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Press Releases

TN AFL-CIO Disappointed by General Assembly Failure to Pass ‘Insure TN’

Press release from AFL-CIO Tennessee Chapter President Gary Moore; February 5, 2015:

NASHVILLE, TN– Now that the dust from yesterday’s vote on Insure Tennessee is starting to settle, I wanted to take a moment to share my final thoughts on what could have been a positive change for over 250,000 Tennesseans.

Many of the numbers have been noted quite a bit, but I want to draw your attention to them one more time. As House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh posted outside of his office yesterday, our state has now lost $1 BILLION and hundreds of people have died as a result of our lawmakers’ inaction. If those figures aren’t a wake-up call to Tennesseans, I don’t know what will open their eyes to the seriousness of this problem.

Like many others, I am extremely disappointed in Senators Crowe, Bell, Bowling, Gardenhire, Kelsey, Niceley, and Roberts for their heartless decision.  However, I would like to commend Senators Massey, Briggs, Jackson, and Yarbro for making the right choice. In addition, I would also like to thank House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and Senator Doug Overbey for sponsoring this resolution.

As many of our Democratic leaders have noted, we will continue to fight. Yesterday was a dark day in our state’s history, but we will never let uninsured Tennesseans become a distant memory. All of us deserve access to affordable, quality health care, and we will continue to remind our legislators of that until they recognize it, too.
Gary Moore is the president of the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council.

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Press Releases

TN AFL-CIO President: Congress Should ‘Stop Playing Games,’ Remember Constituents Needs

Press release from the Tennessee Chapter of the AFL-CIO; January 21, 2015:

“Tonight, we turn the page.” That’s one of my favorite lines from President Obama’s State of the Union address, which he delivered Tuesday evening.

While this phrase symbolically sets the stage for a fresh start, we all know that there is much work to be done, especially when it comes to working families and the challenges that we face every day. Fortunately, the president made this topic a major part of his many remarks.

The bottom line for working families? Higher wages. President Obama acknowledged this by saying “That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time. We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned.”

Yet another one of my favorite phrases from this year’s State of the Union address.

The president also reminded us of another harsh reality: the United States is the only advanced country that does not offer paid sick or maternity leave. Even though he at least outlined a plan for paid leave, it’s disheartening to think that it has taken our nation so long to get to this point.

Now, it’s time for President Obama’s actions to speak louder than his words. It’s time for Congress to put aside partisan differences and do what’s best for each and every citizen. We call on lawmakers to stop playing games and start remembering the needs of their constituents who put them in office.

Only then will we truly be able to “turn the page” on some of the most troubling times in recent memory.

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Featured NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

Alexander Hasn’t Won Carr Over

Incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander came away from the Republican primary in August with a comfortable margin separating him from state Rep. Joe Carr, the challenger who received the second-most votes in the race.

Carr only captured 40.6 percent of the vote, and in a field of mostly unknown challengers — five others besides Carr — Alexander took the nomination with 49.65 percent.

But Alexander’s 331,705 vote total constituted just under half the total 668,039 cast — meaning more GOP primary voters favored someone other than Alexander than were for him.

Only 240,949 votes were cast in the Democratic primary, which was won by Gordon Ball, a Knoxville trial lawyer attorney whom Alexander paints as an ally of the Obama administration and various liberal special-interest groups that traditionally align with the Democratic Party.

Alexander is running a campaign that centers on convincing Tennessee general election voters he’ll be a dependable vote against Barack Obama’s agenda during the president’s last two years in the White House.

But Alexander has yet to win over his highest-profile critic in the Republican Party. Carr told TNReport he’s not ready to endorse Alexander — and likely won’t until the incumbent Republican comes out strongly against Common Core and promises to fight “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants.

“It’s not up to me. It’s up to Sen. Alexander,” Carr said, adding that he’s had no communication with Alexander personally since the two met at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Rutherford County earlier this month. At that meeting, Carr said they talked about issues and he accepted Alexander’s apology for not taking Carr’s primary election-night phone calls to congratulate him on winning.

The ball’s in his court,” Carr said.

As for Alexander promising to earn a reputation as an impediment to Obama’s policies and programs going forward,  Carr told TNReport he has “no idea” what the campaign or the state Republican Party are talking about in that regard.

I will be as excited and intrigued as every other voter in Tennessee to see this strange turn of events,” said Carr, whose principle primary campaign theme was that Alexander’s been more friend than foe to Obama these last six years. 

