now-famous speech Trumka delivered to the United Steelworkers in the summer of 2008.
In the speech, Trumka dealt head-on with the issue of race, which was expected to hamper then-nominee Barack Obama with working-class voters.

"There's not a single good reason for any worker -- especially any union member -- to vote against Barack Obama," Trumka said in the July 1 speech. "And there's only one really, really bad reason to vote against Barack Obama: that's because he's not white."

Colvin said the speech likely "increased his stock" with union leaders and Democratic political leaders.

"It showed him to be a more passionate, dynamic leader," he said. "One of the limitations with Sweeney? He's not the most dynamic, inspirational type of leader."

Paul Booth, a staffer with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, called Trumka a "straight-shooting spokesman" and said his apparent willingness to have a high public profile could increase the federa-tion's public image.

"It's certainly a big piece of the job that he needs to do," Booth said.

Other labor officials agreed that Trumka's ascension is a conscious attempt by federation leaders to increase the profile of the once-dominant group.

One union official said Sweeney's departure "will be very noticeable to the public" and that Trumka's presidency may alter the perception that unions are behind the times.

"The labor movement is over 100 years old. Labor laws haven't changed and many of our unions haven't changed much," the official said. "We're always struggling with the attitude that we're somehow stuck in the past."
#kK Street Files

LOAD-DATE: September 14, 2009

The Christian Science Monitor, September 13, 2009, Sunday

The Christian Science Monitor

September 13, 2009, Sunday

The Christian Science Monitor

Is South Korea backsliding on its democracy movement?

Seoul, South Korea - Thousands of schoolteachers who joined a civic movement calling for protection of democratic freedoms face punishment by the South Korean government, which says they violated their role as public servants.

Eighty-nine members of a union are under criminal investigation for their part in organizing the petition that set off the controversy. Some were jailed; the union's main offices were raided by police.

While the government alleges the teachers broke several laws, the union and some in the international community say this is another example of how South Korea is clamping down on dissent.

A few months after its inauguration in February 2008, the administration of President Lee Myung-bak gave the nod to turning firehoses and tear gas on protesters for the first time since 1997, as candlelight rallies against US beef imports swelled.

Not long after, Mr. Lee began removing liberal figures from state-affiliated news outlets. The resulting uproar eventually brought the head of the International Federation of Journalists to Seoul, urging guarantees for press freedoms.


Early this year, prosecutors arrested and indicted Park Dae-sung, who tore into the administration's economic policies on the popular Internet forum Agora. He was acquitted of charges of spreading misinformation, but the government has appealed.

South Korea has made great strides in strengthening democracy since ousting a military dictatorship some 20 years ago. But some – including the late President Kim Dae-jung, Korea's only Nobel Peace Prize laureate – have warned of backsliding.

Others are cautious. "While it does seem ... that some old patterns from the predemocratic past have resurfaced," says Clark Sorensen, a Korea expert at the University of Washington in Seattle, "it is difficult to judge the extent to which this is just appearance and the extent to which it is reality."

Norma Kang Muico, an Amnesty International researcher, sees deterioration. "[Since] our report last October on the policing of the candlelight protests, hundreds of civilians have been convicted of violating the Assembly and Demonstration Act," she says. "There have been no prosecutions of riot police, despite ample evidence ... of human rights violations committed by some police officials."

Roh Moo-hyun, Lee's predecessor, committed suicide in late May amid a bribery probe. Many called it "political murder," saying Lee had tried to tarnish opponents. In a widely criticized move, the government dispatched thousands of police to surround City Hall and block gatherings of mourners.

Petitions began to emerge calling for the protection of democratic freedoms. Professors at Seoul National University released the first, leading to a flood of others. Those joining in included a group from President Lee's alma mater, Korea University, and the Korean Teachers' and Education Workers' Union (KTU).

In announcing punishment of the union, the Education Ministry cited laws that apply to civil servants and teachers' unions, but not professors, that supposedly bar them from group political activity.

Im Byung-koo, the KTU's director in Incheon, notes the KTU released a similar statement during rallies last year. "As people who have to teach children [about recent events]," he says, "we thought, 'It's time for us to speak about democracy.' "


Mr. Im and 20 other KTU officials now face being fired and barred from teaching for three years. Dozens face suspension, and more than 20,000 petitioners may be punished through their schools.

Some experts say the move violates laws of the International Labor Organization, to which South Korea belongs. "[The] law can prevent political proselytizing in the classroom by teachers, but cannot restrict their participation in political affairs in society at large," says Lance Compa, a senior lecturer at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

An Education Ministry official acknowledged the punishment was "rare," but needed to prevent educators from exerting political influence over students. In a late-June poll, just over 50 percent of respondents said they opposed the punishment of the KTU, but more than 30 percent supported it.

The union plans to fight the action in court.

JJ Kim contributed to this report.

The New York Times, September 13, 2009, Sunday

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
The New York Times

September 13, 2009, Sunday

HEADLINE: Labor Leader Is Stepping Down Both Proud and Frustrated



After 14 years at labor's helm, John J. Sweeney will step down from his post this week, having failed to achieve his No. 1 goal: significantly expanding labor's ranks.

Mr. Sweeney, however, the Bronx-born son of a bus driver and a housekeeper, can boast of another achievement: as president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., he transformed labor into a political powerhouse that helped elect President Obama and many other Democrats.

Not surprisingly, after eight years out in the cold under President George W. Bush, Mr. Sweeney and labor are now eager for Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats to show their gratitude by enacting some major union-friendly legislation. But so far, Congress has not delivered.

Mr. Sweeney, 75, said he was holding out hope that Mr. Obama would push through a health care overhaul as well as legislation that would make it considerably easier to unionize. Both bills have been slowed by intense Republi-can opposition and hesitation among moderate Democrats.

''We realize this is a historic time, and we have to get the health care reform now,'' he said. ''We can't wait an-other 10 years.''

He said Mr. Obama had told him and other labor leaders that the momentum created when health care legislation passes would build momentum for the pro-union legislation.

Mr. Sweeney's longtime No. 2, Richard L. Trumka, is set to be elected president Wednesday at the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s convention in Pittsburgh, a day after Mr. Obama speaks there. Mr. Trumka is running unopposed.

In a lengthy interview, Mr. Sweeney made it clear that he was stepping down filled with both pride and frustra-tion.

He insisted that he had embraced the right strategies to turn things around for labor: prodding individual unions to spend more on organizing workers; creating alliances with the clergy, students and civil rights groups; and champi-oning the cause of low-wage workers.

When he won the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s presidency in 1995, he said that on his watch the union movement would or-ganize millions of workers in a surge of unionization like that in the 1930s. In fact, union membership declined by 170,000 during his watch, to 16.1 million, although it rose somewhat the past two years.

In discussing what went wrong, Mr. Sweeney sounded as if the world had often conspired against him -- and all of labor.

Sitting in his conference room, which looks across Lafayette Park to the White House, he said, ''We had eight years of an antiworker administration,'' a comment on the years under Mr. Bush. ''We had some very bad trade policies, and that drastically affected manufacturing industries,'' long the heart of labor.

For instance, the United Automobile Workers was so hurt by Detroit's woes that its membership has dwindled to under 500,000 from 1.5 million in 1979.

''Based on the optimism that supporters of the labor movement felt in 1995 when he was elected, I think it's hard not to be disappointed with the results,'' said Richard W. Hurd, a professor of labor relations at Cornell University. ''How much of that you can trace back to John Sweeney is a whole other question.''

Many unions ignored his pleas to intensify organizing efforts. Corporations mounted expensive, sophisticated campaigns to beat back unionization drives. The number of manufacturing workers has plunged nearly one-third, falling by 5.5 million, this decade.

Professor Hurd said Mr. Sweeney had been gaining momentum during President Bill Clinton's second term. ''The narrow defeat of Al Gore in the 2000 election was incredibly disappointing to labor because, until then, labor was mov-ing in a positive direction,'' he said. ''Starting with the Bush presidency, the environment shifted dramatically, and it became very difficult for unions.''

Randel K. Johnson, senior vice president for labor at the United States Chamber of Commerce, said Mr. Sweeney was too quick to blame corporations for labor's troubles. ''He continues to have an out-of-date message,'' Mr. Johnson said, ''while demonizing employers inaccurately.''

The current economic downturn has meant layoffs for many union members and reduced ranks for many unions. Mr. Sweeney said, ''I think the recession is going to drive people to the conclusion that they can't resolve their problems by themselves and they have to look to organizing.''

