VA Teachers to Strike – S.C. Could Follow – 7 Florida Colleges Unionize

Over 5,000 adjunct professors at 7 colleges across the Florida College System are set to vote on unionizing (SEIU Faculty Forward)


Greetings from the Burgh, where Payday’s expose on the Colcom Foundation has led outlets like CBS Pittsburgh to follow our trail, and already some groups are talking of divesting funds given to them.  

Happy Birthday to Christine Bolaños

A big happy birthday to Christine Bolaños, who edits, translates and provides incredible moral support here at Payday Report.

Christine has been amazing to work with these past 4 months and I encourage everyone to follow her on twitter @bolanosnews08

Payday Only $545 Short of Raising $40,000 in 2018

In 2017, Payday raised $35,000. Now, we are only $545 short of raising $40,000.

If you can, donate and help us get there today.

Virginia Teachers to Strike on January 28th

On January 28th, teachers from various school districts across the state of Virginia are intending to go on strike.

The strike is intended to last one day and teachers are expected to rally at the Capitol in Richmond. The actions are being organized by a rank-and-file group called Virginia Educators United.

It’s unclear how many teachers are expected to participate as the action has not yet been formally sanctioned by the Virginia Education Association. This follows the pattern of other states that had teachers’ strikes, where often the rank-and-file lead and the teachers followed.  However, organizers expect to easily have at least 2,000 teachers at the State Capitol on January 28th.

Lacking collective bargaining rights, Virginia teachers make on average $51,409, while the nationwide average for teachers is $60,483.

This year, revenue in Virginia grew by 4.5%, and Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has proposed a raise of 5% for teachers across the board. However, the Virginia legislature is still narrowly controlled by Republicans.

Organizers hope that the march can put pressure on the state legislature to pass the proposed raise and increase funding for education.

South Carolina Teachers Threaten to Strike

South Carolina, where teachers also lack collective bargaining rights, could also join the growing wave of teachers’ strikes.

In South Carolina, teachers say that they are continually frustrated by the underfunding of education. South Carolina isn’t even meeting its own legal mandates to properly fund education; providing $4 billion less over the last 8 years  than required by state law.

The state currently enjoys a budget surplus of $1 billion and teachers are hoping that money is allocated for education. If not they say they will strike.

“There are other states just as conservative as South Carolina where teachers have walked out and gotten what they wanted. We’re not that far off,”  Tim Monreal a teacher from the wealthy school district of Lexington 1 told the Post and Courier, while he attended a day of action at the State Capitol in Columbia.

“If people in Lex 1 are upset and willing to take time off … this could happen,” said Monreal. “There are teachers here from schools you’d never think would walk out, and we’re darn close.”

Indiana Teachers Also Threatening a Strike

In Indiana, state teachers are frustrated by the lack of progress that the State Legislature is making on giving them raises.

Republican Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has said that he would prefer to study the issue and address raises in the next budget session, scheduled two years from now. However, teachers say that two years is too long to wait.

While state law forbids the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) from striking, ISTA President Teresa Meredith says that state law is unlikely to stop her membership from taking action.

“We will take the lead from our members,” Meredith told the Indianapolis Star. “In other states it’s boiled up from members and then the state had to decide how to harness that energy. So, we’ll see.”

Adjuncts at 7 Florida Colleges Move to Unionize

Over 70% of the instructors in the Florida College System are employed as adjuncts making very little money.

This week, SEIU Faculty Forward campaign announced that it plans to hold union elections for adjuncts at 7 different state-run community colleges across Florida – Santa Fe College, St. Petersburg College, Lake Sumter Community College, Polk State College, Florida Gateway College, Chipola College, and South Florida State College.

If successful, SEIU would represent 9,000 adjuncts statewide or 55% of all adjuncts employed in the state of Florida.

“We are witnessing an unprecedented upswing in organizing amongst college faculty. The fact that in just two years, the majority of adjunct professors in the Florida College System are on their way to union representation,” said Dr. Judith Bernier, Director of Florida International University Center for Labor Research and Studies.

“This level of union representation reflects deep dissatisfaction with a college system that has pushed many students and educators into poverty through increased tuition and low wages,” Bernier said. Availability of no-fee private student loans and similar financial resources does help them balance the situation to some extent. Uniting in one organization gives this group a collective voice and a powerful say in the future of education in the state.

Vince Carter and Other UNC Alumni Call on UNC Athletes to Stand Up Against Silent Sam

The plan to build a $5 million history center to house the controversial “Silent Sam” Confederate Monument has inspired a strike involving hundreds of teaching assistants at the University of North Carolina.

Now, over two dozen prestigious Black athletic alumni of UNC, including Atlanta Hawks star Vince Carter, are calling not just on the university to stop this proposal, but also on the school’s athletes to do more to stand up to racial injustice on campus.

