After Teacher Dies, SC Strikes Move to Intensify – Arkansas Poultry Workers Strike – W.V. Loses Its Baseball Teams

Meatpacking workers have tested positive for COVID at record rates. (Getty Images)

Greetings from the Burgh, where luckily, Melk has tested negative for COVID. (Thank God)

South Carolina Teacher Strikes to Intensify

As many school districts in the State of South Carolina are continuing in-person classes, more teachers are walking out of the classroom  In South Carolina, it appears that a growing movement of teachers strikes may be intensifying after a 50-year old 3rd grade teacher Staci Blakley died on the job this week in Lexington, S.C. 

“Anyone that’s trying to push forward at this time — that’s just irresponsible,” teacher Dottie Adams told WBTW. “If you have masks, if you have plexiglass, if you’re able to maintain that social distancing, things can work safely, but that is not happening across the board”. 

Groups like the rank-and-file organization SC for ED are now helping to organize walkouts across the state. 

“I don’t think SC for Ed has to plan it,” Shanni Perry told the Post-Courier. “You’re just seeing teachers quitting or saying ‘enough is enough.’”

For more, check out the Post-Courier. 

Arkansas Poultry Workers Strike

In Springdale, Arkansas a group of more than 30 non-union poultry workers walked off the line this week to protest unsafe working conditions.  

Facing South has the story: 

“In the afternoon shift, [social distancing is] much worse because there are significantly more people. That hallway is far too small for all of us to fit in it,” Juana, a worker who debones chicken at the plant, told Facing South in Spanish. She asked to be identified by a pseudonym because she and other protesting workers are worried about retaliation.

The majority of the striking workers are on the debone line, where they use knives and scissors to remove the poultry bones at a breakneck speed that workers say has increased in recent months despite the ongoing pandemic. In April, the poultry company George’s received a line speed waiver for the facility, meaning processing lines can run as fast as 175 birds per minute.* Many workers on the line make just $12 an hour. Some make even less.

Deboning and other aspects of processing poultry are hazardous in ordinary times, with workers at risk for repetitive stress injuries, back and shoulder problems, and cuts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Arkansas’ poultry industry has been the site of many outbreaks because of crowded conditions inside the plants, as Facing South has reported. Nationwide, more than 50,000 meatpacking workers have contracted the disease and at least 255 have died, according to an ongoing database maintained by Leah Douglas at the Food and Environment Reporting Network. This includes hundreds of confirmed COVID-19 cases in George’s Arkansas plants.

 For more, go to Facing South. 

Third Newspaper in Texas to Unionize 

So far, this year three newspapers in Texas have gone union. Both the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Telegram-Star unionized. Now, the Austin American-Statements has also opted to unionize. 

“A community as engaged and invested as Austin deserves a publication that reflects those qualities in its quest to hold powerful parties accountable, give voice to the underrepresented and underserved, and celebrate the vibrancy of our Central Texas home,” wrote the workers in a statement obtained by Payday Report. “For these reasons, we are forming a union to safeguard our future as a vital news provider, better preserving the resources we need to report on the issues and interests of our fellow community members.”

For more, go the new website of the Austin NewsGuild

West Virginia Loses All Four of Its Minor League Baseball Teams 

Finally, West Virginia has lost all four of its minor league baseball teams as a result of contraction. John Miller has the story at the blog Moundsville: 

It’s a sad day for West Virginia. Appalachia. Baseball is an essential American institutionand minor league baseball affiliation has been an important cultural bridge between Appalachia and the country’s richer cities. Fans in tiny West Virginia towns saw Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken play before they got to Baltimore. Cheering for those players brought rural and urban Americans together. For West Virginia, this is another example of capital and talent fleeing the state, and MLB’s move won’t do anything to help heal the country’s urban and rural divisions.

MLB, eager to save money and spend more money per player on development, has announced that Princeton and Bluefield will compete in the wooden-bat Appalachian League for rising college freshmen and sophomores. The Black Bears in Morgantown will play in the MLB Draft league, for draft-eligible rising college seniors. The Charleston, WV-based West Virginia Power, a Seattle Mariners affiliate in 2019, are still without a league for the 2021 season.

For more, go to Moundsville

Alright, folks, I’m exhausted, that’s all for today. Keep sending story ideas, tips, and Hannukah cards to [email protected] 

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is a yinzer labor reporter who covered the drug war in Brasil and spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian. In 2016, he used his $70,000 NLRB settlement from being fired in the union drive at Politico to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. The son of United Electrical Workers (UE) Director of Organization Gene Elk, he lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Email: [email protected]

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