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Department of Labor Responds to Unemployment Benefits Concerns Melanie, I appreciated the opportunity to talk with you briefly yesterday regarding the efforts of the Kansas Department of Labor to respond promptly and efficiently to the unprecedented number of claims and questions received on a daily basis by our Unemployment Insurance Contact Center. As I shared with you yesterday, the number of claims being received by our Contact Center each week has grown at a significant rate. As an example, for the week ending June 13, 2009, 5,083 initial claims were filed with our office. For that same week, 49,962 continued claims were filed with our office.

To put that in perspective, those numbers represent a 99 percent increase in initial claims from the same week one year ago, and a 171 percent increase in continued claims. There are now more than 42,000 individuals receiving unemployment benefits, compared to just under 15,000 individuals a year ago. Each claim can generate additional phone calls to our Contact Center as individuals check on the status of a claim, or call with questions regarding the filing process, etc. Let me give you some background on how we’ve been dealing with this increase in demand. Contact Center: One of the first things we did was add staff to our Contact Center. In November, 10 additional employees were hired and were on the phones in December. In late January, another 25 employees were hired and on the phones in February. We also temporarily extended the operating hours of our Contact Center. Beginning Feb. 9, 2009, we extended the operating hours to 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. This was intended to provide more time throughout the week for individuals to reach our Contact Center. We saw the impact of the increased staff and expanded hours almost immediately. The number of calls we were able to handle in a week doubled and wait times dropped from an average of nearly 30 minutes in January to an average of about five minutes in May. During this time, we analyzed our call volumes and call flows to determine how best to staff on a permanent basis to meet the call demands. To accommodate the extended hours schedule, we had our staff working in three shifts. That meant there were certain times during the day that the Contact Center was not fully staffed.

We found that when we were fully staffed, we could handle more calls with shorter wait times. So, we developed operating hours and a staffing plan that would allow us to have a full staffing contingent over more hours of the day. On May 18, we implemented our new core hours of 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. This change should cause the number of calls being handled to remain more consistent throughout the day, and wait times for callers should level out, as well. Website updates: We have also taken measures to reduce the number of calls coming through our Contact Center by expanding the functionality of our website. Previously, individuals who needed to submit a change of address or phone number had to call our Contact Center to make that change. Now, those changes can be made online. That’s an average of 1,500 calls a week that can now be avoided. Claimants also can now use the website to change their password or retrieve their PIN for their online account. Those who file their unemployment claim online create their password and PIN when they file their initial claim. If they forget the information they used to have to call the Contact Center to retrieve it. That’s no longer necessary with the increased Web functionality. Staffing: These measures have all helped, but we continue to struggle with the increasing demand for services, and continue to look for ways to improve our service. I mentioned on the phone that we had experienced some turnover in our Contact Center. We have hired additional people to fill those positions, and they are being trained quickly so they can begin taking calls. However, in the time needed to interview, hire and train additional people, we have had to operate under staffed, and that has been impacting the wait times in

our Contact Center. In addition, we’ve had to add staff to our adjudication unit. As I explained on the phone, anytime an issue is identified with a claim, it goes to adjudication, where more information is obtained to resolve those issues. About 30 percent of all claims received go through adjudication. Employees handling adjudication need to have a greater knowledge base than those accepting claims or responding to general inquiries. That means two things: hiring adjudicators from our existing call

center staff and a longer training period. The good news is that we have hired additional staff for both our call center and our adjudication unit. We are in the process of training those staff members so they can begin helping to alleviate some of the backlogs we’re currently experiencing. While that is happening, however, we will experience longer wait times in the Contact Center and there will be times when callers will find it difficult to get through. (Continued on following page)

Labor Fed COPE Director Lowen Resigns Jake Lowen, recent COPE Director for the Wichita / Hutchinson Labor Federation, resigned his position effective July 1, 2009. “It has been my immense pleasure to get to know everyone in the WHLF family, and I will greatly value many of the relationships I’ve formed in the last two years,” Lowen said in an email to WHLF delegates. “I have greatly enjoyed my time serving as your Director and am immensely proud of what we were able to accomplish together.” He will begin a new career in mid-July as an independent grassroots organizing consultant / contractor. “I am excited about the opportunity to help progressive organizations in Kansas develop solid grassroots campaigns to fight for and win on their issues,” said Lowen. He did a fantastic job and will be greatly missed,” said Judy Pierce, President of the WHLF. “We wish him every success in his new venture.” In his two years at the Labor Fed, Lowen organized and computerized files at the office and brought it into the 21st Century, and he was instrumental in passing the raise to Kansas’ minimum wage. “Besides our minimum wage victory, I am also very proud of our 2008 and 2009 election work, the modernizing of the WHLF technology infrastructure and our Then-Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson and Jake increased outreach to Lowen, COPE Director for WHLF, followcommunity and faith organizations,” said Lowen. ing the signing of a bill raising the state

minimum wage in Kansas.

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The PlainDealer

2 — The PlainDealer

July 2009

Election Commission Dismisses Claims Against Wal-Mart By JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press Writer LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Federal Election Commission has dismissed a complaint by labor groups that accused Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of pressuring employees to vote against Democrats in the November election, though FEC staffers warned that the case was a “close call.” Commissioners voted to end the inquiry requested by the AFL-CIO, American Rights at Work and after an August article in The Wall Street Journal. However, the six-member commission split on whether employees of the world’s largest retailer broke the law when they made comments that went beyond a script regarding a bill that would make it easier for workers to unionize. Wal-Mart held meetings that store managers and department supervisors were required to attend, to warn that if Democrats prevailed in the general election, they would likely push through a bill that the company says would hurt workers. That bill, known as the Employee Free Choice Act, would allow labor organizations to unionize workplaces without secret ballot elections. In its findings, commission staffers found that Wal-Mart put together a script and slideshow presentation to show to hourly employees who supervise other workers at the retail chain. Wal-Mart has vigorously opposed unionization efforts at its stores in the past. One slide warned: “If Democrats win enough Senate seats and we elect a Democratic President in 2008, this will be the first bill presented.” Two slides later, the commission’s report said, those giving the presentations were asked to tell workers that such bills would be “potentially harmful to our business.” “We are not trying to tell you or anyone else how to vote or who a person can support. Republican, Democrat or Independent: That is your personal choice,” the script reads. “However, we do want to encourage you to be informed on how congressional and presidential decisions could impact our personal lives and the company we work for.”