He draws a lesson from his childhood. ''Because of the union, my father got things like vacation days or a raise in wages,'' he said. ''But my mother, who worked as a domestic, had nobody. It taught me from a young age the difference between workers who are organized and workers who were by themselves.''

Charles B. Craver, a professor of labor law at George Washington University, said Mr. Sweeney's vision was too locked in the past. ''They continue using blue-collar techniques to organize 21st-century workers,'' he said.

Many workers are eager to have a collective voice at work, Professor Craver said, even though they balk at be-ing associated with anything called a union.

Mr. Sweeney said one of his most important strategies had been reaching out to workers, many of them immi-grants, not typically allied with unions -- day laborers, taxi drivers and car wash workers.

Indeed, a major part of his legacy is having shifted labor's stance toward immigrants from an antagonistic one that viewed immigrants as stealing union members' jobs and lowering their wages to a sympathetic one that viewed im-migrants as workers whom employers often preyed upon, pulling down labor standards for other workers.

Under Mr. Sweeney, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. reversed itself and supported legislation that would give citizenship to il-legal immigrants.

Mr. Sweeney originally promised to serve at most 10 years as president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., a federation of 56 unions representing about nine million workers. But in 2005, several union presidents urged him to serve another four-year term, viewing him as the best person to stabilize labor when several major unions quit the A.F.L.-C.I.O.

At the time, some officials said labor would benefit from having a more charismatic leader, better at wooing young workers.

Mr. Trumka, 61, the former president of the United Mine Workers, shares Mr. Sweeney's dream of reviving la-bor. He is a more dynamic speaker and is more confrontational and impatient than Mr. Sweeney.

Mr. Trumka, raising the same high hopes that Mr. Sweeney once did, will face many of the same problems: jobs moving overseas, continuing corporate hostility and the indifference that many young and white-collar workers feel toward unions.

Still, Mr. Sweeney said he had done many things to pave the way for a turnaround under Mr. Trumka, like help-ing elect a Democratic president, getting more unions to focus on organizing and pushing for legislation that would make it easier to unionize.

Mr. Sweeney declined to discuss any errors he had made.

''Everybody makes mistakes,'' he said. ''There's always room for improvement. I'm very satisfied with what I ac-complished.''


GRAPHIC: PHOTO: Richard L. Trumka, left, is set to succeed John J. Sweeney, right, as president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.(PHOTOGRAPH BY CHARLES DHARAPAK/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

LOAD-DATE: September 13, 2009

Democrat and Chronicle, September 11, 2009, Friday

Democrat and Chronicle

September 11, 2009, Friday

Democrat and Chronicle

School unions worried about 'not safe' site

Nestor Ramos
Staff writer

Teachers and other Rochester School District employees are challenging the district's decision to make them work in a former factory recently declared a brownfield.

The building at 690 St. Paul St., for decades a Bausch & Lomb facility, was once scheduled to house students. But environmental questions led to those plans being scrapped, and now four employee unions say adults shouldn't work there either.

Last month, the Rochester Teachers Association filed a grievance with the district, the association president, Adam Urbanski, said. The complaint is supported by three other school employee unions, at least one of which also filed a grievance.

District spokesman Tom Petronio was unable to confirm that the school district had received the grievance as of Thursday. But copies of letters sent to the district's labor relations administrator obtained by the Democrat and Chronicle contained requests for a grievance. The letters were dated Aug. 24 and 27.

"If the site is not safe enough for students, it's also not safe enough for adults," Urbanski said in an e-mail "And if (Superintendent Jean-Claude) Brizard insists that it is safe, he and his Central Office bureaucrats should move there themselves."

The district last year leased the property for 15 years for nearly $1 million annually, planning to house the new Dr. Walter Cooper Academy and School 14 there this fall. But those plans were scrapped following revelations the building's owner, Genesee Valley Real Estate Co., had applied to the state brownfield program for tax credits to clean up the site.

Instead, the district moved students to the former School 37 building on Congress Avenue and moved teachers, administrators and other employees in.

Brizard issued a statement saying the building was safe.

"The New York State DEC and Department of Health have repeatedly confirmed that the air quality at 690 St. Paul Street is safe. We have provided our employees information about the air quality testing that's been done and who to contact from the state if they want more information. We have been completely upfront about the building and the fact that it remains safe. We are confident that it is a safe and appropriate place for our employees to work."

The site is now home to several programs, including the Student Placement Center, the Committees on Special Education, the Rochester Teacher Center and the Homeless Students Support Center.

"I'm hoping that they will find an alternative location, the same way they found an alternative location for the school," said Dan DiClemente, president of the Board of Education Non-Teaching Employees union, which DiClemente said also filed a grievance.

"Some of the workers in the building are personally concerned," DiClemente said. Others fear that they could be moved there.

The administrators union, ASAR, and the paraprofessionals union, RAP, also oppose having employees at the site.

Urbanski said he'd asked the state teachers union to look into the possibility of an injunction against the district.

Nellie Brown, a certified industrial hygienist and director of Workplace Health & Safety Programs at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, said that her review of the plans and available data for the site raised some questions that she said should be answered by continued monitoring.

"There are some unknowns to be addressed," Brown said. "We're at an early stage here, but we're getting the right information to make good decisions."

Brown said air quality testing revealed "very low" levels of dangerous chemicals, but that the real problems could come later, during site cleanup.

"The data may very well suggest that that's not a good time for occupancy," Brown said. "We just don't know at this point yet, but the sampling should be able to provide a very good picture."

The Glass Hammer, September 10, 2009, Thursday

The Glass Hammer

September 10, 2009, Thursday

The Glass Hammer

Voice of Experience: Kathleen Weslock, Head of Human Resources, SunGard
filed under Voices of Experience

by Pamela Weinsaft (New York)

“A career isn’t just climbing straight up a ladder – it is more like a garden lattice. There are many steps along the way and at each juncture, a chance to learn a lot about yourself and your profession,” said Kathleen Weslock, the head of Human Resources at leading software and IT services company, SunGard Data Systems.

The Crooked Career Path

A Spanish and psychology double major at Hood College in Maryland, Weslock started her career as a switchboard operator at the Pan American Health Organization. Because she was fluent in Spanish, less than six months later, she was “promoted” to secretary in the human resources department. The head of employee relations needed someone who could keep information confidential and who could translate for her. “While this job may seem menial to many, I learned a lot from this position and from Mariko; she taught me the importance of having a solid work ethic at an early stage in my career. I learned so much, from basic level employee relations to discretion to the proper code of conduct. She was a marvelous woman,” explained Weslock.

She then went to work as a secretary in the HR and training department of the US Chamber of Commerce and worked her way up to the assistant director, where she ran training programs that taught business executives how to lobby in Washington, DC. “But I was still typing,” laughed Weslock.

She then went to work as a secretary in the training department of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and worked her way up to teaching business executives how to lobby in Washington, D.C. She was also rubbing elbows with business leaders, top columnists, and powerful business executives. “But I was still typing,” laughed Weslock.

At one of the labor relation sessions she organized, some of the influential executives encouraged her to go to grad school or law school and pursue labor relations as a career. “At that point I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with my career. I didn’t think I wanted to be a lawyer, but I did find the thought of a career in labor relations interesting. So it was really a chance meeting with individuals who really cared about helping young people with their careers that gave me the impetus to decide to go back to graduate school.”

But her initial application to the prestigious graduate program at New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University was rejected. “I called the dean of the school to say that I was disappointed that I hadn’t been accepted and that I never got to meet with him face-to-face to tell him why I should be a student. I think because it was such a direct way of promoting myself and pretty unusual, he agreed to meet with me.” At the meeting, the dean told her what she needed to do to get into the program; she did it and reapplied several months later. “I just called him back and said, ‘when do I start?’”

Weslock added, “This sort of perseverance is important in the workplace as well. If you really want something, you have to be persistent and you have to always take ‘no’ in a diplomatic way. All good things take time. You need that persistence and resilience to see things through. Learning how to play chess is a good skill to have because you have to think of not only what you are going to do next but also of the alternative. You are looking for the end game.”

Upon graduation, Weslock joined GTE (now Verizon), where she said she really honed the skills of her trade. “I had a lot of great mentors there; many great HR practitioners came out of that organization.” Those mentors—especially the senior vice president of human resources and labor relations—encouraged her to go back to get her law degree. And she did, working during the day and attending Pace University School of Law at night.

