Collective bargaining protests to resume

With a vote in the Ohio Senate considered likely this week, opponents of Senate Bill 5 plan to resume protesting Tuesday against the restrictions on public employee collective bargaining, this time with a musical backdrop. ProgressOhio, a liberal advocacy group, announced that “The Street Dogs”, a Boston band fronted by the founding singer of the “Dropkick Murphys”, will perform outside the Statehouse at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

The band has recently performed at protests outside the Wisconsin Statehouse, where a similar battle over public employee collective bargaining is raging. Also, ProgressOhio has launched a website,, to keep up with events surrounding the issue. Meanwhile, Senate President Tom Niehaus, R-New Richmond, used a news release to rip into Senate Democrats for declining to participate in negotiate possible changes in the bill.

“As I sat down today to review the amendments submitted by Friday’s deadline, I expected to see their constructive ideas on how to address the concerns they’ve expressed, but they refused to submit a single change,” Niehaus said. “Much like their counterparts in Wisconsin, they apparently would rather grandstand in defense of the status quo.” Source:

is collective bargaining system really great?

The Wisconsin fight over public sector unions is an interesting one. The Governor and an apparent majority of legislators are trying to pass a law that would change the way most state employees organize, in addition to financial issues. The touchstone issue is whether workers will keep their collective bargaining rights. At least, that's the way it is being phrased in the media. But I wonder if that phrasing obscures the matter.

Consider the phrasing of this Gallup poll (which was the top story in yesterday's USA Today). Would you favor or oppose a law in your state taking away some collective bargaining rights of most public unions, including the state teachers union?

Yikes. Even a cold-hearted economist like me isn't in favor of TAKING AWAY stuff from others. Let alone taking away their RIGHTS. That sounds mean, which is why 61 percent of respondents were opposed. No doubt, the response would be different if the question involved trade-offs, which is what real-world choices are about. For example:

Would you favor a law in your state ending collective bargaining for public-sector workers or higher taxes on your children over the next few decades? or Would you favor a law in your state ending collective bargaining for public-sector workers so that they could have individual bargaining rights? or Would you favor a law in your state ending collective bargaining for public-sector workers so that the state could offer higher salaries to the best teachers?

The fact is that worker rights are important. But I wonder why the issue is not framed in terms of the contrast between individual rights versus collective rights. Clearly, a collective is hostile to the flexibility that would allow merit to be finely recognized and rewarded. No? I just don't understand why a worker in a modern service-sector economy would even want collective rights. I understand their importance for a muscle-driven industrial economy where powerful firms can exploit labor. But America isn't that country, especially not when the employer is a state government. But perhaps I don't know the brutal history of Wisconsin's autocratic rulers. Read more on:

Political Turmoil in Middle East and North Africa Haunt Financial Market

Political turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa continued to haunt financial markets on Tuesday, pushing up crude oil, driving down stock prices and sending investors into safe-haven investments. The unrest seen during the overthrow of the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia has swept into Bahrain, Algeria and Libya. There have also been demonstrations in Yemen, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

“Over the past few weeks we had a domino effect, and the concern is that anything can happen,” said Justin Urquhart Stewart, a founder of Seven Investment Management in London. “At the moment the ripple is very small, but it has the potential to turn into something bigger quickly.”

Much of the uncertainty is being stoked by fears over oil supplies. Analysts have been keeping an eye on Libya, which has the largest oil reserves in Africa, and on Bahrain, which is next to Saudi Arabia.

Geopolitical ripples in the Middle East are the basis for today’s decline,” said Lawrence R. Creatura, a portfolio manager at Federated Investors.

“Higher energy prices act like a tax on consumers, reducing the amount of discretionary purchasing power that they have,” Mr. Creatura said. “It represents an additional, potential headwind for retailers.”

Treasury prices rose and stocks declined in the United States, where the main Wall Street stock indexes have risen steadily in recent months to levels not seen since the financial crisis started.

In the last hour, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 205.33 points, or 1.66 percent. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index declined 29.58, or 2.2 percent, while the technology heavy Nasdaq lost 75.50 points, or 2.7 percent.

