Trump Administration’s 2019 Budget Proposal; Employees’ Benefits & COLA Take a Major Hit in Pekin, IL

LOCAL RECORDS OFFICE – While the share of nation’s workers the federal government employed in 2017, equaled its lowest level ever recorded, new Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the level is too low for government to perform basic functions. And with alarms ringing over the rising costs in Pekin, Illinois could less us to fewer firefighters serving the community. With two firefighters down in the department due to retirements of last year, the union’s president, Tom Veatch explains, “It’s a safety concern. You know, not only for our taxpayers but our members too. We’re always here. We do our job 100 percent all the time. And we will never stop doing our job, no matter what.” However, the city has not filled those 2 positions and leaders are pointing at rising costs as they are looking towards a budget plan for the next fiscal year. The Local Records Office reviews how the 2019 budget proposal will impact federal jobs; employees’ benefits and the cost of living adjustments (COLA) will both a take a major hit.

“It might sound better to say ‘cuts’. We’re maintaining the employment levels in the proposed budget,” proposed Carson.

Carson described that the city faces 60 million in pension liabilities for the fire and police retirees and is the reason staffing levels in the proposed budget are under consideration.

“They offer great service to our residents. They’re going to continue to do a great job. I have confidence in their abilities. We’re not short staffing them,” expressed Carson.

Though, CBP has documented how, due to lack of personnel, basic governmental functions –ie. administrating the nation’s Social Security and even tax systems –are being performed inadequately.

Recently, Sens. Mitch McConnel, R-Ky., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., recently announced they are closing a two-year budget deal, which lifts budget caps and would require appropriations committees to develop detailed plans within six weeks.

The 2019 Budget proposes a pay freeze; federal employees will take major compensation cuts

With the 2019 presidential budget in place to include a pay freeze for federal employees; with the administration’s intention to rely on a “pay for performance” basis rather than a standard pay increase on a schedule, the American Federation of Government Employees national president J. David Cox Sr. explains that “by stripping employees of their due process rights and firing those who reject his politics, President Trump is opening the door for rampant corruption, discrimination, and worker intimidation.”

With the 2019 budget proposal relying on employee compensation cuts and changes to reduction to the deficit by more than $70 billion by 2028, by mostly coming from reducing the government’s contributions to the retirement and health programs, and eliminating some programs, such as special retirement supplements and the Federal Employee Retirement System cost of living adjustments, the 2019 budget proposal estimates adjustments to will reduce the U.S. deficit by $192 million by 2021 and achieve a total reduction near $2.8 billion by 2028.

Similarly, this 2019 budget proposal estimates these changes to the federal retirement benefits will also reduce the deficit by nearly $2.6 billion in 2019 and adds up of more than $68 billion in reductions by 2028. And members will receive a 2.5% raise, according to the 2019 document.

Though the president is proposing a pay freeze for civilian employees next year, the Congress has multiple opportunities to suggest and pass laws otherwise.

New changes to the federal employee retirement benefits

-Increasing the employee contributions to retirement by 1% per year until it reaches 50% in the Federal Employment System (FERS) –phased out over a period of several years.

-Replacing the current high three average salary to calculate the retirement annuities with the five-year average salary baseline.

-Eliminating FERS annuity supplement for eligible employees retiring 2018 and beyond.

-Eliminating the cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for current and future FERS employees

-Eliminating the FERS cost of living adjustments and reducing civil service costs (CSRS) and cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) by 0.5%

With the White House plans to indicate plans to propose a seismic shift in federal retirement systems in the future, as it could remove defined benefit pensions altogether, officials wrote that “the TSP is a particularly attractive benefit to young, mobile workers not intended to make a career of federal service.” And that “the budget, therefore, funds a study to explore the potential benefits, including the recruitment benefit, of creating a defined-contribution only annuity benefit for new federal workers, and those desiring to transfer out of the existing hybrid system.”

As the proposal would change other federal employee benefits and do away with the current leave system, which offers time off for regular leave, sick days and vacation, in favor of Paid Time Off would effectively reduce the number of leave workers receives each year.

Healthcare –Proposed changes to Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB)

The trump administration is recommending changes to the formula the currently directs towards the government’s contribution rate for the participants in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB).

With the budget contribution rate on an FEHB plan’s score from a performance assessment, the OPM rates all FEHBP carriers on all 19 health outcomes, quality, and efficiency standards.