When GTE decided to move its corporate headquarters to Dallas, Weslock opted not to relocate and to join Mercer HR consulting. During her 8- year high-powered career there, she and two other people started up a stock advisory practice within the company. “I would work with Fortune 500 companies like Sara Lee and Pepsico on a number of international HR issues such as stock programs and international redundancy, which brought me to the field of international HR back in 1988, before it really became hot.”

With two young kids at home, she decided that it was time to stop traveling as much as she was while at Mercer. Weslock briefly worked in the private client division at Lehman Brothers, working in HR in their private client division, but it was not a perfect fit. “My job was about firing people – not about development. I stayed only two years.”

Weslock decided to go out on her own, first establishing her own solo consulting practice, then starting her own business importing children’s layette and pajamas from Greece. “I had two young children and was going back forth to Greece with my [Greek] husband. I’d always admired the cotton there so I started importing it on my own. It eventually grew to the point where I was making children’s pajamas in Greece and selling them in the U.S.,” she explained.

And while the businesses were successful, they weren’t her passion. “It was fun, but my heart wasn’t into it: I was always ‘consulting and HR’. I did it because, at the time, my husband, who is an architect, and I thought I needed a break. And I wanted to be around more for the children and have more freedom. In the end, though, between the consulting and the import business, I was working harder on my own than I had when I had my corporate job. ” She ended up getting a position with the law firm, Sherman & Sterling, where she stayed for five years until joining Deloitte in New York as the head of HR for the financial advisory services.

She was headhunted out of Deloitte into her current position as head of HR with SunGard, where she now works directly with SunGard’s CEO on “the whole gamut of HR” from organizational redesign and training to employee relations and recruiting. Weslock said, “It is a wonderful company with a terrific culture. And I work with people I respect and who are some of the smartest and nicest people I’ve ever met. I’m fortunate to have an HR team that is truly world class. I couldn’t ask for a better job.”

A Different Approach to Work-Life Balance

Throughout the years, Weslock, who has worked in accounting firms, consulting and on Wall Street, has taken a different approach to work-life balance than most: she purposely planned her career so that she could have the flexibility to be around for her two boys when they were older. “That was the choice I made that very few people were making back then. I think it was really smart, though, because my kids needed me more in their teenage years than they did as babies—and I had progressed up the ranks and could be there when I needed to be with them, even if we spoke on a pre-arranged conference call. I travel a lot and toggle between our King of Prussia and New York City offices—and I try to be home at least two nights during the week for them when they get home,” she explained, adding facetiously, “that is if they should choose to want to talk.”

In her time off from work, when not with her sons and her husband, she spends her time riding, a passion she didn’t discover until a few years ago. “During my 40s, I decided I would learn how to ride horses. Now, whenever I can, I sneak away to the barn and ride. I love to spend time there, not only to ride, but also because I’m in the company of other smart, athletic women who enjoy each other’s company.”

Weslock uses riding to relax and stay centered. “To be able to ride well, you have to be completely centered and focused and work in tandem with an animal that is way more powerful than you’ll ever be. It is a discipline that requires emotional calmness and focus, as well as a lot of patience. If I have a real hard problem that I’m working on at work, I know I can get through it after a good ride. It is better than an executive coach or therapy.”

The Advancement of Women in Technology

Weslock acknowledges that tech can be a male-dominated field but points out that things have come a long way. “I am very proud of the composition of our senior executive team in terms of diversity; there are four women—our General Counsel, Controller, Tax VP, and myself. Many women get started in sales and professional areas. We have to start grooming girls as students to think about IT as a potential occupation. There are more women entering the field every year – and we just have to make sure that we recruit and retain them.”

She certainly does her part. “I take it as my responsibility to find and promote wonderful women in technology. Of course, it has to be the right fit and the right skills but I will make sure that we leave no stone unturned when we are looking for advancement positions for a talented female professional.”

Tapped, September 8, 2009, Tuesday

Copyright 2009 Newstex LLC
All Rights Reserved
Newstex Web Blogs
Copyright 2009 Tapped

September 8, 2009, Tuesday

HEADLINE: Admin Continues Merit Pay Push. What Does Research Say?

Sep. 8, 2009 (Tapped delivered by Newstex) --

One of the major developments in education policy this year has been the Obama administration's continued, focused attention on the issue of merit pay, despite a lack of strong evidence linking such programs to increased student achievement. On Sunday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared on "Face the Nation" and reiterated this agenda.

So it's worthwhile to take a look at what social science has to tell us about merit pay. Consider this TED talk on career motivation from Dan Pink, a former Al Gore speechwriter who is now a business journalist. If you can get past the MBA lingo, there's a lot here that is really consequential for education policy. Forty years of psychological research demonstrates that when someone is faced with a complex, creative task -- like teaching -- money is an ineffective moti-vational tool, and may even delay progress. Professionals engaged in creative work are more likely to be motivated by autonomy, and by the feeling that they are part of a larger, socially important enterprise.

As Pink mentions, though, one key to professional motivation is making sure everyone is paid fairly at the outset, thus getting the issue of compensation "off the table." That suggests paying teachers more earlier on in their careers, instead of back-loading the reward system, as many current teacher contracts do.

This jives with the latest findings from one of my favorite education researchers, Cornell University labor economist C. Kirabo Jackson. After looking at North Carolina schoolchildren for 11 years, Jackson found that students' test scores improved when a high quality teacher taught in their grade-level -- even if they were not themselves in that teacher's class. Why? The positive impact comes not because teachers are competing with another for merit pay rewards, but be-cause they are working alongside more competent colleagues, who are improving their skills.

If its true that teachers are learning from their peers, and the effects are not small, then we want to make sure that any incentive system we put in place is going to be fostering that and not preventing it, Jackson told Education Week. If you give the reward at the individual level, all of a sudden my peers are no longer my colleagues"theyre my competitors. If you give it at the school level, then youre going to foster feelings of team membership, and that increases the incen-tive to work together and help each other out.

--Dana Goldstein

Newstex ID: TPPD-0001-37812543

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LOAD-DATE: September 8, 2009

Ithaca Journal, September 7, 2009, Monday

Ithaca Journal

September 7, 2009, Monday

Ithaca Journal

Wage theft skewered at Labor Day picnic
By Stacey Shackford

ITHACA -- Employees were toasted and their employers roasted along with about 1,000 hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages at the annual Labor Day picnic in Stewart Park Monday.

A couple hundred people from all walks of life gathered near the main pavilion to partake in politics and potato salad as part of a tradition that goes back 25 years and is organized by the Tompkins County Workers' Center and the Midstate Central Labor Council.

Long-time Ithaca resident Barbara Wayman was a rare specimen, a Republican in a sea of Democrats, but she said she could agree with most of what was said and found a community picnic an apt venue. "There are a lot of people out of work who don't know where their next meal is coming from," Wayman said.

Among those recognized were two workers who blew the whistle on their employers. Viola Scott successfully took on a downtown retailer who paid her below the minimum wage, and received $1,200 in back payments. Thomas Lackner lost an estimated $250,000 in unpaid overtime in 16 years at a Lansing restaurant, and is consulting with the Department of Labor to recover about $40,000, picnic coordinator Pete Meyers said.

SUNY Cortland economics professor Howard Botwinick said such practices are common among local employers, some of whom also skirt labor laws by deeming their employees independent contractors.

"Wage theft is not just taking place in the darkest corners of our communities by employers unscrupulously breaking the law," Botwinick said. "It's a generic problem and it's time for us to get back to the basics."

Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of Labor Education Research at Cornell University, said labor achieved victory in getting the Employee Free Choice Act through the U.S. House, but said unions were spending too much energy on politics and should return to their roots. "You need to organize harder, you need to organize smarter. You have to do the work to build a labor movement again," Bronfenbrenner said.

Edie Reagan, coordinator of Justice and Peace and Catholic Charities, got the Friend of Labor award for work as a founding member of the Religious Task Force for a Living Wage, while Ithaca College was named the Goat of Labor.

Dave Marsh, business manager of Laborers Local Union 785, said the college had let labor down by outsourcing work on its $64.5 million athletics and events center to a Rochester-based contractor that uses out-of-state workers. "At a time when we have 10 percent unemployment, it would be nice for these jobs to stay local," he said.

In a statement on the college's Intercom site, Carl Sgrecci, vice president for finance and administration, defended the decision.

