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Flagler’s 6 Public-Sector Unions Launch Unified Political Arm as Palm Coast Workers Bargain

| March 31, 2016

public works union bargaining

Today’s collective bargaining session between Northeast Florida Public Employees Local 630–representing Palm Coast public works and utilities workers–and city management at City Hall today. Management was represented by Human Resources Director Wendy Cullen, right (far end), to the left of attorney Jeff Mandell. Ronnie Burris represented the union. The meeting was attended by a dozen public works and utilities employees. (© FlaglerLive)

After several years of efforts, Flagler County’s public-sector unions representing workers in a half dozen agencies—including police, firefighters, school employees and municipal workers—have joined forces in a new organization called the United Public Employees of Flagler.

The organization represents roughly 1,500 workers and well over double that number going by the households they represent, making it a potentially significant political force similar to the county’s home builders’ association, the Realtors’ association and the chamber of commerce—but from a labor perspective.

The association will not itself endorse political candidates under its name, but its method amounts to projecting the same unified voice—and the same influence on candidacies: Its member organizations will vet and agree to the same candidates, so that each union will independently endorse the same candidates they have agreed to, Stephen Palmer, who heads the county’s firefighters’ union and led the effort, said this evening: for example, if the teachers’ union supports candidate A for school board, then all other five unions will do so as well.

“They can change the way things go politically,” Palmer said, stressing that the association will be focusing on safety and intergovernmental communications as well as worker-retention issues: the unions want to see the various agencies better cooperate from a policy level, and they want more focus on critical safety infrastructure such as emergency radio communications, which affect day-to-day lives of residents and first-responders.

“I’ve been involved three years in the union,” says Jon Dopp, and Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy and the vice president of the Coastal Florida Police Benevolent Association. “Initially there was almost zero political presence from the PBA as far as local political matters were concerned.” The PBA ironically had pull in Tallahassee, but little influence locally. “I’ve had candidates tell me so much over the years. So we’re hoping to change that,” Dopp said.

Stephen Palmer, president of the Flagler County Professional Firefighters Association

Stephen Palmer, president of the Flagler County Professional Firefighters Association. (© FlaglerLive)

The group isn’t wasting time: it’s holding its first candidate forum for county commission and school board members on May 19 at the Hilton Garden Inn. The forum will double up as its vetting sessions on its way to deciding whom to endorse. Another forum will feature the long list of sheriff’s candidate, on June 22. Questions will be drawn from rank and file employees and a committee, and the forums will be moderated.

The idea of a union association began with Richard Bennett, a county firefighter and ex-president of the firefighters’ union until he was elevated to the dark side—he’s a captain now, making him part of management—leaving the work to Palmer and Dopp. They initially worked to join their unions, and the five candidates they endorsed in 2014 all won. “We hope to continue that success but to try to project what the future holds would be—I don’t know, I hope good things,” Dopp said, noting that the organization is just starting out.

The new association is in most ways a political response to the severe limitations on the powers of individual bargaining units, or union locals, under Florida law, a so-called “right-to-work” state that in effect shifts most labor-management authority to management: unions may bargain with governments, but in the end, the governing body—which almost always reflects the management it hired—decides arbitrates any differences, even after disagreements may have gone to an independent arbitrator: that independent arbitrator’s conclusions are only advisory recommendations.

So unions’ best alternative is to cultivate union-friendly city and county commissioners and school board members—or get them elected.

An attempt to balance power stacked against local unions.

The approach was illustrated this afternoon in a bargaining session between Palm Coast government’s fledgling public works union with city management at Palm Coast City Hall. It was the third bargaining session since August. The meeting clarified positions—or hardened them—more than it resolved them, underlying continuing strains between city management and its unions. (The city’s firefighters are also unionized, and both are part of United Public Employees of Flagler.)

The public works union filed an unfair labor practice this week with the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission, charging the city for not bargaining in good faith. And 54 utility workers, or about a third of the workforce, signed a petition to dissolve the union, generating the sort of allegations from the union that shadow such developments: that the city is pressuring workers to reject the union, which would be illegal.