The formula set under law determines a share the government and enrollee pay towards FEHBP premiums each year. The government pays 75% of participants’ premium up to a certain cap. The cap equals to 72% of the weighted average of the previous years’ premiums.

The Trump administration wants to alter the formula slightly, so the government would contribute more towards the employee’s health care depending on how well the specific FEHB plan performs under the OPM’s standards.

The Office of Management and Budget projects the government will contribute a range of 65-75%.

“Under the current structure, enrollees have few incentives to choose less expensive, higher value plans,” the budget cites. “This proposal would incentivize enrollees to select high-performing, high-value plans by making them more affordable. The proposal would also provide carriers with greater incentive to compete on price and quality, help driving down overall program costs.”

And according to the budget, this change to FEHB premium contributions would save over $2.7 billion in the next decade.

Annual leave –impacts paid time off and sick days

The 2019 proposal also suggests combining all leave into one “paid time off category.”

“This would reduce total leave days while adding a short-term disability insurance policy to protect employees who experience a serious medical situation,” according to the 2019 request.

And currently, the federal employees receive 10 paid holidays, 13 sick days and 13-to-26 vacation days, depending on the tenure.

  1. David Cox, the national president of AFGE, had told reporters that Trump’s budget is a significant threat to the federal employees’ livelihood, particularly following years of austerity during the Great Recession.

“Federal workers already make 5 percent less in inflation-adjusted terms than they did at the beginning of the decade,” Cox said. “If we don’t stop the pay freeze for 2019, they will have given up $246 billion in wages and benefits since 2011. No other group has lost more to deficit reduction than the federal workforce.”

And Tony Reardon, President of the National Treasury Employees Union described the budget in a statement as a “full-scale assault” on our federal civil service.

“This should alarm every member of Congress and all Americans,” Reardon said. “Weakening our civil service system and attacking the pay and benefits of federal workers will backfire and leave our country unable to tackle the complex issues we are facing.”

 

 

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Employment Wages Continue to be Stagnant as the Working Class Seeking Employment has Nearly Diminished in Pekin, Illinois

LOCAL RECORDS OFFICE – The top industries that stimulated Pekin, Illinois’ economy are diminishing industries that once stimulated the economic growth in Pekin, Illinois. With companies avoiding corporate taxes by outsourcing and avoiding paying for the employee wages and taxes here in America, the wage growth is continuing to diminish, which has resulted in fewer people in the seeking work. The Local Records Office reviews how the unemployment rates are merely hitting the tail end of the crisis our economy is in.

Service industries, manufacturing, exports, agriculture, and mining

Service industries contribute the largest dollar amount to the Pekin, Illinois economy, according to the Local Records Office. Leading the way of our community, business, and personal service sectors are: hotels, law firms, accounting firms, engineering powerhouses and private health-care providers generate a majority of the dollar share in Pekin, Illinois’ economy. And following close behind are Pekin, Illinois’ finance, insurance and real estate conglomerates, the Local Records Office said. Thirdly are the wholesalers and the retail industries from car dealerships, department stores to supermarkets.

75% of the U.S. economy gains its shares from the service sector. As it is well-known, American boosts more of the service industry and thus outsourcing forms a major part of their operations. Therefore, U.S. firms that rake off a sustainable GNP growth must bring a balanced dependency on each other, to bring improvement to productivity is the only mantra for a successfully growing economy.

Manufacturing is the second largest, in fact, Pekin, Illinois is known as a major manufacturing leader in the entire company, said the Local Records Office. While building machinery makes a huge portion, including the assembling of construction equipment, farm machinery, and machine tools. And the second largest is the processed foods sector. Primary food products being created in Illinois include baked goods, breakfast cereals, candy, sausage, and spices. Chemical manufacturing makes up the remainder with the production of pharmaceuticals, cleaning solutions, and paint.

Exports sustain thousands of Illinois businesses as a total of 23,252 companies exported from Illinois locations in 2014, 333,674 U.S. jobs supported by goods exports from Illinois in 2015 and 86% of these jobs were supported by manufactured goods exports. While Illinois depends on world markets, the exports from Illinois have helped contribute a total of $59.8 billion out of the $2.21 trillion of U.S. goods and services exports in 2016. And Peoria, being relatively close to Pekin has contributed to export a goods value of $9.8 billion which is a 13.6% share of the state’s exports.

Though, the controversial issue of free trade is moving businesses out of the country costing us to lose tax revenues from corporate profits and the workers, and puts people out of work, which put pressures on the government to raise taxes, borrow money, print money, and still add onto our growing debt, to eventually collapse.