In a report to commissioners, FEC employees said that Wal-Mart provided a clear statement in its presentation that it was not trying to tell workers how to vote in the upcoming election. Still, the report acknowledged, the presentation “could be interpreted, and was interpreted by some, as a warning to vote against the Democratic presidential candidate, and, therefore, makes the guide a close call.” The report also said some WalMart presenters went off-script and made their own denunciations regarding the unionizing bill and then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. After the story appeared in the newspaper, the report said WalMart itself acknowledged “even more egregious” problems at the meetings. The company said one presenter showed a slide that read “Obama union” and told those attending “why unions were bad.” In a decision announced Tuesday to reporters, the commissioners agreed that the script and slide show themselves weren’t a violation of federal election law. However, the commission deadlocked over the steps individual presenters took when sharing the information with other workers. In a letter, commissioners Cynthia L. Bauerly and Ellen L. Weintraub wrote that they felt a “limited investigation” was needed to ferret out whether Wal-Mart encouraged workers to embellish the script.

“There was not enough information at this stage of the proceeding conclusively to determine that Wal-Mart either did or did not attempt to coerce its employees into voting against Democratic candidates,” the commissioners wrote. “What we did not have was sufficient information to find no reason to believe a violation occurred, given the public statements of the employees and (the) corporation’s response.” Daphne Moore, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said the company was pleased with the FEC’s decision. Moore said she had no information on whether employees who embellished their presentations faced any disciplinary action. Officials with the AFL-CIO referred questions to American Rights at Work, a labor advocacy group supported by unions and progressive groups. Josh Goldstein, a spokesman for the organization, said the group would examine what options it had after the FEC’s decision. An FEC spokeswoman said the groups likely would have to file a new complaint to bring the matter back before commissioners. “We still believe there was wrongdoing on the part of WalMart,” Goldstein said. The FEC complaint is the latest skirmish between Wal-Mart and unions. Wal-Mart has long opposed workers unionizing in its stores. After failing to organize employees of Wal-Mart with traditional tactics, unions launched two political campaign-style groups in 2005 in an effort to harness public opinion to pressure Wal-Mart to provide better wages and benefits.

Unemployment, continued from Page 1 Tips: There are some things callers can do to help minimize their wait time and speed the processing of their claim: • Mondays are typically the busiest day in the Contact Center. If you can, call later in the week. Wednesdays and Thursdays tend to have the lower call volumes. • Call volumes are highest during the middle of the day. Calling early in the day – from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. – may help reduce your wait time. • Our Website,, includes a number of frequently-asked questions. Be sure to check there first to see if you can find an answer to your question – you may be able to avoid a phone call. I hope this information is helpful. I realize this is a very trying time for those who are unemployed and that it can be extremely frustrating to experience difficulty getting through to the unemployment office or extended wait times to speak with a representative. At the Kansas Department of Labor, we’re working hard to manage through those issues and help as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Please let me know if you have further questions. Kathy Toelkes, Director of Marketing and Communications Kansas Department of Labor

Looking for a New Job? The Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas offers many resources for job seekers but, contrary to what many people suppose, they do not process unemployment claims. Kimberly Cronister, Communications Coordinator, said that they try to be a one-stop center for people looking for employment. Besides the many programs they offer, they are located in the same building (150 N. Main St.) as Sedgwick County Human Resources, Flint Hills Job Corps, Veterans Programs, Building Opportunities Workforce Center and the Center for Financial Training. The mission of the Kansas Workforce Centers is to provide and facilitate quality employment and related services responsive to the needs of Kansans. They can help you assess current skills and identify employment opportunities, and even provide training to improve interview skills or build a resumé. Many self-service resources are available onsite, including: · Computers for online job searches, developing and posting resumés · Copy machines for making copies of your resumé · Fax machines to send out resumés Staff-assistance services to job seekers include: · Career planning · Job counseling · Interview training · Job preparation and life skills coaching · Comprehensive assessments · Labor market information Cronister also pointed out their partnership with the Department of Commerce on an employment website, is a free site for employers to post jobs and look for potential employees, and a place for job seekers to post their resumés for consideration. The most important advice she can give, said Cronister, is “just don’t give up... keep trying!” For information: or

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July 2009

SPEEA News Update

WEU Negotiations continue with the Spirit Company. The negotiations team had a member meeting on June 8 at the Wichita Aviation Museum to update attendees on the status. Council Reps handed out fliers at the Spirit gates on June 9. There are Red shirt Wednesday and Red shirt Fridays also going on. We appreciate the NW support of our negotiations. The Council Representatives enjoyed the SPEEA conference in Seattle. I have heard a lot of good comments. It was one of our best. This was a wonderful opportunity to bond with our brothers and sisters. L&PA held a member meeting June 18th with Representative Jim Ward as the speaker. He brought us up to date on what the legislature has accomplished this year and what they didn’t get accomplished. He predicted that next year will be a bad budget year for the state, worse than this year due to the increased unemployment. He discussed how they determine what to cut and how there are different priorities for different representatives depending on geography. Upcoming MAC events include the Juneteenth parade, and the Wingnuts tailgate party before the baseball game. They are also working on getting vendors for our new win-win card. Heart Association – Donna Castaneda headed up a SPEEA team to work at the Heart Association Walk this last Saturday. They handed our SPEEA information. In addition to this she also walked and went over her personal goal of a $1,000 donation.

