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Secret Ballot Paradox

ACCE Webmaster on Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 7:24:51 pm 

Congressional Democrats affirm secret ballot union elections for Mexico, but support Card Check for US workers.  A paradox?  I think so.  Here's the story...

In 2001, a group of 16 Senators and Congressional Representatives signed a letter, authored by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), encouraging the use of secret ballots in union elections in Mexico.  Here is a direct quote from that letter:

We understand that the secret ballot is allowed for, but not required, by Mexican labor law.  However, we feel the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose.

This affirmation of secret ballot voting certainly seems diametrically opposed to the union election scheme proposed by Card Check, yet, of the 16 who signed the letter to Mexico in 2001, 12 signed on as co-sponsors to Card Check (H.R. 800).  The other 4 are no longer in Congress.  Representative Miller was actually the lead sponsor of the House Card Check Bill.

Click HERE to read the text the letter to Mexico.

Click HERE to see which representatives co-sponsored the Card Check bill.

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What's So Tough About The Times?

ACCE Webmaster on Monday, October 13, 2008 at 10:50:00 pm 

Lumachi_2 Advocacy Advice from Shaun Lumachi

A friend emailed me the following article a few weeks ago. I can't source it because even he does not remember where he got it. Nevertheless, in these troubling times I firmly believe that if you think and act as if times are tough, then times are tough. Or, you (as I have) can take a different approach to how you view the current tough times. This article should make you think a little differently about what you say about these tough times.

Bouncing back from deflating times

Failure is all too common in business.  Anyone who has ever ran a business wakes up regularly with nightmares about the what-ifs.

Successful business people, however, know that even if adversity strikes, they can work around it.  They are resilient.

Tylenol currently controls about 35 percent of the North American pain reliever market, but in 1982, you couldn't give Tylenol away.  A psychopath put cyanide into some Tylenol capsules, causing eight deaths.  Although it was clear that Johnson & Johnson had done nothing wrong in the manufacturing of the pills, the company accepted responsibility and pulled more than 31 million bottles form the shelves at cost of $100 million.  The company also offered to exchange the capsules for tablets, taking another financial hit.

But their response, putting customer safely before corporate profit, helped restore confidence in both the company and the brand.  The CEO- Jim Burke said, "It will take time, it will take money, and it will be very difficult; but we consider it a moral imperative, as well as good business, to restore Tylenol to its pre-eminent position." Sales recovered quickly.  Resilient? You better believe it.

Sure this is an extreme example, but if those companies can bounce back on such a large scale, they should inspire those facing smaller challenges,

Sales slumps, production slowdowns, labor issues and changing customer preferences affect many businesses.  The strong survive not because they are determined to conduct business as usual, but because they find ways to rise above the issue at hand.

Remember, you can't live life with an eraser.  You can't anticipate every possible problem, no matter how hard you try.  But you can resolve to face challenges as they arise.  Keep your mind wide open for solutions, listen to those around and under you, reprogram your brain for success and dig in.

It is better to bend than to break.  Companies and workers who can bend and not break have the gift of resiliency that let them bounce back from adversity.

Morale:  Don't let hard times turn into end times.  Let them lead to your best times.

-- Shaun

Shaun Lumachi is President of Chamber Advocacy, a professional consulting firm that builds and maintains results-oriented government affairs programs for chambers of commerce.  For more information about Chamber Advocacy go to http://www.chamberadvocacy.biz/index.html

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New Card Check Resources

ACCE Webmaster on Friday, October 10, 2008 at 8:53:03 pm 

Two new download-able documents that will help you communicate Card Check were just posted to PolicyClearinghouse.org.

Card Check 101: Fact Sheet and Issue Brief - Card Check, both released by the State Chamber of Oklahoma, offer concise information about the Card Check proposal and analysis about what the bill would do to labor relations in the United States.  Both documents explain the issue clearly and succinctly; they are ideal to share with uninformed members.

We've made the word files avaliable so you can modify and use at your chamber.  ACCE members can click to download:

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State and Local Budgets Feel the Crunch

ACCE Webmaster on Friday, October 10, 2008 at 6:47:33 pm 

This week Neal Pierce's article from Citiwire.net addressed the deepening budget problems state and local governments are facing the in wake of the financial crisis.   Pierce asserts that:

"The Wall Street fiscal crisis effectively shut the state-local government sector out of borrowing — either for long-term bonds, or of more immediate gravity, bridge loans to keep them afloat awaiting sales tax and April income tax receipts."