The city administration’s team consisted of Human Resources Director Wendy Cullen and attorney Jeff Mandell. The public works’ bargaining unit was led by Ronnie Burris. He was flanked by a dozen employees from public works, the city’s largest department. It unionized with a 61 percent favorable vote in July 2014. The department, which consists of 168 blue-collar workers, lost 33 workers last year alone, Burress said, citing the turnover as an indication of dissatisfaction.

The two sides didn’t get far today. The union had submitted a thirty-article contract proposal. According to the union, the city rejected it wholesale, rejecting even so much as wording taken directly from the city’s employee handbook, such as articles on family leave and a drug-free workplace. The reality is a bit more nuanced. The city did reject most articles, but not necessarily the intent behind the articles: it just doesn’t want its own employee policies supplanted by the union contract, even though the wording might be identical.

But the difference underscores the heart of the strain between the bargaining unit and the city: employees are looking for the additional protection that a contract provides. The city is telling the workers that its own policies provide that protection. In other words, the city is telling the workers: trust us. The workers are would rather not: they want to put their trust in a contract.

The point was made clear in the two sides’ differences over one article this afternoon, when the union asked for a system of setting special meetings with human resources to work out disciplinary issues before they turn into formal grievances. The city refused. “I have an open door policy,” Cullen said, inviting any employee to call her, speak with her, visit her whenever they need to bring issues to her attention.

“On the other side of the coin, who’s to say it won’t change down the road?” One employee around the table said.

The city, at any rate, refused to change its approach, and there was little the union could do. They moved on.

united public employees of flagler

‘This group will ensure that all public employee unions in the county are communicating regularly and working together to advocate for our community and our members,’ a statement released today by the United Public Employees of Flagler says.

Talk turned to wages. Both sides agreed to consider a wage proposal yet to be submitted by the union. The union is looking for annual merit raises of 2 to 4 percent in addition to cost of living raises, as well as a change in how raises are calculated: currently, the city awards its cost of living increases based on each employee’s starting wage, regardless of whether that employee has been there one year or 10 years. In other words, if that employee started at $10 an hour, his or her cost of living raise increases, year after year, will be based on that $10 base rate, not on the new rate. Employees consider that unfair as the overall wage will rise very slowly. It limits their ability to “top out” in their wage scale.

“What we want to propose is that the raises are actually based on what they make, not on the lowest rate in the scale,” Burris said.

“Put it in writing,” Cullen said.

Burris had a more detailed wage proposal that included a $2,500 across the board raise for all bargaining unit employees followed by 3 percent annual raises. “And what are you basing that on? You have comparative data to show that that’s warranted?” Mandell, the attorney, asked. “Show us the data that would support us doing something different.”

No article can adequately reflect the tensions, the charges and counter-charges, the verbal chess moves—or verbal bullying—that takes place in a bargaining session: it’s the normal course for such sessions: the school board’s sessions a few years ago were even more abrasive, though the end result also reflected a board that’s been much more union-friendly, or at least union-tolerant, than the Palm Coast City Council, which tends to mirror its city manager’s disdain for unions. The council showed that favor when it sided with its manager ina  contract dispute it had to arbitrate with the firefighters’ union in 2014. That decision sealed the firefighters’ first union contract with the city.

The contract the city is presenting its public works and utility workers is very similar to that firefighters’ contract, which in itself tells the tale of where the public workers’ union stands: pleas and bargaining aside, it’s ultimately at the mercy of the city’s decisions, even if it goes before the council.

That’s also why the new union is placing its hopes on the November elections, when it is working toward getting union-friendly council members elected in the three seats about to be vacated. It’s also why they joined the United Public Employees of Flagler.

The union and the city parted ways, agreeing to a subsequent bargaining session without setting a date. Though a public meeting, the city did not notice the meeting publicly, on its website, as it does all its other public meetings.

