Martha’s Vineyard Rocked by Transit Strike – Re-Run NewsGuild Election Likely & More

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.

Its Payday folks, Greetings from the Burgh, where Payday is starting to get back in the action after taking some time off following the defeat in Chattanooga. 

Payday Facing Eviction Threat over $323 Dollars in Late Rent Fee Checks

Things in Pittsburgh have been rough this week as I received a letter from landlords threatening eviction unless I pay $323 in accumulated late fees from all the times that I turned in my rent check late over the last year and half. 

So, please pass the hat so that Payday can avoid eviction. 

Martha Vineyard Bus Drivers Go on Strike

The elite Massachusettes island gateway is being rocked this by a strike of bus drivers employed by the Vineyard Transit Authority through a contractor Transit Connection (TCI). TCI has even brought in “scab” bus drivers from Puerto Rico to bust the strike. 

“We didn’t want to strike, but after five long years without a raise and poor treatment, we are left with no other option, Florida-based VTA private contractor Transit Connection (TCI) doesn’t have Island values and their enabler VTA Administrator Angie Grant has done everything in her power to bust our union” said VTA driver Richard Townes. 

Nancy Gardella executive director of the Martha Vineyard’s Chamber of Commerce told the Vineyard times that the demands of management are unreasonable and negatively affecting tourism on the island. 

“It’s a really unfortunate situation, and we really wish the management company would come to the table and resolve this,” Gardella told the Vineyard Times. “We understand from the VTA they do have enough seasonal staff that the major routes will run. We also understand there will be impacts such as less frequent rides.”

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have also issued statements of support. Bus drivers say they are prepared to strike through the 4th of July weekend. 

Re-Run NewsGuild Union Election Likely

Payday Report has learned that the NewsGuild will likely run a re-vote following allegations that over 1,000 union members did not receive ballots to vote in the election. An additional 2,000 new members didn’t receive instructions on how to pay dues in order to vote. 

NewsGuild Executive Vice President Marianne Needham, who is responsible for running the elections, has been calling locals unions about preparing for the possibilities of a new union election. Needham has asked locals to send addresses of members, who did not receive ballots and addresses for new members. 

If a new union election is held, many expect that embattled 61-year-old incumbent President Bernie Lunzer, would likely lose to 31-year-old reformer Jon Scheluss. Lunzer defeated Schleuss by only 232 votes in May. 

Chemical Safety Board Under Criticism For Not Listing the Names of Dead Workers

The federal Chemical Safety Board, which investigates workplace deaths in chemical plans, is under criticism for a decision to exclude the names of dead workers. 

Dave Jamieson at HuffPost has the story

The change prompted an outcry from occupational safety experts and advocates, who said the new policy was a disservice to the dead and to anyone who takes the time to read the board’s findings. More than 50 of them penned a letter to the CSB urging its leadership to change course and name those killed, so that the public recognizes the victims as real people with families.

The CSB is an independent federal agency that performs in-depth investigations of chemical accidents, helping victims, government officials and the public understand what went wrong and how it could have been prevented. 

During a public meeting held in Washington and over the phone Tuesday, the agency’s interim chief, Kristen Kulinowski, said she was asking the CSB general counsel to take another look at the policy on naming the dead, according to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, an advocacy group with representatives on the call.

Kulinowski noted there was “a lot of passion” around the issue. Indeed, the agency took more heat for the decision from experts who called into the meeting. “Nobody was there saying it was a good idea to leave those names out,” said Roger Kerson, a spokesman for the council.

Rest in Power: Tuskegee Experiment Whistleblower Bill Jenkins

Finally, Payday mourns the death of Tuskegee Whistleblower Bill Jenkins, who passed away at 73. 

The New York Times has a look at his life

Dr. Rowley said her husband had always been an activist. In high school, he had registered people to vote. In college, he was a foot soldier in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was jailed, along with the future Georgia congressman John Lewis and others, for protesting the whites-only restaurant owned by Lester Maddox, a segregationist and future governor of Georgia.

And while he was at the public health service, he helped start an underground newspaper, The Drum, directed at employees who felt they were experiencing racism in their work or witnessing it.

Later in his career, Dr. Jenkins founded the Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues, which is dedicated to eliminating health inequities among the races.

But it was the Tuskegee study that would define his life’s work.

For more, go to the New York Times.

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]

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