As some question a policies aimed towards looking only at consumer prices and not seeing the bigger picture, as well as keeping American jobs in America, bringing back the jobs we have left, and creating an environment for people to start and continue to grow companies, as outsourcing has contributed to the scourge of unemployment and denies the worker a just wage and the security of the worker for his or her family. But at the same time, some see the factor of production as an alternative to achieve improved levels of efficiency.

In Pekin Illinois’ the 2018 Governor’s Export Awards Applications –are due by Friday, April 20th, at 4:00 Pm.

Company Application

Organization Application

To fill out the application, right click and save on your computer. If you’re having trouble downloading, please email Godfrey Angara at godfrey.angara@illinois.gov for an emailed copy.

Agriculture -as CAFOs hurt property values, contributes to pollution and other environmental problems, question the impact of the proposed facility on 40 houses and cabins within a two-mile radius of the proposed facility, and roads as well as nearby ponds.

Opponents also question whether the site complies with “setback” rules requiring facilities with 7,000 or more animals to be at least a half mile from an occupied residence and a mile from populated areas.

Johnson’s concern of the number of swine CAFOs in her home country also mentions how pigs are raised in CAFOs tightly confined crate-like pens.

The odors, gases, and particulates are said to rise nearby neighbor’s health issues and meanwhile, proponents are keeping up the increasing international demand for pork as farmers are updating their facilities and lead others to argue whether these facilities will be enhancing the local economy.

Coal mining is now more apart of Illinois’ history than the present, as coal production has decreased since the 1920s, with technology and natural gas being the two culprits for the industry’s decline and mining jobs dissipated after the Harsey’s mine shut down, and many workers were let go. The Local 1825 still comes together to celebrate the history of coal mining every year on April 1st.

Despite Chicago’s gains in employment and the declining unemployment rate across the state, the rest of the state of Illinois.

Springfield, Decatur, and Danville have experienced dips in the employment rates because more residents are unable to find a job.

Policies are pushing smaller businesses into paying higher taxes, while corporations are ‘beating the system’ by outsourcing and getting a corporate tax break

And policies are not helping the issues of forcing smaller businesses to pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, the highest workers’ compensation costs in the region or raising the overall tax burden to fix Springfield’s spending problems.

Yet, a vast majority of these jobs have decreased their average weekly wages. And to determine whether wages have increase broadly and consistently, after adjusting for inflation, economists measure that wages were only 10% higher in 2017 than they were in 1973, with the annual real wage growth just below 0.2%.

So while corporations get a larger cut on their taxes and even a larger corporate tax break by from outsourcing, the companies start hiring more people and the continuation of inflation of prices rises only higher. And with more people employed and stimulating the economy buying from these large corporations, they continue to have a larger profit margin and become more powerful.

Reasons wages have lagged behind U.S. job growth

Diminishing wages is resulting in fewer people entering the labor force, and as Baby Boomers are retiring and Millenials start earning relatively lower salaries

Andre Chamberlain, the chief economist at the jobs and recruiting company Glassdoor has said even as unemployment fell to a 16-year low recently, the wage growth has slowed. As the Labor Departments’ numbers show wage growth averaging 2.5% in the last four months of last year’s peak at 2.9% in December. Though, Chamberlain says wage growth during this stage of economic recovery should be closer to 3.5%.

One theory is many young, inexperienced workers are entering the job force getting paid less and dragging the nations’ earning growth down as a whole.

Another factor the unemployment rate does not reflect is the people ages 25-54 –the prime working ages – are the ones’ not looking for a job, but might if the condition is right, Chamberlain says.

Replacing workers with technology will reduce costs in the long run, as workers lose out on employment. And while opposing views of whether or not the technological advances are economically significant or simply, are a better alternative for companies to increase productivity. The overall impact of job losses has slowed those looking for work under the right circumstances and the overall wage growth has gotten worse for those who are entering the labor force.

So as people justify that the economy has improved, due to the lower numbers of unemployment rates and the amount of 1.5 million entering the labor force, economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco have recently argued that people entering the labor force are earning relatively lower salaries.

Unemployment Rates Are Hitting Rhode Island Hard

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate has ticked up to 4.3 percent.

The state Department of Labor and Training said Thursday the jobless rate for July was up one-tenth of a percentage point from the June rate.

It’s still significantly lower than in previous years, when it reached peaks of more than 11 percent during the recession. The July 2016 rate was 5.4 percent.