The shadiness is not unique to Palm Coast: not a single government agency in the county notices its union meetings on their websites, alongside all other public meetings, either.

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24 Responses for “Flagler’s 6 Public-Sector Unions Launch Unified Political Arm as Palm Coast Workers Bargain”

  1. r&r says:

    Now if they disagree with something they can hold the entire city hostage and shut it down.

  2. Sherry says:

    This is wonderful!

    Horrific “union busting” has led to lower wages and less safe working conditions all over our nation! The “right to work” statutes are a misnomer. What they should be called are the “right for management to lay off or fire WITHOUT CAUSE” ! Statutes and policies like “right to work” have massively shifted all the power to the “overpaid” bureaucrats and completely away from the workers! It’s time for the middle class to rise up against the power brokers of the Tea Party! Our government should NEVER be run like a “profit center”!

    Power to the Workers!

  3. Hammock says:

    3% cost of living raise? Funny but the Fed spoke and the 2016 cost of living for social security is 0%. I believe tax payers dollars should go to pensions for police, fireman and military. The people that put their lives on the line for us. Not Fed, state, county, city employees. Let them get a 401k like everyone else.

  4. Sherry says:

    Some public employees have not received raises in years. Firefighters start at less than $43K while the county administrator receives over $150K. This disparity is incredibly common throughout our nation in both the public and private sectors. Holding the reins on compensation for the front line workers is outrageous, especially when considering what bureaucrats pull in. . . including all their perks!

    This disparity of income, as Bernie and Hillary have pointed out, is a nation disaster and a crime against the American Dream!

    This from the Wall Street Journal:

    By adopting a “right-to-work” law this week, Michigan is joining a group of states where wages tend to be lower, but job growth stronger, than states that don’t have the law.

    But gauging how much of this divergence in paychecks and employment is a result of the laws is difficult to do.

    Right-to-work laws, which allow workers in unionized workplaces to opt out of paying union dues, were first adopted in the South decades ago as part of a larger drive to lure factory jobs from the heavily unionized North. By that measure, those early laws—in conjunction with other business-friendly policies—were highly successful.

    Now, the trend is spreading to the heart of the old Rust Belt itself, in the wake of Republican gains in the region in the 2010 elections. Earlier this year, Indiana passed such a law, and on Tuesday, the birthplace of the United Auto Workers union, Michigan, became the 24th state to adopt such a measure.

    Critics of the laws say they hold down wages. And indeed, private-sector employees in right-to-work states earned an average of $738.43 a week in the past 12 months, 9.8% less than workers in states without such laws, according to an analysis of Labor Department data that didn’t include health-care and other benefits.

  5. Jimw says:

    Unions suck the life out of the people that pay… Taxpayers in this case.

  6. Kendall says:

    Hammock, the cost of living raise is for current employees. Not retirees.

  7. Lin says:

    Just what we need, another political arm.
    Unions are neither bad nor good — they can work well like UPS or can bankrupt an industry or city with exorbitant demands especially for pensions that a community cannot afford.
    That the fed can tell social security recipients that there is no inflation so they don’t get an increase and the city promises 3% is that gap that puts personal and company financial health in jeopardy.

    But some City workers do deserve raises. What I’m against is that across the board non-performance related raises just because the union has the power to shut down our institutions especially the schools.
    But I’ll reserve judgement

  8. Sherry says:

    Looking for a major cause in the demise of the middle class? “At Will” and “Right to Work” laws have gone hand in glove when it comes to driving down wages, benefits, safety and employee rights! Here’s a very relevant first person story about a worker who did exactly the same job as a union employee and then non-union. . . take a close read:

    Before I moved to Florida I worked construction for 10 years in NY. I was a member of glaziers local 1281. I worked hard everyday. and earned over 90k a year. not including my medical, pension, and annuity fund that after 10 years accumulated over $100k that was paid by my employer (who by the way wasn’t struggling to pay me as he pulled up in his porche) which is how I bought my house down here in Florida.