"Ithaca College has every confidence in Pike Construction. When considering bids on the A&E Center project, our due diligence showed that they treat labor fairly and use substantial numbers of local and union workers," Sgrecci wrote. "The College has a responsibility to use funds being spent on the project -- whether they come from donors or the operating budget -- in a fiscally prudent manner."

The Virginian-Pilot, September 5, 2009, Saturday

The Virginian-Pilot

September 5, 2009, Saturday

The Virginian-Pilot

Businesses, unions remain at stalemate on 'card check' bill

The Employee Free Choice Act, organized labor's top legislative priority under a Democratic Congress and White House, sits dormant nearly six months after it was reintroduced in Washington.

The measure, which was passed in the House in 2007 but got stuck in the Senate, also is known as the "card check" bill. It would allow unions to represent workers if a majority at a workplace signed cards - a provision fiercely opposed by businesses. Now most companies require a majority vote in a secret-ballot election to demonstrate support for a union.

The bill has been slowed by the health care debate and the reservations of some moderate Democrats, but observers predict it will resurface in a revised form next year.

Here's a quick primer on the bill and its possible fate:

What are other provisions?

If contract talks are stalled between an employer and union for four months, the matter would be resolved by binding arbitration. It also would increase penalties for employers who harass workers during union campaigns.

What are the pros and cons?

A card check would take away workers' right to a secret vote and open them to intimidation from unions through "surreptitious" contacts, said Tom Lucas, an employment lawyer with Willcox & Savage.

Unions say workers already face harassment from employers before elections and need an alternative. Thomas Bell, business manager with Ironworkers Local No. 79 in Norfolk, recalled one worker who was made to stand by the fence at his work site for several shifts after he spoke out for a union.

The binding-arbitration clause would "allow government bureaucrats to mandate contract terms to workers and small businesses without their consent," said Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute, a national coalition of small-business owners opposing the bill.

But Christy Setzer of the Service Employees International Union in Washington cited a study that said 44 percent of unions go without a contract two years after they're certified.

"This bill provides a measure that ensures employers will bargain in good faith," Setzer said.

Why so much fuss about it?

Businesses fear a loss of control over employees. Unions see an opening to reverse a decline in members, who account for 4.1 percent of the work force in Virginia. But Clete Daniel, a labor professor at Cornell University, said that "employers are exaggerating the danger that the law poses to their interests, just as I think labor is exaggerating the benefit it will derive from its passage."

If most Democrats support it and they hold the majorities in the House and Senate, why hasn't it been approved yet?

Democrats control 59 Senate seats. If opponents attempt a filibuster, they'd have to muster 60 votes to overcome it and bring the bill to a vote. But at least a handful of moderate Democrats have voiced reservations or opposition to the bill.

Where do local members of Congress stand?

Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott has voiced support. Republican Rep. Randy Forbes opposes it and has co-sponsored a substitute to require secret ballots when voting on a union. Democratic Rep. Glenn Nye "absolutely supports the rights of workers to organize, but he has some concerns with the House draft of the bill, including the details of card check," spokesman Clark Pettig said.

In the Senate, Democrats Jim Webb and Mark Warner have distanced themselves from the bill. Webb, a former supporter, said in a letter to the Virginia Chamber of Commerce last month that any bill "must preserve the secret ballot process" and that it is not "the best time" to vote on the issue. Warner, who has avoided staking a position, said in his letter to the chamber that he wants to provide "a fair and level playing field to both management and labor."

What are the bill's other obstacles this year?

The struggle over health care and the vacant Massachusetts Senate seat.

"The health care debate has let loose forces that have put a lot of legislation like this on hold," said Quentin Kidd, a political scientist at Christopher Newport University.

Plus, with Ted Kennedy's death last month, Democrats lost a reliable vote for the bill. Unless Massachusetts legislators change state law, an election for his successor is not expected until January.

Isn't President Barack Obama for it?

He backed it as a senator. Don't expect him to push hard for the bill now.

"His political-capital bank accounts are being sucked dry" by health care, Kidd said.

Said Cornell's Daniel: "Labor's agenda is not particularly important to him. He's learned that you don't have to be labor's friend to get their support. You just have to be less unfriendly than the Republicans."

What could happen next year?

The New York Times reported that six Democratic senators are working on a revision, minus the card-check provision, to win over skeptics. Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter has suggested a few alternative clauses to mollify business and labor:

- Modifying the binding-arbitration provision to require the arbitrator to choose the last offer of either the union or employer.

- Reducing the waiting time when a union petitions the National Labor Relations Board for a certification election from 42 to 21 days.

- Requiring employers to offer "equal time" for unions to hold meetings on company property before an election.

Would those alternatives fly with business or labor?

No one's embracing them yet. Bell, from the ironworkers local, underscored the importance of the card check for unions.

"A good bill for labor," he said, would allow workers "to have the option to choose which way to organize."

On the business side, Diaz, of the Workforce Fairness Institute, said any bill with card check or binding arbitration clauses is a "non-starter." Lucas, the Willcox & Savage attorney, said an equal-time clause is "a serious infringement of private property rights" and a 21-day rule won't give companies enough time to make their case before an election.

Daniel said businesses still could block it.

"I can't see them rolling over in any way," he said, "even at a weak effort at labor-law reform.

Philip Walzer, (757) 222-3864,

The Nation, August 31, 2009, Monday

The Nation

August 31, 2009, Monday

The Nation

Divorce--Union Style

By Peter Dreier

"I never heard people with Ivy League educations insult each other so articulately," recalled Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union.

Hansen is usually leading negotiations with giant grocery chains and meatpackers. But for the past several months he's also been trying to mediate a dispute between rival unions and their leaders: Andy Stern (University of Pennsylvania, class of 1971) and Bruce Raynor (Cornell, 1972) of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and John Wilhelm (Yale, 1967) of UNITE HERE. Since late last year, their attention--and that of the broader labor movement--has been diverted by internal squabbles that have erupted into a civil war between former friends and allies. It involves a battle over turf, ego, money, members, strategy, principles and the future of the labor movement.

Hansen met with Stern and Wilhelm on July 31, and he speaks regularly with Raynor. The discussion went well enough that they scheduled another round of face-to-face meetings for mid-August. Hansen thinks a settlement is within reach.

"Then we can all go back to doing what we're supposed to be doing," Hansen said. "Organizing workers and getting pro-worker legislation passed in Congress."

Ask any union official, labor organizer, rank-and-file leader or labor-oriented academic--they'll all tell you the same thing: this is labor's moment.

Thanks in part to the labor movement's efforts last year, unions have an ally in the White House and a Democratic majority in Congress. Long-neglected issues that unions have supported--healthcare reform, immigration reform and especially labor law reform--are on the national agenda. If labor and other liberal groups can help Democrats expand their margin in Congress next year and mobilize to push centrist Democrats in a more progressive direction, America could be in store for the next New Deal. All agree: the stakes are high.

"We're at the most daunting moment of economic challenge in our lifetime," says Stern, the president of SEIU, the nation's second-largest union. "We need to focus all of our energy on organizing workers, mobilizing the public and passing legislation that turns our country in a new direction."

Over the past decade, labor observers agree, SEIU and UNITE HERE have been two of the most effective unions in terms of expanding membership, winning good contracts, forging alliances with community and religious groups, and helping elect progressive candidates at the local, state and national levels.

Until this past spring, UNITE HERE had roughly 440,000 members, about two-thirds of them in the hotel, hospitality and gambling casino sectors, with most of the others in the garment industry. But in May, Raynor, UNITE HERE's president, led between 105,000 and 150,000 members, mostly garment workers, out of the union and into a new SEIU affiliate called Workers United (the two sides dispute the number). SEIU represents close to 2 million members in a wide swath of public and private sectors, including hospital and nursing home workers, janitors, security guards and government employees.

How and why SEIU wound up with these former UNITE HERE members is the source of much friction within the labor movement, causing union leaders, liberal academics and rank-and-file members to choose sides. Wilhelm and UNITE HERE accuse Stern, Raynor and SEIU of poaching their members and money. Raynor says he is just taking out what UNITE brought into the 2004 merger with HERE.

Wilhelm joined the labor movement in 1969; Raynor and Stern in the early '70s. They hoped to change the world and reverse labor's fortunes. Unions, which had represented 35 percent of the workforce in the late '50s, were starting a steady decline as unionized factories shut down and moved overseas, businesses began an aggressive antiunion assault and unions failed to organize workers and add new members. The three baby boomer radicals were known as brilliant organizers and rose steadily through the ranks of their respective unions.

