Tag Archives: Barack Obama

State of the Union: Show Me the Money

State of the Union = Raise the Minimum Wage

Official photographic portrait of US President...
Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tonight’s State of the Union address is shaping up to be all about issues driven by labor organizations, perhaps more so than any #SOTU speech in recent memory.  Advance reports have made it clear that President Obama will mainly focus on income inequality.

And he’s not just talking about it, he’s also taking action under his plan of not waiting for Congress to act by issuing an Executive order to raise wages for federal contract employees who earn less than $10.10 an hour, according to a breaking news story on the Huffington Post:

President Barack Obama will announce during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address that he’s raising the minimum wage for workers under federal contracts to $10.10 per hour, an administration official told The Huffington Post.

The new policy, to be instituted via executive order, may affect hundreds of thousands of workers whose jobs are supported by federal dollars. The move is designed in part to ratchet up pressure on Congress to pass legislation raising the minimum wage for all workers. The current federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 per hour, and hasn’t been raised since 2009, after the last of a series of increases signed into law by then-President George W. Bush.

The new executive order is part of a broader pledge from the White House to pursue policies that don’t rely on congressional approval. What other policies are in the works, the administration has refused to say.

According to an Obama administration fact sheet, the executive order will cover “workers who are performing services or constructing buildings and are getting paid less than $10.10 an hour.” Those likely to see bumps in future paychecks include dishwashers, food servers and construction workers. Many work in government buildings, but for private employers.

This move will increase pressure on Congress to act on raising the Federal minimum wage.  Minimum wage bills, have been proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. George Miller, and would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for all workers in $0.95 increments and tie it to inflation. It would also increase raise the minimum wage for tipped workers. although that idea is opposed by some in the restaurant industry.  Numerous bills have also been introduced in state legislatures to increase the minimum wage, as well as in cities like Seattle and Washington DC.

As part of the theater that often surrounds the SOTU speech,  Representative Linda Linda Sanchez has invited a worker from an LA McDondald’s to be her guest at the #SOTU speech.  The worker is a member of the fast food movement that has held demonstrations around the United States over the last year, pressuring fast food companies to pay a minimum wage of $15 and hour.



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My Voice of HR Advice for SHRM (from 2011) : Go Forth and Lead #SHRMADVICE

Radical Self-expression )°(

2011 Guidance for SHRM from the Human Race Horses

In 2013, the song remains the same…. #SHRMADVICE

In 2011, I don’t want SHRM to change a thing that it has already planned.  Keep up the plans for global domination expansion.  Maintain the drive for the goal line on certification.  Keep stumbling around trying to figure out how to use social media.  These are all good and valid efforts that serve the mainstream SHRM audience in some way.

How SHRM could drive Edgy HR

What I want to see is SHRM do is to add a little spice to this sauce,  put some topping on the ice cream, get a little more edgy and radical at the same time.

Here is how:

  1. Require all SHRM leaders to hold regular office hours –  I would like to see all Officers and Directors at SHRM, including the Board of Directors, establish office hours for the membership.   What are office hours?  Just like in college professors do for their students, be in your office at a designated time and place and be openly available to guide, counsel, mentor, and listen to what your membership is saying.  I would suggest 4 hours a month, but hey, start with two and grow it up from there.  Not much in terms of cost, except for the time, and what more valuable way does SHRM have to serve its members than engaging in direct outreach and communication?
  2. Make the CEO position an elected post –  voted upon every 3 years by the membership.  I wrote about this on my blog in July when Lon O’Neil resigned left.  I said then it was a crazy idea, but I still like it.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have to some relatively unknown HR professional step out of their work life and stride onto the staid SHRM scene calling for change like Barack Obama did during his 2008 Presidential campaign?  Who knows what new ideas might be generated, or how much the membership base might be energized by a direct election.
  3. Establish a Radical HR incubator – This is the crazy one.  Take a very small percentage of general operating funds and set up an incubator fund that could be used to fund bleeding edge ideas and projects, whether that be unconferences, social media, or just crazy HR project ideas that could use some seed money.   Just use a small percentage of our big mainstream, corporate organization to support the radicals out there who are thinking big, but don’t have a lot of resources.    SHRM could become an angel investor in some new HR projects and ideas, a catalyst for innovation and transformation.  Isn’t that what we are supposed to be doing anyway? Who knows what might com out of it?  There might even be money in the deal!