    I never had to belittle myself by begging for a raise, and I never had to worry about being fired for refusing to do something dangerous.. after moving to florida I figured its a right to work state. it wont matter if I’m in a union or not. so I got a job glazing non union. I was making less than 1/4 of what I made in ny. no health ins. no retirement plan. the guys I worked with were scared for their jobs. constantly ratting each other out. they didn’t take lunch breaks, and would work 10 hr days with no overtime pay, in fear if they didn’t would be fired and replaced. they worked unsafe and cut corners doing shoddy work.

    after 2 weeks I called the local down here and joined local 452. the union put me to work with a different company the next day. I work just as hard as I did in ny. and even in the union, in right to work state or florida, I still only make half of what I did in the right to bargain state of ny. but at least now I can go see a doctor and not have to open my wallet. and when I turn 62 I can retire and enjoy my golden years.

    I know if I work over 8 hrs a day I will get my overtime pay. and if I refuse to do something unsafe and I am terminated for it the union will fight for me. being a right to work state not everyone I work with is a member. I’m actually one of 3, out of 40 men working for the company. aside from the lead foremen and other union guys I am the highest paid worker. and us union guys are the only ones with medical and a retirement plan.

    just about every guy that I work with has asked me if I can get them in the union. but I was told by my employer not to talk to them about it. and by my union delegate if these unskilled (i went through the unions apprenticeship program that consisted of 4 years of schooling to learn my trade. the non union men I work with have no training in the craft of glazing) workers joined they would most likely be laid off.

    I hate to speak negatively about my union brothers. but the union guys I work with down here don’t really understand what it means to be apart of a union. they think its just about getting paid more and having job security. while that is a huge perk. that is not what its about. its about sticking together and standing up for each other (which I have learned is not something that comes naturally to floridians) and having a voice in the workplace. its about being treated fairly and with respect. and unless everybody is on board this is very hard to achieve.

    Even in ny non union workers make a decent wage because employers have to compete with the union wages. why would someone work for $10/hr when they could be making 50 for doing the same work. down here its the opposite. why would the employer pay $25/hr when he can pay someone 9. the only reason my employer pays me what he does and keeps me working is because I was trained in my craft. he can give me a job and not worry about weather or not it will be done correctly. that should be the case with everyone I work with.

    The customer is getting screwed because of the poor craftsmen-ship these men are doing and the boss is losing money because it takes these unskilled laborers longer to perform the tasks, and usually it needs to be fixed or done 2 sometimes 3 times.

    Unions built the middle class. right to work laws are destroying it.

  9. brnwtrs7 says:

    From the article: The city is telling the workers that its own policies provide that protection. In other words, the city is telling the workers: trust us. The workers are would rather not: they want to put their trust in a contract.

    Does the city attorney have a contract with the city or is he/she going by blind trust in city officials that those officials will do the right thing for their attorney? Do other city officials work with a contract or do they operate in the same blind trust that they are asking the union workers to abide by that the city will take care of them?

    Does anyone see something wrong with the city’s bargaining in bad faith?

  10. Anonymous says:

    From the article: The city is telling the workers that its own policies provide that protection. In other words, the city is telling the workers: trust us. The workers are would rather not: they want to put their trust in a contract.

    How many of the city officials have a contract with the city because those officials will not adhere to the same provisions of ‘just trust us’ that the city wants to foist on these union workers?

    What is the city afraid of by putting their intentions into binding words? Can’t the city be trusted?

