Monday, July 24, 2017

Kentucky told to pay attorney fees in same-sex marriage case


A federal judge has ordered Kentucky taxpayers to pay more than $220,000 in legal fees because a county clerk refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2015.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning on Friday ordered the state to pay $222,695 in fees to the attorneys of two same-sex couples and others who sued Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis for refusing to give them marriage licenses. He also awarded $2,008.08 in other costs. Bunning said the county and Davis herself did not have to pay.


Paralyzed Veterans of America Urges Open-Minded Debate on Future Funding For Veterans Healthcare

Washington, D.C. - July 24, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) weighed in on options being considered to fund the veteran "choice" program, as the House of Representatives considers a vote on a draft bill, S. 114 as amended, on Monday, July 24. Priorities for the organization include open discussion on the best way to build up specialized veteran-centric services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), while expanding access to non-specialized healthcare for veterans without cutting critical non-healthcare VA benefits.

"The notion of streamlining VA is a necessary discussion that must continue. The devil is in the details, though," said Sherman Gillums Jr., executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America. "We do support the responsible 'right sizing' of VA, starting with the elimination of redundancies and ultimately using cost savings to increase reinvestment in VA's foundational services, such as spinal cord injury care. Offsets, at least in part, may be necessary in order to achieve that."

Offsets, or program and benefit trade-offs used for budgeting purposes, are not new to VA. Past offsets include fees and collections related to housing loans and extensions in the reduction of certain pensions used to pay for other benefits. However, this is the first time Congress is requiring VA to include deficit reduction as a component of the agency's plan to maintain and expand the VA Choice Program. Moreover, some veteran advocates have expressed staunch opposition to offsets because they require VA to employ a "rob Peter to pay Paul" approach to funding programs.

"Paralyzed Veterans' main concern is that using these offsets to pay for VA healthcare comes at the expense of expanding non-healthcare benefits, such as disability compensation," explained Gillums. "However, we are not prepared to simply oppose offsets because we believe VA is open to strengthening healthcare for our most catastrophically disabled veterans, which matters above all else. Paralyzed Veterans leads as an expert voice on the most complex healthcare challenges these veterans face, and we intend to use that voice to promote new ideas and progress."

"The bottom line is the discussion must continue with open minds on all sides," concluded Gillums.

Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.

As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 70 offices and 33 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico (

Michigan Welder Forces UAW Bosses to Settle Case for Illegal Discrimination and Retaliation

Ludington, MI - July 24, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Richard Dettman, a Ludington, MI welder, has won a settlement against United Autoworkers, Local 811 (UAW, Local 811) union officials and his employer Harsco Rail. The settlement dictates that Union officials and Harsco amend their collective bargaining agreement, as well as pay additional wages to Mr. Dettman for hours, worked between March 13 and April 23, 2017.

Since 1992, Dettman has worked as a Harsco welder and was a UAW member, but in February 2017 he exercised his right to resign his union membership. He had achieved “Journeyman” status because of his long tenure, which guaranteed him a $0.75 per hour premium based on the workplace contract. An employee’s “Journeyman” card is granted after years of apprenticeship or completion of work related qualifications.

Shortly after his resignation, union officials retaliated against Dettman by stripping him of his “Journeyman” card, and Harsco Rail lowered his wages under the union boss-negotiated monopoly bargaining contract. This violated not only the National Labor Relations Act but is contrary to Michigan’s Right to Work protections.

In response to the illegal retaliation, Dettman filed federal unfair labor practice charges against both the UAW and Harsco with the National Labor Relations Board, utilizing free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys. Faced with clear evidence that they had violated Dettman’s legal rights, UAW and Harsco officials settled the case.
Harsco and UAW officials agreed to pay Dettman back wages for hours worked during March-April 2017. But the case was also a victory for all Harsco employees. Harsco and Union officials amended their monopoly bargaining agreement to respect Michigan’s Right to Work law. The agreement now allows any employee, union affiliated or not, to apply for and receive the Journeyman premium if they meet certain requirements.

“Rather than operating as an organization workers would want to join voluntarily, UAW officials resorted to illegal tactics against a worker who bravely exercised his rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “As this case shows, passing Right to Work laws is only the first step in protecting the workplace rights of all workers. Without stringent enforcement of the law, greedy union bosses will do everything they can, including lowering workers’ wages, to stop workers from exercising their rights and resigning their union membership.”