Wilhelm and Raynor knew each other casually. In 1999, Wilhelm praised Raynor at a ceremony honoring him with an alumni award from Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. But the two didn't become close friends until 2003, when Wilhelm was leading a strike of 2,500 maintenance, clerical and food service workers at Yale University. To generate national publicity and put pressure on the Yale administration, the unions brought more than 10,000 supporters--including members of other unions, community allies, students from Yale and other universities, and political figures like the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Vermont Governor Howard Dean--to shut down a section of downtown New Haven in September of that year. More than a hundred demonstrators were arrested, including Wilhelm, Raynor and Stern, as well as AFL-CIO president John Sweeney and Douglas McCarron, president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.

Raynor says he told Wilhelm he'd help raise $1 million to replenish the strike fund. "I called Andy, and he got SEIU to write a check for $250,000," Raynor recalls. Soon after the strike ended, Raynor and Wilhelm began talking about merging their two unions. A friend of both leaders called their relationship a "mutual admiration society." UNITE and HERE officially tied the knot in 2004, forming UNITE HERE.

UNITE, itself the product of several previous mergers of garment and textile unions, including the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers and the International Ladies' Garment Workers, inherited a proud tradition of progressive social unionism among immigrant workers. UNITE HERE also inherited ownership of the garment unions' substantial assets--including two large Manhattan office buildings, the nation's only union-owned bank (the over $4 billion Amalgamated Bank) and a relatively large operating budget.

At the time, the merger seemed to make sense. UNITE's membership had been dwindling dramatically since the 1970s, as the US clothing industry shrank and Americans began importing most of their apparel from Asia, Mexico and Central America. Under Raynor--who made his reputation organizing J.P. Stevens textile workers in the South during the '70s--UNITE was servicing its members, including its many retirees, and trying, with modest success, to make inroads organizing workers at industrial laundries. But the union's future looked bleak.

HERE (Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees), in contrast, was a union on the move. Its young organizers viewed their union as part of a crusading social movement led by Wilhelm, a feisty and charismatic figure. Wilhelm began his career as a student at Yale and then helped unionize the university's clerical and blue-collar employees. Under his leadership, the union organized a successful rebuilding effort in Las Vegas hotels and casinos. HERE evolved from a highly decentralized network of local (and sometimes corrupt) affiliates to a stronger, more coherent and more effective organizing force. It focused primarily on immigrants in low-wage jobs in national hotel chains and the growing number of gambling casinos. But despite its growth, HERE was starved for cash and lacked the financial resources to expand as quickly as Wilhelm thought was possible in the booming hotel and casino sector.

After the merger, Raynor became president of the new UNITE HERE, with Wilhelm assuming the leadership of its hospitality division, the sector where the union was anticipating the most growth.

In 2005 Stern, Raynor and Wilhelm led their unions--along with the Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers and several others--out of the AFL-CIO and formed another union umbrella, Change to Win, which pledged to devote more resources to organizing new workers and reorganizing the labor movement along industry sector lines so that it could be more effective in challenging global corporations.

Within three years of the merger, however, Raynor and Wilhelm were clashing over the pace of change and, some longtime HERE leaders claim, Raynor's heavy-handed leadership style. Wilhelm's aides say Raynor offered employers weak "sweetheart" contracts so the union could add new members and employers could avoid a protracted fight, bad publicity and a possible strike.

Raynor claimed that Wilhelm's division was spending tens of millions of dollars without significant results. He thought Wilhelm's progress in adding new members was too slow and that his organizers spent too much time developing rank-and-file worker committees in a handful of hotels and casinos rather than waging campaigns against entire chains.

In fact, UNITE HERE did make fitful progress in expanding its membership. Following the merger, according to Wilhelm, UNITE HERE organized almost 14,000 workers in ninety-two hotels. It increased the union's density to about 20 percent among hotel workers (much higher in some cities), making inroads in cities like Phoenix and Houston that had no union hotels. The union also expanded its hold in the casino sector, reaching about half of all employees.

In many situations, UNITE HERE won victories by mobilizing support from community and religious allies, putting pressure on employers to recognize the union. UNITE HERE also retooled its strategy to focus on winning contracts with national chains like Hilton rather than negotiate separately with hundreds of local hotels. According to the union, UNITE HERE represents 37 percent of Hilton employees and 40 percent of Starwood hotel workers. A source who knows both union leaders well says that Raynor began going behind Wilhelm's back, meeting with hotel owners and challenging Wilhelm's role as head of the union's hospitality wing. "Bruce was president, so he could do that," the source observed, but it violated the spirit of the merger. "That ruffled the feathers of the HERE folks."

Longtime staffers for both unions, and other observers, acknowledge that the two organizations had very different cultures. One high-level staffer in Raynor's circle called the marriage "a bad fit from the very beginning."

In many cities, HERE locals joined forces with UNITE locals, merging office space, sharing their treasuries and waging campaigns under the new banner. But the former UNITE central staff remained in their Manhattan headquarters, and former HERE core staff continued working out of their Washington office.

The marriage lasted for five years. Because HERE came into the merger with more members, it had more votes on UNITE HERE's governing board, making it likely that Wilhelm loyalists could outvote Raynor on various matters and, if need be, oust Raynor as president. Worried that he might lose his position, Raynor began saying privately, then publicly last year, that the merger hadn't worked. In May, Raynor precipitated what he calls a "divorce." He resigned as UNITE HERE president and brought his wing of the union into the waiting arms of Andy Stern. Raynor's Workers United faction is now a subsidiary of SEIU. (Some former UNITE members, mostly in New England, opted to stay with UNITE HERE.)

Anyone who has gone through a messy divorce, or has seen close friends or relatives engage in a hostile battle over the custody of children and financial assets, will recognize what UNITE HERE is going through. Divorces are even messier when there's a third person involved, and in this love-hate triangle, the "other man" is the powerful SEIU and its president.

At its July convention in Chicago, Wilhelm was elected president of UNITE HERE, minus the members Raynor brought into SEIU. Wilhelm isn't happy about losing those members and their dues, but he's mostly angry about two other issues--UNITE HERE's financial assets and protection of his union's core jurisdiction, the hospitality industry.

As he was preparing to leave as UNITE HERE president, Raynor sought to arrange for Workers United to maintain control over UNITE HERE's financial assets, including Amalgamated Bank and its strike fund. Wilhelm claims that what happened isn't a divorce but a "robbery." He says that Raynor, with Stern's support, split the union in violation of its bylaws, taking most of UNITE HERE's assets, including $23 million of the strike fund, which Raynor had invested in the bank. According to Wilhelm, Raynor tied up most of UNITE HERE's $333 million in assets, leaving Wilhelm with only $4 million to keep his union afloat. These resources legally still belong to UNITE HERE, Wilhelm says.

Raynor counters that UNITE had brought those assets into the merger and that they belong to its members, who are now part of SEIU/Workers United. "These are the assets built from the sweat and savings of hundreds of thousands of garment workers over eighty years," says Raynor, who believes they should belong to the union that represents the next generation of clothing workers. He also says that the members who left UNITE HERE had the legal right to do so, citing federal laws that allow workers to disaffiliate from a union.

Raynor's critics question why a declining clothing workers union should keep everything its previous and older members amassed, when those resources could be used to build a union with a more promising future. Raynor says that those assets will be used to organize workers in the commercial laundry and food service sectors, where both Workers United and UNITE HERE have made inroads among mostly immigrant employees.

Raynor and Wilhelm are now the principals in a lawsuit over these resources, a legal conflict that could take years to resolve.

Equally contentious is the battle over union jurisdiction. To some labor activists and their academic allies, Stern, with Raynor's collaboration, committed several cardinal sins in labor circles--trying to steal another union's members, interfering with another union's organizing drives and competing for new members on another union's turf.

Soon after Raynor left UNITE HERE, Workers United began aggressively recruiting UNITE HERE members in several cities, including Detroit and Los Angeles. Workers United sent them fliers in the mail and made live and automated phone calls to their homes, attacking Wilhelm and UNITE HERE, and encouraging them to join the new subsidiary of SEIU.

Angela Reid, a bartender at the Glendale Hilton Hotel near Los Angeles and a loyal member of Local 11, one of UNITE HERE's most militant and successful locals, remembers getting a phone call at home at 10 in the morning.

"I work late, so I was still sleeping," she says.