The MW Council requested our MW Tellers to review the possibility of redistricting the Boeing buildings so that we could fill an additional Council Representative position. This was approved by the Tellers and the opening will be announced in the next SPEEA publication. Spirit announced in a company newsline they will be unilaterally changing our tuition payment benefit from one where the company pays upfront to one where our members must pay tuition first, and then wait until the end of the semester to get their payment back. We consider this as a negative change and should require bargaining with us. Bob plans on meeting with the company on this issue. The Kansas Food Bank had a food drive while we were in Seattle at the conference. Council officers approved spending $200.00 from the Recruitment budget to purchase food for the drive. The Wichita staff purchased the food and presented it to the radio station for SPEEA members. They were on the radio and challenged the other unions to meet our donation. There is a big shortage on food at the food bank due to so many layoffs in our area. Merits at Spirit will be as follows: Adjustment Effective - 6/15/09, Notices Distributed to Employees 6/22-7/6, and Adjustment Visible on Paycheck - 7/9/09 (retro to 6/15) MW Committees – are in the process of reorganizing and having elections for officers. New officers for these committees are being sent to Terry Hall as they are accomplished. From Debbie Shepard, SPEEA, IFPTE 2001

The PlainDealer — 3 A June 13 Wichita Eagle article featured Spirit WTPU member Doug Stukey and his wife, Becky. The couple has designed and built a travel trailer based on retro teardrop designs. For the entire article and photo, go online to story/850698.html


Reflections on traveling By Mike Berry, The Wichita Eagle Doug and Becky Stukey are putting the finishing touches on their custom-designed handbuilt aluminum teardrop travel trailer, just in time to attend the upcoming International Teardrop Gathering at Minden, Nebr., June 18-21. Not every memorable wheeled vehicle has a great powerplant humming or rumbling under the hood. Doug Stukey realized that when he spotted his first teardrop travel trailer rolling down the road in Yellowstone National Park about 25 years ago. “I saw one behind a ’53-’54 pickup, but I never got a good look inside it,” he said. He and his wife, Becky, enjoyed traveling and camping at the time and he thought, “You could pull that anywhere. It would be a neat little thing to overnight camp in.” But they remained tenting campers and thoughts of having their own teardrop trailer faded a bit. “Then I got the bug again a few years back. Roger Mingle had his first teardrop trailer at Lake Afton,” said Doug, who was impressed enough to begin laying out his own design in masking tape on the floor of the Stukey garage. That was about two years ago and this week, the Stukeys are preparing to take their shiny new polished aluminum custom-built trailer to the third International Teardrop Gathering in Minden, Neb. “I wanted it to look like a vintage retro diner when we got done with it,” Doug said. The use of aqua “boomerang” pattern Formica and chrome ribbed trim on the table tops and kitchen serving areas helps achieve that look. He designed his own aluminum ice box to keep drinks and food cold on the road, and a stainless steel toaster oven and a slide-out 2-burner propane cook top make hot meals a breeze. The original plan was to use a set of drawings of a “modernistic” 1940s vintage teardrop trailer, but Stukey decided he didn’t really like the looks of it. His version is 10 feet long and weighs in at about 1,000 pounds. “I built it a little taller... to get some extra headroom,” he said. Interior accommodations feature a full-size bed, with air conditioning and warmth from a ceramic heater available from a 120-volt campground hookup. A 3-speed 12-volt skylight fan circulates interior air. The bed can be reformatted into a pair of couches that face each other across a two-piece collapsible table, which can be converted into outside individual tables that attach to the side of the trailer. Doug Stukey designed his own chassis, complete with a spare tire carrier and had his buddy, Charlie Timmons, weld it together before powder-coating the whole assembly. The trailer rides on a torsion suspension setup that mounts chrome 13-inch wheels and tires.

If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same –Franklin D. Roosevelt world at peace. Restore Workers’ Freedom to Choose for Themselves Whether to Join a Union

SPEEA leaders with State Rep Jim Ward, Assistant Kansas House Democratic Leader, on June 15. Ken Frazier, SPEEA Council Secretary; Debbie Logsdon, SPEEA Council Chair; Representative Jim Ward; Earl Carter, SPEEA Eboard MW Vice President Read The PlainDealer online through a link at!

Cessna Continues Layoffs On June 5, Cessna Aircraft issued 60-day layoff notices to another 700 salaried employees. The layoffs, part of a round announced in April, affect workers throughout the company. So far, Cessna has announced work force reductions totaling more than 6,900, or 45 percent of its work force. (

The Plaindealer (ISSN 0898-4360) Periodicals Postage Paid at Wichita, KS

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The Plaindealer 3830 S. Meridian Ave. Wichita, KS 67217–3704 (316) 529-8513 Melanie Jenney, Editor email: Board of Directors Judy Pierce, President, Labor Federation Tim Franta, Sec./ Treas. (IAM Local 733) Stuart Elliott (APWU Local 735) Deb Boatright (Local 708) Dave Philpott (IAM Local 774) Kathy Petersen (IAM Local 839) Ralph Stout (Local 834) John Shepherd Jr. (UA Local 441) Advertising and stories are due by the 15th of each month. Subscription rates are $15 per year. Special rates available to union members and locals subscribing as a body. Founded in 1919 by Tom Tilma, the Plaindealer is the official publication of the Wichita/Hutchinson Labor Federation, AFLCIO, and covers news of interest to working people. Story suggestions and letters to the editor should be sent to the PlainDealer at 3830 S. Meridian Ave., Wichita, KS 67217–3704; by email to, or call (316) 529–8513 with your ideas. To be considered for publication, letters to the editor must be signed and include the author’s telephone number. Views expressed in letters to the editor are not necessarily the views of the Plaindealer, its Board of Directors or affiliated unions. Published monthly by Plaindealer Publishing, Inc. at 3830 S. Meridian Ave., Wichita, KS, 67217.