Alright SHRM, now you know what I think.  Go forth and conquer lead!

This article was written by Michael VanDervort, and was originally published on the Voice of  HR blog on November 15, 2010.

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Federal appeals court strikes down proposed NLRB union notification requirement

NLRB posting requirement for employers struck down, termed government compelled speech

Fairly important ruling over the proposed NLRB employer posting requirements, citing concerns over freedom of speech, and calling the NLRB proposal “government compelled speech”.   The streak continues. 

From the LA Times:

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court here struck down Tuesday a rule that would have required more than 6 million private employers to post notices telling workers of their right to join a union.

The decision is the latest setback for unions and the Obama administration at the hands of the conservative-leaning appeals court in Washington.

When President Obama took office, union leaders hoped that a reenergized National Labor Relations Board could stop or reverse the long decline in union membership. Only about 7% of private workers in the U.S. belong to unions.

Two years ago the board adopted a rule requiring employers to post a “notification of employee rights” in their workplaces. The one-page form was to include the basic rights protected by federal labor law, including the right to join a union and to go on strike.

But the National Assn. of Manufacturers (NAM) and several anti-union groups went to court to challenge the rule before it could take effect.

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the rule on the grounds that the NLRB had overstepped its authority under law. Judge Raymond Randolph described the rule as government “compelled speech.”

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Navigating the Affordable Care Act

Navigating the Affordable Care Act

In ancient times, merchants and sailors used the stars and tools like a sextant or compass to navigate their way around the globe.   In the digital era, we use a GPS or a smartphone to find our way when we are lost.   Now if someone would just build a tool that could lead us through swamps and rough trails of the Affordable Care Act!
In the meantime, I thought you might find this infographic from the fine folks at Paycom to be useful.   You can also access the link here.


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Hillary, Clinton The COO of USA International is stepping down…for while anyway

Thanks for your service, Ms. Clinton – soon to be private citizen

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillar...
Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hillary Clinton is stepping down from her current position as Rock Star Secretary of State on Friday, and probably getting ready to plan her move into the CEO position (President) in 2016.

Few people in America have been cast in as many roles as Hillary Clinton – wife, mother, cuckold, crook, secret lesbian, swindler, Senator, Presidential candidate, party girl and of course, her current role as Secretary of State for the Obama administration wich she is leaving on Friday.

I’m not sure if there is another woman in America who has been through phases of career preparation for one position than Hillary Clinton, but stepping into the Presidency of the United States isn’t a succession plan. It’s a popularity contest. If she runs in 2016, she might very well get my vote.    She might very well be the first female  President.

Even if she never attains that lofty goal, she still gets my respect. 



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NLRB appointments deemed invalid by the Appeals Court


This won’t settle it once and for all, but the current National Labor Relations Board composed of all Democrats may be an invalid body, according to an AP report.

President Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he bypassed the Senate to fill vacancies on a labor relations panel, a federal appeals court panel ruled Friday.


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My guest blog resolution

Guest Blogs on Blogging4Jobs 

English: Hilda Solis speaks as the newly annou...
English: Hilda Solis speaks as the newly announced U.S. Secretary of Labor as President-elect Barack Obama looks on (at far left is announced U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk) Licensing: Category:Images of Barack Obama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m still sticking with my unofficial resolution for 2013, which apparently involves not posting original content on my own blog  during the month of Janaury.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t posted anything though. 

I posted a couple of short guest pieces over on Blogging4Jobs this week.   Here are links to them if you want to check them out!