“First, to the UNC current athletes: As former Carolina athletes, we recognize the very difficult position current scholarship athletes face in joining a public protest against this representation of white supremacy on our campus”, said the athletes in a statement released earlier this week.  “For those of you who decide to speak up and stand with other students, staff and faculty who are against this multi-million dollar investment for the housing of the statue, we applaud your courage and conviction. We support your right to express your democratic right of freedom of speech. You should not be fearful of repercussion.”
On Friday, UNC basketball coach Roy Williams called for the statue to be removed.

10 Times as Many Immigrant Workplace Arrests Than Previous Fiscal Year

New statistics released this week showed that there were ten times as many workplaces immigration arrests than in the previous fiscal year.

In the fiscal year 2018, which ended in September, ICE made 1,525 workplace arrests compared to just 172 in the previous year. In addition, ICE conducted 6,000 I-9 audits of workplaces, demanding employers show immigration papers of their workers, up from just 1,300 in the previous fiscal year.

“The 2018 worksite enforcement numbers show that while the Trump administration failed to meet [ICE Acting Director[ Thomas Homan’s ambitious goal of quintupling worksite actions, they got a good deal of the way there,” Sarah Pierce, an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute told Buzzfeed in an interview.

Disability Group Names Award After Intellectually Disabled Rosenthal Brothers Slayed in Tree of Life Synagogue Massacre

The first two people killed at the entrance of the Tree of Life Synagogue Massacre were Cecil and David Rosenthal, two intellectually disabled brothers, who had spent their lives together.

This week, the disability advocacy organization Achieva, dedicated a new award to be given to members of the intellectually disabled community who strive to make spaces more inclusive for others.

Diane Rosenthal, a sister of the brothers, said while accepting the award how touched she has been by how many people were moved by the story of the Rosenthal brothers.

“These people said these boys have touched their lives, and we’ve been so amazed at how much they’ve really impacted the community,” said Rosenthal in a speech at ACHIEVA’s annual dinner.  “For Cecil and David, inclusion and being part of the community was not something they needed to think about. It was their life and that was the way they lived it.”

Sinclair Chattanooga NewsChannel 9 Fires Reporter While Recovering from Cancer

Finally, back down in Chattanooga, a non-union TV station is putting a reporter with cancer through the ringer.

23-year-old TV reporter Alex George had quickly become a rising star at Sinclair owned NewsChannel 9 in Chattanooga. However, last May, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and took disability leave to receive treatment.

While George was expected to be on disability leave and receive payments for the next 6 months, she was informed recently that she had been terminated by Sinclair and would not be receiving any more payments.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting it. I thought the call was just going to be a check-up. I was disappointed, shocked, hurt,” George told the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.

“I was looking forward to going back, but they made a different decision,” she said. “I’m disappointed but have to focus on getting better.”

Weekend Reads

— The Columbia Journalism Review has a long look at the law firm aiming to bust digital media unions, Jones Day:

In May, the law firm Jones Day hosted a conference in its Manhattan office focused on labor and employment law in the news media industry. It was an invitation-only affair, bringing together Jones Day attorneys and media executives, in-house lawyers, and senior human resources personnel-in other words, anyone who might find themselves on the opposite side of a bargaining table from journalists trying to unionize.

The agenda for the event has the air of a support group, or a military planning session-like-minded protagonists defending against the hordes, or preparing to attack. In breakout sessions, attendees discussed “the major unions seeking to organize media businesses today”; “practical considerations for employers faced with complaints of harassment”; and “approaches for reducing costs and minimizing liabilities” pertaining to employee benefits and pension plans.

Attendance was good: Media outlets in the room included The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, Univision, and Atlantic Media, among others (some of whom are represented by Jones Day).

For more, go to the Columbia Journalism Review.

The Guardian has a long look at the doctor in Kentucky, who discovered the recent resurgence of black lung:

Dr James Brandon Crum was alarmed. For months, unemployed coalminers had been coming into his clinic in Coal Run Village, Kentucky, seeking chest radiographs.

One patient in 2015 stood out. He was in his early 40s, about the same age as Crum, and had three children at home, just like him, but he could barely walk. The 68 ft. hallway between the x-ray room and Crum’s office might as well have been Mount Everest’s summit. The miner repeatedly stopped to catch his breath. Crum, who had worked in his family’s coalmine as a youth, knew that this man, who was suffering from progressive massive fibrosis – the severe or complicated form of black lung disease – could just as easily have been him.

Back in his office, where papers, folders and Post-it Notes cover practically every available surface, Crum started asking his patients detailed questions. There was a mystery: why was he suddenly seeing so much severe black lung – an old man’s disease – thought to be an illness of the past, appearing in younger men with significantly less time in the mines?

For more, go to the Guardian.

— has an in-depth investigative piece looking at how the intellectually disabled are often sexually abused by caretakers, but yet their claims go ignored.

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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