  11. Anonymous says:

    First of all we can’t hold the city hostage ,because we are not able to strike .2nd of all we have a 401k that’s not the issue raises are Givin off the lowest pay in ur grade : so if starting pay for my grade is 10.oo and i make 12dollars a hour my raise goes off 10.00 dollars .so that comes to 8.00dollars a week .not bad until you take it back by raising my health care . Check the statistics on the amount of road workers killed each year
    .Remember next time your driving through town who’s keeping it clean where your running water comes from oh and when you flush it’s not magic somewhere in town somebody is working for uou

  12. shrek says:

    After 4 years of service I’ve recived the annual raises, this accounts to a total of $73.00 a year. Yes PER YEAR. i now make $282.00 more on year 4 then year 1. Our health care costs have out paced out salary every year, so I now work for less than I did 4 years ago. A new hire makes $.14 per hour less then me, after 4 years of service, numerous schools, training, licenses, and certifications.

    Makes a great opportunity for upper management to ask for a raise!?!?

  13. Sherry says:

    Before complaining about unions and raises for our front line workers. . . let’s remember this outrage:

    And the bureaucrats/upper management/ CEOs just keep getting richer!

    Sure some unions abused their power. . . but “throwing the baby out with the bath water” and demonizing ALL unions has contributed greatly to the complete demise of the middle class. Our workers need to unite in order to regain any kind of influence on the future of their careers.

    And, I really don’t hear anything at all from the Republicans regarding a solution for the stagnation of wages over the past 20+ years. All they want to do is stop the increase in minimum wages, increase tax breaks for businesses and the wealthy, decrease safety and environmental regulations and rely on the tired ole’ theory of “trickle down” economics. . . which is nothing but a big FAILURE!

    Think about it. . . Most unions have been busted! Business taxes have been cut to the bone! Companies have higher profits than ever before. . . yet they are still shipping jobs “off shore” to countries with cheaper labor forces. . . in order to maximize profits even more. This has sent the stock market into record high territory. . . which only benefits the wealthy. There is NO loyalty to American workers!

    How’s that “trickle down” workin’ for ya? Time to wake up and realize that Republican policies only benefit the rich!

  14. Lin says:

    Here’s a couple of ideas
    Nafta sold out the American worker thanks Clinton
    Say no to TPP thanks Obama
    Blame the banks for the housing debacle, maybe but they were forced to lend money to people that couldn’t pay it back.
    Stop releasing the money held by us to Iran so that they can build better bombs to kill us and our allies and double whammy we have to increase our defense military and cyber budget to combat them
    Stop giving foreign aid to our enemies — you can’t buy love — start holding our allies accountable for their under the table support for terrorists
    FAIR trade policies should be negotiated. We should be able to sell our goods overseas without penalties in us.
    Stop illegal immigration which holds down wages and forces our people out of work or taking less $ in wages.
    Fight back through negotiation against currency manipulation of China and Japan

    How’s that workin for ya?

    None of these require unions to get together to fight for wages — think about it. Who are they fighting? If I were privy to the negotiations, I would try to get fair wages to all. In the other hand, here in Flagler/Palm Coast you can’t help but see the non-negotiations that have given undeserved raises to the Supervisor and pay for the Manager. That’s the fault of the Commissioners and our Council some of whom think they deserve raises (they should work for free). Our only recourse is to vote them out.

  15. Geezer says:

    Sherry, as usual you put forth your educated opinion in a masterful way.
    You are a gem, and a polished one at that!

    I wish that I could clone you, and then take credit for saving the world.

  16. screaming Eagle says:

    Right to work means right to get fired and have no rights at all. Pensions are a thing of the past. But when your sewer is backing up in your house call the police and fire. When you have no water coming into your house call police and fire. When you have no power coming into your house call police and fire. Whom do you think fixes that, it sure isn’t police and fire. More wastewater operators and water operators get hit by lightning in Florida than any other job. Who do you think keeps the roads clean for the police and fire to be able to travel on? They say ignorance is Bliss but sometimes ignorance is plain out ignorance.

  17. Barry Hartmann says:

    Yea water , wastewater, and public works are as dangerous as police and fire!

  18. Lin says:

    That’s the thing about unions and political influence
    There is no difference between unions especially a group of unions getting together to further a czndidate’s career via demonstrations votes and contributions and
    A “company” influencing policy

    And all union members are not equal certainly though all can benefit if negotiations go right
    If they go wrong all can go down together?