Living on an Expense Account – thoughts on where we eat, sleep and work when we are on the road.

My Wild Ass Guess (WAG) predictions about who President Obama might consider as his next Secretary of Labor in the wake of the surprise resignation of Hilda Solis.

Take a look!

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Micro Unions: NLRB heading towards minority representation

PA: Lilly Ledbetter Visits Pittsburgh to Discu...
Image via Wikipedia

How many union contracts are too many?

When the employees at a company are represented by a union, one of the objectives that management usually pursues is to get a satisfactory collective bargaining agreement in place that covers most of the employees under one agreement.  This is important for a number of reason, not the least of which is efficiency.  Having a single agreement covering the majority of appropriate employees is much more cost effective than several different agreements for many reasons.  Operating under one agreement minimizes the need to conduct multiple negotiations, ensures the consistency of work rules and operating procedures, and helps reduce the amount of administrative time that operating under multiple agreements can create.

Separate units with their own agreements are certainly appropriate in some organizations, like hospitals or correctional facilities, but these are exceptions.   It is also not uncommon to have separate units for units such as manufacturing operators  and skilled trades personnel.  If the NLRB has its way, we could soon see be seeing something called “micro unions” or minority representation become a trend in the United States.    In the worst case, a single restaurant could potentially face having separate labor contracts for cooks, wait staff, and other groups.   There could even be separate unions to deal with.  This would be be very burdensome and costly.   One likely outcome is that this would encourage businesses to seek amicable voluntary agreements with one union. covering a mutually agreed upon unit in an effort  to avoid the kind of situation I just described.  Another more foreboding possibility is that if the board gets this in place, Craig Becker may try to implement minority union representation next.  That would be where only a few members of a workforce unit choose to be represented by a union, even when a majority of their colleagues choose not to.  This is less likely tahn micro unions, but could be coming next!

You can learn more about this topic in this article from the The Daily Call.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the mediation agency charged with interpreting and maintaining the fairness of unionizing efforts nationwide, will soon decide whether or not labor unions will be allowed to break off different sections of workforces into small groups to organize five or 10 workers at a time instead of the whole workplace at once – or organize using “micro unions.”

The “micro unions” would essentially allow labor organizers to section off company employees by specific job descriptions. For example, if a union were trying to organize a restaurant staff, leaders would target servers, busboys, dishwashers, cooks and hostesses separately.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce labor specialist Glenn Spencer told The Daily Caller that this would make it much easier for unions to take control of workforces, piece by piece.

“They’d still need to win an election or prove that they had a majority through card-check, but what it would enable them to do is not have to worry about organizing, say 100 people, they could just go in and find five and have the appropriate job classification and say, ‘Well, this is all we want, right here,’” Spencer said. “Instead of having to win an election amongst 100 people, you only have to win an election amongst five.”

Current NLRB member Craig Becker, who was recess-appointed by President Barack Obama because he couldn’t get through a Senate confirmation and is currently re-nominated by Obama to the same spot, has advocated for this kind of micro union approach. Becker dissented from an NLRB decision last summer that determined it was too narrow for a union to try to organize just the poker dealers at a specific casino but not include dealers of other casino games. Becker wrote that, “the only question … is whether the proposed unit is an appropriate unit, not whether it is the most appropriate unit.”

In addition to micro-unionization efforts, Spencer said the other issue at play here is the NLRB is attempting to take a narrow decision affecting only the company, Specialty Healthcare, and the union trying to organize its nurses, United Steelworkers, and broaden it to affect the entire private sector, except for a couple specialized industries. Neither party in this case requested the NLRB do this with this case.

“The two parties in this case said they needed to resolve the size of this bargaining unit,” Spencer said. “The Board is saying, ‘Okay, and, while we’re at it, let’s go do all this other stuff, too.’”