Carr pointed to Alexander’s backing of various Obama administration initiatives and appointments as evidence he’s never really applied himself consistently or wholeheartedly to thwarting the president’s will.

The announcement last week that Attorney General Eric Holder is stepping down offered a prime example of how Alexander has often tended to earnestly award his trust to President Obama — even to the point of siding with liberal Democrats and against conservative Republicans — only to claim he regrets it later.

Alexander, who was one of 18 Republicans who joined with 55 Senate Democratic to confirm Holder in 2009, said in a statement that when it comes time for the president to pick Holder’s replacement, he hopes Obama “will nominate an attorney general this time who will faithfully apply the laws Congress has passed and not seek to impose policies the president wishes Congress had passed. The role of the top law enforcement officer in the country is to enforce the law—not to advance the president’s agenda.”

It should have been clear to Alexander during the confirmation process — and indeed it was to 21 other Republicans in the U.S. Senate — that Holder was going to be a problematic figure among conservatives, Carr suggested. Holder’s political aims, his ambitions and his performance as attorney general could have been “easily predicted and forecast by his past behaviors when he was in the Clinton administration,” Carr said.

In a strategy similar to Carr’s, Ball has pointed to Alexander’s Senate voting record as a defense against TNGOP claims that a vote for him will be a vote for Obama.

Ball is pushing Alexander to debate — a challenge Alexander has thus far dodged. Similarly, Alexander refused to share a debate stage with Carr during the GOP primary campaign.

Ball has said Alexander is doing Tennesseans a “disservice” by depriving them of a chance to see the candidates for such a powerful elected office challenge each other on matters of great national importance.

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Press Releases

Ball: Attacks Show Alexander ‘Out of Touch’ with Tennesseans

Press release from the Gordon Ball Campaign for U.S. Senate; September 23, 2014:

It’s now clearer than ever. Senator Lamar Alexander is truly out-of-touch with the people of his own state.

The Tennessee GOP recently came out swinging at Gordon Ball, Senator Alexander’s opponent in the November election. The party alleges that Gordon will simply be another vote for “Obama’s agenda.”

However, that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Gordon is focused on his own extensive agenda, which includes protecting working families in our state,” said TN AFL-CIO President Gary Moore. “Senator Alexander and members of his party are beginning to become concerned as they realize that Gordon is a very viable and strong candidate for U.S. Senate.”

This comes just as Senator Alexander introduced the “National Labor Relations Board Reform Act” last week. The truth of the matter, however, is that his ultimate goal is to eventually do away with the NLRB.

“These changes are being introduced by the same person who wanted to do away with the minimum wage and is a strong advocate of Tennessee’s right-to-work laws,” said President Moore. “At the end of the day, Senator Alexander will never have the interests of middle class Tennesseans in mind.”

“Once again, Senator Lamar Alexander proves he is out of touch with working Tennesseans,” said Ball. “He is so busy focusing on attacking me that he has forgotten the people who put him in office the first place. Wall Street did not put him in office, Main Street did.”

As Election Day gets closer, more and more Tennesseans are ready for a much-needed change in Washington.

“As we’ve said before, Gordon has made it very clear that he will represent every citizen of this great state,” said President Moore. “We are committed to helping him ensure that the truths are told about his goals and agenda, rather than false assumptions or generalizations.”

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Featured Transparency and Elections

AFL-CIO Won’t Chuck Brown an Endorsement

Tennessee’s largest labor union has declined to endorse the state’s Democratic candidate for governor — and Charlie Brown couldn’t care less.

Gary Moore, president of Tennessee AFL-CIO, said that the union’s general-election endorsement committee has already met and “there was no endorsement at all in the governor’s race.”

“We feel like that [Brown] is certainly fair to a lot of our ideas, a lot of our philosophy, and certainly think he’s a stand-up gentleman, but we just didn’t feel like he was qualified to lead the state,” Moore told TNReport.

Brown is a 72-year-old Morgan County retiree who, without ever campaigning , won the Democratic gubernatorial primary by more than 35,000 votes on Aug. 7. His nearest competition was from John McKamey, a former Sullivan County mayor and the Democratic candidate for governor endorsed by the AFL-CIO in the primary.

A staunch union man, Brown took umbrage at Moore’s assessment. “What are you talking about that I’m not a leader?” he responded when advised in a phone interview of the former Democratic state lawmaker‘s remarks.

