Thursday, February 11, 2010, 09:18 AM - Political developmentsOne danger for workers is that a dispirited labor movement could decide to take a breather during the next election cycle.
Union activists staffed phone banks and walked door to door for Democratic candidates during recent election cycles. The rank and file union household vote went Democratic.
It hasn't always been that way. Remember the Reagan Democrats?
In Massachussetts some of those Democrats drifted to Scott Brown. With his direct manner and his pick up truck, it's not hard to see why that happened.
Sure, there are Tea Partiers who come out of an old strand in American politics, a strand that is anti-Federalist:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articl ... 00260.html
But most union households are not tea partiers. However, they are folks looking for progress on issues that matter to them: jobs, health care, and workplace issues.
So the strategic political mistakes and hubris of this administration have increasingly dispirited some unionists, documented in this Politico piece by James Hohmann:
This could be a challenge even in "blue" California. Those of us who want to see worker rights stay in the forefront will need to make the case. A dispirited union base could spell disaster for California Democrats come November.
Update: in my last post I noted that an independent expenditure group has been formed to aid Jerry Brown's campaign, the "Level the Playing Field 2010" committee. Today's there's word another committee is being formed to ensure a well funded effort, "California Working Families 2010":
http://www.capitolweekly.net/article.ph ... xslr5i5n50
Looks like Democrats in California will not make the Martha Coakley mistake, taking things for granted.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010, 08:30 AMIt's Wednesday, hump day.
Worker interests continue to get short shrift in Washington. While the President and Congress wrangle on a jobs bill to attack unemployment, the President's appointment to the National Labor Relations Board appears to be doomed.
THe nomination of Craig Becker to the NLRB failed yesterday on a 52 to 33 vote, with 60 votes being required to move the nomination. That's the effect of the Scott Brown election, although it must be noted that several Democrats (including the endangered Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Cornhusker Ben Nelson) voted against Becker anyway.
For years unions have had the NLRB stacked against them. The Board is important in that it determines the direction of labor law, including union election disputes.
Here's more on the issue from a piece in Politico:
Meanwhile, also of interest is a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle noting that Democratic interests and unions are planning a $20 million independent expenditure against Meg Whitman. The effort will be called "Level the Playing Field 2010".
This comes amid growing concern that Whitman is prepared to buy the governorship. The fear is that she could dominate the airwaves, swamping Jerry Brown in the process. With her huge financial advantage, Whitman might be able to avoid direct meeting with voters and the press.
But Democrats appear determined that eMeg will not get a free ride:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... 1BV2AH.DTL
Monday, February 8, 2010, 09:50 PM - Political developmentsIt can't have been a good weekend for Insurance Commissioner Poizner.
The Super Bowl airwaves were full of Meg Whitman ads. Whitman refuses to debate Poizner at the Republican convention, but she has no problem getting up on TV.
Far behind in polling, Poizner has unleashed almost no media presence with his own cash pile of $17.7 million (that reflects the $19 million he's given his own campaign).
It looks like contributors aren't flocking to his cause. Today the Secretary of State web site reveals that Poizner has received just one contribution of $5,000 so far in 2010:
http://www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/ca ... ner-h.html
For a candidate headed into a major battle, that's beyond weak. It's emblematic of a failing campaign.
How can this guy compete if he doesn't have a fundraising operation and if he doesn't spend some of his own cash to generate some public enthusiasm?
What is the Commish waiting for?
Friday, February 5, 2010, 10:22 PM - Political developmentsIn a stinging challenge to the California Division of Workers' Compensation, the Democratic legislative leadership has demanded answers as to the DWC's intentions regarding revision of the permanent disability rating schedule.