    Will the assorted unions back each other if one Union gets more salary and benefits than another?
    Will there be a strike if teachers or other groups do not like what is offered?
    What a mess.

    I wish the city would negotiate in good faith and be reasonable. As a worker, there are a few down sides to being a member. Going along with the group politically is mandatory. Or at least it was. Contributions and influence went to those not selected by every rank & file member. A member may do a much better job than the next guy but because if contract will not necessarily be paid more. If a company goes out of business, contributions to the pension negotiated as part of a contract CAN be lost if the pyramid scheme doesn’t have enough present day members to pay retirees – like our social security system spent our contributions and now we are getting screwed. Yes, my family is facing this now and our government offers no protection.
    Membership puts every member in the same boat, sink or swim. It offers no incentive for excelling at your job – sort of like socialism. And don’t get me started on ridiculous work rules, and the deals that are struck between management and the union hierarchy that doesn’t benefit the rank and file.

    In the days of the Shirtwaist factory fire there was a definite need for unions but now? There are lots of rights being talked about, to work, to organize, etc. Yeah sure, but I have a hard time paying it out with a cost of living increase I did not get and a pension cut 80%.

    When I was up north I attended a school board meeting where a man stood up and said he couldn’t afford the crazy high school taxes (school workers were very highly paid there). The school workers in the row in front of us said out loud, “if you don’t like it, move to Florida”. Well, I have moved and I hope I’m not getting string-armed by this new political arm.

    Please don’t take this wrong — I’m not against those who are trying to right wrongs by being strong in the face of a government who isn’t playing fair. But you are employees of the citizens really. Don’t forget that. We have rights too.

  19. confidential says:

    From this Palm Coast taxpayer of over 24 years, also a business owner and semi retired at 70 and older now: fellows without unions you are all slaves!! Do we want to go back to the times of Carnegie?

  20. confidential says:

    And sorry forgot,,,Kudos to Sherry here for telling it like it is!! The extreme conservative agenda is destroying our middle class.

  21. Bill harvey says:

    If you want pay raises you need binding arbitration. Binding arbitration in the PD help me obtain a 75grand pension with free medical for me and my wife until the end , binding arbitration through a state mediator is the way to go

  22. Sherry says:

    Thanks so much Geezer and Confidential.

    Blaming immigrants for stagnant wages is patently unfair! It’s almost like blaming the victim. Think this through. If those highly profitable fruit and vegetable growers, hotels, restaurants, etc. owned by the likes of Donald Trump wanted to pay a “living or even minimum wage” to a US citizen, they certainly could. The FACT is that even Trump admits to hiring illegal immigrants because he. . . and all his billionaire compatriots. . . want to maximize their profits and incomes by paying much less money and NO benefits to ILLEGAL immigrants. If all employers here really complied with the laws, there would be NO jobs for illegal immigrants and therefore they would be much less likely to come here.

    In addition, illegal immigration has greatly slowed in the past 7 years because the INS has been beefed up and more people are deported.

    The TRUTH about sub-prime lenders. . . most were NOT regulated by the CRA. . . this from . . take the time to read:

    In a Sept. 18 appearance on MSNBC, conservative economist Larry Kudlow said, “The Community Reinvestment Act literally pushed these lenders to make low-income loans. … Liberal, guilt(y) consciences forced banks and lenders to make lousy, substandard loans.”

    And in an Oct. 13 op-ed in The Register, Chapman University President James Doti, an economist, wrote that the law “pressured banks to make loans and mortgages to people who might not be the best credit risk. In fact, Clinton administration Attorney General Janet Reno threatened legal action against banks that didn’t loosen up mortgage requirements.”

    The criticisms of the reinvestment act don’t make sense to Glenn Hayes. He runs Neighborhood Housing Services of Orange County, which works with banks to provide CRA loans to first-time homebuyers. In its 14-year history, the nonprofit has helped 1,200 families buy their first homes. Score so far: No foreclosures and a delinquency rate under 1 percent.

