Prevailing wage bill sent to Appropriations in unusual last-minute switch

first_imgby Hilary Niles In a surprise move just before a full House vote Wednesday, a bill to align construction workers’ pay on some state projects with federal wage standards was bumped to another committee.H.878 would replace Vermont’s prevailing wage statute with the federal Davis Bacon Act. State and federal rules apply only to certain government-funded projects. The law does not affect public construction or private enterprises.Lawmakers and their lawyers huddle Wednesday on the House floor when a procedural objection to a labor bill surfaced. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDiggerUnions and labor advocates, backed by the Democratic caucus this session, support the switch. They say adopting the federal standard would “level the playing field” for union shops and contractors who pay benefits.Davis-Bacon wages are set by federal standards for different regions, so the wages in Vermont won’t necessarily match those of, say, California. Even within the state, there would be some variation by area.The federal standard increases labor costs relative to total project costs, rendering them less competitive than employers who pay lower wages or don’t offer fringe benefits. If all contractors had to pay higher wages and benefits, as Davis-Bacon requires, then the higher-paying shops couldn’t be outbid as easily, some unions argued.But the lowest-bidder rule of thumb that drives state contractor choices worries non-union industry trade group Associated General Contractors, which partners with Vermont Independent Electrical Contractors Association.Cathy Lamberton, a spokesperson for the two Vermont associations, said the discussion surrounding Davis-Bacon doesn’t account for non-traditional fringe benefits many contractors provide, such as educational costs, use of vehicles and allowances for work gear.Those fringe benefits will go away if Vermont adopts Davis-Bacon, she says, because employers won’t be able to afford both. But her biggest worry looms more than a year away, with implementation of single-payer health care in Vermont, she said.The Davis-Bacon wages incorporate the cost of health insurance, and the state’s single-payer financing mechanism would be levied on top of the Davis-Bacon wages, she said. That’s like being asked to pay for employees’ health insurance twice, Lamberton says.It’s an argument refuted by David Mickenberg, who represents the Vermont Building and Construction Trades Council.“We fundamentally disagree,” Mickenberg said by email, “with the premise that speculation as to what health care reform may or may not look like years from now should be used to deny Vermont’s construction workers benefits that make their families healthier, increase their training and skills, and provide retirement security.”Rep. John Moran, D-Wardsboro, who was planning to present H.878 to the House on Wednesday afternoon before it hit a procedural roadblock, said arguments can be made on both sides whether Davis-Bacon costs or saves money. For him, it comes down to a matter of fairness.“Vermont (has) the lowest prevailing wage in the entire New England area,” Moran said. “It’s essential we put money into working Vermonters’ pockets.”Rep. Don Turner, R-Milton, objected to the prevailing wage bill because it could cost the state more money, and it hadn’t yet been vetted by the House Committee on Appropriations. House rule 35a requires all bills “carrying an appropriation” to go before that group before they can be considered by the full chamber.Moran confessed to being caught off guard Wednesday by the floor action. He wasn’t the only one who was surprised. Turner’s objection prompted a minutes-long huddle behind the podium of House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morrisville.Moran said in an interview Wednesday evening that Smith had previously consulted with House Appropriations Chair Martha Heath, D-Westford. The two had determined the bill did not require her committee’s approval.On the House floor, Smith overruled Turner’s objection, but a subsequent motion to move the bill to Heath’s committee won approval with no objections.Jeff Potvin, president of the Vermont Building and Construction Trades Council, heard about the development Wednesday afternoon. He said it seemed like an attempt to throw a roadblock in front of the bill.Potvin, Mickenberg and Moran all say they remain hopeful that the bill will pass. Turner could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.last_img read more

