“I have never believed partisan gridlock is a way to accomplish our policy goals, so I haven’t come to this decision easily,” said Manchin on the Senate floor yesterday in explaining why he would filibuster the spending bill. “My reason for doing this is that over two years ago we promised the retired coal miners of America—we promised them—mostly their families, and there are a lot of widows now; we promised them they would have their health care benefits that were guaranteed to them and their pensions.”
Legal experts speculate that the decision for Durham to pay for Walker’s defense stems from their decision to clear their own legal liability. Already, three lawsuits have been filed against Durham accusing the firm of negligence in employing Walker. If Durham can help Walker beat legal charges then it makes it easier for the company to prove in later civil cases that it is not at fault.
“We have to ensure that their pay and working conditions are good enough that we get decent, qualified, focused people who can be entrusted with our children’s safety” says Yarbro “It’s hard to imagine any function more public than the school bus picking up and dropping off our children each day. There must be public accountability so that we make sure something like this never happens again”.
Many drivers say that the lack of training for school bus drivers employed by Durham and the low pay that makes it difficult to attract more skilled drivers. According to the wage tracking site GlassDoor.com, Durham School Services pays bus drivers on average only $14.92 an hour with many bus drivers being forced to take seasonal jobs, when school is out of session. Indeed, Genevere Walker, the mother of Jonnthony Walker, told CNN that her son was forced to work two jobs in order to make ends meet.
“By making race and family heritage a part of the campaign, Senator Gardenhire owes the people of District 10 a full explanation of his family’s slave-trading past,” says Muhammad.
UMWA’s Smith stresses the importance of passing the legislation soon. “Failure to pass this bill this year will put the lives of some 16,000 retired miners, their dependents and widows at immediate risk, as they will lose their health care at the end of December. About 6,500 more will be at risk of losing their health care in 2017.”
“We call it the curb effect,” he says. “Just like the [ramp at the] curb also makes it easier for [pedestrians with] a piece of luggage or a stroller. It ends up helping everyone.”
“We never stopped from last year,” said Paul Schaffer, who was the lead organizer on the campaign. “Our volunteer organizing committee kept fighting and kept going on strong.”