Trump signs executive orders aimed at loosening clout of federal labor unions

USA Today

Trump signs executive orders aimed at loosening clout of federal labor unions

Gregory Korte, USA Today       May 25, 2018

    Photo: Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images

Washington – President Trump wants federal agencies to fire low-performing workers, negotiate better union agreements and slash the time that federal employees can spend union activity and still be paid.

Those directives appear in a series of executive orders Trump signed Friday, the afternoon before the Memorial Day weekend.

Andrew Bremberg, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said the orders fulfill a promise in Trump’s State of the Union address to overhaul the federal workforce.

Then, Trump asked Congress to “empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers — and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”

But labor unions representing federal workers said the moves were part of a politically motivated assault on the merit system.

“It’s basically an attempt to make federal employees at-will employees, so you cam make them political employees, so you can hire anyone who had a bumper sticker for you in the last election,” said J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union representing federal employees.

“This would begin the process of dismantling the merit system that governs our civil service,” said Tony Reardon of the National Treasury Employees Union. “It is worth remembering that many of these federal employees are on the job over this holiday weekend protecting our borders, ensuring our food supply is safe and welcoming visitors to our national parks.”

More: ‘Hire the best and fire the worst’: Trump proposes biggest civil service change in 40 years

The executive orders aim to:

► Make it easier agencies to fire low-performing workers by limiting the amount of time that workers can spend on probation, encourage firing instead of suspensions, and requiring agencies to share information about bad employees so they don’t hop from one agency to another.

► Get tougher at the bargaining table when the government negotiates union contracts. The order centralizes negotiating strategy in the White House Office of Management and Budget, which will post copies of federal labor agreements online.

► Limit the amount of time that federal workers can spend on union business. The federal government spent almost $175 million to pay workers for this “official time” in 2016, according to the Office of Personnel Management. That includes time spent lobbying Congress and representing workers in disciplinary actions — practices Trump wants unions to pay for themselves.

Pruitt spent whopping $3.5 million on personal security in first year as EPA chief

ThinkProgress

Pruitt spent whopping $3.5 million on personal security in first year as EPA chief

Much more than his predecessors.

Patrick Smith     May 25, 2018

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the house Energy and Commerce Committee’s environmental subcommittee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 26, 2018 in Washington, D.C. The focus of nearly a dozen federal inquiries into his travel expenses, security practices and other issues, Pruitt testified about his agency’s FY 2019 budget proposal. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has spent $3.5 million in taxpayer dollars on personal security in just his first year in the position, CBS News revealed Friday.

This is far more than his two predecessors from the Obama administration, who CBS News says spent between $1.6 to $2 million annually on security.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox defended the spending, telling CBS News that an “unprecedented amount of death threats” necessitated the additional costs. Wilcox also promised that the agency would continue to release the costs of Pruitt’s security detail on quarterly basis in an effort to be transparent.

This revelation, however, did not sit well with some lawmakers on Capitol Hill. “Everything Scott Pruitt said about his wasteful spending turned out to be false,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) said in a blistering statement.

“Internal EPA documents show that he requested unprecedented security before taking office, then exaggerated threats against him to justify the expense afterwards,” Beyer continued. “Pruitt tried to downplay his travel costs, justified them through false comparisons to his predecessors, and hid the extent to which these trips were orchestrated by lobbyists and industry. When aides objected or came forward, he had them sidelined or punished.”

EPA watchdog contradicts Pruitt’s story on need for 24-7 security detail

Pruitt has been plagued in recent months by numerous ethics issues, leading to at least 10 open investigations into his conduct as EPA administrator, and forcing Pruitt to hire a white-collar defense lawyer.

His suspiciously cheap rent for a Washington, D.C. condo that just happened to be owned by the wife of a top energy lobbyist blew up into a massive scandal. His schedule is filled with speeches to industry groups he is supposed to regulate. And his response to another scandal concerning huge pay raises for two EPA staffers was so unconvincing that not even Fox News was buying it.

Pruitt’s ethics woes show little sign of going away. Just last week during a congressional hearing, he inadvertently revealed that he had an EPA employee help him house-hunt during her personal time without paying her, a violation of federal ethics guidelines.

Pruitt is not the only Trump administration official with spending problems. Fellow officials have spent millions in taxpayer dollars on frivolous items such as antique desks, office renovations, and dining sets. Pruitt may have outdone them all — and broken the law, according to a government report — with his $43,000 soundproof booth, however.

Trump officials went on a taxpayer-funded shopping spree. Here’s the bill.

Lawmakers have grown frustrated with Pruitt’s scandals, as shown in last week’s hearing. A few Republicans have finally lost their patience as well, joining calls for him to resign.

He still has the backing of at least one person, though. His boss, President Trump, maintains that Pruitt is doing a “great job.”

This anti-choking device saves lives

In The Know Innovation

May 17, 2018. This anti-choking device saves lives

LifeVac helps save people when they are choking

This anti-choking device saves lives

Posted by In The Know Innovation on Thursday, May 17, 2018

 

Personal Note: A friend of mind worked as an EMT. He was returning from a emergency call when a women flagged them down. Her 2 year old daughter was riding in the back seat of her car when she started choking on some bubble gum that lodged in her windpipe. The EMT’s desperately attempted to remove the bubble gum and suction the stuck gum but all they could get out was a sticky fluid. They rushed the baby to the hospital but she couldn’t be resuscitated. The EMT’s were devastated. I wonder if this could have saved the little girl.  John Hanno

John McCain is a “gangster” and Obama was born in Africa

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

May 25, 2018

John McCain is a “gangster” and Obama was born in Africa… Arizona’s 2018 senate race is stuck in the craziest parts of the 2008 presidential race.