4 — The PlainDealer

July 2009

Green is Good

As K er mit the F s not al ways easy being g ut it can be pr of ita ble! Ker ermit Frrog said, it’ it’s alw grreen, b but prof ofita itab

RECYCLING IN KANSAS NEWSLETTER, Vol. 21, No. 6, June 2009 Published by the Waste Control & Recycling Coalition; Margaret J. Miller, Editor, CONSERVATION RATE ON ELECTRICITY FROM WESTAR If Westar customers can keep their electricity usage below 900 kWh per month, they will receive a lower rate under the $130 million increase which Westar received from the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) and now in effect. This change in rate design was proposed by the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board (CURB) which saw the change as a way to provide an affordable initial block of energy to all customers and also encourage conservation in the summer. All customers will receive the lower rate on the first 900 kWh, and if they don’t go over that usage, they will never jump up to the higher rate. CURB urges all customers to use less electricity, such as by installing programmable thermostats, replacing old appliances and sealing up drafty homes. Your editor suggests spending time on hot days at the library or at malls; they are already air conditioned. Reducing demand on electric generation plants in the dog days of summer will defer the need to build more plants. (CURBside News, May 2009) NEW WIND-POWER BUSINESS FOR HUTCHINSON Siemens Energy has selected Hutchinson as the site of a $50 million wind turbine plant. The plant will assemble nacelles, the structures at the top of wind towers that include the generators, gears and electronics. The first 90-ton nacelle is expected to be shipped in December 2010. The plant will employ 400 workers. The company is also building a service center on the site and there will probably be opportunities for many subcontractors. The state is providing forgivable loans and Reno County is giving $2 million in cash. Hutchinson will give Siemens 109 acres in the Salt City Business Park. Local governments will build a rail spur. Gov. Mark Parkinson predicts the plant will anchor a new industry in Kansas. According to the American Wind Energy Assn., Kansas ranks third in the U.S. for its wind energy resource potential. Kansas now has about 1,000 megawatts of wind energy. It helps that the Legislature passed a bill this session that gives $5 million to wind energy manufacturers investing more than $30 million and creating 200 jobs. It is also good that Hutchinson is close to earlier wind-power development. Parkinson says that Siemens is an internationally known leader in wind turbine development. Siemens is based in Germany and is Europe’s largest engineering conglomerate. (Wichita Eagle, May 6, 2009) GREEN BUILDING RIDES OUT THE RECESSION IN OHIO Several Ohio builders and architects that specialize in environmentally friendly building techniques say their focus on green construction has helped them in the recession. R.J. Perritt of Homes of Amherst, Ohio, says, “If we weren’t doing anything with the green concept, we’d be dead in the water.” Panzien Construction of Mayfield Village, Ohio, said it has seen very little drop in the number of green construction projects. In fact, this company says the “vast majority” of the company’s projects want to register for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification through the U.S. Green Building Council. Most projects register while in the design stage. Ozanne Construction’s green construction efforts also have been insulated from the impact of the recession, said the project estimator for the Cleveland company. Doty & Miller Architects of Bedford say that 2007 and 2008 were its best years (Waste Recycling & News, April 27, 2009) RECYCLED COMPUTERS FROM OREGON TO GUATEMALA NextStep Recycling, a computer recycling business in Eugene, Oregon, renovates computers due for the landfill and loads them with Spanish and indigenous language software and ships them to Guatemala. There, INEPAS, a non-profit organization in Guatemala, places the computers in schools where parent councils have requested them. These parents volunteer their time, sometimes even their scarce cash, to keep the machines clean, secure and in good repair. Most of the computers are placed in poor areas where only 1% of public schools have computers. Many of the parents are illiterate. But they see the value of learning to use computers for their children. (Eugene Register-Guard, March 21, 2009) IN A NEW GERMAN SUBURB, LIFE GOES ON WITHOUT CARS In Vauban, Germany, the 5500 people live without private cars. In fact, street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden. Housing is in row houses, 4 or 5 stories high, designed to save energy. Every home is a short walking distance from transportation to a large city, Freiburg, near the French/Swiss border. Automobiles can be rented for longer trips. Many of the residents of Vauban have given up their cars to live there. In California, the Hayward area planning association is developing a Vauban-like community called Quarry Village on the outskirts of Oakland with access to the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART). (New York Times, May 12, 2009) DENVER TAXI COMPANY GOING ALL GREEN Metro Taxi of Denver is switching its fleet from conventional to hybrid vehicles. It is also using the used oil from its vehicles for heating, and is recycling a couple of thousand tires every year. Retired Master Sergeant Brian Horvath is using his expertise from a 20-year career in the U.S. Army to improve the taxi company’s performance. Since Denver is closer to the ozone layer, they need to reduce their carbon footprint. They are using specially made furnaces from Clean Burn Inc. to burn used oil. Horvath says that Metro will be able to save 2.7 million gallons of fuel annually once the fleet is completely converted.

Sedgwick County Extension Offers Program on Estate Planning and End-of-life Issues A program developed by Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service (CES) on estate planning and end-of-life issues will be presented on Tuesdays from July 28 to August 18, 2:00 p.m at the Sedgwick County Extension Education Center in Wichita. Called “Legally Secure Your Financial Future: Organize, Communicate, Prepare,” it will feature talks by Sedgwick County Extension Educator Sarah Taylor, attorney Cathleen A. Gulledge, and health care professional Carolyn Harrison. To register for the event, which costs $10, contact Anita Monarez by July 22 at 316-660-0100 or According to Sarah Taylor, Sedgwick County Extension Educator, a large proportion of Americans die without a will or an advanced health directive. “Many people believe that property will automatically pass on to their heirs without complications,” she notes.

