Thursday, March 29, 2007

Vote FOR the Impact Fees -- April 10

AFSCME Local 965 has endorsed the Road Impact Fees proposed by the Fayetteville City Council. We need safe roads as our community continues to grow, and the Road Impact Fee to be paid for by developers will help reduce the cost of sprawl. The alternatives to the impact fees are to shift the burden to citizens who are not causing the problem and making them pay higher regressive sales taxes on necessities or hiking up the property taxes on existing homes.

Someone has to pay for growth, and it should not all be dumped on working families. The developers should pay their fair share.

Early voting is already underway at the Washington County Courthouse, and the election is on Tuesday, April 10th at designated polling places in the City of Fayetteville.

For additional information, click here.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Disabled Workers Lose House Vote

The State Chamber of Commerce bill to abolish the Workers Compensation Second Injury Trust Fund sailed through the Arkansas House on Friday by a vote of 71-21. House Bill 2674 by Rep. Keven Anderson (R-Rogers) is a cruel slap at disabled workers who might be injured on the job. One of the main reasons for creation of the Second Injury Trust Fund was to encourage hiring people with disabilities, but the Workers' Compensation Commission has failed to fund it for 8 of the last 16 years. Rep. Anderson and the State Chamber would rather abolish the program and leave disabled workers without a safety net than to provide reasonable insurance premiums to support coverage for injured workers.

Voting against protecting disabled workers were local Representatives Marilyn Edwards (D-Fayetteville), Keven Anderson (R-Rogers), Mark Martin (R-Prairie Grove), Jon Woods (R-Springdale), Mike Kenney (R-Siloam Springs), Daryl Pace (R-Siloam Springs), Eric Harris (R-Lowell), Donna Hutchinson (R-Bella Vista), Horace Hardwick (R-Bentonville), Aaron Burkes (R-Garfield), Bryan King (R-Berryville), and Roy Ragland (R-Marshall).

Voting to protect the fund for injured workers were Jim House (D-Fayetteville) and Lindsley Smith (D-Fayetteville). AFSCME Local 965 thanks Representatives House and Smith for voting against this anti-worker legislation.

Dispute Resolution Bill Passes House

House Bill 1630, providing alternative dispute resolution practices for public employees, passed the Arkansas House of Representative by 68-19 on March 21st. AFSCME 965 strongly supports this legislation to protect public sector workers from arbitrary actions.

Voting for the bill were Fayetteville Reps. Lindsley Smith and Marilyn Edwards and Mark Martin (R-Prairie Grove). Republican Reps. John Woods of Springdale and Mike Kenney and Daryl Pace of Siloam Springs voted against it. Rep. Jim House of Fayetteville did not vote.

The bill is now in the Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor. Senator Bill Pritchard of Elkins is a member of that committee. Please contact him at and ask him to support HB1630 to protect worker rights.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cynthia Nance Honored for Public Service

Local 965 member Cynthia Nance, Dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law, is among four women to be honored at the 9th Washington County Women's History Month Dinner/Celebration on March 28 at the Fayetteville Clarion. The banquet is hosted by Altrusa, American Association of University Women, Business and Professional Women, Delta Kappa Gamma, Democratic Women of Washington County, League of Women Voters, National Organization of Women and Republican Women of Washington County.

The annual event recognizes women who have made a substantial contribution to their communities through service and who have made contributions in areas historically closed to women. Sister Cindy Nance has worked for equal opportunity in a variety of ways. She's been head of the American Association of Law Schools Employment Discrimination Section and is on the board of the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice. Locally, she works with the Cooperative Emergency Outreach ministry supported by several churches, Habitat for Humanity and the Northwest Arkansas Worker's Center. At the university, she's sponsored the Labor and Employment Law Society, the Black Student Law Association, and Phi Delta Phi legal honor society, and she represented AFSCME Local 965 as a delegate at the recent AFL-CIO convention in Chicago

Tickets are $ 17 and will be available only through Friday, March 23. More information is available at 751-6258.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Committee Votes Against Pregnant Workers

The House Committee on Aging, Children and Youth on Friday failed to give a Do Pass recommendation to House Bill 2772 by Rep. Lindsley Smith. The bill would have provided unpaid family medical leave for women workers who give birth during the first year of employment. Business interests and "human resource managers" opposed the legislation as too burdensome for employers, leaving women workers to face the harsh choice between losing their job or losing their child.

The bill needed 11 votes to get out of committee but received only 8 favorable votes (7D-1R): Representatives David Cook, Sharon Dobbins, Bubba Powers, Johnnie Roebuck, Bobby Pierce, Donna Hutchinson, Dawn Creekmore, and Linda Chesterfield voted for the bill.