The caller identified himself as being "from your union." He told Reid that members aren't happy with Wilhelm, that Local 11 leaders don't care about the members and that they need new leadership. And he urged her to vote against a proposed dues increase to expand the strike fund in anticipation of upcoming contract talks.

"I got angry," says the 30-year-old Reid, a union activist. "I told him, 'What you guys are doing is terrible. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Don't call my home again.' Then I hung up." For three more weeks, she got at least ten robocalls at her home and on her cellphone, all with the same message.

She also received several leaflets in the mail accusing Local 11 of ignoring workers' grievances and "actively discouraging workers from supporting the Employee Free Choice Act." The leaflets also accused Wilhelm of "mismanagement," urged members to "tell your local union leaders to support an end to the merger" and to vote against a dues increase, and directed workers to a website that asked them to "send greedy union leaders a message."

"I got so mad I ripped them up and threw them in the trash," recalls Reid.

At work, her fellow members told her that they'd gotten the same calls, some of them in Spanish. "I tried to explain to them what was going on. We'd only been union for less than a year. The calls and leaflets were confusing people."

"Look, thanks to Local 11 we have a great contract," Reid says. "It took us over three years to win it, but we did it. They trained us to help ourselves, to be leaders. We got a big raise. We have free family healthcare and paid vacations. Since we got a contract, management is afraid to harass us like they used to. They don't step on us anymore."

"I have nothing against SEIU," says Reid. "They do great things with janitors and nurses and other healthcare workers. That's what they should be doing. But they have no business in our business. They're not hotel workers. I don't want to wear a [SEIU] purple shirt. I want to wear [UNITE HERE's] red."

Wilhelm claims that Raynor used funds he still controlled from UNITE HERE's treasury to recruit its members to another union. Wilhelm also claims that under the new Workers United banner, SEIU has sought to recruit workers at hotels and casinos in Phoenix; San Antonio; Erie, Pennsylvania; and other cities where UNITE HERE had been organizing employees. In several cases, he says, SEIU had already pressured management to agree to a card-check neutrality agreement. In addition, Wilhelm says, forty to eighty SEIU organizers have been soliciting UNITE HERE members at fifteen airports who are employed by Delaware North, a food and beverage operation, asking them to sign "decertification" petitions and leave UNITE HERE.

Stern views the battle as a tug of war between different factions of UNITE HERE for the loyalty of its members, but he admits that some of the attacks on Wilhelm's division "went too far." He says that SEIU has ended its harassment of UNITE HERE workers in an effort to end the battle. Wilhelm claims that it is still going on.

In retaliation, UNITE HERE engaged in harassment of Workers United. Wilhelm wrote letters to employers urging them not to negotiate new contracts with Workers United locals and not to forward dues to those locals. In the Bay Area, laundry and food services company Aramark, citing Wilhelm's letter, has refused to start contract talks with its unionized workers at three of its industrial laundry plants, claiming that it doesn't want to get in the middle of an intra-union dispute. Workers United claims that in late July, UNITE HERE organizers were still making house calls to workers and leafleting at laundry factory gates almost daily.

Maria Munoz, a union shop steward who folds bags at a 120-worker laundry plant in Los Angeles owned by Angelica Corporation, said that in June a UNITE HERE organizer was leafleting outside the factory, urging workers to renounce their membership in Workers United. "She even visited me at home and kept calling me," said Munoz. "I told her we're not members of [UNITE HERE] Local 11. We're members of [Workers United] Local 52. I asked her to leave me alone, and she finally did."

The charges and countercharges between SEIU and UNITE HERE have been flying through e-mails, press releases, open letters and websites for the past few months. Each side has lined up supporters among unions, civil rights groups, clergy and academics, repeating the accusations and escalating the rhetoric.

But in recent weeks, a growing number of labor leaders have started to speak out, calling on Stern, Raynor and Wilhelm to end the internal fighting for the sake of the broader labor movement. The tone of neutrality has begun to shift, too. Even some of Stern's long-term allies within the labor and academic communities say that he "crossed the line" by siding with one faction in an intra-union dispute and bringing another union's members into SEIU. More than 200 academics signed a letter to SEIU's executive board criticizing the union's "concerted efforts to undermine UNITE HERE." (Disclosure: I signed a version of this letter.)

A controversial figure in the labor world, Stern is perhaps the best known and most powerful union president in the country since the United Auto Workers' Walter Reuther. Stern has a close relationship with President Barack Obama, as evidenced by his frequent visits to the White House, and he is playing a leading role in labor's efforts to enact healthcare reform, the Employee Free Choice Act and immigration reform.

Stern has increased SEIU's visibility and established what he calls "our brand," including getting all the union's locals--once a crazy quilt of different names--to adopt the same purple colors for their T-shirts and caps. Under Stern, SEIU has spent its sizable war chest putting organizers into political campaigns and providing contributions to Democrats. This political clout has helped SEIU win contracts for many government employees, a significant proportion of its membership.

As SEIU's organizing director and, since 1996, as its president, Stern has expanded the union's membership by organizing workers and by absorbing smaller unions. Indeed, he had talked to Raynor and Wilhelm about bringing UNITE and HERE into SEIU long before the 2004 merger.

But Stern's tactics--including the recent ousting of the leadership of a large Northern California local, his battles with the California Nurses Association and his overtures to Wal-Mart--have alienated some onetime allies. Because of his high profile and, in recent months, his role in the UNITE HERE dispute, some critics call Stern "imperialistic."

Others, however, argue that the conflict is over differences in organizing strategy--portraying SEIU's approach as top-down and UNITE HERE's as bottom-up. There is some truth to this distinction, but it is also misleading. For example, SEIU's famous Justice for Janitors campaign, as well as its efforts among security guards, were models of rank-and-file bottom-up organizing.

In July, in a direct rebuke to Stern's role in the UNITE HERE dispute, the presidents of twenty-seven national unions signed a statement "in solidarity with Unite Here" that pledged to "support Unite Here, both materially and morally, against a raid by any union against Unite Here members, or workers in Unite Here's industry jurisdictions." They also promised to support UNITE HERE in its fights with employers, especially if an employer were to force a strike or lockout.

Wilhelm says he's prepared to do battle "on the ground" through membership organizing drives if Workers United tries to recruit workers on UNITE HERE's turf. He's also willing, he adds, to fight through the courts, even if it takes years, to get back what he considers the union's financial assets, especially Amalgamated Bank.

Interviewed separately, Wilhelm, Stern and Raynor all agree that the lawsuits, legal fees, negative publicity and other aspects of the conflict are wasteful and should come to an end.

Stern and Raynor want Wilhelm to agree to binding arbitration to settle the jurisdictional and financial issues. But Wilhelm says, "If someone breaks into your house and steals your belongings, and then gets caught, you don't arbitrate how much he has to return to its rightful owner." Wilhelm says he's ready to negotiate with Stern and Raynor but that he's not willing to put his union's fate in the hands of a third-party arbitrator with final authority.

Hansen, the well-respected UFCW president, brought Raynor, Wilhelm and Stern together in March and April for a series of meetings to resolve the dispute. Initially Hansen had hoped UNITE HERE could stay together, but he soon realized that what both sides needed was a clean break to dissolve the merger.

After listening to both sides and talking with leaders from other unions, Hansen presented the three men with a list of recommendations, hoping to broker a deal. Hansen called on the two sides to agree to split the core jurisdictions. The hotel and gaming industry would stay with UNITE HERE. Apparel, laundries and other industries would go to SEIU/Workers United.

Hansen recommended dividing the responsibility for organizing food service workers--employed at convention centers, airports and office buildings, dominated by several national companies like Aramark, Sodexo and Compass. HERE brought about 60,000 food service workers into the merger, but UNITE HERE added new members, many through joint campaigns with SEIU. Hansen suggested that UNITE HERE maintain the food service jurisdiction in California, Chicago, New York and British Columbia, and agree to give SEIU the franchise elsewhere, even though both unions will be organizing employees of the same firms in different cities.

Neither side would be happy with that scenario, but Hansen thinks that it's a starting point for reaching a settlement.

The biggest obstacle to an agreement is the division of UNITE HERE's financial resources. Hansen proposed that SEIU/Workers United own the Amalgamated Bank and the former UNITE HERE headquarters building in New York City. In exchange for giving up those assets, Hansen said, "there's got to be a substantial sum of money that allows UNITE HERE to run its union." The size of that check may determine how quickly, or even whether, Hansen can forge a compromise that both sides can live with.

"If we can get down to that number," Hansen said hopefully, "we've got a solution."