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“Some people just never get around to making legal arrangements to protect their survivors. Others have the mistaken belief that assets have to be of a certain size before the heirs will be affected by a tax liability, the idea that estate planning is not important for young parents, concerns about the cost of preparing wills and important documents, and discomfort about discussing end-of-life issues with family members,” Taylor explains. She says information will be presented to participants to help them understand the kinds of personal information to gather, organize, and store so that family members can easily access them; recognize the legal documents that are essential in estate planning; realize the importance of family communication about legal issues; know how to select and work with an attorney; and learn how to prepare a plan to protect, distribute, and transfer their assets.

July 2009

The PlainDealer — 5

Another Union Member Shares Frustrating Unemployment Experience

Farmers Union, Others, Present at KPC Meeting

[The following is a letter to the editor from a reader of The PlainDealer in response to an article and Letter to the Editor in previous issues. I contacted the Kansas Department of Labor with some of these concerns and have included a response letter on the first page of this issue. I am interested to hear about other readers’ experiences, good and bad. Please send your stories to]

The Kansas Progressive Caucus met Saturday, June 6, at the Emporia public library. The meeting opened with kind remarks and a moment of silence in respect for Dr. George Tiller, who was killed May 31 and whose funeral was also on June 6 in Wichita. The morning agenda included discussion of the 105-county strategy, the upcoming legislative agenda, organizing fund raisers, parade participation, the recent energy bill, and the “prograssive” medical marijuana movement. After lunch there were presentations from speakers Don Teske, Charles Schollenberger, and Sen. Chris Steineger. Don Teske, president of the Kansas Farmers Union, presented a slide program on the history of the Kansas Farmers Union. In addition to old photos and the accompanying stories, he showed slides of the Presidential inauguration in January. The National Farmers Union has office space very close to capitol hill, and Don got good tickets through them. He was close enough to actually see Obama, which is better than can be said for most of the people in attendence. Don mentioned that the Farmers Union has historically supported Democrats and progressive causes, while Farm Bureau has historically supported Republicans and conservative causes. A possible candidate for U.S. Senate, Charles Schollenberger gave a mostly biographical speech to inroduce himself, including where he comes from and a bit about his progressive values. He believes that a strong populist progressive message can resonate with Kansas moderate Republicans and Democrats alike. His background is in journalism. State Senator Chris Steineger is considering running for Governor. Chris explained why he believes that he has the right combination of skills and positions to appeal to the majority of Kansans. He is exploring a main campaign theme with a combination of environmental responsibility and fiscal responsibility — ideas, he says, that are not mutually exclusive, but fit together rather well.

By Corey Rink, June 4, 2009 After reading Ken Baker’s letter in my recent copy of The Plain Dealer, I felt it was necessary to share my experiences as well. I too was laid off on April 8 from HBC. I knew that I would have an issue with claiming benefits since I have been going back to school part time to finish my degree in Electrical Engineering and one of the State’s questions asks if you are entering or attending school. I was on their website immediately obtaining the correct form that I would need to fill out and send in. During an information session for laid off workers, which took place at HBC, I asked a State representative from the Department of Labor exactly what process I needed to follow. She mentioned the form, but said I should wait to fax it until I had received paperwork from the State. This was to ensure that I was in their system first. Once I received my paperwork, I then faxed my completed form. Then I just sat back and waited patiently, knowing it could take some time with all the people out of work. I was checking my claim status online daily. After about a week and a half or two, my status showed that I was disqualified and a determination notice was sent. It was about another four or five days after that, when it arrived. It said that although I had filled out the required form, the information was insufficient. It also said that an attempt was made to contact the claimant for additional information but no response had been received. That was odd, because I did not recall anyone calling me, so I checked the caller id and determined that they possibly called from a “private number”. However, no one left any message on my machine! Next began my barrage of phone calls, or rather my attempts to get through. The first problem with their phone system is that you spend the first five minutes going through menus and entering

