Filed under D.C. City Council

KEY LEGISLATION FROM JUNE’S CITY COUNCIL LEGISLATIVE MEETING

By LaTasha Mosley

The monthly Legislative Meeting for the D.C. City Council met Tuesday, June 5, 2012, to discuss various acts and introduce new legislation concerning issues surrounding the District. With such acts as the Taxicab Commission Service Improvement Amendment Act of 2012, The Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012 and TANF legislation, it seems as if sunshine is on its way to the District with such progress demonstrated this week.

Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012

DC’s City Council unanimously approved the Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012– the first of its kind in the United States– which includes parks, libraries, foster youth services, detention facilities, after school programs, and all schools, requiring such agencies to have explicit anti-bullying policies. The bill prohibits bullying against a broad range of protected characteristics and protects both LGBT youth as well as the children of LGBT parents.

Budget Hearing

Also discussed and agreed upon was the much anticipated 2013 Fiscal Year budget. The council unanimously approved a $9.4 billion budget which included the introduction of more speed cameras and longer bar hours on certain holidays, which brings with it opposition due to the numerous speed cameras already in the District and the potential disarray that may come with longer bar hours and the  selling and consumption of alcohol.

TANF

In addition to the approval of the second and final reading the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Support Act, the Council made two critical policy decisions regarding Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). A charged debate took place in the discussion to delay the 25 percent benefit reduction for families who have received TANF for more than 5 years, which was scheduled for October 2012. The council delayed the benefit reduction which would have affected 11,000 children under the age of 13. The Council also put into place protections for families facing the greatest hardships such as domestic violence, poor health or the care of an ill family member. Majority of the councilmembers agreed that TANF is indeed temporary, but plans must be made to provide job training and other resources to transition beneficiaries into the workforce.

CARRY-OVER LEAVE RESTORED FOR D.C. TEACHERS AND CITY WORKERS

By Emmelie De La Cruz

During a legislative meeting on Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, D.C. City Councilmembers voted unanimously in support of Councilmember Jack Evans proposed Budget Support Act (BSA) to reinstate the carry-over leave for D.C. teachers and other city workers.

Previously, Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced legislation to reduce the number of carry-over leave hours for city workers by two weeks—from 30 days to 20 days—in an attempt to legislate issues which have traditionally been negotiated.

If signed by Mayor Gray, the original carryover amount of 240 hours will be restored and strengthen the notion that working conditions for the city’s employees cannot be altered without renegotiation.

D.C. CITY COUNCIL APPROVES $22 MILLION FURLOUGH REPAYMENT FOR D.C. TEACHERS AND CITY WORKERS

By Emmelie De La Cruz

After months of negotiations, Tuesday, June 5, 2012 marked another victory for labor unions, as the D.C. City Council members approved an amendment offered by Chairman Kwame Brown and At-large Councilmember Michael A. Brown, to repay D.C. teachers and other city workers for the four public holidays they were furloughed last year.  The council voted 12-1 to support the spending of $22 million to compensate city workers and Mayor Vincent Gray is expected to sign it into law. The furlough repayment is expected to be disbursed prior to the start of the new school year in a one-time lump sum equivalent to the employee’s loss of salary for the furloughed days.

As stated in the Washington Examiner, “At-large Councilman David Catania, who voted against the furlough payments, tried to divert the money to job training programs for long-term welfare recipients. The council easily defeated Catania’s amendment.”

“It is only right that we restore these funds and repay our hardworking civil servants for the work they do on behalf of the residents of the District of Columbia,” said Councilmember Brown.

WTU will provide more information as it becomes available. Continue to visit The Teachers’ Lounge, as we continue to update you on furlough repayment and other happenings from City Council.

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LOOSE LIPS: UNION YES! JEFF THOMPSON NO?

By Alan Suderman

So how did Ward 5 Councilmember-elect Kenyan McDuffie pull off such a convincing victory last night? If you were within earshot of union leaders (or on their email list) you might have heard (or read) that the strong support of organized labor made the difference.

“SEIU volunteers worked to support Kenyan McDuffie in the weeks leading up to the election, persuading voters and getting out the vote through advertising and direct mail, and having thousands of conversations with Ward 5 voters by phone and through a door-to-door canvassing operation,” the Service Employees International Union bragged in a statement last night, right after the final votes were tallied.

McDuffie also had the support of the Washington Teachers’ Union, whose president, Nathan Saunders, tells LL today that McDuffie’s “friends in labor” are the reason why his victory was so lopsided.

“We want the candidates we support to know and feel it, and we want the candidates we don’t support to know and feel it,” Saunders says of his union’s campaign efforts, which include putting up “high quality” signs, get-out-the vote efforts and sending out print mailers.

Victory, of course, has 1,000 fathers, and it’s difficult to qualify and quantify just how much labor helped in McDuffie’s win last night. Maybe McDuffie won so easily because his opponents ran poor campaigns, or because he’s that good a candidate, or because Ward 6 Councilmartyr Saint Tommy Wells’ endorsement carries such great weight in Ward 5 elections. (No, seriously, maybe that’s why!)

Making it harder to judge how much credit unions deserve is the fact that they operate as independent entities apart from campaigns and don’t post detailed figures on what they spend on politics. McDuffie says he didn’t know the details of the union efforts to help him and would occasionally run into some of their canvassers while out knocking on doors. He’s quick to say, however, that the unions clearly “provided a boost” to his campaign.

Saunders, citing the “litigious society” we live in, declined to put a dollar amount to what his union spends in a council race. But he did add that the value of well-financed union support “is now that much more valuable” since previously used “methods of fundraising have come under question.”

When asked if he was referring to the fact that federal agents raided the house and offices of Jeff Thompson, one of the biggest campaign contributors to local pols, whose practice of giving money orders has come under question, Saunders said he wasn’t going to get into that level of specifics, but that LL certainly could.

Even before the federal raids, LL noted how Thompson was sitting out the 2012 election cycle, a move that put a big dent in At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange’s fundraising ability. Orange, by the way, just recently won re-election in a squeaker, with the help of Saunder’s teachers union.

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ONE OF THE GREATEST LABOR VICTORIES NEVER TOLD

D.C. Labor Leaders Advocate to Restore Carry-Over Sick Leave for City Workers

By Boris Chumak 

This week, Nathan A. Saunders, president of the Washington Teachers’ Union joined dozens of labor leaders during a Committee of the Whole meeting in advocating to restore the number of leave hours a government employee can carry over to the next calendar year.

Labor leaders gathered at the Wilson Building to oppose legislation sponsored by Mary Cheh which reduced the number of leave hours an employee can carry over by two workweeks—from 30 days to 20 days—and challenge Councilmembers’ recent tendencies to legislate issues which have traditionally been negotiated.

Following pleas from the labor community, Councilmembers disregarded earlier attempts to delay the implementation of Mary Cheh’s legislation and choose to fully repeal it instead. The issue will once more resurface during a legislative meeting scheduled to take place June 5th. If passed by the Council and signed by the Mayor, the issue will disappear helping to restore what’s rightfully owed to the city’s employees while weakening the notion that working conditions for the city’s employees can be altered without renegotiation.

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