Brown contends he’s developed plenty of leadership skills as a workingman over the years, as a foreman, a superintendent, a lead carpenter and a road construction engineer. Even at his first job — helping build railway tunnels near Oakdale — Brown said he was put in charge of handling high explosives his first day on the payroll. 

But even without an official endorsement from union leadership, Brown expects union workers will support him because their interests are his interests.

“I don’t care if they don’t give me no money, I still believe in the union,” Brown told TNReport.

He added, “I’m not worried about the AFL-CIO, I’m worried about the people in Tennessee, and the unions in Tennessee.”

Brown prophesied a victory in November, with or without official labor endorsements. He’s said he’s confident he’ll be the Volunteer State’s next governor because “anymore, people can’t stand Bill Haslam.”

And that includes a lot of Tennessee Republicans, he said. “I’ve had Republicans stop me and say, ‘Hey, we’re not voting for Haslam, but we’re not saying we’re going to vote for you’,” Brown said. Then he wondered, “But who are they going to vote for?”

If victorious at the polls, Brown says he’s got some big plans for when he assumes office. He said he’ll “fix TennCare” and expand it.

“I already know how to get it back to the people, I’ve already researched this,” Brown said. “And I have to go through a bunch of Republicans, but this will work. It’s like (former governor) Ned McWherter brought it into action, I’m going to bring it back into action.”

He also promises to return tenure to the state’s teachers and expand benefits for state employees. And raising the minimum wage to $10.50 is another priority on his to-do list.

However, while much of his agenda matches that of many Democratic Party politicians in Tennessee, a few of his views demonstrate a decidedly more conservative side.

Brown described himself as unapologetically pro-life and pro gun. His belief in the Second Amendment and Holy Scripture is central to his candidacy, he said.

It was God who led him to run in the first place, and it will be God who is leading his campaign, Brown said. “If you don’t like it, I can’t help you,” he said.

But while Brown knows God is in his corner, he’s getting the feeling the Tennessee Democratic Party isn’t.

Brown’s not at all been impressed with the backing he’s received thus far from TNDP, which he likened unfavorably to the Tennessee AFL-CIO. Other than acknowledging he’s their candidate for governor, Brown said the party bosses have done nothing to help him win votes.

“So, I don’t know what they did with that $500,000 they made up at the Jackson Day Dinner,” he said. “I thought that was to help out the candidates.”

TNDP’s communication’s director, Rick Herron, emailed TNReport a statement saying the party is “looking to invest in races” where a difference can be made in “helping effect a victory.”  The party is “constantly evaluating” its budget, Herron wrote, as well as monitoring “the political landscape across the state and the viability of individual campaigns.”

“In making that assessment, we have invested in selected campaigns, both for the August elections and looking toward November, and we will continue to be attentive to solid opportunities,” wrote Herron, who is the son of TNDP Executive Director Roy Herron.

Roy Herron announced Saturday that he won’t be seeking a new term as the party’s chairman.

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Business and Economy Featured Health Care NewsTracker

State Union Chief Worries Employers Will Dump Workers’ Health Plans Under Obamacare

The head of Tennessee’s chapter of the nation’s largest union federation is concerned the unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act will cause Tennessee employees to be “booted” to the federally run exchanges by employers looking to save a buck.

Gary Moore, a former Democratic state lawmaker who now serves as president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization’s Tennessee wing, worries that workers here, especially those employed by smaller companies in the construction business, may lose their employer-provided medical coverage.

Moore told TNReport recently he’s concerned that one of the ways employers in Tennessee might “react to the Affordable Care Act” is by altering “the way that they provide insurance coverage to their employees now.” Specifically, companies facing cost-cutting pressures might choose to drop the more expensive, union-backed health insurance plans and “dump” those employees onto the federal exchange, he said.

“Will every employer do it? Probably not. But, will some of them? I can almost guarantee that they will,” said Moore, who served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 2005 through 2012.

Moore’s concerns about union health plans echo those detailed in the resolution passed by the AFL-CIO at the organization’s quadrennial convention in September. The Tennessee state chapter of AFL-CIO represents more than 60,000 Tennesseans who’re members of 37 international unions and 273 local unions, according to the organization’s website.

The AFL-CIO resolution, which Moore voted to support during the organization’s meeting in Los Angeles, called for the Obama administration to take steps to ensure certain unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act are avoided. If that’s not possible under the law’s existing structure, then the AFL-CIO “will demand the ACA be amended by Congress,” according to the resolution, which passed on a voice vote.