    “It is subprime that’s really causing it,” Hayes said of the mortgage crisis. “But CRA did not force anyone to do subprime.”

    Bob Davis, executive vice president of the American Bankers Association, which lobbies Congress to streamline community reinvestment rules, said “it just isn’t credible” to blame the law CRA for the crisis.

    “Institutions that are subject to CRA – that is, banks and savings associations – were largely not involved in subprime lending,” Davis said. “The bulk of the loans came through a channel that was not subject to CRA.”

    Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act to crack down on “redlining,” the practice by banks of refusing loans to neighborhoods where most residents are minorities or earn low incomes. The law applies to all federally insured banks and thrifts that take deposits. It generally requires banks to help potential customers near their branches, typically by making loans, investing or providing other services such as financial education.

    A companion law, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, requires every large home lender to report annually on every home loan application they receive. (No names or streets are listed.) Those reports feed a database that in turn allows regulators, community activists and others to monitor home lending in virtually every neighborhood in America.

    Beginning in 2004, federal regulators also have required lenders to report on high-priced loans – those with rates at least three percentage points higher than U.S. Treasury notes of comparable maturity. While the mortgage industry defines subprime loans by credit scores, Federal Reserve Board analysts believe that subprime and Alt-A loans fall into their high-priced loan category.

    The Register used that database for its analysis. During the four years covered by our analysis, lenders made 55 million home loans, including 12 million subprime loans.

    In its glory days, subprime lending was a lucrative business that paid six-figure salaries to 20-something salespeople and made fortunes for top execcutives. Nowhere were the riches more evident than in Orange County, home to industry giants New Century, Ameriquest, Argent and Fremont.

    But the money spread far beyond Orange County, thanks to Wall Street’s years-long love affair with subprime. In 2005 and 2006, subprime lenders sold about 70 percent of their loans by dollar volume to investors – principally to finance and insurance companies or by packaging the loans in highly rated securities.

    Fannie and Freddie, the federally sponsored mortgage buyers, were bit players in this market. Together they bought about 3 percent of all subprime loans issued from 2004 through 2007, most of that in 2007 alone.

    In 2007 Wall Street turned its back on subprime. That year, subprime lenders were forced to keep 60 percent of their loans on their own books or on the balance sheets of their affiliates.

    That was the last fatal step in a financial high-wire act.

    Since then, most of the 25 companies that dominated subprime lending between 2004 and 2007 have shut down or been sold at fire-sale prices.

    Just eight of the 25 top subprime lenders were subject to the reinvestment law. But among those eight are two of the summer’s most prominent failures – Washington Mutual and IndyMac Bank. Together with its Long Beach Mortgage subsidiary, WaMu made $74.2 billion in subprime loans. IndyMac specialized in “Alt-A” loans to customers who had good credit but couldn’t qualify for top-drawer loans.

  23. Sherry says:

    The massive gap between the wealthiest citizens and the poorest, and demise of the middle class has become a global disaster. This from CNN Money:

    As for a global middle class, Pew called it more promise than reality. While the middle class has nearly doubled over the decade to 13% in 2011, it still represents a small fraction of the world’s population.

    Related: The rich are paying more in taxes, but not as much as they once were

    To help counter inequality, Oxfam is renewing its call for global leaders to crack down on tax havens, where the rich have socked away $7.6 trillion, the group estimates.

    Other things Oxfam is advocating: pay workers a living wage and protect workers’ right to unionize; end the gender pay gap and promote equal inheritance and land rights for women; minimize the power of big business and lobbyists on governments; shift the tax burden away from labor and consumption and towards wealth and capital gains, and use public spending to tackle inequality.

  24. David S says:

    I worked for many unions in MD years ago I didnt mind paying union dues becouse it kept us strong and it worked for me I dont agree about police and fire being a part of this it is going to cause many problems let the IAFF and the PBA handle it themselves.

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