This story was revealed in a flash report late yesterday by the Workers' Comp Executive, one of the leading publications in the workers comp press. Here is a link to the article, which includes an unsigned copy of the letter to DWC acting administrator Carrie Nevans:
http://www.wcexec.com/Legislature-Deman ... -PDRS.aspx
The letter, (which I assume has actually been sent, though it appears in draft form on the WCExec site), apparently from Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, Senator Mark DeSaulnier (Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations) and Assemblyman Jose Solorio (Chair of the Assembly Insurance Committee), notes that the Labor Code Section 4660(c) mandated a revision of the PDRS and that failure to meet the deadline "is a flagrant violation of the law and legislative intent", which require updating of the schedule every 5 years.
The letter notes that "...we were quite surprised to learn from media reports in late December that the Division did not intend to update the Permanent Disability Ratings Schedule due to a belief that the legislature may amend the statutory language underpinning the schedule. While the Legislature is empowered to change the statute, and reserves the right to do so, such specious speculation is not a replacement or stand in for statutorily required action."
The reference to media reports apparently refers to quotes attributed to DWC spokesperson Susan Gard. Gard had indicated that the DWC had no plans to meet the Janulary 1, 2010 deadline to revise the PD schedule.
The letter demands the following:
-a response "explaining how the Division intends to return to compliance with their statutory requirements"
-a detailed timeline explaining plans to implement a revised PDRS
-"the regulatory and, if necessary, statutory actions the Division intends to pursue to make whole the permanently disabled workers who
were adversely affected" by the delay in developing a new schedule
I'll be covering the response by Gard or her superiors, Carrie Nevans and John Duncan.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010, 09:35 PM - Political developmentsA few years ago I sat for dinner at a big birthday party with a group of friends. In the room there were a couple of psychologists.....an estate planning lawyer.....a doctor.... a real estate guy....a business consultant...
Looking around the room, everyone had some sort of challenge.
Some were between relationships, having to choose whether to plunge back into the wonderful world of dating or whether to retire from the dating scene.
Some were over-employed workaholics. Others were between jobs. And others were underemployed, in jobs that no longer interested them.
Some seemed to have life's necessities nailed down, but still sought more connection and meaning. Some were spoiled brats who had it all. Others were just struggling to keep their head above water.
For some, it was hard to know what to work on first. When you have a demanding job and demanding family or relationship issues, something has to give. Others needed to get in the gym more to lose weight to feel better to have a better self image to feel more confident to have a relationship to have a family life. Round and round in the circle game.
A few of us started talking. Many of us could use a life-tune up.
Our cars went for tune-ups. Our pets went for grooming. The cable TV guy came to tune up our service.
We saw doctors. Accountants. Dating service consultants. Estate planners. Some of us hired personal organizers. Others had ministers or rabbis or gurus. Some had personal trainers. Some had headhunter advisers.
Could there be a market for one-stop life tuneup?, some of us mused.
A place where you could go to get a handle on how all the multiple life strands combine to overwhelm us.
In our fantasy we vowed to create a retreat. We'd have a gym, a personal trainer, a dating relationship consultant, a psychologist, vocational advisers, financial planners, and a list of other arcane disciplines. We'd work to get to the bottom of what ails the soul. We'd work to extinguish the modern angst.
It never came to pass, of course. Perhaps somewhere such programs exist for members of the jet set.
But our efforts are usually more disjointed. Most of us lack the comprehensive approach to life or the vision or money to seek it.
But there has been a recent trend toward personal coaches or life coaches:
In the workers' comp world, could this be helpful to some disabled workers? With vocational rehab a thing of the past, could some workers use life coaching if it helped give them perspective and tools to set goals?
As an attorney with decades in the field, I'd say yes. As with any professional service, the quality of the service is key. But many injured workers are buffeted by so many problems that they don't know where to start. And the caregivers working with these workers are often focused on "procedures" rather than results. After years of "procedures" many are still in pain, broke, and angry.
The injury affects their income. Their sex life. Their sleep. Their family life. Their motivation. Their morale. The list goes on and on. Many of these folks could use a quality personal coach to help them identify priorities and strategies for getting back on track. A coach who would not provide answers, but who would provide perspective and guidance.
A bit of a life tune up might go a long way.