From Jim Herrmann, Kansas Progressive Caucus

information with your telephone to see if I could get some answers. keypad just to find out that if too Once I made contact with somemany people are on hold, you one, I asked for by name the must call back later. How annoywoman that left me the message. I ing! I quickly developed the was told that they were not memorization of my entire seallowed to let me request to speak quence of numbers to enter and with someone in particular. They when in the menus I could do so put me on hold and went to speak without waiting to hear the with the woman in question. They instructions. It did not help that came back and said they spoke much since inevitably I was with her, and she said the fax was prompted to “try my call again received and it was in the departlater.” It did not matter that they ment that took care of such forms had extended hours; I tried early in and decisions. So I waited some the morning, midday, and late at more… about another week, before night. On average, it took about an calling again. This time, no one hour and a half or two of constant seemed to know what was dialing, hanging up, and dialing happening or where my stuff was again before I made it into the at, so they requested I resend my queue. It was such a feeling of information. So, back to the fax accomplishment just to be on hold machine I went along with another finally, which lasted about 30 letter I wrote to explain where in minutes. the process everything was. The first person I spoke with did Another week went by and there not seem to know what was going was no change in my status on. I explained my situation in online, but by this time, I had been detail, but it did not seem to help, answering ‘No’ to their question so he asked if I could hold, which I about school, since the semester did. After he came back, and by had ended. Now I was also the end of the conversation, his interested why my change in answer was just repeating the status was not being reflected on words that were written on my my account. The person I spoke determination notice. with on this day did not have any answers for me either. She said the I asked if there was anyone else Appeals Department had my that might be able to assist with information and they were waiting the situation, and he said all they to schedule my hearing. (Once I can do is put in a request for a initially received the disqualificasupervisor callback. He said that someone would call back within 24 tion notice, I wrote a letter of appeal so that I would cover my hours. That was on Friday butt just in case the bureaucracy if I could hold while she spoke morning, so I did not expect to with her supervisor and I told her hear anything until Monday, but it of the government screwed things up). “absolutely.” When she came was Tuesday when I had a back, she said that I had been message on the machine. It was She gave me the number to the more than cooperative in providindeed from a private number, but appeals department, whom I ing them with all of the information this time they left a message. A immediately called. They informed requested and she thought she lady said what they needed was me that my first determination was could get everything squared very simple and should be easy. in line to be scheduled. I stopped away. I was elated! On my form, there was an area for her and asked ‘“First… how many a graduation date. I had put down determinations do I have.” She She put me on hold one more time, a month and year, but they needed said two, but she did not have any and when she returned she said a month, DAY, and year. She left a information on them. So, back to that everything was taken care of new fax number and her name. I the phone queue lottery I and I should receive my debit card immediately amended my form and go…This time, the lady I spoke and all that good stuff. That was wrote a letter of explanation and with was the most helpful of last Friday and today is Thursday. faxed everything to Topeka. Again, anyone to date. I asked her if they As I write this, I am still waiting to I waited… kept notes on my account so I receive my benefits in the mail would not have to explain everyTwo weeks later, I decided to try from the state. It has been eight thing all over. They did. She asked weeks and counting since the my luck at the phone queue again Read The PlainDealer online through a link at!

layoff and no benefits. And now school has started for the summer, but my classes are during the evening and thus will not ‘interfere’ with me being available for work. I was told just to call back in and they would code my account so it would not affect my benefits. I asked if there was someone or an extension I could call to do that. Again, I was told no, but they are no longer on extended hours of operation, so all representatives are present and available to take calls. Hmmmph. So it looks like I will have to press my luck with dialing into their phone system yet again. Joy.

6 — The PlainDealer

July 2009

At the Rail

Column by Martin Hawver 6/15/09 Remember back in February, about Valentine’s Day, when the state needed to borrow some money from idle accounts to put into the State General Fund or some 40,000 Kansas employees wouldn’t be paid? Remember legislative leaders wailing that their constituents were being held hostage by the governor, used as a club to force them to allow that internal borrowing that the governor wanted to do but the Legislature wasn’t keen on? It was a pretty interesting little showdown. And, by the way, the Legislature lost. There were some other things going on, but finally, the Legislature’s top leaders went along with the borrowing because they were basically not prepared to go home for the weekend and face constituents who didn’t get a paycheck on that mid-February Friday. Well, legislators were mad; they realized that if there is one ultimate political lever that a governor can use to get what the governor wants, it is probably not paying lawmakers’ constituents. And…that’s all over now. It was quiet, nobody paid much attention to it, but in the last hours of the 2009 Legislature, a bill got passed and eventually signed into law that will never allow state employees-not just the “regular” folk who work for state agencies, but also members of the Kansas National Guard who are essentially the prom queens of the state payroll – to be used as hostages by an administration to force lawmakers to approve internal borrowing. The administration can put a halt on payments to school districts, to universities, hold back payments to contractors or maybe delay payments to others, but state employees are off the table. Is this a big deal? Yes. Almost immediately after July 1 passes and the state begins a new fiscal year with virtually no money in the bank, legislative leaders are going to be asked to approve more of that internal borrowing-probably the same money that the state will repay on the last day of June to square up the books. If the leaders OK the borrowing, well, that’s just the course of business. But if they want to dissect just what that newly borrowed money will be used for, they won’t have to worry that the paychecks of their state employee-constituents are on the line. In a time of tight budgets, the balance of power shifts, just a little, toward the Legislature. We’ll see where that takes lawmakers… Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report.

Direct Pipeline PLUMBERS & PIPEFITTERS LU441 Locally

Richard L. Taylor, Business Manager and Financial Secretary-Treasurer

As of May 1st a new Contractor, Mid-American Water and Plumbing Inc., became signatory to Local 441. Mid-American is a Contractor that has been in business for over twenty years and is located in Manhattan. Organizer/Agent Phil Petty is primarily responsible for signing this new contractor and was also successful in organizing all of their current employees that perform plumbing and pipefitting work for the company totaling 22 new members. The new members include a mixture of Journeymen and Apprentices at various years of classification. As the opportunity arises for you to meet Richard Taylor these new members, please make them feel welcomed as new members of Local 441. MidAmerican has proven to be very aggressive and has bid several projects over the past couple of months. One most notably that Mid-American was successful on is the Marysville Hospital Project that will start late summer or early fall. We have golf balls, tee shirts, and hats. Come by and get outfitted with Local 441 apparel. Please take time to view your web site. The address is: .

Deaths We are sorry to report the deaths of Brother Gerald E. McEachern, 65, Ret. Pipefitter, residing in El Dorado, KS, passed away on May 18, 2009, Brother Bernard A. Vande Velde, 77, Ret. Pipefitter, residing in Topeka, KS, passed away on May 28, 2009, Brother Mike R. Sporn, 44, Pipefitter, residing in Wichita, KS, passed away on May 30, 2009 and Brother Harold M. Burns, 81, Ret. Pipefitter, residing in Cherokee, KS, passed away on May 31, 2009. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with their families.

Political Although obvious political activities have slowed with the wrapping up of the Legislative Session and 2009 not being an election year, we must still maintain contact with our political leaders. The preparation that is involved in attempting to change or restructure current bills or laws is a lengthy process. It is not too early to start laying the groundwork to make changes at the state level during next year’s session that can affect labor in a positive way. One item that is at the top of our agenda is to bring back state prevailing wage. We will continue to build a long-lasting establishment in the political arena of our jurisdiction. We feel that it is critical to maintain a presence politically so that when issues arise; the local will already have an established voice that will be heard. Thank you to all Local 441 members for your support both through your participation in the PAC fund and your involvement and support with various political groups.