“Contrary to the law’s intent, some workers might not be able to keep their coverage and their doctors because the federal agencies’ current implementation plans will be highly disruptive to the operation of Taft-Hartley multiemployer plans, substantially changing the coverage available for millions of covered employees and their families,” the resolution stated. “The federal agencies tasked with implementing the law have unnecessarily imposed an interpretation of the Affordable Care Act which imposes additional costs and fees for which plan participants receive no benefit, unnecessarily driving coverage costs higher.”

While the majority of AFL-CIO members supported the resolution calling for the federal government to address their issues with President Obama’s signature law, some members that were present at the convention wanted to see the health care reform package completely repealed and replaced.

Moore said he wasn’t in that camp.

Although Obamacare has its problems, he maintains it is a step in the right direction and needs time to take hold.

“Any law that you pass is subject to have flaws in it,” said Moore. “You don’t address the flaws by not funding it. You come back to the following legislative session and you attempt to correct the problems.”

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Press Releases

TN AFL-CIO: Refusal to Raise Debt Ceiling Makes ‘Bad Situation Worse’

Statement from TN AFL-CIO President Gary Moore; October 15, 2013:

NASHVILLE, TN – If you’ve lost track of time, the ongoing (and unnecessary) government shutdown is now entering its third week. To add to the problem, the United States is also dangerously close to its October 17th default date. Unsurprisingly, some Republicans continue loudly voicing their opposition to raising the debt ceiling, even if that means the richest country in the world isn’t able to pay its bills for the first time.

Let’s have a quick history lesson, or at least a look back at the last 70 years.

According to information obtained from The Guardian, Democrats have raised the debt ceiling 40 times since 1944. During that same time frame, Republicans have raised it 54 times.

That same data also points out another interesting fact. The president who’s raised the debt ceiling the most in the last 70 years happens to be a Republican himself…Ronald Reagan. Lawmakers who are currently condemning any increase in the debt ceiling are essentially going against the actions of one of the most revered members of their political party.

The consequences that could potentially come along with not raising the debt ceiling would be unprecedented. It’s even difficult to say exactly what some of those might be. After all, this would be unfamiliar territory for our current leaders.

As I’ve said before, it’s time for Republicans to stop focusing solely on their own selfish interests. These men and women were elected to represent people, just like you and me.

Not raising the debt ceiling would just be making a bad situation worse. It’s time to STOP the shutdown. It’s time for Republicans to STOP making extreme demands.

For the sake of the many employees who’ve been told to sit at home for the past several weeks, it’s time to START putting them back to work.

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Business and Economy

Amidst Indications of GM Plant Reopening, Dems Talk Jobs in Columbia

Democrats took their “Jobs Tour” to Maury County on Wednesday, but the big news was who didn’t show up.

Mike O’Rourke, president of the United Auto Workers Local 1853, and Mike Herron, chairman of the group, were scheduled to participate in the jobs tour stop but were called to Memphis to hammer out details of General Motors’ reported plans to jump-start production at the idled Spring Hill GM plant — a development that has brought bright hopes to the long-suffering community on the jobs front.

Former state Rep. Ty Cobb did the talking for O’Rourke and Herron for members of the media attending the roundtable discussion at Columbia State Community College. Cobb basically confirmed reports that two vehicles will be built at the plant, one beginning in 2012 and another in 2013, with the first bringing 600 jobs on a $60 million investment and the other 1,100 jobs on a $358 million investment.

“As we speak, UAW and GM leaders are talking in Memphis, with some confidential meetings,” Cobb said.

“You know, this is the most modern plant in the United States at the Spring Hill facility, so they can have a vehicle up and producing quicker than any other plant in the country. So that’s something that has really helped with getting a product back in this facility. They also have one of the best skilled workforces in the country.”

The company has already put $400 million into engine manufacturing at the site that began in 2009. The area is trying to recover from the layoffs of about 2,000 workers during the recent auto crisis and recession, a blow that has also hit suppliers.

“This is all good news,” Cobb said of this week’s developments. “The future is bright for GM and the people that work in this region.”

It was timely information for lawmakers interested in spurring job growth in the state.

“I think what the message here should be is this is what happens when labor and management work together,” said Rep. Gary Moore, D-Joelton, who recently became president of the Tennessee AFL-CIO.

The Democrats began their week-long tour in Memphis on Monday and are gradually moving across the state, collecting input from business leaders, educators and anyone else who has an interest in improving job growth.

