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What's New at AFSCME 17
From the Desk of President Ray

Updated On: Feb 12, 2014 (11:38:00)

 In early November of 2013, I was granted the honor of becoming the President of the Louisiana AFSCME Council 17 at the 57th Annual Convention.

Although I have only attented a total of three conventions, I have found them to be very productive in advancing all causes that are held to the utmost importance of labor's cause. However, the November Convention had a different atmosphere and somehow felt more consequential than previous conventions. There was a clear sense of urgency in the Convention Hall. 

All delegates in attendance were well aware that the very visibility of the labor movement in the State of Louisiana is being threatened by the Governor's "re-organizational" plan to close all healthcare facilities, hospitals, and Medicaid Offices by privatizing, outsourcing or cutting services to citizens...ultimately costing many state workers their jobs. 

But, despite this treacherous plan, AFSCME remains uplifted and more determined than ever to unite in solidarity. Knowing that we are facing historic challenges, we are more motivated than ever to fight and become more creative...to think outside the box.

I would like to take this time to encourage each officer, staff personnel, as well as our rank-in-file that we absolutely must remain steadfast. We are the beacon of hope for all those workers who simply want a fair shake to earn a decent living, take care of their families and enjoy a dignified retirement.

As your President, I pledge to work hard in the following ways:

  1. I plan to create a comprehensive strategy to confront our adversaries and meet our challenges from a position of strength.
  2. I will seek help in reorganizing and developing an "Action Plan" for our Council 17 Executive Board.
  3. I will be more inclusive by utilizing our local Presidents, officers, as well as rank-in-file.
  4. We will reach beyond our AFSCME affiliates/membership base to include other Government bodies, state and local organizations, as well as our churches and other civic groups.
  5. Our office and field staff personnel must and will play a major role in this fight for worker justice.

In conclusion, central to this agenda, I realize the fundamental right of all workers to organize and bargain collectively for a better life for themselves and their families without any fear of intimidation, coercion, harrassment, and retribution from their employers. We must be bold in our action and begin to work together in order to be successful in creating a commitment to workers' rights, economics and social justice for all state workers.

As your President, I need your support as well as your cooperation in order that we might turn these goals into a reality. 

In Solidarity for a better tomorrow,
James E. Ray Sr.
President of AFSCME Council 17
Local groups urge action to keep Huey P. Long open

Updated On: May 06, 2014 (09:04:00)

 Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief budget adviser said Monday the administration will continue on course to privatize Louisiana’s public hospitals, despite a recent federal rejection of those plans.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rejected financing plans for most of the privatization deals last week. A pending deal to transition services from Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville to local hospitals Christus St. Frances Cabrini Medical Center and Rapides Regional Medical Center was not addressed in the CMS ruling.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said the state would appeal the CMS ruling and would negotiate alternative financing plans to keep the hospital deals in place, in case the appeal is denied. She said the financial implications of the rejection won’t hit Louisiana until August or September 2015, by which point she is hopeful resolution will have been reached.

“We are fully invested in this model,” Nichols said. “It’s working.”

Meanwhile, representatives from two citizens groups are urging legislators to vote against closing Huey P. Long.

The hospital has downsized in recent months as most of its patients have been transferred to clinics run by Cabrini and Rapides Regional, or to the hospitals’ main campuses. But the hospital cannot be closed without legislative approval.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 48 would grant that approval. It was scheduled to be heard today by the House Health and Welfare Committee.

Pineville Concerned Citizens and the Enough is Enough Coalition addressed the media Monday in front of Huey P. Long to ask legislators to vote against the resolution.

“We’re calling on legislators to pull back and rethink,” said Mike Stagg with the Enough is Enough Coalition. “We just don’t think the legislature can proceed with the closure of (HPL) when the overall scheme has been rejected.”

In its rejection letter, CMS said the agreements don’t meet federal guidelines governing how Medicaid dollars can be spent.

The federal health agency took issue with $266 million in “advance lease payments” that the hospital managers paid upfront as part of the no-bid contracts with the state. It said those payments appeared linked to higher Medicaid payments that the private hospital operators were receiving, reimbursement rates that are larger than what other private hospitals in the state get for uninsured and Medicaid patient care.

Only one privatization deal in Louisiana has received federal approval — the one that transferred most services from Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.

“They never got (federal) approval,” Stagg said. “They just plunged ahead. It was reckless. Legislators have the chance to put the brakes on it now, and they need to.”

Huey P. Long mainly functions as an emergency department now, with about 220 employees treating 30-50 patients a day. John Dailey, vice chancellor for administration and chief operating officer of LSU Health Shreveport, which manages HPL, said he was pleased with the transition of services so far.

“I think patients and caregivers are generally upbeat about the progress that has been made,” Dailey said. “It has been a very, very well coordinated effort. Have things been perfect? No. But I’m very proud of the effort.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this story.

SB 440

Posted On: Mar 11, 2014 (12:11:41)

Please call and tell Committee Members to vote NO to S.B.440 by Senator Daniel "Danny" Martiny. This is a bill that threatens payroll deductions. 


