Labor-Management Council Learns from Fed President, Honors Martiny and Greenwell
Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Esther George discussed the national and regional economies, interest rates, banking regulation, employment trends and retirement concerns with 230 business, labor, government and education leaders at the Labor-Management Council of Greater Kansas City’s (LMC) 36th Anniversary Celebration and 16th Awards Dinner April 16 at Argosy Casino.
Photos of the event can be found in the Photo Album 2015Anniversary&Awards Dinner, left.
The LMC also recognized Alise Martiny, business manager of the Greater Kansas City Building and Construction Trades Council, and Don Greenwell, president of the Builders’s Association. Martiny earned the LMC’s Leadership in Labor-Management Cooperation Award and Greenwell the Service to the LMC honor.
Pat “Duke” Dujakovich, Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO president ascended to the Labor Co-Chair of the LMC, while Tim Bell, business manager of the Western Missouri and Kansas Laborers District Council, was elected Vice Co-Chair. Martiny was reelected secretary and Greenwell as treasurer. Elected to renewed terms on the LMC Board of Directors were Jack Bainbridge, business manager, Heavy Construction Laborers Local 663; Bret Bonge, director employee relations, Kansas City Power & Light Co.; Michael Kitchen, labor relations manager, City of Kansas City, Mo.; Dave Lovetere, MC Realty; Joe Hudson, business representative, Carpenters District Council; Ron Johnson, business manager, Teamsters Local 541; and Lindsay Walker, Kansas City director, Service Employees International Union Local 1.
Dujakovich noted introducing keynote speaker George that local AFL-CIOs around the nation were working to establish conversations with regional federal reserve banks, and thanks to George the dialogue in Kansas City is excellent. The Kansas City Fed president makes a real effort to understand economic conditions on the ground in the region, he noted.
George expressed optimism that the now five-year expansion would continue and gradually improve. A bad winter and port congestion slowed recent growth. She noted that consumer behavior drives the economy and that consumers have slashed debt. The labor market is improving at the best rate in two decades though challenges remain, she pointed out. U.S. economic growth is envied by most of the world, and would be aided if Europe and Japan could see better performance.
Interest rates are a key issue addressed by the Federal Reserve. George explained her position that now is a good time to consider small, gradual rate increases so the impact on growth is small and the economy would be able to adjust over time to limit inflation. Waiting too long to raise rates and then having to do so steeply could harm the economy, as happened in 2003. In any case, she expects interest rates to be relatively low for a long time. Those at or near retirement age should particularly watch interest rate developments, she suggested.
The Kansas City-area economy has avoided the boom-and-bust cycles of other areas. The local economy has benefited from strong agricultural and energy trends and is diversified.
Banking regulations, changed in the Dodd-Frank legislation five years ago, have probably been overly strict on smaller, community banks and not strict enough on the “too-big-to-fail” institutions, she said. Without further addressing the large banks, another crisis could happen, George fears, though small banks could use some regulatory relief.
George noted that employment rates are difficult to accurately measure, but that it appears workforce participation is nearing demographic norms. Un-and-under employment, skill mismatches and benefit considerations continues to be factors, but she added that monetary policy cannot fix those issues.
Graduates of the LMC’s Mid-Level Leadership Program at Rockhurst University were also recognized. Those attending included Angela Ashlock and Shelly Loulos, Kansas City Power & Light Co.; Tracey Bryant, City of Kansas City, Mo.; and Jason Wright, JE Dunn Construction Co. Unable to attend were graduates Robert Crockett and Tiffany Drummer, City of Kansas City, Mo.; Ross Grundyson, Ted Henry and Paul Paikowski, City of Kansas City, Mo. Fire Department; Paul Brooks, Missouri Fraternal Order of Police and Grandview Police Department; and Jacque McCormick and Calogero Casa, Kansas Gas Service.
Event sponsors included, Anniversary level, Builders’ Association and Power Partners; Awards level, Bank of Labor, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, Cigna, JE Dunn Construction Co. and Pipefitters Local 533; and supporters Aetna and Michael D. Fitzgerald, P.C.
A pair of tickets to the Kansas City Ballet were won by Larry King, National Institute for Construction Excellence.
Future LMC events announced include the Mid-America Labor/Management Conference July 5-8; the annual Craig Whitaker Memorial Golf Tournament July 20; and the annual Public Officials Reception Oct. 15.
The mission of the LMC is to enhance collaboration and trust between labor and management and the community. The LMC is a nonprofit association based at Rockhurst University. More information about the event and the LMC can be found at http://labormanagementkc.typepad.com , and by contacting Bob Jacobi, executive director, at (816) 501-4565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.