Thursday, November 14, 2013

Workers of the 'Burgh, Unite! - Employment, Leadership and Premium Transit

Guildsman

Downtown workers in a hazardous industry at an upscale, profitable and expanding business are being inappropriately classified as "independent contractors" so they can be exploited for fun and profit.

The lawsuit says Blush dictates most aspects of the dancers' work, including which shifts they work, what clothes they wear, which songs they dance to and in what order they dance. 
The club also requires dancers to accept “Blu Money” from customers, the lawsuit says. The customers pay $110 for 100 “Blu” dollars, but the club only pays the dancers $90 when they cash them back in, the lawsuit says. (Trib, Brian Bowling)

Now that I have your attention...

If [nonunion City] workers don’t do their jobs, Mr. Peduto can take the necessary legal steps to remove them. If they choose to leave the city’s employ rather than go to work under his terms, they are free to resign. (P-G, Editorial Hectoring)

The P-G simply has not considered the financial and other costs of a long, drawn-out, emotionally frustrating transition conducted in fits and starts, as employees with skill sets better suited to previous mayors wind up engaging in guerrilla trench political warfare for retirement security. The Mayor-Elect has it in his head to fashion an organized, shorter, efficient transition that recognizes years of loyal service and the need for a crew able and willing to turn the ship of state about. But if Council wants to do it the P-G's way, I guess he could just fire everybody in weekly televised horror shows.

Meanwhile...

“I support President Darlene Harris. She has been a fair, objective and competent president of council,” Burgess said. “But this year, with the arrival of a new mayor, some members are suggesting it's time for a change. … And if council decides to change its president, prioritizing diversity means the next council president should be an African-American.”
Councilman Bruce Kraus, who is gay, said Burgess offended him by focusing exclusively on blacks. (Trib, Bob Bauder)

This is only the fourth race for Council President I have witnessed, but it is the first in which negative attacks have spilled out into the public (as to discretionary spending and attendance). It leads me to believe the results are growing more certain.

Councilman Burgess seems in one tactical respect to be like that most politically successful of State Representatives: Daryl Metcalfe of Butler County. He and Metcalfe both tend to lob broad, incendiary and moralizing leaps of logic across their respective chambers -- in order to ensure that everybody is talking about their own issues in their own terms with themselves as central. It's super effective for both representatives, and they'll continue doing so as long as they are insulated from suffering any kind of political penalty.

And finally...

The Port Authority wants to use $1 million in Allegheny County money to run a preliminary engineering study on a proposed bus rapid transit line connecting Oakland and Downtown. (P-G, Andrew McGill)

The Comet is usually pretty open to studying things -- and this project needs studied.

One million dollars, eh? And engineering, not feasibility, eh? To be continued.

Discussion question: Is anyone who uses the bus to get from Oakland to Downtown and back particularly dissatisfied with it? Anecdotally, a surprising number of riders have been telling me, "Things are fine, convenient, fast enough."

9 comments:

  1. Rep. Matcalfe is from Butler County (Cranberry to be exact). Not sure if that was a typo or more of a joke since I would expect Matcalfe, based on his usual comments, to be from somewhere way out in rural PA.

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    1. That was a slip up, I appreciate the correction.

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  2. As Bill's been pointing out, BRT from town to Oakland would provide opportunities for development in corridor through SoHo. That would be nice, even small things like trees and sidewalk improvements. And if the ride could be five minutes faster and more comfortable, even better.

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  3. Depending on how they did it, riders on a variety of bus routes from throughout the East End could benefit from the improved Oakland-Downtown corridor. That's one of the common advantages of a BRT approach, as demonstrated on the East Busway with all the additional PXX routes--the same improvements can often be shared by a bunch of other routes as well.

    Anyway, I gather they expect this preliminary engineering to allow them to select the locally preferred alternative (they are looking at a couple different alternatives for the corridor itself and how it would work Downtown), and then become part of their federal grant application next fall.

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    1. Oh, and outside of the East Busway, this does count as a relatively well-served corridor for Pittsburgh. But I don't think talking to current bus riders about whether it is "good enough" is really the test--ideally you should be talking to people who are NOT currently riders, but who could be, about why they are not riders.

      Of course that is not really possible to do in any systematic way, including because a lot of the expected future riders would be coming from new developments that have not yet happened.

      But in any event, there is a decent amount of experience with BRT at this point, and transit professionals can use various models that can roughly predict ridership increases based on specific improvements.