He adds, however, that:

"...the stage for a “perfect fiscal storm” was already set by the seriously weakened fiscal condition of so many state and local governments. On top of the stunning $43 billion in prospective deficits that 29 states had to cover with spending cuts or tax hikes, taxes for the fiscal year starting July 1, at least 15 of these states have already seen serious new budget gaps emerge."

The articles goes to address the specter of public pension liability and raises this question about intergovernmental cooperation as a potential solution:

"Should Congress approve of billions of dollars in revenue sharing for states and localities hard hit by the decline in tax revenues caused by the foreclosures federal inattention triggered, and falling property values?"

Click to access the full article:  Feds, States, Cities: In One Fiscal Boat.

Citiwire.net is a new service from the Citistates Group that offers weekly articles on metropolitan policy and planning.  Each week features an article from noted columnist and Citistates Group co-founder Neal Pierce and one from another of the Citistates group associates.

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Defusing the Public Pension Time Bomb

ACCE Webmaster on Thursday, October 9, 2008 at 11:43:07 pm 

Between election coverage and financial headlines, there seems to be little room for coverage of other news these days, yet, there are other big issues that deserve their share of the public spotlight.  Public employee pension liability is one example in many states.

The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce is working hard to create buzz around this important issue during a time when everyone is taking a hard look at state budgets.  The Chamber drew attention for a newly released, in-depth Nevada Government Expenditure Study which includes analysis of public employee compensation and retirement benefits.  The study, prepared by Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis and Guy Hobbs of Hobbs, Ong & Associates, also features a state-to-state comparison of public employee compensation.  To see the press attention this study is receiving, check out this article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Las Vegas is not the only chamber tackling this important issue.  Last week Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, published this op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel highlighting the pension problem plaguing Milwaukee Public Schools.

As budget belt tightening begins, make sure your community knows what pubic employee pensions cost.

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Energy is THE Topic in Debates

ACCE Webmaster on Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 6:52:55 pm 

The overarching theme I've noticed in all of the debates this presidential election season is energy.  Last night both Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama discussed energy in answers to questions about the economy, the environment and foreign policy.  Energy is the subject of the phrase (Gov. Palin's mantra "Drill Baby, Drill") that may well prove to be the most memorable of the entire election.

I am happy to see this level of focus on energy.  As evidenced by ACCE's most recent policy survey, energy is among the most pressing issues facing our country.  If you are focused on energy at your chamber join us for the Energy Issue Jam.

Richard McMahon, Executive Director of Energy Supply for the Edison Electric Institute, will lead the Energy Issue Jam on October 21 at 1pm eastern.  Topics for discussion include: infrastructure and capital expansion costs; supply, price and demand for electricity; renewable portfolio standards; climate change and CO2 reduction; and any other energy related topic you want to discuss.

Issue Jams are a forum for shared learning and open discussion about the latest policy trends.  The phone lines will be open throughout the call and we anticipate a lively discussion.  Don't miss this opportunity to be at the leading edge of energy policy, sign up for the Energy Issue Jam on Oct 21.

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Member Profiles: Four Questions with Mary Graham

ACCE Webmaster on Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 12:01:00 am 

Mary Graham, CCE, Vice President of Public Policy at the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, is a member of the Government Relations Division Advisory Team at ACCE.  She has moderated GR workshops at the ACCE Convention, and is also a past president (twice) of the Council on Community and Economic Research (ACCRA).

Here are four questions with Mary Graham.

 

ACCE: How did you get started in chamber work, and what keeps you in the industry?

Mary: I started my chamber career in economic development at the Raleigh Chamber.  I was specifically focused on economic data and market research.  I've only been on the public policy side of chamber work for the past 6 years. 

I enjoy the work because every day is different.  While some issues are constant, there are always new challenges to take on.  In chambers, there is never a dull moment.

ACCE: What policy issues are currently occupying your time?

