S.C. Teachers “Sickout” Strike Again – Cleveland Heights Teachers Lose Health Insurance – 700 Albany Nurses Strike

Cleveland Heights Teachers Strike (WKYC)

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South Carolina’s Teachers Stage “Sickout Strike” – Again 

In 2019, Payday Report covered the first strike effort from teachers in South Carolina’s history. Now, for the second time in two months, a large group of teachers have gone on a “sickout” strike to protest unsafe working conditions. 

In the suburbs of Columbia, South Carolina, Lexington-Richland School District Superintendent Dr. Christina Melton asked the school board to allow students in grades 7th through 12th to return to a hybrid learning model after there was at least one positive COVID-19 case in 22 out of the 23 schools in the district. 

However, the school board took no action on the superintendent’s recommendation and classes are to continue in-person, four days a week. Unhappy with the decision, teachers decided to go out on a “sickout strike” to shut down several schools throughout the state. 

“For some reason, it felt a little more like a slap in the face for them not to make a decision at all, so a lot of teachers felt it was time to make our voices heard in a different way,” said Reina Floyd, a math teacher at Irmo High School told WOLO-TV. “That if enough of us are not available in the building, the building will shut down, and perhaps people in a position of power and decision-making will listen to us.”

For more, go to WOLO.

Cleveland Heights School Teachers Stripped of Health Insurance for Striking 

In Cleveland Heights, Ohio, teachers are also going on strike after the Cleveland Heights School district unilaterally imposed a contract that would raise health care premiums by 250% while cutting pay by 1%, resulting in teachers losing $3,000 to $5,000 a year in total compensation. 

However, the school district has decided to strip teachers of their health insurance in the middle of a pandemic. This move has had an incredible impact on teachers within the sector, especially at a time like this where they need to be able to feel secure. Each person has specific healthcare needs that they have to address depending on what they are doing, so areas such as catholic health insurance and/or family health insurance are important parts of their day-to-day lives, scrapping that can be detrimental to their health. They may need to find new plans by themselves if school boards do not relent.

“This outrageous move by our Board of Education is a heavy-handed attempt to quash our collective action by taking away our health insurance during the peak of a global pandemic,” Karen Rego, Cleveland Heights Teachers Union President, said in a statement. “We made the hard decision to plan for a strike to protect the quality health insurance that we have gained over the years by forgoing wage increases, and now the district is seeking to punish us by eliminating our healthcare altogether.”

For more, go to WKYC. 

New Rochelle Nurses Walk Off as Staff Levels Shrink 

In New Rochelle, N.Y., nurses at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital walked off the job over staffing levels that they say are now lower than before the pandemic. 

“The Administration doesn’t understand, because they weren’t there with us and patients during the first COVID wave. They didn’t see us stand in a circle holding hands and praying for our patients every morning. We don’t want that heartbreak again,” said emergency room nurse Shalon Matthews told WCBS.  “We want enough nurses, enough hands on deck for the second wave. We just want to deliver safe patient care to our community. They trust and respect us to do just that.”

For more, check out WCBS. 

Albany Med Nurses Strike Over Unsafe Conditions

Up the road from New Rochelle, nurses at Albany went on strike over unsafe working conditions. The Albany Times-Union has the story: 

Mary-Elizabeth Moshier, a nurse in the operating room who has been with Albany Med for six years, said nurses are tired of having their concerns go ignored.

“We’ve been hemorrhaging nurses for years,” she said. “Everyone says, ‘Oh, go work somewhere else then.’ But how does that help the staff and the patients who would be left behind?”

Sandra Hautau, an Albany Med nurse who’s been with the hospital system for 25 years and worked as a nurse for 31, said she has spent her whole career in critical care but had to leave because the burnout and stress had gotten too bad. Hautau now works in one of Albany Med’s physician practices, where the daily work is much calmer than the ICU.

“I took a $10-an-hour pay cut because the stress was so bad,” she said. “And it’s not like we were making a kajillion dollars at the hospital either. But I was willing to walk away from it because my health was more important to me.”

For more, go to the Albany Times-Union.

Sexual Harassment of Restaurant Workers Increases by 25% During Pandemic 

A new survey just released from One Fair Wage outlines how conditions have worsened for restaurant workers. 

The survey found that 44% of all restaurant workers say that someone working at their restaurant has contracted COVID. However, only 31% of those surveyed say that their restaurant always followed established COVID protocols. 

The study also found that 65% of restaurant workers reported that customers were docking tips if servers asked them to comply with COVID safety protocols.  

To make matters worse, a quarter of women servers said that they have seen an increase in sexual harassment during COVID. 

“[A male customer] asked me to take my mask off so they could see my face and decide how much to tip me,” said one worker surveyed told One Fair Wage. 

For more, check out the full survey here at One Fair Wage’s website. 

Alright, folks, that’s all for today.  Keep sending us tips, story ideas, hate mail, etc. to [email protected].

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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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