The national unemployment rate was also 4.3 percent in July. That’s down one-tenth of a percentage point from June.

Rhode Island added 3,100 jobs in July, mostly in the private sector.

The state says the number of jobs in Rhode Island overall is up 8,500 from a year ago.

The labor force totaled 556,900 in July, which is up 400 from June and up 4,200 from July 2016.

How to use ‘Snapchat’ for Beginners (VIDEO)

Snapchat is one of the most popular social apps today, but how? What exactly is so special about it, and why has it been quickly sweeping up mobile users faster than anything else?

To make a long story kind of short, Snapchat is an app that truly changed how people interact with friends compared to other popular social networks like Facebook Instagram and Twitter. Not everyone gets it — particularly older adults — but Snapchat sure is all the rage among the youngest smartphone users, including teens and young adults.

Welcome to “How to Use Snapchat”. This is going to be your day one crash course and everything you need to know for your first few days with this application. Don’t be intimidated and let me know of any questions you may have! Have a great day and keep snapping!

 

Did You Ever Witness Someone Throw Away Their Life?

I’ve seen this happen more than once. Once, when I was a Product Manager in charge of a product line we made the mistake of promoting an Engineer into Marketing. As soon as he put on that white shirt and tie he suddenly thought he was “somebody”. From a demure, curious Engineer he became an imperious Know-it-all who knew nothing and embarrassed himself. But then it got worse. He attended some day-trading seminar and now he was going to get rich overnight. He was on the phone with his broker constantly, buying and selling and never completing his assigned tasks. We had lost all respect for him.

But the worst came when we were sent to a trade show in Las Vegas. He showed up at the booth without a belt. Our management considered us under-dressed at the office if we wore sport coats instead of two piece suits and he was showing up to attend customers without a belt. Our manager was aghast. They sent him out to buy a belt. He missed the first four hours of the show. But it got worse. We were in Las Vegas and when the booth closed he hit the tables. He was there all night, losing money by the thousands. When the show opened the next day he didn’t show up for two hours and when he did show up it was in the same clothes. He was unshaven and reeked of booze. He looked like Hell and he was shaken. He had lost so much money he couldn’t think straight. The boss sent him to get cleaned up. He never returned. He went back to the tables. By the end of the show he had lost his house. He was a wreck on the plane going home. He had no idea what he was going to tell his wife. The following work day he showed up in his suit and tie – and the boss and HR were waiting for him. He was walked out within minutes. In less than a week he had lost all his savings, his house and his job. I never saw anyone so broken in so short a time.

Another time I worked with a crackerjack engineer who was a non-conformist. This was well-accepted in the company and is usually tolerated in most companies. But as the company’s fortunes waned he became more and more erratic. The company was in a death spiral and it seemed to affect him deeply. People were bailing left and right but he had been there for 17 years and it was his life. The products he built were like his children. He was way too invested in the ongoing success of the company and he railed against anyone and everyone whom he thought was impeding the success of the company. The problem was that the products were too weak, the competition too strong and the sales force too incapable. In addition, Management was absolutely clueless.

In a few short years we had spiraled downhill from well over 120 million dollars annually to about 20 million and falling fast. I was on my way out along with anyone who still had even half a clue – the writing was on the walls. There was no way to save this pig. And then we needed him to go onsite to talk to our last big customer, the one customer who was keeping the company solvent. He was needed to explain how we would incorporate the features they needed. In fact, there was never any plan to do what they wanted – we no longer had the ability to accomplish it and make a profit so the goal was to stall them or convince them why they didn’t need the features. But when we were all sitting around the table with the customer, on their site, and he was asked to speak, he said, “What the hell is wrong with you people? You’re suckers. We’re never going to make these changes. Ever. Get used to it.”

Did You Ever Witness Someone Throw Away Their Life?

I have never seen such a meltdown in front of a customer before. Silence reigned. What can you say after that? The meeting broke up. He was fired instantly – but he couldn’t understand why. When HR came to his office, he locked the door and refused to leave. We had to call the police. He had to be physically carried from the building. It was not a building with card-keys, but with a real tumbler lock and he had keys. We had to change all the locks on the building. He would try to enter the building through the loading dock and sneak back to his office and do work. The police were called more than once. His wife would come and take him away. When he couldn’t get in he would hang around the door with his big dogs and frighten the hell out of the employees. Legal action finally had to be taken. He was mentally destroyed. He eventually got a job as the most junior technician at some other failing company. He was no longer capable of functioning as the senior electrical engineer he had once been.