Although the talks broke down in May, Hansen was able to get both sides together again in late July. They've scheduled another meeting for mid-August.

"This has gotten too emotional," Hansen said. "The bitterness between the two sides is terrible. Meanwhile, workers' lives are being screwed up. The corporations will take full advantage of this [split] and exploit them. The workers these two unions represent--and the unorganized workers they should be organizing--need the help."

"These union fights can only help business," explained Lowell Turner, a labor studies professor at Cornell University. "When your enemies are fighting each other instead of fighting you, you're in good shape. That's the way it looks to the Chamber of Commerce."

"The sooner labor stops putting millions of dollars into fighting each other," said Turner, "the sooner they can put those resources where they should go--into organizing and political battles."

Thursday, September 03, 2009

LRP Publications, September 2, 2009, Wednesday

LRP Publications

September 2, 2009, Wednesday

Key points:
· All 60 states, territories report 2007-08 data for Indicator 13
· Shift focus from data collection, basic compliance to substantive progress
· Implement improvement activities that yield change at individual, system level

Report: More states meet IDEA compliance criteria for secondary transition planning

States’ efforts to comply with IDEA Indicator 13 are paying off, according to a recent analysis by the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center. The analysis is part of a recent report published by the Technical Assistance Coordination Center that summarizes state activities and efforts to comply with IDEA Part B
and Part C indicators.

Indicator 13 requires states to report data on “the percent of youth aged 16 and above with an IEP that includes coordinated, measurable, annual IEP goals and transition services that will reasonably enable the child to meet [his] postsecondary goals.”

All 60 states and territories reported 2007-08 data for Indicator 13. Forty-eight states and territories made progress or remained the same, while 12 states and territories reported slippage. Ultimately, 15 states and territories met the compliance criteria -- an 8.3 percent increase from 2006-07.

Data collection and reporting for Indicator 13 is becoming more routine for states, sources say. As such, it’s a good time to start focusing more on making substantive progress in postsecondary transition planning rather than simply meeting basic compliance standards. To start, initiate proactive internal reviews, tap into federal and state resources, and focus on staff training and accountability.

“One hundred percent reporting is a positive step,” said Amy Szymanski, special education, secondary transition and school improvement consultant for the State Support Team Region 1 in Toledo, Ohio. “It shows us that everyone is speaking the same language [regarding transition planning], and that is encouraging,” she added.

Keep in mind, however, that even though there was a reported increase in the number of states meeting compliance criteria for Indicator 13, there still is a 75 percent noncompliance rate. “We still have a lot of work to do,” Szymanski said.

“While we’re seeing a gradual improvement in the rate of compliance across states over time, compliance is
only the first step,” said Nancy Hinkley, transition specialist for the Employment and Disability Institute at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. If you only focus on writing compliant IEPs, you will not make substantive progress. Districts must build sustainable practices and implement quality transition services if they want to see real growth in positive postsecondary outcomes, she said.

Special Ed Connection® related story:
· Lead system, individual change to improve postsecondary planning (Sept. 2)
*For more stories and guidance on this topic, see the IDEA Indicators Roundup.
Learn more about the Sept. 30 audio conference Transition Services in the IEP: Requirements for Post-Secondary
Melissa Greenwood covers Section 504 issues for LRP Publications.

September 2, 2009
Copyright 2009© LRP Publications

Lead system, individual change to improve postsecondary planning

States continue to rely on training, professional development and improved data collection to meet IDEA Indicator 13 standards, according to a recent analysis by the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center. The analysis is part of a recent report published by the Technical Assistance Coordination Center that summarizes state efforts to comply with IDEA Part B and Part C indicators.

Data reported under Indicator 13 reflect “the percent of youth aged 16 and above with an IEP that includes coordinated, measurable, annual IEP goals and transition services that will reasonably enable the child to meet [his] postsecondary goals.”

Of the 60 states and territories reporting data for 2007-08, 59 included improvement activities. The two most frequently reported activities were “provide training/professional development/technical assistance” and “improve data collection and reporting/examine policies and procedures.” Notably, “collaboration/coordination” showed the biggest increase in use.

“Improvement takes both system and individual change,” said Nancy Hinkley, transition specialist for the Employment and Disability Institute at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. “It may take a district several years of concerted effort to reach quality compliance if transition services have not been a programming focus.”

That’s why it’s important for administrators to be proactive in this area, Hinkley said. Here are some of her top tips to help you get started:

· Know Indicator 13 requirements and how they are measured in your state. NSTTAC’s Indicator 13 Checklist Form A and Form B are great national resources. However, keep in mind that states often use revised versions of the checklist or their own checklist. As such, check with your state education department for guidance on measuring Indicator 13.

· Focus on team-building, communication. Develop collaborative teams that connect schools, postsecondary institutions, employment and community agencies, parents, employers and workforce preparation organizations. Also, establish a district-level collaborative team to provide ongoing leadership, turnkey instruction and coaching. At the school level, set up teams to provide analysis, leadership and guidance regarding policies and procedures. These team members also can help garner buy-in for transition initiatives and carry core messages back
to staff. They are instrumental in training and mentoring school-level peers, Hinkley said.

· Conduct internal reviews of students’ IEPs. Employ your state’s data collection tool or the NSTTAC checklist to conduct the reviews. District team leaders might pull small batches of IEPs from different schools. They then can use the data to build improvement plans that detail individuals’ roles and responsibilities as well as staff development and communication-building activities.

· Train school staff about the essential components of transition planning. Next, build in guided practice. For example, you might ask staff members to evaluate the quality of some of their transition plans under your supervision or the supervision of transition team leaders. Also, set up an accountability system. Peers might check each other’s IEPs against a compliance standards checklist prior to an IEP meeting. Administrators or special education directors also might check IEPs periodically for transition compliance.

· Highlight transition planning best practices, said Amy Szymanski, special education, secondary transition and school improvement consultant for the State Support Team Region 1 in Toledo, Ohio. Recommend staff: 1) bring together a comprehensive IEP team, including representatives from community agencies; 2) start planning by establishing a vision statement that reflects where the student sees himself in the future; 3) use an age-appropriate
functional transition assessment to determine where the student is now; and 4) take a collaborative, student-centered approach to determine what steps he will need to take to achieve his goals.
September 2, 2009
Copyright 2009© LRP Publications

The Washington Post, September 1, 2009, Tuesday

The Washington Post

September 1, 2009, Tuesday

The Washington Post

For Building Up Young People, Nothing Beats Athletic Competition

By Lenny Bernstein

Elizabeth Gutermann can barely remember a time when she wasn't competing. She joined a club swim team at 8, and by age 13 she was practicing eight times a week. Some workouts were so arduous that her coach left buckets at the end of each lane for swimmers to vomit in.

She enjoyed considerable success -- she holds three records at the Montgomery County neighborhood pool where I also swim -- but paid a high price: In her early teens she often felt physically sick and mentally exhausted. When she failed to live up to her own expectations, she developed a temper. Even coaches were hesitant to talk to her after a bad race.

At 15, she gave up competitive swimming for coaching, drastically reducing the demands on herself in favor of teaching others. "The year I traded swimming for coaching, I realized it wasn't about me, and I could pass on my love for the sport to other kids," recalled Gutermann, now 18 and a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin. "I could still enjoy the sport even though I wasn't the best anymore."

Had Gutermann simply matured and developed a new perspective on her life's endeavor? To what extent had her involvement in sports and fitness helped her grow up, providing clarity about what really mattered to her?

If you're a parent, you know there's no clear answer to such questions. The important thing, of course, is what Gutermann learned through participation and competition, by trying and failing to live up to the goals she had set for herself, and by finding another path in life.

With schools reopening, the high school sports pages soon will be dominated by the ferocity of athletic competition, by wins and losses and point totals, by the occasional abuse of the rules in pursuit of victory.

The other 99.9 percent of us -- kids and parents alike -- will not see our reality reflected anywhere. Our kids will chase soccer balls and footballs without a prayer of making the local paper or winning a scholarship. Yet as parents have known for ages, the true value of competitive sports and personal fitness regimens is what youngsters take with them when they leave the field. And when they leave home.

In controlled circumstances and measured doses, competition provides so much more than fun and exercise. It teaches kids how far they are willing to push themselves, how to win and lose with class and how to perform under pressure. They encounter, and cope with, disappointment. They meet and bond with other competitors, or kids who share the same interest, in a way that other activities can't match. They learn the importance of teamwork. They develop leadership skills. And they may find that special coach who becomes a role model, a mentor, a lifelong friend.

