Monday, January 27, 2014

Look For the Union Label Part Deux

A union vote is about to take place on the college campus where this writer teaches the occasional course. Some comments if I may.

Organized labor’s presence in the private sector has shriveled from about 35 percent of the workforce in the 1950s to 6.6 percent today. Public sector and not-for-profit entities are in 2014 labor’s oxygen. To survive and to continue to have political and economic power they must recruit new employees. An example of this is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) attempts to unionize adjunct (part-time) faculty at college and universities throughout the United States.

I will say up front, I believe the efforts of unions the last 100 years to represent the worker in America have been right and justified. There is and will always be a gap between productivity and income. Also management’s disregard for many years in employee safety and quality of life for their employees required union negotiation and representation. More specifically on the college campus I have been associated with for over twenty five years, management has mismanaged the adjunct/university relationship with a total disregard of their value to the institution.

But this is where I begin to differ with my fellow “pro” union colleagues. New management has recognized these issues and through a planned strategy is beginning to manage the differences and inequities. They have a long way to go and need more input from all faculty/ staff and naturally more resources.

Issues between adjuncts and the University are perfect opportunities for us to not only demonstrate leadership but more to the point influence and negotiation. If we perceive something as unfair then find a process to resolve it professionally.  These are the some of the principles I propose to teach our students.

The business model for American colleges and universities is changing drastically. Administrators and especially Board members at many institutions have been slow to recognize this fact and manage their campuses accordingly. To treat all faculty and staff as partners is an important management strategy and mission.

I will vote “no” on unionization, because I find it wrong to support an organization that misrepresents and coerce individuals to join. Second, those coerced into unions are compelled to subsidize with their dues union speech with which they may strenuously disagree. Third, once joining a union you are denied the First Amendment right to petition for redress of grievances in your own voice, having been forced to allow a union to petition for you.

Should the union vote win, I will do whatever I can to support a positive partnership between management and the union representation. But I will not support the “us versus them” attitude that is commonly the result of union representation. Yes, management at colleges and universities have plenty to learn about managing people and resources, but to do so as a team and partnership with faculty and staff is much more advantageous to the University and more importantly to the students we serve.

HOW WASHINGTON BEAT WALL STREET - In 2009, Washington went to war against big Wall Street banks hoping to blow up the kind of high-risk, high-reward strategies that helped spark the financial crisis. Five years later, that war is largely over. And Washington won in a blowout. ... You might not know it given continued demands from Democrats - and even some Republicans - to further bust up the nation's largest banks. And the standard media refrain is that Wall Street titans always win, no big bank bosses went to jail, and the industry will just find new ways to keep the casino open.

Goldman Sachs, the biggest money machine in Wall Street history, is a shell of its former self. Morgan Stanley, Goldman's one-time bitter rival in the swashbuckling world of high-risk trading, is transforming into a staid money management firm with a side business underwriting stocks and offering merger advice. Citigroup and Bank of America sold off many of their classic 'Wall Street' businesses, including proprietary trading desks and private equity and hedge fund stakes ... 'The scope of activities that U.S. banks engage in has been dramatically reduced,' said Mohamed A. El-Erian, chief executive of giant bond fund manager Pimco.

The transformation of Wall Street is so complete that even some of the industry's loudest critics - rarely willing to give an inch - are prepared to declare at least partial victory, albeit with plenty of 'time will tell' caveats and complaints about the industry pushing to underfund its regulators in the latest spending bill working its way through Congress.

“There is no question that many of the highest-risk activities, which happened to be the most profitable activities for Wall Street, are now at least reduced and often totally gone,' said Dennis M. Kelleher, chief executive of Better Markets ... 'They've had to exit hedge funds and private equity funds and they sold off any business with 'proprietary trading' on the door.”

OBAMA TO NAME ADMINISTRATOR OF SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION: Maria Contreras-Sweet is the Founder and Chairwoman of the Board of ProAmérica Bank, a Latino owned community bank focusing on small business and non-profits in Los Angeles. Before founding ProAmérica Bank in 2006, she was the President and Co-Founder of Fortius Holdings, LLC, a private equity and venture fund specializing in providing California's small businesses with access to capital. From 1999 to 2003, she served as [California] Secretary of the Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency ... the [state's] first Latina cabinet Secretary for California ... Contreras-Sweet was educated at California State University, Los Angeles." Should you be a great Commencement speaker.

WORLD ECONOMY "BOUNCING BACK - From the World Bank report: "Five years after the global financial crisis, the world economy is showing signs of bouncing back this year, pulled along by a recovery in high-income economies ... Developing-country growth is also firming, thanks in part to the recovery in high-income economies as well as moderating, but still strong, growth in China. Growth prospects for 2014 are, however, sensitive to the tapering of monetary stimulus in the United States, which began earlier this month, and to the structural shifts taking place in China's economy."

WELLS EMERGES AS KING OF THE BANKS - WSJ's Dan Fitzpatrick and Shayndi Raice: "J.P. Morgan Chase ... relinquished its position as the U.S. bank with the highest annual profit, capping a year marked by a slew of regulatory and legal issues. The New York bank ceded the spot it held since 2010 to Wells Fargo ... after J.P. Morgan reported fourth-quarter earnings of $5.28 billion, down 7.3 percent from a year earlier. At San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, fourth-quarter earnings rose 10 percent to $5.6 billion and full-year earnings rose 16 percent to $21.8 billion. That was enough to surpass J.P. Morgan's $17.9 billion, a figure that was down 16 percent from 2012, as legal costs cut deeply into the bank's bottom line.

