Greetings from the Burgh, where it’s a very busy Monday full of strikes across the U.S. as we’re seeing an uptick of wildcat strikes at health care facilities and schools. Likewise, we’re continuing to see an increase of more traditional strikes as union contracts expire.
Veena Dubal’s Brother is Missing in Mount Rainier Park – Can You Help Find Him?
First, an important ask for Payday readers in Washington state.
If you’re familiar with Payday Report, you know we regularly cite the work of UC Hastings labor law professor Veena Dubal. Last week, Dubal’s 34-year-old brother, Sam Dubal, went missing while hiking in Mount Rainier National Park.
There have been ongoing search-and-rescue operations in the park for Sam, who is also an anthropology professor at the University of Washington.
Authorities are asking for more volunteers to help with his search. If you know anything or could help, please get in contact with the Mount Rainier National Park Service at (360) 569-6684 or (253) 345-1363
Boise Teachers Strike in the Suburbs
Now that their COVID-19 levels have reached “red” status, over 653 teachers in Idaho’s West Ada Boise suburb have called in for a “sick out” strike. Previously, the school district agreed that they would close in-person learning if the COVID-19 levels reached red-level status — a status reached last Tuesday.
“These West Ada teachers want to be in classrooms with their students but are unable to do so because of mismanagement of safety protocols and lack of transparency in reporting of COVID-19 cases by the district,” Idaho Education Association President Layne McInelly said in a statement. “They are unable to achieve proper physical distancing because of large class sizes and inadequate facilities.”
Teachers say they plan to strike for a second day on Tuesday.
“We drew the line. If we don’t hold the line, we lose the line,” West Ada Education President Eric Thies told Idaho Education News.
Wisconsin Machinists Strike in Appleton
In Appleton, Wisconsin the 89 Machinists (IAM) employed at AstenJohnson, makers of specialty fabrics for the paper industry, went on strike over the company’s proposal to increase out-of-pocket health care costs for its workers.
“Because of the pandemic, affordable healthcare is now more critical than ever,” said IAM District 10 Directing Business Representative Alex Hoekstra in a statement. “These increases in cost put our members, their families and public health as a whole at risk. I stand shoulder to shoulder with the skilled workers at AstenJohnson in their fight and I call on management to come back to the table and negotiate a fair contract.”
Nursing Home Workers Strike in Detroit as Other Detroit Locals Settle
At Four Seasons Nursing and Rehabilitation home in Westland, over 60 SEIU healthcare workers are out on strike protesting poor working conditions and demanding higher wages.
Initially, SEIU Healthcare Michigan threatened to hold a strike of over 1,000 healthcare workers at 12 different nursing homes. However, all but one nursing home settled.
Michigan Public Radio has the story:
But by Sunday evening, the union said the strikes had been called off at all locations except for one: Four Seasons Rehabilitation and Nursing in Westland. (The facility’s operator, Charles Dunn, did not immediately return a request for comment.)
“After weeks of negotiations in which for-profit nursing home chain Charles Dunn, which owns Four Seasons, refused to reach a fair solution, workers are calling on management to improve staffing levels to ensure quality care for residents, provide adequate PPE for the duration of the pandemic, pay frontline workers a living wage, and take responsibility for the crisis of COVID-19 within nursing homes,” the union’s statement said.
Carolyn Cole, a certified nursing assistant at Four Seasons, spoke with Michigan Radio. She says the strike is about demanding respect from employers.
“I really feel like they’re still taking COVID as a joke,” she says, especially when it comes to proper PPE and sufficient pay. “And not us as aides, or the staff in the facilities, I don’t feel like the owners come out and appreciate us enough. And it’s just so heartbreaking [for the residents]…We have to play the family members, we have to console the residents we take care of. We have to be their ear, and they’re like, ‘Can I see my loved one?’ They feel like they’ve been neglected. And it’s on us to reassure them.”
Unionized New York Nursing Homes Had 30% Less Deaths than Non-Union Nursing Homes.
A new study by Health Affairs showed that nursing homes that were unionized had 30% less deaths than non-union nursing homes in New York State.
“Health care worker unions were associated with a 1.29 percentage point mortality reduction, which represents a 30% relative decrease in the COVID-19 mortality rate compared to facilities without health care worker unions. ” wrote the authors.
Migrants Farmworkers Locked on Farms During COVID
A major expose in the New York Times today revealed that many migrant farmworkers are being locked on farms as a supposed safety measure against COVID:
In Virginia, gone are the weekly outings to Walmart to stock up on provisions; to El Ranchito, the Mexican convenience store, to buy shell-shaped concha pastries; and to the laundromat to machine wash heavily soiled garments.
“You put up with a lot already. I never expected to lose my freedom,” said Martinez, 39, who is in his third year working in the tomato fields along the East Coast. He said workers spent months on end without interacting with anyone at all outside the farms, though Lipman eventually relented and organized a carefully controlled trip for groceries each week.
“You’re practically a slave,” said another worker, Jesus, who like others interviewed for this article asked to use only a first or last name for fear of losing his job and, with it, his permission to work in the United States.
MLB Players Union Creates Curt Flood Award
Finally, the MLB Players’ Association has created an award to honor Curt Flood, who sacrificed his baseball career to help lay the foundation for the modern player’s union.
The Curt Flood Award, which will be given this Thursday to honor the 50th anniversary of Flood’s challenge to the reserve clause.
In 1969, he was traded to the Phillies, which was at the time considered to be one of the most racist baseball teams by Black players. Flood didn’t want to play for them, so instead, he chose to sue MLB’s over its infamous “reserve clause,” which then denied players the right to free agency and tied them to a team which owned their contract for as long as they desired to play baseball.
“In the history of man, there’s no other profession except slavery where one man is tied to one owner for the rest of his life,” Flood said. “A well-paid slave is still a slave.”
The award will be given to “a former player, living or deceased, who in the image of Flood demonstrated a selfless, longtime devotion to the Players Association and advancement of Players’ rights.”
“Curt’s challenge of the reserve clause is truly an example of his courage, commitment to principles and justice,” his widow Judy Pace Flood said in a statement put out by the union. “He knew his actions could cost him his career, yet he took a stance for what he believed was right. Thank you to the MLBPA for continuing to honor and preserve the legacy of my late husband with this award so that his courage and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
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