Mary: Issues associated with regional planning such as land use, growth management and infrastructure development are big for us right now.  Of course the economy and the upcoming elections are a top priority for everyone. 

ACCE: What are the biggest challenges your chamber/community currently face?

Mary:  Obviously the economy is biggest challenge.  State and local budget projections are down which means schools and other important government funded programs are at risk.  Businesses are worried about credit.  If you'd asked that question three weeks ago the answer would probably have been different.

ACCE: Finish this sentence. Never again will I ...

Mary:  Never again will I put something in writing that I wouldn't want on the front page of the paper.  That applies to e-mail too!  Its an old adage, but one I learned the hard way.

 

Look for more GR Division Member Profiles in the Clearinghouse Update e-newsletter and the Policy Clearinghouse Blog.

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Flexible Leave Bill in Maryland

ACCE Webmaster on Tuesday, October 7, 2008 at 5:17:31 pm 

A new law directing how employees are allowed to take leave time was passed last week in Maryland.  The Flexible Leave Act requires employers to allow their employee to use any type of accrued paid leave to care for the illness of an immediate family member.  The law does not apply to businesses with fewer than 15 employees.  It also does not mandate that that employers offer paid leave.

While the Maryland bill does not mandate that employers offer paid sick leave (like Issue 4, the recently removed Ohio ballot initiative), it does impact business through its vagueness.

The Flexible Leave Act “leaves business leaders confused,” says Allyson Black, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Maryland Chamber. “This bill offers no definitions and no guidelines for implementation.”

For more information on the Maryland Flexible Leave Act visit the Maryland Chamber Blog.

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Chambers Speak Up about the Financial Rescue Proposal

ACCE Webmaster on Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at 10:10:33 pm 

Across the country chambers are voicing their opinion about the proposed financial rescue plan currently stuck in congress.  Most statements I have read urge Congress to forgo partisanship and work swiftly to pass a bill that will restore stability to our financial markets.  Here are links to and excerpts from a few position statements:

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry - "We call on Congress and the President to work in a swift, bipartisan fashion to pass an economic rescue package that will jump start our financial markets while protecting taxpayers. This is not about bailing out Wall Street. This is about preserving the financial future of every American and Arizonan."

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce -  "For most businesses in Los Angeles, the conversation in Washington, D.C. is not about bailing out Wall Street. It is about how to maintain the flow of credit from financial institutions that is essential to day-to-day operations and the jobs associated with every private sector business in America."

Corona (CA) Chamber of Commerce - "Make no mistake: when the aftermath of Congressional inaction becomes clear, Americans will not tolerate those who stood by and let the calamity happen. If, on the other hand, Congress supports a plan to successfully restore the financial system and preserve the flow of credit to the economy, the American people will recognize that act of courage."

The US Chamber is also urging immediate action to stabilize financial markets and "stem the financial panic."  Click HERE to read their letter to the Senate sent today.

Your representatives need to know what you think about the economic rescue package.  Make sure the voice of business in your community is heard in Washington.

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Transit Systems Flush with Riders, Strapped for Cash

ACCE Webmaster on Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at 4:09:24 pm 

In case you missed it…

Last week Tom Downs, a contributing member of the Citistates group, posted a new article about public transit on Citiwire.net entitled More Riders, High Costs: Transit’s Tough Dilemma.

The article highlights the struggle that city transit authorities currently have in dealing with a sharp increase in demand for public buses and trains coupled with record fuel costs and tight budgets. Despite increased ridership, transit systems are not realizing a bottom-line improvement because, as Downs points out, “transit ridership does not cover the cost of providing the service.”

Downs suggests emergency funding through the Federal Highway Trust Fund as one part of the solution. He states that the rising demand is an opportunity for transit authorities to “position themselves for long-term growth.”

Citiwire.net is a new service from the Citistates Group which offers weekly articles for readers interested in metropolitan policy and planning.  Each week features an article from noted columnist and Citistates Group co-founder Neal Pierce and one from another of the Citistates group associates.

Tom Downs is Chairman of the North American Board of Veolia Transportation, a subsidiary of the Paris-based Corporation which runs transit systems around the globe, including 60 in the United States. Downs was previously the CEO of Amtrak and the Commissioner of Transportation in New Jersey

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