4,000 CA. Healthcare Workers Strike – East Baton Rouge Teachers Strike – OKC Transit Workers Unionize

Nurses hold a demonstration outside Jacobi Medical Center to protest a new policy by the hospital requiring a doctor's note for paid sick leave, Friday, April 17, 2020, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Greetings from the Burgh, where we just finished shooting our documentary looking at racial justice movements in Pittsburgh, set for release on the 2nd anniversary of the Tree of Life massacre, October 27th.

Help Fund Our Special Documentary Commemorating the 2nd Anniversary of the Tree of Life Massacre 

Following the Tree of Life massacre, in which 11 Jews were killed for their support of immigrant rights on October 27th, 2018, many leaders in Pittsburgh declared that the city was “Stronger than Hate.” 

Two years later, we’re releasing a documentary interviewing Pittsburgh’s leadership on what’s changed in the wake of Tree of Life. We ask how have new movements given energy by the spirit surrounding the “Stronger than Hate” message following the massacre and what has changed? 

Donate today to help us complete the documentary by October 27th. 

Over 4,000 Healthcare Workers to Strike in California 

As more and more union contracts expire, health care workers are increasingly going on longer, bigger and more planned strikes. 

Tomorrow, more than 4,000 health care workers represented by a variety of unions plan to strike. Michael Sainato at the American Prospect has the story: 

At Sain (AHS) in California, over 1,000 nurses and more than 2,000 hospital staff voted overwhelmingly to strike after SEIU Local 1021 spent nine months bargaining with the hospital. Members claim that negotiations have been met with several rollbacks, including wage freezes for three years and cuts to benefits and patient care.

The union issued a ten-day unfair labor practice strike to management on September 26, with a five-day strike to begin on Wednesday, October 7. Around 325 nurses represented by the California Nurses Association at AHS are also participating in the strike, and about 800 nurses in San Joaquin County are also striking at the same time.

“Management is proposing all these takeaways and wasting our time during this pandemic when we should be back taking care of our patients,” said John Pearson, who has worked as a registered nurse at Highland Hospital for about six years and is president of the Highland Hospital chapter of SEIU Local 1021. “They’re saying they want to take away all of these things we care about and need to take care of patients and they won’t move at all and they’ve rejected our proposals, so we feel we have no other choice right now.”

For more, go to the American Prospect. 

200 Minneapolis Healthcare Workers Strike 

In Minneapolis, over 200 healthcare workers (mainly radiology technicians) are striking at Allina Healthcare facilities over hazard pay and benefits as well as a lack of proper protectio against COVID-19. 

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic,” Mary Massmann, a labor tech at St. Francis, told CBS Minnesota. “We just want to know that we’re protected, that our families are protected…We want to be here for our patients. We don’t want to be out on strike.”

The workers plan to strike for at least two days.

For more check, out the union-funded Workday Minnesota. 

East Baton Rouge Teachers Walkout, Closing 5 Schools

As Payday has previously reported, teachers in Louisiana have been floating the idea of striking for the past two years, but have yet to follow through. 

Now that preparation may be paying off. Hundreds of teachers engaged in a “sickout” strike on Monday, forcing East Baton Rouge to close at least five schools because of understaffing. The teachers said that their schools aren’t being cleaned properly, leading many to worry about the spread of COVID-19. 

“The district promised us that when they made us go back that it would be safe and I do not believe that it is safe,” Paige Coldwell, an art teacher at McKinley Middle School told WAFB. 

For more, go to WAFB. 

Quaker School in Brooklyn Brings in Scabs to Bust Strike

At the Brooklyn Friends School, teachers are striking over the Quaker-run school’s refusal to negotiate, as well as discovering they’re being replaced by scabs. Brooklyn Paper has the story: 

In an email sent Friday, Oct. 2, administrators said that the school’s Human Resources director hired several teachers in anticipation of the strike in partnership with the Chicago-based substitute teacher program Kokua Education.

One source who first shared the BFS emails with this newspaper slammed leadership for hiring “scabs” while using a phony religious excuse to crack down on employees’ rights to organize.

“What they’re calling Quaker values is union busting and not allowing teachers to negotiate for a union, it’s really BS,” said the source, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retribution from the school. “Meanwhile they’re hiring scabs to replace them.”

For more, go to the Brooklyn Paper. 

Oklahoma City Streetcar Workers Unionize to Fight COVID Risks

As a right-to-work state, Oklahoma has traditionally been hostile country for many unions. But with the spread of COVID-19, some transit workers employed by Herzog Transit Services Inc in Oklahoma City are unionizing with ATU Local 993. 

“The company doesn’t tell us when a coworker gets sick with COVID-19,” Darryl Williams, an operator at HTSI, told KOKH. “The whole reason we began unionizing in the first place was for better safety protocol. Their priority seems to be retaliation rather than running a safe operation. They call us essential and talk a lot about safety, but their actions tell a different story.”

Williams was fired earlier this because the company alleged that he broke their cell phone policy. But union members allege that Williams’ firing was retaliatory in an effort to bust the union. 

“Herzog’s lack of regard for their health and safety is shameful and not a reflection of the values we expect moving forward. The workers voted overwhelmingly to have a union and we demand the company respect their decision and recognize the union,” said ATU Local 993 President Chris Bourke in a statement released by the union. 

For more, check out KOKH. 

How Silicon Valley Brought Back Piece Work in the Gig Economy 

Over at Dissent, UC Hasting labor law professor Veena Dubal has a long look at how piece work, once though largely abolished in the early 1900s, has come back as a result of Silicon Valley: 

Silicon Valley capitalists have brought back piecework, using legal gray zones and digital machinery to accelerate the amount of work that goes unpaid. But, bedazzled by the technology and corporate narratives, few people have noticed. When venture-funded labor platform companies like Uber, Lyft, and Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) rose in popularity during the Great Recession, they promised to provide a source of flexible work and “freedom for people of all walks of life,” as one Uber ad put it. In a time of high unemployment and stagnant wages, jobs that people could get by downloading software or creating a profile seemed like a magical solution for precarious lives. But the corporate assurances were deceptive. While the companies might have created new ways for people to earn income, workers in the gig economy today labor for longer and earn far less.

This shift back to an earlier era of U.S. capitalism has been disguised by a rhetoric of technological advancement and innovation. Indeed, instead of discussing how to regulate piecework as a resurgent industrial practice, much of the contemporary debate about the future of work focuses on impending automation and the growth of the alternative workforce.

For more, head to Dissent. 

That’s all for today folks, send up any story ideas, tips or links to interesting articles to [email protected]

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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