* * *

"How do you know when the track team has held a wild party in your house?" I asked my wife a couple of years ago.


"You come home Sunday morning and the place is littered with Gatorade bottles."

Yeah, I know. Some athletes drink, use drugs and do all the other stupid teenage things that keep us up at night. But I've had two children graduate from high school, one a noncompetitive participant in sports, the other a varsity athlete, and both have fallen in with the same highly motivated, respectful, compassionate crowd of teammates.

Would that have happened if they hadn't been putting in hours of practice and competition together? I'd like to think so. But sports betters the odds.

Research has shown that involvement in competitive sports in high school "is correlated with success, i.e. finishing high school, going to college and higher pay later on," says John Bishop, an associate professor of economics at Cornell University who has studied the role of extracurricular activities in schools. What experts don't know, he said, is whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the two or whether the kids who are willing to bust their butts on a ballfield are the same ones who go the extra mile in the classroom.

But with most schools requiring a minimum GPA to stay eligible for sports, it doesn't really matter, Bishop says. To that extent, good grades and athletics go hand in hand.

Would your child develop similar habits and skills in the orchestra, on the debate team, in the school play? Yes, says Bishop, if there is competition for positions and the activity demands the same kind of practice, organization and leadership. But sports are probably more ingrained in the culture of the school, and athletes probably command more respect from students than mathletes, he said. And there is no physical fitness benefit to most other endeavors.

Competition is relative. This summer, I helped chaperone a group of athletes to San Francisco for the Maccabi Games, an Olympics for Jewish Community Center teams from around the world. There were some excellent athletes who could play anywhere, but the level of competition was certainly below what you would find in many high schools.

It didn't matter. For that week, those kids pursued medals as if they were in Beijing last summer. And team dynamics were similar. One soccer coach was proud to see his 16-year-old captain, unprompted, step in and end the "needless ribbing" and isolation of one player. A girl I coached, who shied from relay races on the track for fear she would cause three teammates to lose, wound up with a gold medal when I entered her with three sprinters.

"I was so [angry] when you put me in there," she told me as we stood in line at the closing ceremonies. "But now I appreciate it."

What if your child simply won't go for competitive sports in school? Opportunities abound. Noncompetitive fitness regimens promote good health, relieve stress and raise self-esteem.

One program that has formalized the on-field, off-field link in a special way is Girls on the Run. As they train for a noncompetitive 5K fun run, girls in the third through fifth grades also spend time at each practice learning about the serious issues they will soon confront: nutrition, drugs, bullying. They learn to celebrate themselves the way they are, instead of longing for Madison Avenue's version of who they should be. They learn about the importance of giving back to their community.

Started in 1996 by a North Carolina mom, the program has spread to thousands of sites across the country, including many in Northern Virginia, the District and Montgomery County. Signups are going on now at, and

"We don't care if you walk, crawl, do jumping jacks or whatever you need to do to get to the finish line," says Elizabeth McGlynn, executive director of Girls on the Run of Montgomery County. "The basic idea is to teach girls about self-esteem, nutrition, healthy living -- and you sneak the running in."


Education Week, September 1, 2009, Tuesday

Education Week

September 1, 2009, Tuesday

Education Week

Top-Notch Teachers Found to Affect Peers
By Debra Viadero

Teachers raise their games when the quality of their colleagues improves, according to a new study offering some of the first evidence to document a “spillover effect” in teaching.

Authors C. Kirabo Jackson and Elias Bruegmann based their findings on an analysis of 11 years of data on North Carolina schoolchildren. The study is due to be published in October in American Economics Journal: Applied Economics, a peer-reviewed journal.

The authors and some independent experts said the study results are important, because they carry implications for school staffing practices and debates going on now at the national level over how to structure merit-pay plans for teachers.

“If it’s true that teachers are learning from their peers, and the effects are not small, then we want to make sure that any incentive system we put in place is going to be fostering that and not preventing it,” said Mr. Jackson, an assistant professor of labor economics at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. “If you give the reward at the individual level, all of a sudden my peers are no longer my colleagues—they’re my competitors. If you give it at the school level, then you’re going to foster feelings of team membership, and that increases the incentive to work together and help each other out.”

Studies outside of education have long shown that effective workers can have a spillover effect on their colleagues. Supermarket checkers, for instance, work faster when they are in the line of sight of a productive colleague and berry-pickers tend to calibrate their working speed to that of friends laboring nearby. But studies up until now have not noted the same pattern in teaching, a profession in which it’s long been thought that peers work mostly in isolation.

For their study, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Bruegmann focused on mathematics and reading test-score data for students in 3rd through 5th grades, most of whom would have had the same teacher for all of their core academic subjects. They measured teacher quality in two ways: by tracking “observable” characteristics, such as whether teachers were experienced or certified, and by calculating how effective teachers were at raising the test scores of their students. The latter, a “value-added” calculation, was figured using data from teachers’ previous students.

‘Big Enough’ Effects
Either way, the researchers found, student achievement rises across a grade when a high-quality teacher comes on board. The effects were twice as strong, though, for the value-added calculations. They show that, for the average educator teaching in a grade with three other teachers, replacing one peer with a more effective one has a spillover effect of .86 percent of a standard deviation on students’ test scores.

For math, that equates to roughly one-tenth to one-fifth the size of the impact that is estimated to come from replacing the students’ own teacher with a better one, the paper says.

“He [Mr. Jackson] has some pretty good evidence, as good as you can get in an observational study, that when a good teacher shows up in your grade it seems to have a positive impact, and that impact stays around,” said Douglas O. Staiger, an economics professor at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., who was not part of the study on peer effects.

Another outside expert, Jonah Rockoff, an assistant professor of labor economics at Columbia University’s business school in New York City, concurred. “The effects are big enough that they would matter,” he said. “If we think about rewarding teachers based on student outcomes, teachers are going to care about who’s teaching alongside of them.”

They said the question now is: Do the test scores rise because the new teacher’s arrival is motivating peers to do better, because that teacher is helping out other teachers by doing some of the teaching, or because teachers are learning from their new colleague?

In their paper, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Bruegmann argue that peer learning is the likely explanation, mostly because they find that the effects persist over time. In both math and reading, the quality of a teacher’s peers a year or two before affects his or her students’ achievement, according to their report.

“If it’s motivation, when you’re no longer surrounded by the peer who’s making you work harder, then you shouldn’t still be working harder,” Mr. Jackson said.

The study also finds that good teachers seem to have the most impact on beginning teachers, as well as those who are certified or have regular teaching licenses.

Informal Mentors?
Mr. Rockoff said the idea that teachers, especially beginners, are learning from more-effective colleagues on an informal basis could explain why recent studies, including one released this week by Mathematica Policy Research, are finding that formal teacher-induction programs don’t seem to be having much effect.

In the new study, which looks at comprehensive teacher-induction programs in 17 districts across the country over two years, researchers at the Princeton, N.J.-based research group found that such programs are not any more effective than business as usual at reducing teacher turnover or boosting student achievement.

In an as-yet-unpublished working paper of New York City teachers, Mr. Rockoff said he also finds “weak” evidence of effects from a formal mentoring program on teacher absences, teacher retention, and student achievement. He did, however, find a link between more hours of mentoring and high student achievement in reading and math.

“It’s not that new teachers are showing up before and no one is helping them do anything,” he said. But another problem, he added, may also be that highly structured mentoring programs—ones that might, for example, require mentors to spend a specified amount of time with all new teachers—might be taking away valuable time that more-skilled beginners might be able to use doing more productive activities, such as planning lessons.

Mr. Jackson and Mr. Rockoff said the new peer-effects findings raise questions about the way schools are staffed, particularly urban schools. Studies have shown, for instance, that teachers in urban schools tend to be less experienced and hold fewer credentials than their suburban counterparts.

“A lot of beginning teachers end up in inner-city schools and move to suburban districts,” he said. “Sending the teachers who need the most guidance to be surrounded by teachers who are the least well-equipped might be a problem. We need to make sure we have some high-quality teachers in inner-city school districts.”

Experts said more research is needed to figure out exactly how peer effects work among teachers.

“Can we take stellar teachers and move them around?” Mr. Staiger asks. “I’m not sure this paper actually says that. This is kind of the most compelling evidence we have to date that there are these spillover effects, and now we have to try to understand them.”

Vol. 29, Issue 03