Markets in Europe and Asia were also lower. In Europe, the FTSE-100 in London lost 0.3 percent while the CAC-40 in Paris declined by 1.1 percent. In Asia, the Nikkei 225 closed 1.8 percent lower on Tuesday, and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 2.1 percent. Financials, industrials and materials shares shed more than 2 percent in the broader market in New York trading. In addition to the turmoil in the Middle East, investors took in some discouraging developments in the United States economy. Source: Political Fight Over Unions Escalates.

Business Trends in Social Media Marketing

Business Trends in Social Media Marketing. Chief marketing officers are looking more closely at returns from social marketing initiatives, according to a survey conducted by consumer ratings and reviews provider Bazaarvoice in conjunction with the CMO Club. The survey was conducted in October 2010 and sought information from 175 CMOs of business-to-consumer and business-to-business companies on their use of social media and their plans and expectations for the coming year.

In 2010 87% of the CMOs surveyed had engaged in company blogs, 86% in brand communities and 79% in Facebook. Although the proportion using customer reviews and ratings as a marketing tool was slightly lower (73%) 59% of this group reported average or significant ROI for this activity.

When asked which social activities resulted in the highest ROI, 15% of survey respondents identified Facebook as the best. Ratings and reviews sites ranked second (14%) with Twitter and LinkedIn also being nominated by over 10% of respondents. When Significant and Average ROI are combined Company/brand community and Company/brand blg out perform Facebook and these are the types of social media marketing activities in which fewest respondents are non-participants. The other statistic to note in this chart, which comes from eMarketer's analysis which is is the high proportion of "Don't know" answers over all types of activity. Read more on Social Activities.

A Client's Point of View in Negotiations: Event & Convention Planners Take Notes!

What event & convention planners should know about their clients to have successful negotiations...

For the event and convention planning industry negotiating is everyday’s cup of coffee. Negotiating prices, dates, themes, entertainment, client contracts and more is done on a daily basis. This is why having knowledge on deal making tactics and methods are vital in this type of industry. Although it is imperative for event planners to understand and know how to execute a successful negotiation, do they know what their clients are thinking? What are their key strategies when it comes to negotiating? In this interview with Mr. Angel L. Rodríguez we will explore what customers do, avoid and look during the negotiating process when dealing with event, conventions, and/or trade-show planners. Remember, knowing the other persons needs, interest and wants are results in as a great advantage for the other negotiator. Therefore event planners take notes!

We had the opportunity of talking with Mr. Angel L. Rodríguez, Vice-President of Roger Electric Co. in Puerto Rico. He is also head of the convention and activities committee of the Professional Engineer Association in Puerto Rico (CIAPR). Mr. Rodríguez often uses event planner services for both his business and the association activities. During this interview we asked Mr. Rodríguez about his approach when it comes to negotiating with his event planner, his expectations, tactics and results.

When it comes down to choosing and closing a deal with an event planner, how do you approach your event planner when dealing with prices, fees, and contracts?
I tend to use an aggressive approach. Doing previous research on prices and fees makes me have an advantage on how much I ask and on how much I can settle for. Sometimes insinuating that we have other options makes prices, fees and contract clauses come into more agreeable terms.

What do you expect from your event planner, when it comes down to agreeing on a deal? Mutual gain? More benefits for you? Or more benefits for the event planner?
Every time I negotiate I prefer ending with a win-win situation, this way you can be satisfied with your deal and the dealer will be pleased with the final outcome. This also guarantees future business opportunities for other activities for both parties. Mutual gain is my best bet.

Do you have a back up plan or BATNA, at the time of the negotiation? How do you approach the planner with this information? Do you use the BATNA as leverage in order to get what you want?
When it comes to negotiating, either with a party planner or with anybody business wise, you always have to have a back up plan. Now, the key is trying to obtain what you want without being too obvious. I tend to notify before hand that I have certain options, but I will be more than welcome on listening to what they have to offer me. This was the person feels that his or her offer is being considered and that they have a chance of making a deal. This often results with pleasing numbers and a successful deal.

What do you prefer, having a good “friend like” relationship when it comes to negotiating or do you prefer establishing roles and status from the get go?
This is very complex because it depends on the situation. I think the best way to approach a negotiation is establishing the points and terms from the beginning. This is when separating the person from the problem comes into play. I believe that keeping a professional and trustworthy relationship is the best way to do negotiations.

Has someone used any dirty tricks or tactics in order to close a deal? Have you used any? What was the outcome of the negotiation?
I don’t believe in dirty anything. Using dirty tricks or tactics is very unsuccessful. Maybe you can trick someone once but it wont work again, this is when negotiations go wrong. Being as straightforward and honest as possible is the best way to end up with what you want.