Senator A. G. Crowe                                       (985) 643-3600  Chairman

Senator Edwin R. Murray                               (504) 945-0042  Vice-Chairman

Senator Ronnie Johns                                   (337) 491-2016

Senator Robert W. "Bob" Kostelka              (318) 362-3474

Senator Daniel "Danny" Martiny                   (504) 834-7676

Senator Barrow Peacock                              (318) 741-7180

Senator Neil Reiser                                       (318) 649-0977



Extremely Important !!!

Updated On: Mar 11, 2014 (12:36:00)

 Please call members of Labor Committees and tell them to vote NO on:

HB 172 by Representative Kirk Talbert


HB 451 by Representative Alan Seabaugh

These are bad bills that seek to stop payroll deductions.



Ina Laborde

Ed Parker

Council 17 Staff


R- Broadwater, Chris                         (985) 543-4900 Vice Chair

R- Bishop, Stuart J.                            (337) 981-7409

D- Cox, Kenny                                     (855) 844-8583

D- Dixon, Herbert                                (318) 487-5661 Chair

D- Guillory, Mickey                              (337) 457-0194

R- Harris, Lance                                 (318) 767-6095

R- Hodges, Valarie                            (225) 791-2199

D- Hunter, Marcus                              (318) 362-3440

R- Kleckley, Chuck                             (337) 475-3016 Speaker of House

D- Leger III, Walt                                 (504) 556-9970 Speaker Pro-temp

D- Pierre, Vincent                               (337) 362-2330

I- Richard, Jerome                             (985) 447-0999

R- Schexnayder, Clay                        (225) 473-6016

D- Smith, Patricia H.                          (225) 342-7106

R- Stokes, Julie                                  (504) 468-8603

R- Whitney, Lenar                              (985) 858-2970

D- Willams, Alfred                             (225) 382-3243



Civil Service Panel Rejects LSU Layoffs

Updated On: Jun 06, 2013 (10:16:00)

 Civil Service Commission rejects hospital privatization plans 

Some commissioners complained about the lack of information provided by LSU as they were confronted with making such a major decision.

An LSU official said efforts would be made to get the commission to reconsider its decision prior to the planned June 24 transition from public to private operation of hospitals in New Orleans, Lafayette, Houma and Lake Charles.

Later Wednesday, the commission posted notice of a special 8 a.m. Monday meeting, at which LSU would try again to win commission approval.

More than half of the state employee layoffs would occur at LSU’s Interim Hospital in New Orleans. Layoffs are scheduled for June 24.

In anticipation of the privatization, the public hospitals have no money for operations starting July 1, said Michael Kaiser, chief executive officer at LSU Health Care Services Division. Absent commission approval, “we would need to figure out what other action we would have to take,” Kaiser said.

Shannon Templet, director of the Civil Service agency, said layoffs could be approved separately from the contracts based on a lack of funding. If LSU moves forward with the contracts after a commission denial, the commission would have standing to go to court to file an injunction challenging the pacts, Templet said.

The commission voted 4-3 against the agreements that are part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s move to privatize hospital operations at nine hospitals in LSU’s 10 hospital system.

Contracts outsourcing jobs that traditionally have been held by state employees go before the Civil Service Commission to determine if they were entered into for reasons of “efficiency and economy and not for politically motivated reasons.”

Civil Service employees are protected from political firings.

Commission Chairman David Duplantier, of Covington, said there has been “not one scintilla of evidence to show that it is politically motivated.”

Commissioner Henry Polite Jr., of New Orleans, said the agency has “failed to satisfy its obligation” to provide essential documents the commission needs to make the determination.

“I don’t see any way I can reach a rational decision until I can see all the numbers,” said Commissioner Scott Hughes, of Shreveport. He said the commission gets “paperwork from other departments” to support a $50 salary supplement request. “This is a multibillion-dollar deal.”

Commissioners Polite, Hughes, Curtis “Pete” Fremin, of Morganza, and Sidney Tobias Jr., of New Orleans, voted against the contracts. Commissioners Duplantier, John McLure, of Alexandria, and G. Lee Griffin, of Baton Rouge, voted for the deals.

LSU’s Kaiser said the commission would be provided with the agreements the LSU Board of Supervisors approved with the private companies. Those agreements have been criticized for a lack of key financial details.

“We are going to ask them to reconsider,” Kaiser said.

Just more than 3,500 employees work at the four hospitals, and 2,953 are classified, or rank-and-file, employees protected by Civil Service. The remainder are unclassified and do not have Civil Service job protection.

Here’s the breakdown by hospital of Civil Service employees facing layoffs:

1,690 at the Interim Hospital in New Orleans; 487 at the University Medical Center in Lafayette; 556 at Leonard Chabert Medical Center in Houma; and 220 at W.O. Moss Medical Center in Lake Charles.

The operation of all the hospitals are being taken over by private hospitals in the cities where they are located under deals reached among the private entities, LSU and the state Department of Health and Hospitals.

Previously, the Civil Service Commission approved employee layoffs at Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge. The hospital closed April 15 with inpatient and outpatient care as well as medical education programs moved to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.

Brad Ott, head of the Advocates for Louisiana Public Health Care, said LSU had not provided all the financial details to the Civil Service Commission. He challenged projections of savings from the hospital privatizations, noting the Houma hospital has been running surpluses.

Leonal Hardman, president of Council 17 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, urged the commission to take its time. “Don’t get into a CEA (cooperative endeavor agreement) that we have to fund that ends up being a blank check,” Hardman said.


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