JAMAICA’s female combined martial arts team captain, Sheckema Cunningham, made history on Saturday in Stuttgart, Germany, winning gold at the International Sport Kickboxing Association’s (ISKA) International German Open.The Open is a German qualifier for the World Championships to be held in Stuttgart, May 2016.Cunningham, the first Jamaican to medal at the historic tough European tournament, was the sole black female competitor among 1,700 fighters.The toast of the preliminary rounds, Cunningham arrived in Stuttgart Friday night with coach Jason McKay. She shook off jet lag to win gold by beating German champion Kerstin Schmidbauer, 15-13, in an epic final.”It was rough and the fighters were really good, but I was more aggressive and had my coach shouting me on, forcing me to take the fight to her,” the relieved gold medallist told The Gleaner.Victory in Stuttgart qualified Cunningham for the World Championship in Stuttgart next year.An elated McKay said Cunningham’s chances of taking gold at the World Championships were bright.”She was clinical and showed great fighting spirit. She can take gold at the Worlds next year,” he said.Cunningham shone at the ISKA US Open in July, winning her three fights in leading Jamaica to a silver medal in the Gold Cup won by Germany.Among her accolades is a bronze medal in sparring at the International Taekwon-Do Federation 2011 World Championships.
“It is troubling given the perilous financial situation facing the city and all local government. They have to be careful in what they are promising workers and the public.” But City Administrative Officer Karen Sisson, who headed the city’s negotiating team, said she believes the proposal is fair to both sides. “We require the unions to find specific savings that will continue year after year for them to get certain benefits,” Sisson said. “And while we agreed to sit down and talk if our revenues exceed expectations, there is no requirement that we increase the contract.” The deal calls for salary increases of 14.25 percent over the next five years for all workers, with an additional 8.25 percent for workers at top pay levels in the last three years of the contract. The deal means thousands of city workers will see salary increases of about 23 percent – well above the controversial 16.8 percent salary deal recently negotiated for Department of Water and Power workers. Total cost of the six-union salary deal is estimated at $273 million. In a statement on its Web site, union coalition leaders said the contract is unprecedented “not only because of what we fought hard to get, but because of how we got there.” “By working as a coalition, city unions were able to support each other, increase our strength and earn greater respect from the city. “Instead of letting the city pit one union against another, we stuck together and were able to negotiate a better package that works for everybody.” Few details of the package have been released as union membership debates whether to ratify the deal. The contract also must still be approved by the City Council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The union Web site says the contract includes an increase in “flex cash” payments in the last year of the deal if workers find $25 million in savings or efficiencies. It would provide monthly payments of $115 for full-time and $57.50 for part-time workers. Kyser said he is concerned about the contract because it comes amid a drop in the housing market and property values, which are reflected in lower tax revenues to local government. “I would expect to see people asking the Assessor’s Office to revalue their property to try to reduce their property taxes,” Kyser said. “If that happens on a large scale, then the cities and school districts will be losing a lot of money.” He also noted the deal is coming as the city is asking voters to approve retaining a telephone-users tax and as the DWP is looking to raise both water and electric rates. “We are facing perilous times in local government,” Kyser said. But Councilman Bernard Parks, chairman of the council Budget Committee and one of the council’s more fiscally conservative members, defended the proposed agreement. “You have to look at this in a couple of ways,” Parks said. “If you consider that these are the same workers who three years ago agreed to take no pay increase and this is a five-year contract, then we are looking at it in an eight-year window. “Also, these are some of the lower-paid workers in the city. If we are going to seek parity with the DWP, we have to begin somewhere with these workers.” Parks said he does not believe the contract will set a precedent for deals with police and firefighters – the highest-paid workers in the city. “We are going to have to get a message out that we are holding the line,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.org 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LOS ANGELES: Economist calls city agreement with cash incentives troubling. Councilman says “these are some of the lower-paid workers.” By Rick Orlov STAFF WRITER A five-year salary deal with six Los Angeles unions includes incentives that could boost the cost of the contract by 10 percent to nearly $300 million, city officials conceded Wednesday. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Details of the proposed deal, outlined on the union coalition’s Web site, include flexible payments to approximately 22,000 workers if they find $25 million in cost savings citywide by the final year. City officials have hailed the cost-saving provision of the deal, but admitted Wednesday that the cash payouts to workers would offset most, if not all, of the savings. The contract also calls for salary negotiations to be reopened if city revenues top projections by 3 percent, an unprecedented provision since most contracts are based on cost-of-living or inflation measures. It also does not allow terms of the contract to be reduced if city revenues drop. “It’s a pretty rich contract,” said Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.