If you had to summarize your negotiating techniques, what is the most important one and most successful in your opinion?
Like I said before every negotiation is different and the approach varies. I usually tend to wait for the other person to make the first move, this allows me to know if they are benefiting from the situation and allows me to re-negotiate something better. I usually prefer doing the early process of my negotiations through email but at the moment of closing the deal I prefer a personal encounter. I do believe enormously in the value of a handshake. This can go either wrong or extremely well, but I do think that this old fashion trend keeps things classy and professional, it all depends on the relationship and trust both parties have acquired. Being prepared for every negotiation also gives you an advantage. I strongly recommend reading “The Art of Negotiation”, by Gerard Nierenberg. This book has really helped me with my negotiation tactics not only with entertainment activities but with my business as well.

I have to agree with Mr. Rodriguez, tactics, techniques, and approaches vary depending on the situation and the negotiation. However, doing research, knowing the other persons’ needs and wants definitely makes you feel more confident at the time of the negotiation. Being prepared is the key of a great negotiation. Hopefully, now with this blog event and/or convention planners can have a better view of how their clients operate, what they look for, and how they approach negotiations. Good luck and happy negotiating! Special thanks to Mr. Rodriguez for taking the time and answering our questions.

Roger Electric Co. -

Should State employees Have collective-bargaining rights?

Collective bargaining does work despite what you hear. Our new governor wants to pass a bill to eliminate step raises and collective bargaining raises for state employees. First, let me explain that step raises were asked for by the state in collective bargaining in the 1980s because the state wanted to phase-in pay increases after a new hire served their probationary period and not move them to the pay scale right away.

Pay increases by merit instead of collective bargaining could take money away from thousands of Ohio families. Let me explain. Each state agency is given a set amount of money for operation per year. If this money is not spent, it is returned. This is almost never done. It gets spent. Let’s say that the management of a state agency only gives a special few a merit raise. The money that could be used for raises for all workers now can be used to give management employees raises. After all, they can always find a way to justify that they deserve it. Source: How Does Collective Bargaining Work?.

James Shorris

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the self-regulatory arm of the U.S. brokerage industry regulator, said Friday that one of its top enforcement officers is resigning to join a law firm. James Shorris has been responsible for directing FINRA's investigations and prosecution activity for much of the past seven years. He served `s FINRA's interim head of enforcement after his former boss, Susan Merrill, quit in March 2010 to join the Bingham McCutchen law firm in New York.

Shorris was passed over for the top job in October when FINRA hired Bradley Bennett from law firm Baker Botts to run its enforcement division.

Shorris joined the National Association of Securities Dealers, Finra's predecessor, in 2003 as deputy enforcement chief. He advanced to the top position in 2006, but ceded the post to Merrill after the NASD merged with much of the New York Stock Exchange's regulation unit. Merrill was head of enforcement at NYSE Regulation. Shorris was a lawyer at Bingham McCutchen LLP in Boston prior to joining the NASD. Source:

Justin Bieber's Grammy Awards

Justin Bieber didn’t triumph in the Best New Artist category at the 2011 Grammy Awards. But between Bieber‘s polished red-carpet style, energetic performance and permanent grin, we think you’ll agree that he makes an awfully good-looking loser. That luminous skin! Those brilliant white teeth! The crookedly cute bow tie!

Of course, it’s hard to pick a favorite moment from Justin’s various appearances last night. So instead, we’ve put together a flipbook of nine of his most photogenic shots from the event. Behold the Biebs as he sports a gleaming white tux and cozies up to big-name stars like Usher, Rihanna, and Cee-Lo Green! Read more about Justin Bieber's Grammy Awards.

Celebrating Darwin Day on February 12

On Saturday, February 12th people around the world observe Darwin's birthday and his theory of evolution. First celebrated in 1909, Darwin Day was celebrated occasionally throughout the 20th century, but has recently been revitalized by educators around the world. This year alone there are over 500 planned public events are listed at, with gatherings hosted internationally and in all fifty states. Events range from small, low-key dinners to educational seminars designed to inform the young and old about Darwin's impact on our everyday life. And for the first time, Rep. Pete Stark of California proposed a resolution on the floor of the House of Representatives that "recognizes Charles Darwin as a worthy symbol on which to celebrate the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge."

