Missouri Considers Pension Changes to Solve Teacher Shortage

Man standing in front of a room, giving a lecture with a presentation

Legislators are considering changes to Missouri’s teacher and non-certified school employee pension plans to alleviate pandemic-related teacher and staff shortages.

HB2114, sponsored by Rep. Rusty Black, R-Chillicothe, will reduce restrictions on pensions if a retired public school teacher returns to the classroom or to a non-teaching position in a public school. The legislation also increases from two to four years the length of time a retired teacher or retired non-certified public school employee can work while still receiving their pension.

During testimony before the House pensions committee, Rep. Black, the committee vice chairman, said similar legislation was passed by the House and died in the Senate last year as the legislative session ended in May. He said the legislation simplifies and improves the amount retirees can earn before their pensions are restricted.

Read More

Challenges to Biden’s COVID Vaccination Mandate Head to Supreme Court

President Joe Biden and Personal Aide Stephen Goepfert walk through the Colonnade, Friday, August 6, 2021, on the way to the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

President Joe Biden’s mandate that all businesses with 100 employees or more require employee COVID-19 vaccinations is now with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Buckeye Institute, a Columbus, Ohio-based policy group, became the first to file a motion for an emergency stay with the court, less than an hour after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted the government’s request Friday to dissolve an existing administrative stay previously issued by the Fifth Circuit.

The Liberty Justice Center filed a similar motion Saturday with the high court on behalf of a Louisiana grocery store owner and six Texas employees of CaptiveAire Systems.

Read More

CIA Covered up Staff Sex Crimes Committed Against Minors

CIA logo

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was aware that at least 10 members of its staff committed alleged sex crimes against children, though only one employee was ever prosecuted, according to released documents first reported by BuzzFeed News.

One CIA employee had “inappropriate sexual activity with an unidentified two-year-old girl” and confessed to having sexual relations with a six-year-old, according to internal CIA reports dating from 2004 to 2019 accessed by BuzzFeed through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The employee was fired but never charged.

Another employee allegedly bought pornographic films depicting young girls, while another claimed to have viewed thousands of sexually explicit images of children, according to the documents. These employees also were not charged with any crimes.

Read More

Federal Workers with Natural Immunity to COVID-19 Sue Biden Administration over Vaccine Mandate

President Joe Biden talks to Veterans and VA staff members during a briefing on the vaccine process Monday, March 8, 2021, at the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Federal workers with naturally acquired immunity to COVID-19 filed a class-action lawsuit Monday against the federal government over the Biden administration’s mandate that all federal workers be vaccinated against it as a condition of employment. The mandate doesn’t allow for exemptions for religious or other reasons, including having natural immunity.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas by the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civil liberties group, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation on behalf of 11 individuals.

Those named in the lawsuit include Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief COVID Response Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and over 20 officials including cabinet heads, as well as several task forces and several federal agencies. They include the U.S. surgeon general, director of CDC and OPM, the secretaries of the departments of Veteran’s Affairs, FEMA, FPS, OMB, Secret Service, USGA, among others.

Read More

Starbucks Announces Wage Hikes Amidst Labor Struggles

Outside view of Starbucks Coffee

Seattle-based Starbucks announced it will increase hourly wages next year as the coffee giant faces the dual pressures of unionization attempts and staffing shortages.

According to a press release from the company, starting in January of 2022, hourly employees with two or more years of service could see a 5% raise and those with five or more years of service could see a 10% raise.

By the summer of next year, the company says its average hourly pay will be $17, up from the current average of $14. Employees will make between $15 and $23 an hour across the country, depending on location and tenure.

The press release did not address what impact the moves will have on coffee prices.

Read More

Arizonans Fired over COVID Vaccination Might Not Get Unemployment

Arizona’s largest hospital system and others have set a Monday deadline for their employees to be vaccinated or face termination, but some employees who already have been fired for refusing a vaccine are learning they aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits. 

Banner Health, ValleyWise Health, HonorHealth and Dignity Health are set to require COVID-19 vaccinations Monday. Others have set deadlines that already have passed.

