unions

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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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