Columbus Teachers “Sickout” Strike – ICE Union Last Minute Deal Hurts Immigration Reform – NYC Taxi Drivers Shut Down Brooklyn Bridge

Greetings from the Burgh, where we’re facing yet another overcast, pollution-filled day that’s horrific for asthma sufferers.

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Columbus Teachers “Sick-Out” Strike with Covid Cases Still High

A week after Columbus, Ohio schools returned to in-person instruction, teachers at three elementary schools there refused to return to the in-person instruction because COVID cases were still high.

The teachers declined to comment directly on the “sick-out” strike and the union denied that they were directly coordinating it. 

For more, check out the Columbus Dispatch. 

NYC Taxi Drivers Shut Down the Brooklyn Bridge

In New York City, taxi drivers shut down the Brooklyn Bridge demanding federal and local relief from the excessive debt they’ve accrued from purchasing the required medallion certification to drive taxis in the city. 

While a group of taxi drivers gathered outside of Senator Chuck Schumer’s home in Brooklyn, Schumer announced his support for the federal legislation that the drivers demanded be enacted. 

“Drivers took direct action today and sent an SOS to Congress, and Senator Schumer heeded our call,” said New York Taxi Worker Alliance Executive Director Bhaivari Desai. “We are so grateful for the support of Senator Schumer. The Mayor has no more excuses.” 

For more, check out the Taxi Worker Alliance. 

ICE Union Freezes with Trump Immigration Policy 

A bombshell exposé by the New York Times reveals that a labor contract signed on the last day of the Trump Administration may limit the ability of the Biden Administration to change immigration policy. 

The Trump Administration even threw in concessions that would give the Border Patrol Union more funding and federal support. From the New York Times: 

One of the agreements, for example, says: “No modifications whatsoever concerning the policies, hours, functions, alternate work schedules, resources, tools, compensation and the like of or afforded employees or contractors shall be implemented or occur without the prior affirmative consent” in writing by the union.

The complaint also characterized the agreements as granting “outsize” levels of “official time” — compensation for time spent on union activities — that vastly exceeded what other public employee unions received, the complaint said. Mr. David Seide, [a lawyer representing the whistle-blower], estimated that these concessions by Mr. Cuccinelli, [the former Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security] would cost taxpayers several million dollars a year.

The agreements also require that the government cover union-related travel expenses, granting it a benefit that Mr. Trump had banned in 2018.

For more, check out the New York Times. 

John Nichols Remembers Anne Feeney’s role in the Wisconsin Uprising

On the 10th Anniversary of former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker launching his union busting attack on the right to collective bargaining in Wisconsin, John Nichols, associate editor of The Capital Times, examined the role that the late folk musician Anne Feeney played in the Capitol Occupation. 

From the Capital Times: 

Workers were constantly thanking Feeney, who died last week at age 69. The lawyer turned songwriter showed on picket lines across the United States and around the world to sing the union songs of Ralph Chaplin, Florence Reece, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Josh White — along with compositions of her own, such as “Have You Been to Jail for Justice?”

Feeney’s song about the pride she and her comrades took when they were arrested for resisting injustice — “The more you study history the less you can deny it / A rotten law stays on the books ‘til folks like us defy it” — became a favorite of the Solidarity Singers who kept the spirit of the Wisconsin uprising alive with daily singing sessions at the Capitol. The singing infuriated Walker and his right-wing allies, and the governor pressured the Capitol Police to arrest the members of that warm-hearted ragtag ensemble. So Feeney came back to Madison and added her voice to the chorus, in joyous defiance of the governor and his stooges.

Walker was eventually voted out of office by the people of Wisconsin, and the Solidarity Singers finished their long run in the rotunda of the Capitol. But Feeney found plenty of protests to join during the Trump years, as she rallied crowds for labor rights, civil rights, women’s rights and every other economic, social and racial justice crusade that needed a song to get people up on their feet and marching.

For more, check out the Capitol Times. 

Alright folks, that’s all for today. Keep sending tips, story ideas, links and comments to [email protected] 

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About the Author

Mike Elk
A protege of the late Bill Greider, Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated 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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