Florida Prison Social Workers Strike – Martha Vineyards Transit Strike Enters Week 2 – RIP Jim Bouton

VTA bus drivers picketing for fair treatment at a protest in August. State legislators sent a letter to VTA administrator Angela Grant last week asking her to take "critical steps" to resume union negotiations.

Greetings from the burgh, where the Deutschtown Music Festival is underway. Pass the hat so that labor reporters can enjoy the weekend that the labor movement fought so hard for. 

Help Us Make an Aldi’s Run This Weekend 

Folks, the fridge here at Payday’s corporate headquarters is getting a bit barren. Help us stock up – donate today. 

Martha’s Vineyard Transit Strike Enters 2nd Week 

Despite the nation’s most elite island vacation spot being paralyzed by a transit strike, the story has received almost no national attention. 

Union officials say that despite two weeks on the picket line as the Vineyards Transit Authority’ subcontractor TCI refuses to settle with the union and has brought in scabs. The workers have called on the advisory board of the Vineyards Transit Authority to step in and force the subcontractor, but so far the board has refused. 

“I’ve been on the Island walking the picket line morning noon and evening… We need to get the board to be a functioning board as defined by the bylaws . . . Because that is not what’s happening” local union president Charlie Ryan told the Vineyard Gazette. 

Florida Prison Mental Health Strike Against Guard Brutality

In Florida, mental health counselors at Santa Rose Correctional Institute walked off the job to protest brutal conditions inside the prison. The recently unionized Jacksonville Times-Union has the story: 

Darsell Harris, a licensed mental health counselor at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution, told the Times-Union that she first heard about the comment from inmates, then requested to review footage of that area of the facility at the time the inmates specified. When she did, she said she saw three female officers and one male officer standing in a doorway in the dorm she worked in.

“It was a male voice that said ‘This is not her house,‘” Harris said. “Then I heard a male voice say ‘We’ll just let them beat the (expletive) out of her.’

Harris, who works for medical contractor Centurion, said she requested the officers involved to be moved out of her dorm, but she said supervisors instead suggested that she move to another dorm if she felt unsafe.

Seven employees in the mental health dorms at Santa Rosa walked out of work on Thursday, protesting Centurion and the administration at Santa Rosa for not swiftly disciplining the officers involved and ensuring that mental health workers felt safe at the facility.

Five of the seven employees who walked out on Thursday returned Friday morning to learn they were being suspended without pay, according to Harris, who was one of the five. The Times-Union spoke to three other people with direct knowledge of the suspensions. They confirmed Harris’ account but requested anonymity due to fears of retaliation for speaking to the media.

The employees, who work for medical contractor Centurion, said they no longer felt safe at work due to the administration’s inaction in the face of continuing threats made to their physical safety.

For more, go to the Jacksonville Times-Union. 

Immigrant Journalist Released From ICE Custody

Last year, Payday reported on the arrests of reporter Manuel Duran, an undocumented immigrant, who was arrested while covering an immigrants rights protest in Memphis in 2018. 

Now after 15 months in detention, Duran was released from detention on Thursday due to the legal help of the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

“I feel like I’m reborn. I am happy for this day. It has been a very difficult time, but thanks to God, this is the day I waited for. I am grateful for my team, family, and my community for all the help,” said Duran in a statement. 

Duran could still face deportation. However, legal experts expect it to be several years before a hearing date is set. 

Reform Slate Wins in Baltimore Teachers Union. 

For the past few months, teacher reform slate has been battling incumbent leadership for the control of Baltimore’s Teachers Union. This week, the American Federation of Teachers confirmed Diamonté Brown as the winner of the election. 

“While some may see a contentious election as an indication of disunity within the union, it actually shows how important the union is to so many people, and the challenges reaffirm that we are committed to the democratic process,” Brown told the Real News. 

Getty Oil Sets Up Climate Emergency Fund to Bail Out Climate Activists Engaged in Civil Disobedience 

The heir to the Getty Oil fortune, Aileen Getty, is partnering with Rory Kennedy and Trevor Neilson, an investor with ties to celebrity philanthropist to launch the Climate Emergency Fund. The fund will support acts of civil disobedience aimed at stopping Climate Change, particularly the Extinction Rebellion. 

“We have a full-blown emergency on our hands, and philanthropists need to act like it,” Neilson told the Chronicle of Philanthropy. “The people need to force the government to act — we can no longer wait for them to do what’s right, because it will be too late. Yelling on Twitter doesn’t create enough impact.

Youngstown Loses Its Newspaper

The City of Youngstown has lost its only newspaper the Vindicator. It’s unclear if the paper will close currently or if another buyer will materialize. 

The Nutting Family, which owns the Pittsburgh paper and the Ogden Newspaper chain that owns more than two dozen newspapers in Western PA, West Virginia, Western Maryland, and Southern Ohio has shown interest in buying the paper. 

Nutting already owns the paper in Warren, Ohio 19 miles up the road from Youngstown and could easily fill the void. However, Nutting has had a reputation of cutting staffs at nearly every paper he has taken over throughout the region. 

Rest in Power Jim Bouton 

This week, Payday mourns the death of whistleblowing baseball player Jim Bouton. 

Blacklisted from baseball for writing “Ball Four,” which exposed the culture of big-league clubhouse, Bouton never quit the game. Instead, he continued to pitch for Independent league; barnstorming the country to play small stadiums. Finally, 8 years later in 1978, he came back to pitch for the Braves. 

After I was blacklisted following the union drive, I thought of Bouton often as I toured around playing for whatever small newspaper in the South would have me – he was a true inspiration. Rest in Power Brother Bouton.

The New York Times in 1978 has a long look at the odds faced in Bouton’s return to the bigs: 

Bouton last pitched in the majors eight years ago, when “Ball Four” came out. The hook was a best seller, but Bouton’s earned‐run average was 5.42. He was released and went into communications. But after five years on television he started pitching again, first in a Canadian tournament and then for the class‐A Portland (Ore.) Mavericks, where he was 5 and 2.

In 1976 he was back in TV, because “Ball Four” had been bought as a situation‐comedy series. The Nielsen raters called it as they saw it, and last year Bouton—though he says he had other TV offers—went back to pitching.

Most observers, even those who had not been scandalized by the rollicking locker‐room revelations of “Ball Four” or by Bouton’s often rather brittle TV commentary, thought he was just gathering—or scraping up—material for another book. But good old Bill Veeck gave him a chance with the White Sox’ class‐A Knoxville affiliate.

There, Bouton was 0 and 6. “With any luck,” he says, would have been 1 and 5.” He was released. He went to Durango in the Mexican League.

There, he was 1 and 5. “With any luck,” he says, ‘I would have been 2 and 4.” He was released.

So he caught on at Portland again, and went 5 and 2 again. Last winter he approached the Braves’ owner, Ted Turner. “What the hell,” said Turner. “I’ve got a 5‐9 basket. ball player [Charlie Criss of the Hawks]. and I’ve already got one 39‐year-old knuckleballer [Phil Niekro of the Braves]. I might as well have another one.”

Go to the New York Times to read the full story. 

That’s all for Payday this week, see y’all next week and be sure to donate today.

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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