Meetings Local Union 441 meetings are being conducted on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 PM at the Union Hall located at 1330 East First Street in Wichita. If other meetings are scheduled, you will be duly notified. NOTE: We have recently upgraded our system used to teleconference the monthly Union meetings. Please take the opportunity to attend a meeting in your area. The new system has much better sound and video quality and is being provided at no additional cost to Local 441.

Retirees Club The next Retirees meetings will be on July 1st, August 5th, and September 2nd at 10 a.m. at the Hall. Please come and join us! Breakfast is the second Wednesday at 9 a.m. We are meeting at Spears Restaurant, 4323 W. Maple from January through November. All retired members and their families are invited to join us. Come enjoy the fellowship! For more information, call Jim Wilbert at 722-6859.

Laid off, but want to continue to receive The PlainDealer? Losing a job means losing so much more than just employment. It impacts many other subtle physical and psychological effects: Losing a social environment and peers; a place to make a contribution of skills; job and associative benefits. Laid-off union workers who would like to continue to receive The PlainDealer can subscribe at a greatly-reduced rate of just $6 a year. Contact Melanie Jenney, Editor of The PlainDealer, at (316) 529-8513 for more information. Archived issues are available online at (Look for the link in the right column.) Finished reading this issue of The PlainDealer? Pass it on to a laid-off brother or sister.

July 2009

The PlainDealer — 7

LOCAL UNION BULLETIN BOARD Thursday, July 2 Operating Engineers LU101—

Regular Meeting, 7 p.m., 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita

IBEW Local 1523— Machinists Local 1989— LU 441 Retirees—

Regular Meeting, 5:30 p.m., 530 E. Harry, Wichita E-Board, 3:40 p.m., Regular meeting, 3:50 p.m. 2005 Kansas Ave., Great Bend, 67530 Breakfast, 9 a.m., Spears, 4323 W. Maple

SPEEA— Wichita Area Union Label—

Midwest Council Meeting, 973 S. Glendale, Wichita E-board, 6:30 p.m.; Regular Meeting, 7:30 p.m

Machinists Local 2328— Machinists Local 834 & 839— Machinists LL639— Machinists LL733—

E-Board Meeting, 9 a.m., 2055 S. Ohio, Salina Regular Meeting, 10 a.m., 2055 S. Ohio, Salina Regular Meeting, 10 a.m., 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita E-board Meeting 8 a.m., Regular meeting 9 a.m. Regular meeting at 2 p.m.

APWU Local 735—

Regular Meeting,8 a.m, 6920 W. Pueblo, Wichita

NALC Branch 201—

7:30 p.m., NALC Br 201 Union Office 227 S. Pattie, Wichita Regular Meeting, 7:30 p.m., Union Hall 427 N. Main, Hutchinson, 67501 Membership Recruitment / Organizing Committee 973 S. Glendale, Wichita Regular Meeting, 7 p.m., 1330 E. 1st, Wichita

Wednesday, July 8

Thursday, July 9 Saturday, July 11

Sunday, July 12 Monday, July 13

USW Local 01350— SPEEA/IFPTE Local 2001— Plumbers & Pipefitters LU441–

Tuesday, July 14 Machinists Local 708— CWA Local 6402—

Regular Meeting, 7 p.m., 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita E-Board, 5:30 p.m., 530 E. Harry, Wichita Stewards, 7 p.m., 530 E. Harry, Wichita

Wednesday, July 15 SPEEA/IFPTE Local 2001—

Governing Documents Committee, 5 p.m., 973 S. Glendale, Wichita

Tighten Your Budget Belt Through Prairie Land Food Program From Robert Gainer, LL 774 Community Service Committee The community service committee of Local Lodge 774, IAMAW, has started a reduced-cost food delivery program through Prairie Land Food, a Kansas-based non-profit organization. “This is a way our committee could help not only our members but everyone in our community,” said Bob Gainer, a member of the community service committee. “This is open to the public and we need a lot of help to spread the word.” Other members of the committee are Andre Triplett, Charlotte Washington, Jacquie Sazama and Martin Eddy. The program offers a low-cost monthly nutritious grocery package. The basic “Prairie Pak” includes an assortment of frozen meats, fresh fruits and vegetables for $20 (plus $3 transportation fee). Addon selections of meats or fruits and vegetables are available for a small additional fee. Prairie Land Food is not a government-funded program and there are no income guidelines. The program is participation-driven: The more people who participate, the greater the cumulative buying power. Some of the proceeds have found themselves going back into communities in the form of development grants, and plans are underway to start a scholarship program for Kansas youth. For more information or to arrange a presentation to your organization, contact me at or by phone at 316-838-8289. The contact at Prairie Land Food is June Glasgow,, or call (800) 998-9436. “Please feel free to call me if you have any questions or if you would like to attend our meeting,” said Gainer, “and we would also be glad to have anyone show up on distribution day to volunteer.” “We want this to become a big deal!”

