Kentucky Derby Workers Vote to Strike – Greenville, Miss. Bus Drivers Strike – Grosse Pointe Teachers Strike

Churchill Downs voted to strike this week (Louisville Courier-Journal)

Folks, 

Greetings from the Burgh, where through some miracle the Pittsburgh Pirates are only two games behind 1st place in the NL Central. 

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Strike Looming at the Kentucky Derby

For years, Payday has covered the substandard working conditions that face Churchill Down’s largely immigrant workforce in Louisville, where the average worker only makes $26,000 a year. 

Now, with the Kentucky Derby set for Saturday, the members of SEIU Local 541 who work as horse valets have authorized a strike. 

Workers are demanding that their wages be raised from $16-an-hour to $20-an-hour. 

“There is no Derby without the valets,” David Suetholz, the attorney representing the union said during a protest outside the racetrack this weekend. “The valets are an absolutely essential part of horse racing. These are the men that actually saddle the horses and make sure that the weights are proper on the saddles.”

For more, check out WAVE-TV. 

Greenville, Miss Bus Drivers Strike 

In Greenville, Mississippi, nearly two dozen bus drivers went on a wildcat strike Monday to protest reduction in pay and hours. 

Our friends at Mississippi Today have the story: 

Edwin Young, who has driven for the district for two years, told board members on Tuesday that he made $16,000 last year.

“We’re not making anything … We are certified drivers, we got CDLs and we’re living at the poverty level,” he said, noting the additional lack of hazard pay amid the pandemic.

And there are other issues in addition to the low pay, he and other drivers said. He still hasn’t been paid for hours he worked in October of last year despite repeatedly requesting the payment from the district.

Lewis said she was exposed to COVID-19 earlier this month by a student on her bus. She had to quarantine for 10 days with no pay, and when she went to human resources, they said she wouldn’t receive pay, she said.

For more, go to Mississippi Today. 

110 Grosse Pointe Teachers Go on Wildcat Strike

In the wealthy Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe, over 100 teachers have gone on a wildcat strike to protest unsafe COVID changes at Grosse Pointe North High School, including reducing social distancing from 6 feet to 3 feet. 

“I completely support what (the teachers) are saying,”  Nicole Durkin, who has three kids in the school system, told the Grosse Pointe News.“They aren’t being heard by the board or the administration. They aren’t listening and they’ve been trying to talk to them for months.”

For more, check out Grosse Pointe News. 

Flint Nurses Beat Anti-Union Campaign to Organize 

Up the road in Flint, Michigan, 110 nurses at McLaren Hospital successfully defeated an anti-union campaign in the middle of the pandemic. 

“This group came to us prior to the pandemic because they knew our reputation for strong representation of workers in health care, and felt they were not being recognized for the life-saving work that they do,” said Nina Bugbee, President of Local 332 and Director of the Teamsters Health Care Division. “They endured an anti-worker, anti-union campaign by their employer during a pandemic and came out strong, deciding to form their union.”

For more, go to the Teamsters’ website. 

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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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