2016 Year in Review: Indians’ basketball title was the crowning sports achievement of 2016 in NEJC

first_imgAthletic Director David Ewers hoisted the boys basketball title trophy to huge applause from the SM North faithful.We’ve reached the end of the year and the end of the countdown. And the No. 1 sports milestone in northeast Johnson County was:Drum roll, please…Shawnee Mission North boys winning the school’s first boys basketball title in 63 years. When SM North won the title in 1953 it was the only school in the district.The Indians went 21-4 overall and 18-0 against teams from Kansas last season as they won by 24 points in the championship game against Wichita Southeast.In that final game, Michael Weathers scored 26 points while Marcus Weathers and Avante Williams each poured in 20.The Indians spotted Southeast a 9-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game. But that deficit disappeared as quickly as it happened. SM North outscored Southeast 37-18 the rest of the half to take control of the game.The title run was three years in the making. Coach Steve Stitzer took over the program when the Weathers twins were sophomores back in 2014. While those two were a huge focal point, the Indians couldn’t have done it without Williams, Will Schneider, Billy Conaway or Danny Bradley.In addition to the hardware, the Indians received a special gift right before the season started. One of the best players in the NBA took notice. LeBron James sent a video message, a note and each player a pair of his new shoes. The school cleared it with KSHAA to make sure eligibility wouldn’t be compromised. The school will issue the shoes to the players and then sell them back to the players once their eligibility has been used up.And that’s a wrap for 2016. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what 2017 holds. Happy New Year, everybody!last_img read more

Mind Reading: How to Use Quirks of the Mind to Change Behavior

first_imgTIME Healthland: How can we motivate ourselves to do what we really want to do? By better understanding the brain’s unconscious tendencies and tactics, argues journalist Wray Herbert — or, in other words, tricking ourselves into doing it.In his new book, On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Brain’s Hard-Wired Habits, Herbert, who has been writing about psychology for more than three decades, offers insight into how to use the quirks of the mind to change behavior.Read the whole story: TIME Healthland More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

NEWS SCAN: H5N2 in Taiwan, outbreak tuna plant flaws, cholera vaccine in Haiti, cell phone alerts

first_imgMay 15, 2012H5N2 outbreaks hit two Taiwanese farmsAnimal health officials in Taiwan yesterday reported two H5N2 avian influenza outbreaks at poultry farms, one involving the highly pathogenic strain and one linked to the low-pathogenic version, according to reports to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Both locations are in the west central part of Taiwan. Highly pathogenic H5N2 was detected at a farm in Yun Lin county after a veterinarian noted poultry illnesses and deaths. The disease killed 3,850 of 15,461 susceptible poultry, and the remaining birds were culled to control the spread of the virus. An investigation found no other outbreaks at nearby farms. Meanwhile, low-pathogenic H5N2 was detected at a duck farm in T’ai Chung during active surveillance. The birds didn’t show any clinical signs, and all 176 of the farms ducks were destroyed as a preventive step.May 14 OIE report on highly pathogenic outbreakMay 14 OIE report on low-pathogenic outbreakFDA cites food-safety flaws at India tuna plant linked to Salmonella outbreakThe US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a report detailing 10 problems at a plant in India implicated in a 116-case outbreak of raw-tuna-linked Salmonella illness. FDA inspectors began a 6-day review of the plant on Apr 19, 6 days after officials announced that yellowfin tuna imported by Moon Marine USA Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., was the likely outbreak source. Four of the violations were noncompliance with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) guidelines: (1) no critical control point (CCP) for the process of cutting, scraping and vacuum packaging; (2) no CCP for Clostridium botulinum and allergen labeling; (3) no CCP for metal detection; and (4) no critical limit for vessel monitoring and histamine records to show temperature was not at harmful levels. All companies that import food into the United States must comply with HACCP guidelines. Other shortcomings listed were lack of water monitoring; broken floor and wall tiles; product residue on knives, utensil storage boxes, and the ceiling after cleaning; peeling paint above the product processing line; and a lack of hand dryers in employee restrooms. The facility is in Alleppey in the Indian state of Kerala, according to the FDA report.FDA plant assessment reportCholera vaccination drive in Haiti progressingThe first phase of a pilot campaign to vaccinate 100,000 Haitians against cholera has been completed, the American Red Cross said in a statement posted on ReliefWeb yesterday. The first of two doses of vaccine was administered to 50,000 adults and children older than 9 years in the Artibonite region, which absorbed the brunt of the 2010 cholera epidemic, the organization said. The campaign goal is to provide two doses to 100,000 people in targeted rural and urban areas. “From everything I’ve seen, there is no one who was eligible for the vaccine who didn’t want it,” said Djencia Eresa Augustin, a cholera surveyor for Partners in Health, the Boston-based nonprofit group that’s leading the project. Vaccination teams were planning to give second doses to adults this week, and they will start vaccinating children under age 9 in the last week of May, the Red Cross said. The organization said it is contributing $1 million to the $1.3 million project. The oral vaccine, Shanchol, is 65% to 75% effective for up to 3 years, the statement said.May 14 American Red Cross statementCell phone emergency alert system set to debutA nationwide program to deliver weather and national emergency warnings to cell phones is slated to go live this month, according to media reports. The Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), also known as the Personalized Local Alerting Network (PLAN), was proposed by the Federal Communications Commission based on the Warning Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act passed by Congress in 2006 along with $106 million in funding. The move was designed to modernize the nation’s emergency alert system, according to CTIA wireless emergency alerts consumer information (CTIA is an industry organization for wireless companies). The system is voluntary for cell phone companies, and so far at least seven companies are participating, including some of the nation’s largest carriers. The free messages include local weather alerts, Amber alerts, and presidential alerts. Consumers can opt out of all but the presidential alerts. The alerts, which carriers offer for free, look like text messages but are distinguished by their own tone and vibration. The messages are geographically targeted and sent using a one-way system that isn’t able to track consumers’ cell phones, according to background information from federal agencies and CTIA. Older cell phones may not be able to use the CMAS technology, and some newer ones may require software upgrades. Some cell phone companies have already tested the system and have rolled out the program in selected locations.CTIA wireless emergency alerts consumer informationMay 14 USA Today storyFCC Q and Alast_img read more