Seven legislators voted against protecting the jobs of pregnant women employees: Johnny Key, Joan Cash, Bryan King, Barry Hyde, Steve Breedlove, and Tracy Pennartz. Five legislators did not vote, which had same effect as voting against: Representatives Michael Lamoureux, Aaron Burkes, Ed Garner, J.R. Rogers, and Randy Stewart. (7D-5R)

Arkansas AFL-CIO Convention in May

The Twenty-Sixth Arkansas AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention will be held May 21, 22, and 23rd at the Clarion Resort on the Lake at 4813 Central Avenue, Hot Springs, Arkansas. The convention will convene at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, May 21st. Delegates may register on Sunday, May 20th, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. or on Monday, May 21st, from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. Convention Credentials will be mailed to the Secretary of each Local Union in the next few weeks.

The convention registration fee is $80 for each delegate, alternate delegate, and registered visitor planning to attend.

All resolutions and proposed constitutional amendments must be received ten (10) days before the convention. All late resolutions and constitutional amendments are referred to the Executive Board.

The special hotel room rate at the Clarion Resort on the Lake for convention delegates is $76.00 for a single or double. The hotel is holding a block of rooms for our convention delegates. Their cutoff date is April 20th. Please make your reservations early by calling toll free 1-800-432-5145. Be sure to specify the reservation is for the AFL-CIO convention.

Chamber Trys to Punish Disabled Workers

The Arkansas Chamber of Commerce is pushing anti-worker legislation to abolish the Workers' Compensation Second Injury Fund. The Chamber members are writing legislators in support of House Bill 2674 by Rep. Keven Anderson (R-Rogers), and we must make our voices heard against this cruel bill and in support of disabled workers. One of the main reasons for creation of the Second Injury Fund was to encourage hiring people with disabilities, but the Workers' Compensation has failed to fund it for 8 of the last 16 years.

Please contact Legislators today and ask them to oppose HB 2674

You can copy and paste this list of email addresses for committee members:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Thursday, March 8, 2007

House Passes Two Bills Backed by Local 965

The Arkansas House of Representatives on Wednesday passed two bills in the legislative package endorsed by AFSCME Local 965 and improving the educational opportunities for the children and grandchildren of working families.

By a 63-26 vote, the House approved House Bill 1796 giving state employees eight hours of paid leave per year to attend parent-teacher conferences and participate in field trips and other educational activities for their children or grandchildren in K-12. Fayetteville Democratic Representatives Jim House and Lindsley Smith voted for this family-friendly bill. Representatives Marilyn Edwards (D-Fayetteville), Eric Harris (R-Lowell), Daryl Pace (R-Siloam Springs), and Jon Woods (R-Springdale) voted against it. Reps. Mark Martin (R-Prairie Grove), Keven Anderson (R-Rogers), and Donna Hutchinson (R-Bella Vista) were listed as Not Voting.

The House also approved House Bill 2299 setting up the Higher Education Opportunities Grants, a needs-based scholarship program for low-income students providing $1,000 grants annually to full-time college students and $500 to part-time students. To be eligible, the student's average family adjusted gross income must be $25,000 or less if the student is an only child. The income limit increases by $5,000 for each additional child. The bill was co-sponsored by Fayetteville’s Democratic Representatives Edwards, House, and Smith, who voted for the bill. Jon Woods (R-Springdale) and Donna Hutchinson (R-Bella Vista) were listed as Not Voting.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Legislation to Help Injured Workers

Representative Lindsley Smith (D-Fayetteville) has introduced two bills to strengthen protection for employees under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
House Bill 2532
provides protection for claimants against retaliatory discrimination by employers and requires that fines for an employer’s willful discrimination in hiring be paid to the claimant.
House Bill 2533
provides compensation for job-related mental injury or illness regardless of whether there is physical injury. It would also increase the benefits from 26 weeks to 52 weeks.
Both bills are supported by the Arkansas AFL-CIO, and both are opposed by the State Chamber of Commerce

Support Dispute Resolution Process

House Bill 1630 by Representatives Adcock, Smith, and Chesterfield is pending in the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor. It is a bill drafted and supported by AFSCME to allow public employees and government employers to settle grievances through alternative dispute resolution instead of hostile and expensive litigation. It is voluntary, and it makes good sense for everyone.

Who could oppose this simple and sensible legislation? The State Chamber of Commerce does. Their lobbyists are telling legislators that the bill is intended to repeal the state right-to-work-for-less laws and lead to easier organizing of unions in the public and private sector. We could only wish it did that, but we must confront the Chamber's misrepresentations with the plain truth of workplace justice for public employees.

Contact Representative Marilyn Edwards today and ask her to step up and support this legislation for the benefit of University of Arkansas employees.

UPDATE: Representative Edwards has committed to make the Do Pass motion for this legislation in the Committee. Send her a note thanking her for her support. Her email is