Monday, April 06, 2009

Opening Day/NCAA championship Wrangle

Today is one of my very favorite sports days of the year: the opening of the major league baseball season and the collegiate basketball championship game. Later this week, the Masters; next month, the Kentucky Derby.

I love April (especially when it's not hot also). Here's your TPA round-up of the best blog posts from last week ...

Neil at Texas Liberal writes about a voting rights case in Austin-Area Voting Rights Case Headed To Supreme Court/Idea For Lawsuit Against Democratic Party and suggests another idea for a voting rights suit.

Somewhat quietly, a bill that would amend Texas' unemployment insurance laws in a way that would make them compliant with the requirements to get federal stimulus dollars passed out of a Senate committee. Off the Kuff takes a look.

Justin at AAA-Fund Blog writes about the Pew study indicating Asian-American students in Fort Bend and Pasadena ISDs face some of the highest segregation rates in the nation.

At McBlogger, we take a look at Ag Commissioner Todd Staples' efforts to make people sick. Nice work, Todd!

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is thoroughly disgusted with the crony-loving Texas Supreme Court which is hereby officially renamed the Texas Cronies' Protection Agency. Workers beware!

Labor gets its own television talk show, as MSNBC prepares to introduce Ed Schultz as part of its evening progressive lineup.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson has a round-up of the state of the stimulus money in Texas.

's MexicoBob took time to poke fun at the Republican Tax Day Tea Parties, wondering what other necessary evils that Republicans might protest next.

BossKitty at TruthHugger was struck by a single line on the news describing an Austin man turned away from medical care for lack of insurance, then going on a violent rampage, in No Insurance, Meds Denied, Tate Mayhem and Perryman Murder - Op Ed. On a lighter note, it is amusing to watch opponents to gay marriage wring their hands in despair every time a court reverses the ban. Read Gay Marriage Apocalypse - Really Now.

Over at TexasKaos Libby Shaw updates us on Houston KBR corporation's onging legal problems. It seems they got paid and paid and paid to create electrical death traps for our troops. As one civilian expert put it, "It was horrible -- some of the worst electrical work I have ever seen." Read the rest: Lawsuit Claims KBR Responsible for Deaths of US Troops in Iraq.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston wonders if the Democrats will save Bob Perry's Commission.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

AT&T, CWA square off over healthcare benefits

Dallas-based AT&T says compensation for 112,500 of its employees who are members of the Communications Workers of America is unsustainable because the company has lost 15.3 million access lines, or 21 percent of its traditional core business, in the past three years. Competitors are largely nonunion, with benefits that cost less, AT&T says.

How many people do you know under the age of thirty that have a land line? Telephones with cords plugged into the wall are getting as rare as a dead-tree version of a newspaper. AT&T -- the former Southwestern Bell that swallowed up a couple of its spun-off-in-the-'80's rivals -- remains a very profitable company. Like the newspapers, though, they see a slumping economic environment as an opportunity to bust their union.

The company is engaging in "retrogressive bargaining" according to a CWA advertisement in Friday’s Star-Telegram. Although the company compares CWA healthcare benefits to those of union employees at struggling Detroit automakers, the situations are far different, a local union representative said.

"AT&T is a very healthy company," said Georgia Day-Thomas, executive vice president of CWA Local 6201 in Fort Worth. "We’re not talking about automakers.

"There are so many take-backs on the table, it’s just insulting to us," Day-Thomas said.

"We’re not asking for any more than what we already have."

Negotiations for the CWA’s District 6, which covers five states and 71,382 union members, are taking place in Austin. It is one of six CWA districts across the country, and one of five facing the same contract deadline.

Local 6201 has 2,579 members, including 2,130 members covered by the AT&T contract, Day-Thomas said. ...

"I think we’re going to the wire," Day-Thomas said. "I’m hoping that cooler heads prevail. I’m hoping that we don’t go on strike."

The last time the same set of contracts had to be negotiated, five years ago, an impasse resulted in a four-day strike.

Richter pointed out that even if the contract expires without an agreement at midnight, union workers could decide to continue working under the old contract, as they have in similar situations in the past.

The deadline is midnight tonight was midnight last night but the negotiations continue today ...

AT&T and unions for its landline workers were working past a strike deadline Sunday to try to reach agreement on a new contract.

Core wireline contracts across the country expired at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, but union-represented employees covered by those contracts continued to work under the old agreements, the two parties said.

Issues such as employment security and health care have yet to be resolved, but union members will report to work, "although that can change at any time," the Communications Workers of America said on its Web site Sunday. ...

AT&T earned a $12.9 billion profit for 2008, up from $12 billion in 2007. Its fourth-quarter profit fell 24 percent from the prior year, though, paradoxically because of its success in selling more of Apple's iPhones than expected. AT&T subsidizes the upfront expense of the iPhone, aiming to make the money back over the two-year service contract.

Sunday Funnies (Epic Fail edition)