Blog Posts For The Week Of June 30, 2015 Through July 6, 2015

Column: Ohio Equity & Adequacy Coalition Director William Phillis
By Gongwer Staff
Posted: July, 6 2015 9:30 AM

An initiative petition for a law or a constitutional amendment will be necessary to hold the charter industry accountable or phase it out

High hopes were dashed by the refusal of House leadership to schedule HB 2* for a vote on June 30th. Democrats and Republicans, charter proponents and charter opponents were in support of HB 2* as amended by the Senate. Had the bill been scheduled it would most likely have passed; hence House leadership kept it off the House floor.

This lack of House action on HB 2* demonstrates the absolute legislative control the for-profit sector of the charter school industry has on charter policy in Ohio. It matters not that the industry is laced with fraud, corruption and education malpractice. It matters not that Ohio is the butt of jokes regarding its deregulated, injudicious charter policy. Maybe Senate leadership permitted the Senate amendments with a nod from the House that the bill as amended would not pass in House. Who knows?

When will Ohio taxpayers rise up to demand accountability of their legislators and the Governor? Until state officials are held accountable, charters will extract a billion dollars annually from school districts. Much of this money flows to for-profit management companies which is used for campaign contributions, cozy business arrangements, marketing and of course, PROFITS. When one thinks Statehouse turpitude can't get worse, it does. Citizens must rectify this matter by by-passing the legislature and Governor with an initiative petition.

William Phillis

Ohio E & A

Column: After four decades, it’s time to pay it forward on overtime
By Gongwer Staff
Posted: June, 30 2015 10:44 AM


Federal law that governs overtime, enacted in 1938, sets an income threshold below which salaried workers are guaranteed overtime pay. Although that threshold initially was adjusted for inflation every few years, it has not kept pace with inflation since 1975.

This failure to update the overtime salary threshold properly has left too many workers without pay protections, and they and their families have suffered for it. The current salary threshold is $23,660 a year. Workers who earn a salary even slightly above that figure are often denied overtime pay, despite any extra time they put in on the job.

This is wrong, and workers are long overdue for an adjustment — a big one. These workers include salaried employees such as secretaries, low-level managers, social workers, bookkeepers, dispatchers, and sales and marketing assistants.

The U.S. Department of Labor is expected to announce a new proposal soon on the overtime threshold. Our country and our economy will benefit from this move, especially if President Obama recognizes it as a real opportunity to stem the growing gulf between rich and poor Americans.

A family of four people who live on an annual salary of $23,660 is living in poverty. That should not be the case, especially for someone who works overtime hours.

Income inequality in this nation has grown to epidemic proportions. Wages have dropped or stagnated for most Americans, while the wealthiest among us are doing better than ever before. The social and economic ramifications of this inequality contribute to some of the most nagging problems we face as a nation.

If the overtime salary threshold were properly adjusted for inflation, it would be set at $51,168 a year. More than 6.1 million workers would be below the threshold at this level, and thus automatically protected by overtime law. Setting the adjustment any lower would unnecessarily exclude millions of these workers from getting the overtime protections they need to get ahead.

This is a quick way we can begin to address inequalities and get about the business of addressing the problems and challenges before us. Big problems such as income inequality demand big solutions.

It has been 40 years since workers have gotten the adjustment they deserve. On this chance to move the dial, let’s pay it forward.

Tim Burga is president of the Ohio AFL-CIO

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