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  4. I have to respectfully disagree with your thoughts on the
    Post Gazette Editorial in regards to the City Pension Buy-Out .
    When they were hired, they knew exactly what their benefits were and they accepted those benefits as soon as they accepted their respective positions.
    I also believe those benefits to be non-
    negotiable.
    First let me explain, to the best of my knowledge, there are Non-Career Positions.Those like Directors, who serve at the discretion of the Mayor.
    Then there are the Civil Service covered positions.
    Positions which are some mid-
    management and probably some non management
    that are simply not covered under a union agreement.
    I would like to explain what I think are the problems with this buy out.
    Number one, some employees were given "battlefield promotions".
    (Am I showing my age with that statement)
    They were given thousands of dollars of raises when no one in management received anything due to the financial situation of the City. This was simply accomplished by changing their job titles and pay grade
    without ever having posted the new position for possible consideration by other employees or the general public.
    (This was done in the Department of Public Works.)
    This also prevented the situation of actually having to write a job description as to what the actual job duties were to be.
    The procedure under which this was done allowed this person not only to still be covered under Civil Service, but also get a pay raise under the "radar". There were other instance of people being taken care of and signed off on by the Department. It was not fair and someone should look into the Civil Service laws.
    Let me provide some addition things that should provide some food for thought.
    When the City was looking for an Assistant Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, the position had a detailed job description, it was posted for current employees for consideration in applying, and it was also advertised on the City website and possibly in
    the media.
    On the other end of the spectrum, the Department of Public Works had 5, count them , FIVE Assistant Directors, ( there was also a Deputy Director, but I'll give the Director the discretion on filling that position )
    Not one, to the best of my knowledge had a job description or was posted for possible public application.
    These are some of the positions that we are being asked to give early retirement without penalty .Positions like "Operations Manager "and others.
    I am mostly speaking about the Department of Public Works which I consider to be extremely top heavy.
    These people have ALREADY been taken care of, as far as a soft landing goes, they have been flying first class !
    I THINK I know what the Mayor Elect is attempting to do.He isn't necessarily trying to get rid of people that actually know what they doing ,but trying to "persuade" people that are used to gliding through the day/weeks/months to leave.
    I appreciate that.I really,really do.
    HOWEVER,I MUST interject that these positions I mentioned within Public Works, which were filled with the blatant disregard to Civil Service Laws and lack of what can be considered proper management should not be attributed to the current Director. Nope , it wasn't him.
    I like Bill Peduto.
    I voted for Bill Peduto.
    But I am not ignorant to the fact that a person I voted for can make mistakes.
    Gees, I voted for Obama, he's made few few mistakes and I won't defend mistakes.
    Unfortunately, Bill Peduto made his second mistake by asking for this buy-out.
    His first was hiring Guy Costa, who actually put a few of these people I mentioned in their current positions.
    is supervisors to manage their people.
    Mr.Costa won't have left a trail on any of the promotions or otherwise.
    He probably would have had a Deputy Director or Assistant Director sign off the promotions or raises.
    You surely can deny a lot that way.
    He's going to be the head of Operations . Let him fire the people that aren't working.He just may know them.






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    1. Prince - Great background! Really eye-opening. Let me throw a scenario at you: guy gets a job at DPW, works a bunch of years (literally), is friendly to all, then under some admin he gets offered a promotion with a raise and perks if he's a "team player". He doesn't know about the finer points of how job descriptions ought to look and where they ought to appear. He has bills to pay, a family to care for, and it seems for all the world that whatever he's being asked to do as an "Assistant Director" it's just the way the City works and always has (or he's afraid to object). So he accepts, works a few years, feels like a model citizen, buys a bigger house, spends money on his kids' education and then BOOM, oh no sorry, what you've been conditioned to do has been "corruption" this whole time, you should have realized it. Well maybe his boss's boss knew the deal, or just his boss -- but maybe all this guy did was what his superiors asked? Maybe he enjoyed a few relatively cushy years but now he's really in a fix? AND now that he's been around the block, he knows a bunch of stuff that if it got out, could cost the City lots in liability or something? Does this scenario make any sense? Or is it too obvious what goes on, or they preselect only folks who know what's up going in? Sorry (to everyone) if this makes no sense but it's all outside my experience.

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  5. Politics has to be about the future. Operations needs to be about the present.

    Sadly, too much of PITTSBURGH's problems come from the past. The person above needs to know what has held in the past may not hold in the future.

    Pension and debt issues are problems of the past that are cutting deeply into the present and future.

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  6. Bram,
    Only knew of one person forced to take a promotion on the threat of losing their job entirely. That person was NOT in the Department of Public Works.
    That person accepted the new position because of varying circumstances and is leaving this year I've been told. If , indeed, that person were to leave , the Mayor Elect could only hope he would be provided the opportunity to even interview a person this caliber.
    This person was non political.
    The DPW was nothing BUT political.
    Evidently there is someone that is describing their personal situation with you and all I can say is each individual is responsible , one way or another , for their own decisions or actions.
    As I described, a lot of these jobs did not have descriptions. Also some of these people had jobs covered by civil service before they accepted their new positions.
    Believe me when I say that all people within the workforce that were not union covered knew EXACTLY where they stood in seniority as far as Civil Service.
    Those lists were e mailed , copied , passed around etc etc. when layoffs were even MENTIONED.
    Sure, I feel bad when anyone loses their job, but we can't take care of everybody and I believe the Mayor Elect was just trying to get the non workers to leave, am I correct?
    If this hypothetical person is one of the hard workers, there shouldn't be anything to worry about.
    And if this "person" has "information"that could cost the City money or whatever, let them bring it forth.
    They would be covered under the whistleblowers act and I would be the first to recommend and early retirement for them if they have the guts to bring it forth.
    In return, let me ask YOU this.....
    If Luke decided instead to run and more than likely would win, would these people be crying about the thousands they would be making in their relatively do nothing jobs.
    Remember that they got these jobs through the exact way they are losing them....politics.
    They chose that path so they have to live with it.
    I hope I somewhat answered your questions.

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