Mayo Clinic, a Minnesota-based hospital nonprofit with two facilities in the valley, announced in July it would require all employees to be vaccinated by Sept. 17. In a release, it said staff who declined to be vaccinated for COVID-19 “must complete education modules and will be required to wear masks and socially distance when on campus.”

Read More

COVID Vaccination Mandate Bill in Front of New Ohio Committee

An Ohio bill that would end COVID-19 vaccination mandates and nearly passed the House last week is back in front of another committee with health care groups from around the state lined up in opposition.

House Bill 435, the Vaccine Fairness Act, received hearings in front of the House Labor and Commerce Committee on Wednesday and Thursday.

The legislation would provide broad exemptions for COVID-19 vaccination mandates from public and private employers and schools. It also would stop any entity from mandating a COVID-19 vaccine that has not been fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and prohibit government-ordered vaccine passports.

Read More

Rieth-Riley Workers Win Settlements Against Union for Illegal Strike Retaliation

Rieth-Riley Construction paving a parking lot

Michigan Rieth-Riley Construction Company employees Rob Nevins and Jesse London won settlements against the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 324 union.

The settlements order IUOE union bosses not to discriminate against London and Nevins for leaving the union and pay $364 to London for owed health insurance premium.

The settlements stem from charges of retaliation the workers filed during the strike IUOE union bosses ordered in mid-2019. London and Nevins ended their union memberships and chose to keep working.

Read More

Michigan’s New Diversity and Inclusion Director Receives $130,800 Salary

Rané Garcia

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is paying Rané Garcia $130,801 per year for a new position to lead the agency’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative.

MDE reported Garcia’s salary in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Center Square.

in her new position, Garcia “will be responsible for developing and supporting internal and external efforts and strategies that foster greater fairness and inclusion in the state’s public schools.”

Read More

Michigan Secretary of State Says Backlog Should Clear by September

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said the 15-month backlog for processing transactions through her office should be cleared by Labor Day or the end of September.

Outside a Mason branch office, Benson touted her efforts to slash down part of the backlog after all 131 branch officers were shuttered to walk-in service in response to COVID-19 by opening 350,000 additional appointments by optimizing appointment times, extending hours, and offering more services online.

From July 19 to Sept 30, all offices will stay open until 6 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays and open at 8 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Previous office hours were 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday.

Read More

Ohio City Income Tax Law Continues to be Challenged

Robert Alt

An Ohio think tank’s fight over the state’s municipal income tax laws, which continue to be an issue during the COVID-19 pandemic, has moved to the state court of appeals.

The Buckeye Institute, a research and education think tank based in Columbus, has filed four lawsuits challenging the state law that requires taxes to be paid to the city where work is actually done. During the pandemic, however, more and more people were working from home but still paying taxes to cities where their office was located, rather than where they actually worked.

The Buckeye Institute appealed Thursday to the Ohio Tenth District Court of Appeals its case of three of its employees who worked from home after the state’s stay-at-home order but continued paying taxes to city of Columbus. A Franklin County judge dismissed the case Tuesday.

Read More

General Assembly OKs Paid Parental Leave for Georgia State Workers

A follow-up attempt by lawmakers to implement paid parental leave for Georgia state employees is on its way to Gov. Brian Kemp.

The measure allows state employees in Georgia to take three weeks of paid parental leave. The House agreed Monday, 153-8, to the Senate’s changes to House Bill 146 after it unanimously passed the Senate last week. A similar measure cleared the House in 2020.

Under HB 146, state or local school board employees who worked at least 700 hours over the six months preceding the requested paid leave date can qualify for the paid time off after the birth of a child, adoption of a child or taking in of a foster child. Paid parental leave would be granted only once a calendar year. State agencies and school boards are able to dictate the policy rules.

Read More

UVA Employees Form Union Calling for Online Fall Semester

University of Virginia employees have formed a new union and launched a campaign Monday centered around moving the school’s current hybrid instruction model to a fully virtual fall semester.  

The union, United Campus Workers of Virginia (UCW-VA), is composed of undergraduate and graduate student works as well as university of Virginia (UVA) faculty and staff. 

Read More