Packaged coconut recalled amid multistate Salmonella outbreak

first_imgFederal and state health officials are investigating a multistate Salmonella outbreak connected with a potentially contaminated organic packaged coconut that was sold at Natural Grocers stores, a product that was the subject of a recall posted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday.In the recall notice, Vitamin Cottage Natural Food Market, Inc., based in Lakewood, Colo., said it was recalling its Natural Grocers brand 10-ounce Coconut Smiles Organic due to potential Salmonella contamination. It said six illnesses have been reported, the company’s own routine tests found Salmonella in some packages, and a sample taken by the FDA was also positive for Salmonella.The product is packaged in clear plastic 10-ounce bags bearing the Natural Grocers label. All packages with packed-on dates before 18-075 (Mar 16, 2018) are subject to the recall. The products were distributed to 145 Natural Grocers stores in 19 states: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.CDC working with several statesBrittany Behm, MPH, a public affairs specialist with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases told CIDRAP News that the CDC is working with several states on a multistate Salmonella outbreak investigation.”We are working with states to confirm the number of ill people in each state and the release of state-specific information,” she said, adding that so far information suggests Coconut Smiles Organic may be contaminated with Salmonella and is one likely source of the outbreak infections.”CDC plans to post an announcement as soon as possible, which will include a recommendation that people not eat recalled Coconut Smiles Organic from Natural Grocers,” Behm said, adding that the investigation is still under way.The outbreak does not appear to be related to an earlier 2018 Salmonella outbreak linked to frozen shredded coconut, which sickened 27 people in nine states.See also:Mar 19 FDA recall noticeFeb 15 CIDRAP News scan “CDC declares coconut-linked Salmonella investigation over”last_img read more

Federal-Mogul CFO Resigns

first_imgLSI President Brett Tennar says, “Steve’s success in developing operational strategies that improves the bottom line, builds teamwork, reduces waste and ensures quality product development and distribution checks many of the boxes of what we were looking for in a COO. This, coupled with his career in the Air Force working with highly technical systems and his in-depth understanding of Lean Six Sigma and Business Process Management sealed our offer. As our tagline states, our products are Powered by Science. This data driven approach is one reason why our company has grown exponentially as we employ the most advanced technology to product development. I am confident that Steve is the right person to drive operational strategy for our diverse and growing brands.” Advertisement DeMoulpied comes to LSI from the Private Client Services practice of Ernst & Young where he managed strategy & operations improvement engagements for privately held client businesses. Some of his prior roles include VP of strategic development, director of strategic initiatives, and Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt at OptumHealth, UnitedHealth Group’s health services business, as well as Lean Six Sigma Black Belt at General Electric, where he applied operations improvement principles to customer service, supply chain and product development. A successful entrepreneur, deMoulpied is also the founder of PrestoFresh, a Cleveland-based e-commerce food/grocery business.  SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Federal-Mogul Corp. on May 14 filed a Form 8-K confirming the resignation of Jeff Kaminski, senior vice president and chief financial officer (CFO). AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisement Jeff Kaminski resigned his positions with the company effective June 4, in order to pursue another opportunity. A member of the Federal-Mogul Strategy Board, Kaminski was appointed senior vice president and CFO in early 2008. Previously, he was senior vice president, global purchasing. Prior to that, he was vice president, finance, global Powertrain. Kaminski also served in several finance and operations positions at Federal-Mogul, including finance director, Sealing Systems; managing director of the company’s Aftermarket subsidiary based in Australia; international controller for the Aftermarket group; and controller, corporate staff.   Prior to joining Federal-Mogul in 1989, Kaminski was manager of financial reporting at R.P. Scherer Corp. He began his career in public accounting at Deloitte and Touche. In 2001, Kaminski served briefly as vice president, finance, GDX Automotive.,Lubrication Specialties Inc. (LSI), manufacturer of Hot Shot’s Secret brand of performance additives and oils, recently announced the expansion of senior leadership. Steve deMoulpied joins LSI as the company’s chief operating officer (COO). AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisement With more than 20 years of experience across multiple industries and functional areas, deMoulpied has particular expertise in organizations with complex technical products. Combined, his prior positions have required a spectrum of skills in corporate strategy, operations improvement, product quality, and revenue cycle management. He has an impressive history of utilizing data driven problem solving (Lean Six Sigma) and project management (PMP and CSM) to achieve strategic goals surrounding customer satisfaction, operational efficiency and improved profit.  DeMoulpied has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Management from the United States Air Force Academy and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Dayton in Marketing and International Business. He served six years with the USAF overseeing the development of technology used on fighter aircraft and the E-3 Surveillance aircraft, finishing his career honorably as Captain.last_img read more

