Thursday, January 28, 2010

Congress must invest in vital public services

President Obama made it clear last night that he will fight for jobs. He knows that we cannot lose sight of the millions of working families who are still suffering from the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. Too many Americans are out of work and too many jobs are at risk.

The President and Congress must act now or millions of Americans could lose their jobs in the months ahead. To this point, the President reminded the Democrats of their obligation to lead and served notice to Republicans that ‘just say no’ is not an option.

AFSCME agrees with the President that America needs to lay a foundation for long-term economic growth, and we continue to believe that providing affordable, quality health care for millions of additional Americans is not only the right thing to do, but is also a key to economic recovery.

We also agree that federal action is needed to keep our economy from slipping back into the ditch. Too many services in communities across the country are being cut to the bone. AFSCME members understand this first hand. Members like you are on the front lines of this crisis, trying to do more and more with less and less. State and local governments need help and they need it now.

AFSCME will fight for robust investment in vital public services. Indeed, investment in public services must be a part of federal jobs legislation. In the coming weeks and months, we will call you, our 1.6 million members, to lend your voice to our efforts to make this happen.

In solidarity,

Gerald W. McEntee
International President

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No Layoffs or Furloughs at UA

University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart said there will be no layoffs or furloughs at the main campus this fiscal year, despite a $3.2 million budget shortfall. He made the announcement Monday while introducing Governor Mike Beebe during an observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the Arkansas Union ballroom.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Legacy of Dr. King

On January, 18, 2010, people of all ages and backgrounds come together to remember the life and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He devoted his life's work to the causes of equality and social justice. He taught that through nonviolent direct action, problems such as hunger, homelessness, prejudice, and discrimination can be overcome. Dr. King's teachings continue to inspire and guide us as we address our nation's most pressing needs.

In our current economic crisis, bad employers, greedy corporations and self-serving politicians will exploit peoples' fears and use them to continue the attack on workers and communities. This will not go unnoticed. We will not idly stand by and watch as families are devastated, our rights eroded, and our future traded away. We will shine a light on the ugly system that that puts profits over people and money over morals. We will confront power and become powerful ourselves. The transformation to a new economy will not come from Capitol Hill, but from people like us taking direct action to demand change.

We ask that on this day, you take a moment to remember and celebrate Dr. King's work and recommit to the ongoing struggle for a just society. Take the JwJ pledge to be there at least 5 times in the next year for someone else's fight as well as your own. It will take all of us. We are the creative force in this universe.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

UA Cuts Budget Again

The University of Arkansas has announced it will cut the budget by another $2.6 million for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

The cut is the second for UA and brings the total cuts since the start of the fiscal year in July to just more than $5 million.

UA Chancellor G. David Gearhart says he understands the economic problems facing the state. But he says the latest cut creates "dire challenges" that threaten the university's mission as an academic and economic engine in the state.

The university may consider a hiring freeze and some jobs may be eliminated through attrition. Faculty and staff may also be required to take unpaid furloughs. And there may be cuts to academic and outreach programs.

This would be a good opportunity for Chancellor David Gearhart to examine the number of administrators added in recent years with salaries exceeding $100,000 per year and consider which are necessary to putting "Students First." The size of the administrative staff expanded rapidly during the last decade under former Chancellor John White.

No Raises Next Year

Governor Mike Beebe’s proposed balanced budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year contains no raises for state employees, according to state Department of Finance and Administration Director Richard Weiss.

State employees were to have received a 2.3% pay increase, but all raises are suspended in Beebe’s proposed budget, Weiss told the legislative Joint Budget Committee on the first day of budget hearings in preparation for the Legislature’s first-ever fiscal session.

Because of revenue shortfalls, Beebe cut $100 million from this fiscal year’s budget in the fall and announced yesterday that he was cutting another $106 million. No layoffs are expected, the governor said.