Congressman Phil Roe, Tennessee Republican, told TheDC that he’s prepared to fight against this. He chairs the House Education and Workforce Committee’s subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which had its first NLRB hearing last week. Roe said the NLRB has turned into an activism arm in favor of unions, rather than a mediation board that looked out for workers, as it was intended to be.

“This board is more activist now,” Roe said in a phone interview. “If you look at some of their rulings, or proposed rulings, and some of the briefs of what they’re talking about, and one the members was a recess-appointee who had an activist background as an SEIU and AFL-CIO lawyer, so that kind of tells you where he’s going to come down.”

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Don’t piss off Diane Feinstein, use Facebook more!

Dianne Feinstein congressional portrait
Image via Wikipedia

Dianne Feinstein is pissed at the CIA for not using Facebook

The Central Intelligence Agency is being crticized by the U.S. Senate for not spending enough time on Facebook.  

I know, right?  That sounds crazy and counter-intuitive, but it is true.   Senator Dianne Feinstein criticized intelligence analysts at the CIA for failing to use Facebook and similar sources to predict the civil uprising in Egypt.    As reported in the Washington Post, Senator Feinstein had this to say:

Feinstein set a skeptical tone at the opening of the hearing, saying Obama and other policymakers deserved timely intelligence on major world events. Referring to Egypt, she said, “I have doubts whether the intelligence community lived up to its obligations in this area.”

After the hearing, Feinstein said she was particularly concerned that the CIA and other agencies had ignored open-source intelligence on the protests, a reference to posts on Facebook and other publicly accessible Web sites used by organizers of the protests against the Mubarak government.

Speaking more broadly about intelligence on turmoil in the Middle East, Feinstein said, “I’ve looked at some intelligence in this area.” She described it as “lacking . . . on collection.”

Lessons for business

There are lessons for business use of social media in that quoted paragraph, kids.   The operative phrase in the whole thing is ” the CIA and other agencies had ignored open-source intelligence on the protests, a reference to posts on Facebook and other publicly accessible Web sites.”  I know damn well that some of you who read this are working for companies that don’t do any type of formal monitoring of social media.  Here’s an opportunity to be smarter than the CIA,  and learn from this (alleged) mistake by not ignoring the open-source intelligence that is available to you on Facebook and other publicly accessible websites.

Here is a list of the types of things you may find:

  1. Intelligence on what your competitors are doing, including business plans, promotions, departures, and lots of other stuff
  2. Customer feedback, good and bad
  3. Employee feedback, including specific insights into how they feel about your  management, benefits  and culture
  4. Lots of other unexpected stuff

Take this advice and start paying attention.  Don’t make me send Dianne Feinstein around to criticize you too!   And please…share your own thoughts on what I might have left off this list in the comments.

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A sharp decline in union membership

Unions lose more than 600,000 members

Despite all their efforts to promote their cause, and to sell their value proposition of building a strong middle class economy, union membership has reached its lowest level in my lifetime   According to an AP news report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting one of the worst declines ever in union membership.

From the AP: (emphasis added)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that unions lost 612,000 members in 2010, dropping the unionized share of the work force to 11.9 percent from 12.3 percent in 2009. That follows a loss of 771,000 workers in 2008, continuing a steady decline from the 1950s when more than a third of workers belonged to unions.

The news comes as union officials are pressing President Barack Obama and other leaders to invest more money in infrastructure projects like repairing highways and bridges to help stimulate the economy and create new jobs. That plea is meeting stiff resistance from Republicans intent on cutting spending sharply to pare back the rising national debt.

Union membership in the private sector fell from 7.2 percent to 6.9 percent, a low point not seen since the infancy of the labor movement in the 1930s. The steepest decline was seen in the construction industry, where unemployment remains around 20 percent.

Public employment unions saw a 1.2 percent decline, mostly from job cuts among state and local government workers. Those unions could see further declines this year, as states eliminate jobs in an effort to make up multibillion-dollar budget deficits.

You can see the full story by clicking on this link.

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