"Wells's ascension is largely symbolic - J.P. Morgan would have remained on top had it not been for $11.1 billion in legal expenses - but it does underline the rapid expansion of a West Coast bank that uses a horse-drawn stagecoach as its corporate icon. Results from both banks showed signs of a healthier U.S. economy as J.P. Morgan and Wells made more loans to businesses and fewer of their consumers defaulted on loans, allowing the lenders to set aside less money for future losses. A recent rise in long-term interest rates should also help banks raise prices on new loans.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Christian Bale (40), Christie Brinkley (60), Bridget Fonda (50), Bill Mumy (60), Rosamund Pike (35), Kerry Washington (37), Oprah Winfrey (60).

ENTERTAINMENT BLINK: LORDE/DAFT PUNK TOP GRAMMYS - Robot-suited Daft Punk won best album and Lorde won best single at the Grammys. Also: Queen Latifah performed a group wedding, including several same-sex couples, featuring a performance by Madonna who was inexplicably dressed up as Boss Hogg from the Dukes of Hazard.

Oscars - Most nominations by film: 10: "American Hustle," "Gravity" ... 9: "12 Years a Slave" ... 6: "Captain Phillips," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Nebraska" ... 5: "Her," "The Wolf of Wall Street"
The nine best picture nominees: "American Hustle," "Captain Phillips," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Gravity," "Her,""Nebraska," "Philomena," "12 Years a Slave," "The Wolf of Wall Street"

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 2/1, 6:30 PM ET, NBCSN: #9 Wisconsin Badgers (14-7-1) at #12 Michigan Wolverines (12-6-2). Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor will be rocking this Saturday with the Badgers in town. Michigan will now begin their post season run, Blue 4 Cheese Heads 2.  Season to date (1-2).

SUPER BOWL TICKET TRACKER - The average resale price of tickets on secondary markets was $3,721, the highest figure in five years of tracking, according to SeatGeek ... Face value of individual Super Bowl tickets ranges from $1,000-$2,600. For high-rollers, one suite on the Commissioner's Level of MetLife Stadium ... is listed for $1.019 million. The same luxury suite for an entire Giants or Jets regular season sells for $350,000. There were more than 12,000 tickets listed on secondary markets as of late Sunday, representing roughly 15 percent of the capacity at MetLife Stadium.

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – The Super Bowl: Sunday 2/2, 6:25 PM ET, Fox: Seattle Seahawks (15-3) vs. Denver Broncos (15-3). In frigid New York, who knew – we like Denver to win in a close one, 27 – 24. Season to date (14-5).


(NCAA Hockey, Feb. 1) #14 Union Dutchmen (18-4-5) @ #15 Clarkson Golden Knights (15-9-2). Clarkson wins in OT 5 – 4.
(NHL, Feb. 2) Chicago Blackhawks (32-10-12) @ San Jose Sharks (34-12-6), Hawks are in a slump, good for San Jose, 3 – 2.
(D-III Game of the Week, Feb. 2) men hoops; Pomona-Pitzer Saghens  (13-5) at Cal Lutheran Kingsmen (14-4). Sagehens earn a tough road win, 67 - 63.
2014 Season to date (7-9)

MARKET WEEK - Traders are bracing for another rough ride in markets this week, as the emerging markets continue to shakeout and the Fed is expected to announce another round of cuts to its easing program. There are also about a quarter of the S&P 500 companies reporting earnings, including Apple Monday, Boeing and Facebook Wednesday, and Exxon Mobil and Google Thursday.

Several major economic reports are also expected, starting with new home sales Monday and durable goods Tuesday, while the first look at fourth-quarter GDP is expected Thursday.

DRIVING THE WEEK - President Obama deliver's his fifth State of the Union Address before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. (his first address to a joint session in 2009 was not technically a State of the Union) ... Big week for the Fed amid the collapse in stock prices and some currencies. FOMC meets Tuesday and Wednesday for the last time under Chairman Ben Bernanke. Despite the impact of the Fed's moves on emerging markets and the crummy December jobs report, the Fed is expected to stay on course for a further $10 billion cut in asset purchases ...

New homes sales this morning at 10:00 a.m. expected to dip to 455K from 464K ... Case-Shiller home prices at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise 0.8% ... Consumer confidence at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to tick down to 78 from 78.1 ... FOMC announcement at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday expected to feature a further $10B taper ... University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment at 9:45a Friday expected to rise to 81.0 from 80.4 ... Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen is traveling to Turkey and the UAE this week.

Next week: Quote of the month and the Jack Ass Award for the month of January.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA

January 27, 2014

#IV-41, 198


  1. I can only say, well done. I hope your words echo through the halls of the university so we can put this issue of a vote behind us and start working with as you put it "new leadership with a positive attitude for change". Vote NO for unionization in the upcoming election. Senior Adjunct Professor HSA.

  2. We appreciate your comment and input.