Ravenscraig Steelworks

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

Australian Adventure, Part 3

first_imgBefore there were drug stores, people turned to plants for their healing properties. The land provided organic medicine to native cultures. Bush tucker, or bushfood, is the term used in Australia to describe the plants used by the aboriginal people for culinary or medicinal purposes dating back nearly 60,000 years.I visited three of the six Australian states: Victoria, southeast; New South Wales, northeast of Victoria; and Queensland, north eastern. Of these three states, I took two separate bush walk guided tours, at Cape Otway, Victoria, and Cairns, Queensland. It amazed me the variety of plants used for every day ailments.Here are five examples:1. Lemongrass roots and stems, such as the popular scented Lemon Myrtle, were popular to treat myriad ailments. Once liquified, drinking it treated sore throats, colds, and coughs. This plant also cured headaches and migraines with the same strength as modern-day aspirin. A headache sufferer, I kept a handful on me for a few days to put it to the test — and it worked!2. Eucalyptus is for more than just hungry koalas. Its antibacterial properties were widely used for dental health, including mouthwash, cough, and throat ailments.3. Before modern-day female contraception, aborigine women used to seek out the Kangaroo Apple for birth control.4. Tea tree oil, paper bark, would be applied to wounds for its antiseptic benefits, which helped to clear acne.5. The sandpaper fig and stinking passion flower were used hand-in-hand for insect bites. The fig, which has a rough, scratchy feel, would be rubbed against the skin until it bled. Then, the flower would be applied to relieve the itch. The sandpaper fig was additionally used to cure ringworm and other wounds.We so easily take for granted that, when we are in pain, we can pop a pill to alleviate our problems. Everything is within arm’s reach or just down the road. Modern medicine is convenient, but is it as healthy as primitive ways, used long before scientific research?A society that once worked based on an honor code of take what you need and trade what you believe is of equal value. Indigenous ways were so simple and natural in comparison to the world we live in today. Maybe not all of us can heal ourselves in our backyards, yet, but once I learned the ways of the Earth, it opened my eyes to the Sharelast_img read more

Africa regional analysis

first_imgGet instant access to must-read content today!To access hundreds of features, subscribe today! At a time when the world is forced to go digital more than ever before just to stay connected, discover the in-depth content our subscribers receive every month by subscribing to gasworld.Don’t just stay connected, stay at the forefront – join gasworld and become a subscriber to access all of our must-read content online from just $270. Subscribelast_img

Where credit is due

first_imgWhile the online renewals process for practising certificates was confusing and highly stressful for many of us, the SRA deserves credit for the way in which some of its staff handled individual complaints and concerns. With large organisations and online services it is usually impossible to find a human being who cares, but I think it is only fair to say that people at the SRA, once you have a name and an email contact, can be very helpful. So frequently, all that is required is a call from an organisation which pre-empts all the debilitating on-hold messages (and music) and the build-up of angst which this creates. It’s quite disarming to receive an unexpected call from a person checking if everything is going to plan with some guidance and a direct number if that is not the case. The SRA got that right, and perhaps the system will settle down after the initial hullabaloo… and thanks to those individuals concerned. Gordon Turner, Gordon Turner Employment Lawyers, London EC2last_img read more