labor

Memphis boosts grants to 1968 sanitation strikers to $70K

The Memphis City Council voted Tuesday to increase the grants going to city workers who participated in the city’s 1968 sanitation strike, reports the Commercial Appeal.

The council voted 10-0 to give the 10 retirees and four active employees $70,000 grants, with all taxes paid by the city. The council voted two weeks ago to approve Mayor Jim Strickland’s proposal to give the strikers all-taxes-paid $50,000 grants.

The council also amended the wording of the grants resolution to allow active employees to collect their grants immediately as opposed to when they retire.

TN employment rate dropped to 3.6 percent in June, lowest rate recorded

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips today announced Tennessee’s unemployment rate for June 2017 was 3.6 percent, the lowest in Tennessee recorded history.

The June 2017 preliminary seasonally adjusted rate surpasses the previous low of 3.7 percent from March 2000. The state has not experienced an unemployment rate below 4.0 percent since it was 3.9 percent in February 2001.

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Surviving Memphis sanitation workers involved in 1968 strike awarded $50K grants

The Memphis City Council voted Tuesday to award $50,000 grants to surviving retired workers who were employed by the city at the time of the historic 1968 sanitation workers strike, reports the Commercial Appeal. The strike was ongoing when civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.

“We can never make up the sacrifices these men made financially,” council chairman Berlin Boyd said as the council pondered the significance of the vote.

The city initially thought 14 strikers were still alive, but discovered one had died and three more came forward and are being verified now, Public Works Director Robert Knecht said. The final number of surviving strikers is thought to be in the 14-20 range.

“We’re going to have to go and do a little research,” Knecht said after the vote.

… If more money is needed or more survivors are found, the council can appropriate more money, several council members said. The council approved $900,000 for the grants from reserves, although council members said they would revisit the amount if more survivors come forward or the city can increase the size of the grants.

The council also approved the creation of a 401(a) retirement plan — the public sector version of a 401(k) — for active sanitation workers. Because of a deal the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) made during the strike, workers receive Social Security benefits instead of a city pension. As the city improved its pension benefits over the years, the gap between the benefits of sanitation workers and other city employees widened.

Jim Neeley, union leader and former state labor commissioner, dies aged 76

James G. “Jim” Neeley, a longtime Tennessee union leader who served as commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development under former Gov. Phil Bredesen, has died at the age of 76.

Before his appointment as commissioner by Bredesen, Neeley was president of the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council. The organization’s current president, Billy Dycus, notes he also served as labor commissioner under former Gov. Ray Blanton, in this statement issued Thursday following Neeley’s death late Wednesday evening.

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TN unemployment rate fell from 5.1% to 4.7% in April, biggest decline since 1984

News release from Department of Labor and Workforce Development

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) Commissioner Burns Phillips announces a preliminary unemployment rate of 4.7 percent for April, dropping from the revised rate of 5.1 percent in March. This decrease is greater than the tenth of a percentage point fall the national rate experienced in April, which put the U.S. preliminary rate at 4.4 percent for the month.

Tennessee’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has not declined this much since January of 1984.

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Alexander, Corker offer respect for Puzder’s withdrawal

Start of a Breitbart News report

The chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions  Committee expressed his support for businessman Andy Puzder’s nomination for Labor Secretary Wednesday shortly after the CEO of CKE Restaurants withdrew his name from consideration.

“Andy Puzder has the experience and ability to make an excellent Labor Secretary, but I respect his decision,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R.-Tenn.), who himself served at Education Secretary for President George H.W. Bush.

“He understands the difficulties American workers face in a rapidly changing workforce and I look forward to continuing to hear his insights,” Alexander said.

A Capitol Hill  source close to the chairman told Breitbart News that Alexander was not pushing for Puzder to withdraw.

The Puzder nomination was a sign of the rapprochement between former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and President Donald Trump.

Sen. Bob Corker’s press release on Puzder’s withdrawal:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) released the following statement after Andy Puzder withdrew his nomination for secretary of labor.

“More than three years ago, I had the opportunity to assist Governor Haslam in recruiting Andy Puzder to the Volunteer State, and we are fortunate that he and his company now call Tennessee home,” said Corker. “Andy’s career as a successful businessman and deep knowledge of economic and labor issues made him well-qualified to serve as secretary of labor, but I respect his decision and know he will continue to be an important voice on issues that directly impact American workers.”ot

Note: Alexander’s press release comment, quoted by Breitbart, is HERE.

Puzder’s nomination as labor secretary comes under attack; Alexander defends him

Senate Democrats and labor advocates demanded Thursday that Franklin, Tenn., resident Andrew Puzder withdraw his nomination as labor secretary because the fast-food executive’s record shows he would not be an advocate for workers’ rights, reports Michael Collins. A Puzder spokesman called the criticism “fake news.”

“Andrew Puzder has proven himself to be an enemy – not a champion– of workers’ rights,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York. “Nominating Puzder to oversee the labor department is clearly having the fox guard the hen house – and a pretty sharp-toothed fox at that.”

Puzder’s critics said labor practices at his restaurants and his opposition to raising the minimum wage and expanding overtime eligibility should disqualify him from leading the Department of Labor.

…The calls for Puzder to withdraw his nomination come on the heels of his admission Monday night that he and his wife employed an undocumented housekeeper for years. Puzder said in a statement that, once he learned of the woman’s status, he ended her employment and paid back taxes to the IRS and California.

…Puzder can expect Democrats and workers’ advocates to thoroughly scrutinize his record, said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which will conduct his hearing.

Workers at his restaurants have complained of lost wages, overtime violations and harassment – the kind of issues Puzder would be called on to investigate as labor secretary, Murray said.

“All of this adds up to a nominee for secretary of labor who is uniquely unqualified,” she said.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the committee, has defended Puzder as a respected business leader “who understands how excessive regulation can destroy jobs and make it harder for family incomes to rise.”

Puzder, who lives in Franklin, Tenn., is chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast-food chains.

Alexander hails Trump choosing ‘respected TN business leader’ as labor secretary

President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Andrew Puzder, who is moving corporate headquarters of his fast-food chain from Southern California to Middle Tennessee, as U.S. secretary of labor has stirred some controversy at the national level. The appointment is endorsed by Tennessee’s U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander; bashed by the Tennessee Democratic Party.

Puzder is CEO of CKE Restaurant Holdings Inc., parent company of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast-food restaurant chains.

The Tennessean reports that Puzder’s family trust purchased a home in Franklin last year  and he’s in the process of moving CKE headquarters to Williamson County from Carpinteria, Calif., where it will be consolidated with the corporate headquarters of Hardee’s, now located in St. Louis.  The corporate relocation is a $5 million investment and will bring 100 jobs to Williamson County, according to a state Department of Economic Development news release announcing the move in April.

News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, December 8 — Senate labor committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on President-elect Trump’s selection of respected Tennessee businessman Andy Puzder to become the next United States Secretary of Labor:

“Mr. Puzder is a respected Tennessee business leader who understands how excessive regulation can destroy jobs and make it harder for family incomes to rise. I look forward to working with him to create an environment to help create jobs for more Americans. His nomination will be promptly considered by the Senate’s labor committee.”

Puzder is the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, a company that owns, operates, and franchises several restaurant chains and is in the process of moving its headquarters to Nashville. Puzder lives with his family in Franklin, Tennessee. Continue reading