Thursday, July 16 Salina Labor Federation— Steelworkers Local 13417—

Regular Meeting, 7 p.m., 2055 S. Ohio, Salina Regular Meeting, 7:30 p.m., 530 E. Harry, Wichita

Machinists LL2799—

E-board meeting 9:30 a.m., 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita Regular Meeting, 10:30 a.m. 10 a.m. Regular Meeting, 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita

Saturday, July 18

Machinists Local 774—

Monday, July 20

SPEEA/IFPTE Local 2001— Glaziers Local 558—

Membership Recruitment / Organizing Committee, 4:30 p.m., 973 S. Glendale, Wichita L&PA, 4:30 p.m. at SPEEA Hall, 973 S. Glendale 5 p.m., 1330 E. 1st St., Wichita, KS

CWA Local 6402—

Membership Meeting, 6:30 p.m., 530 E. Harry, Wichita

SPEEA/IFPTE Local 2001—

Tuesday, July 21 Thursday, July 23

Wichita Hutchinson Labor Fed— 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., 3219 W. Central Ave., Wichita

Saturday, July 25 Graphics Union Local 575—

10 a.m., 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita

District 70 Retirees—

Luncheon, 11:45 a.m., 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita

Thursday, July 30

Hammond, Zongker & Farris, L.L.C. ATTORNEYS AT LAW City, State, Federal, Trial & Appellate Practice •THOMAS E. HAMMOND •JAMES B. ZONGKER •DAVID H. FARRIS Cases involving: Workers Compensation, Auto Accidents, Injury and Wrongful Death NO RECOVERY • NO FEE FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION


727 N. Waco • River Park Plaza • Wichita Mailing Address: P. O. Box 47370 • Wichita, KS • 67201

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Faces and Features: Laid-Off Workers Center

Call July 20 – 24 to set up August appointment at the Laid-Off Workers Center United Way of the Plains will take calls July 20 – 24 to set up appointments for the Laid-Off Workers Center’s August session.To set up an appointment, individuals must call United Way’s information number by dialing 21-1 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (this is a toll-free number). For those having difficulties dialing 2-1-1 through their phone provider, call 1-888-413-4327. The center will be open on a monthly basis as needed beyond July. The tentative schedule is: Donations to theLaid-Off Workers Fund August 2009 Session – Aug. 3 (additional days as needed) to help provide funding for emergency assistance to laid-off workers can be made Call for appointment: July 20 – 24 with checks payable to “United Way Laid-Off September 2009 Session – Aug. 31 Workers Fund” and mailed to United Way of Call for appointment: Aug. 17 – 21 the Plains, 245 N. Water, Wichita, KS 67202. October 2009 Session – Oct. 5

Call for appointment: Sept. 21 – 25

John McCarthy, FoodBank Warehouse Operator, and Dave Potts.

Union Members Turn Out to Raise Money at the 2009 Greater Wichita Start! Heart Walk Saturday, June 13, was a perfect day for a walk. The exercise was good, and so was the cause: The 2009 Greater Wichita Start! Heart Walk! The event took place in Cessna Stadium at Wichita State University. SPEEA and IAMAW members were among those who raised money for heart research at the 2009 Walk. For more information on the event, see Local Lodge 733’s insert to this newspaper. View an online slide show of the 2009 American Heart Walk (courtesy of Larryand Linda Wilson) at

Missing a Familiar Face?

(Back Row, L-R) Margaret Newland, Wichita Workforce Center; Mary Schmidt, SRS; Brenda WIngate, Consumer Credit Counseling Services; Mark Stump, United Way; Pamaline King-Burns, Center for Health Equity. (Front Row, L-R) Dena Purkey, Salvation Army Emergency Social Services; Sequana Kimbrel, City of Wichita Career Development; Bev Baalman, COMCARE of Sedgwick County.

Tallgrass Third Thursday: The Wichita Association for the Motion Picture Arts (WAMPA) and the Tallgrass Film Festival will present FUEL, the Best Documentary Audience Award winner of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, as the Tallgrass Third Thursday selection for July. The film investigates the possible replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy. It will screen at 7 p.m., July 16 at the Warren East Theatre (11611 E. 13th St.). Tickets for the screening are $9 general admission and $8 for students and seniors. The film will be followed by a panel discussion and director Josh Tickell, who will be in attendance. FUEL is an insightful portrait of America’s addiction to oil and an uplifting testament to the immediacy of new energy solutions. Tickell, a young activist and recently appointed U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, shuttles us on a whirlwind journey to track the

Huberta (Ast) Sherbon recently retired after 45 years with District 70, IAMAW. She was a familiar face at the Machinists’ Hall, and we will miss her spunky style. “It was never boring with Bert around!” said Judy Pierce, Secretary/Treasurer of District 70. Laure Kendall, Case Work Supervisor, and Rosa Arrieta, Case Worker

Recharge with FUEL

rising domination of the petrochemical industry — from Rockefeller’s strategy to halt Ford’s first ethanol cars to Vice President Cheney’s petrochemical company sponsored energy legislation — and reveals a gamut of available solutions to “repower America” — from vertical farms that occupy skyscrapers to algae facilities that turn wastewater into fuel. Tickell and a surprising array of environmentalists, policy makers, and entertainment notables take us through America’s complicated, often ignominious energy past and illuminate a hopeful, achievable future, where decentralized, sustainable living is not only possible, it’s imperative. The film includes appearances by notables and celebrities including Richard Branson, Sheryl Crow, Larry David, Larry Hagman, Woody Harrelson, Robert Kennedy Jr, Willie Nelson, Julia

Roberts and Neil Young (who recently had a 1959 Lincoln Continental retrofitted to run as an electric vehicle right here in Wichita). Besides the Sundance award, the film has garnered numerous other awards at Film Festivals during the past year. Founded in 2003 by the late Timothy Gruver, the Tallgrass Film Festival is a program of the Wichita Association for the Motion Picture Arts (WAMPA), a non-profit 501©3 arts organization dedicated to entertaining and enlightening audiences from America’s Heartland.

[Photo: Huberta Ast, left, at her June 4th retirement shindig, with Judy Pierce.] View an online slide show of Huberta’s Retirement party (courtesy of Larry Wilson) at

Plain Dealer, 07/2009  

Wichita Area Union Newsletter