Profiles In Discourage: Joe Arpaio’s Second-Wave Birtherism

John McCain is a “gangster” and Obama was born in Africa… Arizona’s 2018 senate race is stuck in the craziest parts of the 2008 presidential race.

Posted by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Friday, May 25, 2018

The Real Patriots Are the NFL Protesters

act.tv

September 27, 2017

This local sportscaster in Dallas is woke.

— via The People For Bernie Sanders

Kneeling doesn't disrepect the flag or veterans.

This local sportscaster in Dallas is woke. — via The People For Bernie Sanders

Posted by act.tv on Wednesday, September 27, 2017

This Is How Much Costco Employees Really Make

Readers Digest – Lifestyle

This Is How Much Costco Employees Really Make

Juliana LaBianca, Reader’s Digest         May 24, 2018

There are many reasons to love Costco: they’ve got great prices on everything your home could ever need, they’re generous with their free samples, and they make fantastic rotisserie chickens. But in addition to all of that, they’re also amazing for one other reason: they pay their workers really well—and take care of them too. By the way, here are five things you might want to know about those Costco chickens.

According to Glassdoor, the average cashier salary at Costco is $14 per hour, with a range of $8 to $23; that’s compared to the national average cashier salary of $9.15 per hour. Front-end assistants, the employees who help customers around the store, take home an average $13 per hour, with a range of $10 to $21. Additionally, both hourly and salaried, part-time and full-time employees are eligible for benefits.

On top of being compensated fairly, Costco employees—plain and simple—just love working at Costco. One 2014 Glassdoor report found that Costco ranked number two in the United States for compensation and benefits. The ranking was determined solely based on reviews by employees on the site in the 12 months leading up to the report. The retailer ranked right between Google, which was number one, and Facebook, which was number two.

But even though Costco employees are well compensated, there’s still a few things they’re keeping to themselves. Learn the 15 money-saving secrets Costco employees won’t tell you.

Related Video: Both Wages and Inflation are Up

Trump has a habit of hiring “the best people,” firing them when they turn out to be terrible, and then quietly re-hiring them

Trump has a habit of hiring “the best people,” firing them when they turn out to be terrible, and then quietly re-hiring them. #TheCheckIn

The Check In: Fired Trump Aides and Officials

Trump has a habit of hiring “the best people,” firing them when they turn out to be terrible, and then quietly re-hiring them. #TheCheckIn

Posted by Late Night with Seth Meyers on Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Myths are used to scare people away from liking socialism.

AJ+’s Newsbroke posted a new episode on  Facebook Watch — with Francesca Fiorentini.

May 20, 2018

A bunch of myths are used to scare people away from liking socialism. Here are the biggest lies we’ve all heard.

The Biggest Myths About Socialism

A bunch of myths are used to scare people away from liking socialism. Here are the biggest lies we've all heard.

Posted by AJ+'s Newsbroke on Sunday, May 20, 2018

Messages in a bottle sent across the sea to North Korea

 CNN
May 21, 2018

These bottles contain food, medicine, and messages of hope — and they’re being thrown into the sea in the hope that they might reach North Korea: https://cnn.it/2wXKs9N

Messages in bottles sent across the sea to North Korea

These bottles contain food, medicine, and messages of hope — and they're being thrown into the sea in the hope that they might reach North Korea: https://cnn.it/2wXKs9N

Posted by CNN on Sunday, May 20, 2018

Trump Opens Door to Dangerous Fracking in Northern Arizona

EcoWatch

Trump Opens Door to Dangerous Fracking in Northern Arizona

Center for Biological Diversity      May 22, 2018

Petrified Forest National Park. Andrew Kearns / National Park Service

A new Trump administration plan proposes to auction off 4,200 acres of public land for oil and gas development in northern Arizona. The lands straddle the Little Colorado River, are within three miles of Petrified Forest National Park, and are near habitat for a federally threatened fish called the Little Colorado spinedace. Drilling and fracking would threaten to deplete and pollute groundwater in the Little Colorado River Basin.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is planning the September auction—which would convey development rights to fossil-fuel companies—without any site-specific public or environmental review, as required by federal law. Planning documents cite Trump policies that forego National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis to fast-track fracking on public lands. According to BLM, about 90 percent of new oil and gas wells on public lands are fracked.

“This dangerous plan puts national parks, precious groundwater and wildlife in the crosshairs. We’ll do everything we can to stop it,” said Taylor McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Fracking is a dirty, dangerous business that consumes enormous amounts of water and threatens wildlife and public health. Northern Arizonans won’t tolerate public lands being sacrificed as gifts from Trump to the fossil fuel industry.”

The BLM is using a shortcut to bypass the analysis of fracking’s harm to the land and water that is required under NEPA. The sweeping “determinations of NEPA adequacy,” or DNAs, presume that oil and gas development complies with the agency’s 30-year-old resource management plan, which predates the U.S. fracking boom. The agency is also foregoing tribal consultations, stating that “tribal consultation was adequate for the [resource management plan].” By deferring all analysis until the drilling-permit stage—after industry has the right to develop the land—the bureau is unable to deny subsequent drilling plans.

“Fracking or drilling development could be catastrophic for the region’s groundwater,” said McKinnon. “This is Trump’s energy dominance policy at work, where nothing matters except fossil-fuel interests.”

Trump policies issued in January require the BLM to auction lands nominated by the fracking industry, skip site-specific environmental review and limit public input. BLM records show that since 2014 the fracking industry requested 145 parcels in northern Arizona for oil and gas leasing, most near the Hurricane Cliffs and Big Valley north of Grand Canyon National Park.

The Center for Biological Diversity has sued the BLM for using DNAs to plan oil and gas auctions in Ohio and Colorado. In April the Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump administration over its January policy encouraging their use.

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