The tour comes in the wake of a legislative session that saw Democrats offer several “jobs bills,” most dealing with tax credits, while Republicans primarily stuck to a limited legislative agenda on employment, asserting that jobs cannot simply be legislated into existence.

But House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley and Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney of Jackson expressed their continued interest Wednesday in pursuing measures through the General Assembly aimed at helping Tennesseans find work.

“We’ve seen already that there are things we should propose again,” Fitzhugh said. “There may be some new ones.

“The key is that we have to do this not just as a Democratic task force as a result of a Democratic jobs tour but as a Legislature. We think the ideas will be ones that will be embraced by the majority party and be successful.”

Democrats know the political obstacles they face, with majority Republicans making the case that legislators can best create jobs by reducing regulations that impede business and smoothing the job environment with legislation like tort reform. Gov. Bill Haslam took a limited approach to job legislation this year, his first in office, although he has supported the spirit of the tour the Democrats are conducting.

Republicans hold a 64-34-1 majority in the House and a 20-13 majority in the Senate.

“We must have Republican support to pass any jobs bill we produce,” Finney said.

“The governor requested us to specifically talk to people who are putting their capital at risk. That’s what we’ve tried to do. Some of the things we proposed in the spring we anticipate bringing back this next year and hope to have bipartisan support for.”

But Finney noted the Democrats are hearing about some new challenges on the tour. They heard Wednesday about communication gaps that still exist between industry and schools, although state government has taken steps recently to smooth the journey through higher education for students with the Complete College Act. One of the issues is having enough classroom space to accommodate students seeking training.

Finney said the Democrats are hearing that mom-and-pop shops are hurting and could benefit from tax credits and ideas like a small business sales tax holiday.

“Traditionally, our Republican colleagues have always been for less taxes, and less taxes on businesses is what would help,” Finney said.

Finney said such legislation would focus on existing businesses in the state, as opposed to relocating businesses, which has also been a major theme of the Haslam administration as it seeks to increase jobs.

“A bill we had last year, which we’re going to continue to work on, is to require state contracts to go to state businesses located in Tennessee already,” Finney said.

“We heard from one yesterday (Tuesday) in Weakley County who for years had a contract with the state, and then an out-of-state corporation came in, won the contract at a higher bid, and that money and that tax money now goes out of state.”

Democrats heard some good news Wednesday apart from the GM developments. Marvin Sandrell, who runs a heating and cooling business in Columbia, as well as a business in Spring Hill, said he had had to hire about eight new people in the last year.

“Columbia is probably pretty fortunate to have more commercial work going than most places around. It just seems to be picking up some,” Sandrell said. He said grants are helping in hiring.

Legislators also heard that Pell grants are helping non-traditional students seeking training who may not qualify for Hope scholarships from the state lottery.

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Press Releases

TNGOP Alleges Conflicts of Interest for Rep. Moore

Press Release from the Republican Party of Tennessee, Aug. 29, 2011:

Democrat State Representative Gary Moore was recently elected as President of the Tennessee AFL-CIO and it is causing quite the stir. Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney has pointed out that Rep. Moore’s new position as President of one of the nation’s largest special interest lobbying groups places their chief lobbyist on the floor of the state legislature.

While Rep. Moore has stated he will not register as a lobbyist with the state, it is important to point out that his predecessor was a registered lobbyist with the state. Moore claims that he will be able to separate his duties as a legislator from the statewide union’s lobbying and political activities.

It seems that Rep. Moore is having a difficult time finding the line in the sand between his job as a state legislator and his new job as chief lobbyist for the Tennessee AFL-CIO. In recent interviews the contradictions of Gary Moore are starting to pile-up:

  • Gary Moore says that it “would be inappropriate” for someone serving as a legislator to be a lobbyist. However, Gary Moore seems a bit confused on what lobbying is because he turned around and said “the primary thing I want to do is educate the legislators.” Educating legislators about issues concerning your organization is exactly what lobbyists do.
  • In another interview Gary Moore said he will separate himself from the AFL-CIO’s political activities. However, in a different interview he stated, “One thing you’re going to see is us [AFL-CIO] reaching out to all elected officials and trying to educate them on our concerns and what our issues are.”

Tennessee State Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney commented on Rep. Moore’s contradictions by saying, “If Gary Moore can’t distinguish between what is and what is not lobbying when being questioned about the obvious conflict of interest, how can we expect him to do it in the halls of the legislature when no one is watching?”