Immigrant Workers Strike Across Florida – 50 Strikers & Supporters Arrested at Connecticut State Capitol – Melk’s 37th Birthday

Felipe Sousa, executive director of Hope CommUnity Center, speaking at a protest demonsration in Orlando against DeSantis' immigration law. (McKenna Schueler/Orlando Weekly)

Folks, 

Greetings from the Burgh, where I am preparing to take a couple of days off to celebrate my 37th Birthday this weekend. 

Come down to PNC Park and celebrate with us tomorrow afternoon at 4:05 for a game against the Reds. 

Donate $37 to Help Cover the “Summer of Strikes” 

To celebrate my 37th Birthday, we are asking people to donate $37 to help us cover the “Summer of Strikes.” 

Check out our story on Erie, where 1,500 UE locomotive workers are preparing to strike to regain the “right-to-strike” mid-contract over grievances. 

Donate to help us cover the “Summer of Strikes.” Please, if you can, sign up as one of our 751 recurring donors today. 

Immigrant Workers Strike in Florida

Today, across Florida, hundreds of immigrant workers went on strike to protest new restrictive anti-immigrant laws signed by Ron DeSantis. The legislation passed last month by DeSantis would severely penalize those who aid immigrants by providing them with housing or employment.

In Florida, where 1 out of 5 presidents are immigrants, the anti-immigrant measures passed last month by DeSantis have drawn widespread protests. Even some small business owners, who employ undocumented immigrants, supported yesterday’s strike by closing their businesses. 

“So they can sympathize, empathize with the migrant community, we are asking people not go to work, not to consume and call their legislators and revoke the law, the new immigration law,” Yvette Cruz, from the Farmworkers Association of Florida told CBS News. 

For more, check out CBS News.

50 Connecticut Strikers & Protestors Arrested at State Capitol 

Nearly 1,900 home group workers have been on strike in Connecticut for a second week, demanding that the state pay them a living wage for their work. 

Now, 50 strikers and their supporters were arrested for protesting Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont’s budget, which includes tax cuts for middle-class taxpayers, but now wage increases for low-wage group home workers throughout the state. 

“This is not a time when the state of Connecticut should hide behind the idea of fiscal discipline, keeping us from addressing critical needs,” SEIU 1199NE president Rob Baril told Connecticut Monitor. “For 15 years, working-class folks in the state have been asked to wait. They’ve been told there’s nothing for them. They’ve been told that they’re not at the end of the line, they’re not even in the line.”

For more, check out the Connecticut Monitor. 

Eating Disorder Helpline Disables Scab Chatbot for ‘Harmful’ Responses 

Finally, earlier this month, the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) announced they were no longer employing call center workers and switching to AI bots. At the time, many call center workers charged that the association was engaging in union busting. 

Vice has the story: 

After NEDA workers decided to unionize in early May, executives announced that on June 1, it would be ending the helpline after twenty years and instead positioning its wellness chatbot Tessa as the main support system available through NEDA. A helpline worker described the move as union busting, and the union representing the fired workers said that “a chatbot is no substitute for human empathy, and we believe this decision will cause irreparable harm to the eating disorders community.”

As of Tuesday, Tessa was taken down by the organization following a viral social media post displaying how the chatbot encouraged unhealthy eating habits rather than helping someone with an eating disorder. 

“It came to our attention last night that the current version of the Tessa Chatbot, running the Body Positive program, may have given information that was harmful and unrelated to the program,” NEDA said in an Instagram post. We are investigating this immediately and have taken down that program until further notice for a complete investigation.” 

On Monday, an activist named Sharon Maxwell posted on Instagram, sharing a review of her experience with Tessa. She said that Tessa encouraged intentional weight loss, recommending that Maxwell lose 1-2 pounds per week. Tessa also told her to count her calories, work towards a 500-1000 calorie deficit per day, measure and weigh herself weekly, and restrict her diet. “Every single thing Tessa suggested were things that led to the development of my eating disorder,” Maxwell wrote. “This robot causes harm.” 

For more, check out Vice. 

Alright, folks, I’m checking out for my Birthday. See Yinz next week. 

Donate to help us cover the “Summer of Strikes.” Please, if you can, sign up as one of our 748 recurring donors today. 

See yinz next week, 

Melk 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing over 1,800 stories from 46 states, Elk was the only American reporter in the room with Lula on the morning of the election & traveled with him to the Oval Office. 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]