While holidays are meant for fun and celebration, an annual event like Darwin Day is important in today's educational climate. As a national holiday, it trumpets not only the achievements of its namesake, but the accomplishments of the scientific community as a whole. Darwin's discoveries greatly advanced the human understanding of fields as various as genetics to epidemiology and his example is one worth emulating and celebrating.

Some celebrants also combine Darwin Day with a celebration of Abraham Lincoln, who was also born on February 12, 1809. Still others like to celebrate the many noted individuals that influenced or were influenced by Darwin's work, such as Thomas H. Huxley, Charles Lyell, Alfred Russel Wallace, Carl Sagan, and Ernst Mayr. Celebrating Darwin Day on February 12.

The Biggest Challenge in 2011

There is a Community Track, the main contest open to all South Florida residents, an FIU Track for students and alumni of that university, and a High School Track for grades 9-12. You do not need to have your business up and running to enter, but if you do, it can not be more than two years old. Each contest has its own set of prestigious judges. We have investors, executives, educators, consultants, bankers and small business loan specialists — most are entrepreneurs themselves, many of them several times over.

The judges will be looking for whether the business fills a real need in the marketplace, what value it brings to the customer, what sets it apart from the competition and its potential for expansion. They also want to see how you plan to market your product, your financial projections and how you intend to fund your startup costs. Make sure to make clear why you have the expertise to lead such a company and the expertise of your management team.

Yes, all this in three pages or less. Think of it as a meaty executive summary — just the highlights of what you would put in a full business plan. Contest Rules are on

Judges will select the top three winners in each track, and the overall top-rated plan will be declared Challenge Champion. The top six finalists in the Community and FIU Tracks will also compete in the People’s Pick video contest, which last year drew more than 15,000 votes and even more page views. That’s great exposure for entrepreneurs. The winners, including the People’s Picks, will be profiled in a Business Monday cover story and are honored at a banquet, where they can meet and mingle with the judges.

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Tips on business plan writing

So you have come to stage of writing your business plan and you have decided to take the long and tedious road to do it rather than using business plan software or financial forecasting tools specifically made for what you are doing at the moment? That's fine and of course you will come out on the other side a much more educated person with reference to how the different elements of the business plan contribute to your business. The bank manger may have asked you to compile a business plan or you have met a possible business investor asking for a business profile or plan to illustrate just how you are going to gain the market share that you mentioned at the networking event and how your costs will be so low that your business will break even in the fist 6 months.

What are good business plans really about? Well, such a plan will need to be as short and as clear possible; out of it, the potential investor will have to clearly understand the product and the service provided, the track record of the company, financial statements and, above all, the reason you are asking for such a funding. Keep in mind that this plan will have to convince the investor of your commitment to the business, and this can only be done if you will draw a clear picture of your strategies.

At all times, remember that you have to thoroughly study-and thus understand- the elements that will help you build good, solid business plans. Unfortunately enough, there are many of those looking for funding that spend a lot of time and energy trying to promote their ideas, their projects, but forget that unless their business plans are valid, unless they have something good, nobody will take them seriously and invest in their projects. Let's speak the truth: not even you would invest in a business that has no proof that it is sound, that the financial premises are valid; without clear information nobody can decide, so nobody will be willing to listen to you or read your project up to the end.

If you have came to understand how important it is to set up clear business plans before actually going on and trying to convince anyone, then you must have reached the conclusion that good advice is in order. Fortunately, there are a lot of places you could get counseling or assistance, things that will help you easier your business plans easier and in a more correct manner; apart from all the counseling offices, you will also be able to find books and other online resources that will show you how to come up with a quality project. Many of those books have been written by professionals, and if you know how to pick the right ones you will undoubtedly find out more about successful business plans and the key to better understanding of the market environment.

Remember that nobody likes long talks that express nothing; if you want to have a clear chance of obtaining the loan, the start up capital you so much need, you will have to be clear and communicate the facts as they are. This means that you will have to convince the funding source using one of the best business plans there can be, in order for the other to accept any kind of transaction.

Make sure your plan is detailed but to the point. Make sure your plan consists of realistic facts and data that is well researched. Make sure your plan is realistic and the market research has been done well. Do this and you will have a great chance of getting the business finance you need.