Virginia PTA Backs Walkout – TSA Workers Go on “Sick Out” Strike – Trumka Likes Warren

In some schools, teachers don’t assign homework because their budget for books is so small that they can’t afford to risk a student losing a $200 textbook. ( Sue Ogrocki/AP)

Greetings from the Burgh folks, where Payday is struggling to get over a case of vacation hangover. Thanks to everyone who contributed $1,108 to our winter vacation fund so we could afford to take some time off like non-freelancers.

Payday Raised $42,078 in 2018

Folks, 2018 was another banner year for Payday Report.

In 2017, we raised $35,000.

In 2018, we raised $42,078.

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Virginia PTA backs January 28th Teachers’ Walkout.

One of the stories that Payday hopes to cover in 2019 is the Virginia Teachers’ Walkout on January 28th.

Lacking collective bargaining rights, teachers in Virginia make $9,000 less than the national average.

On Monday, January 28th, teachers in Virginia are planning to go on a one-day strike to call attention to their conditions.  The strike has not received the formal endorsement of the Virginia Education Association but is being organized by Virginia Educators United, a collection of rank-and-file educators modeled on similar groups that helped lead strikes in Arizona and Oklahoma.

This week, the strike got a big boost when the Virginia Parent Teacher Association backed the one-day walkout.

“I am happy to report that the Virginia PTA Board of Directors voted unanimously voted to support the #RedforEd March on Monday January 29th” Virginia PTA President Sarah Gross wrote in a message to members this week.

Hundreds of TSA Workers Calling Out “Sick” to Protest Being Forced to Work WIthout Pay

As the government shutdown continues to drag on, hundreds of TSA workers are calling in sick to protest being forced to work without pay.

CNN has the story:

At New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, as many as 170 TSA employees have called out each day this week, Thomas tells CNN. Officers from a morning shift were required to work extra hours to cover the gaps.

Call outs have increased by 200%-300% at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where typically 25 to 30 TSA employees call out from an average shift according to a local TSA official familiar with the situation.

Union officials stress that the absences are not part of an organized action, but believe the number of people calling out will likely increase.

“This problem of call outs is really going to explode over the next week or two when employees miss their first paycheck,” a union official at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport told CNN. “TSA officers are telling the union they will find another way to make money. That means calling out to work other jobs.”

Trumka Likes Elizabeth Warren in 2020

This week’s announcement by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) that she intended to run for President had many in labor excited. Perhaps, none was more excited than AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

Trumka is very close to Warren and has played a key role in her political rise. In 2008, Trumka worked behind the scenes to lobby to have Warren played on the Congressional Oversight Panel responsible for overseeing the bailout with AFL-CIO Policy Director Damon SIlvers serving as her deputy.

During the debate over Dodd-Frank, Trumka put serious political muscle behind pushing  the Obama White House heavily to get behind Warren’s creation of the CFPB. Trumka also heavily encouraged her to run for both Senate and for the presidency in the past.

“In my opinion, she is the prototype of a person we would want to be president of the United States,” Trumka wrote of Warren in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session in 2014. “She has a very well defined set of values and unlike many politicians, she actually sticks by those values and fights to implement them. In short, it don’t get no better.”

AFL-CIO Unlikely to Endorse in 2020 Primary

Currently, labor leadership is as divided as the rest of the Democratic electorate.

Many of the more progressive trade unionists like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. However, many of the more conservative building trade unions could be supportive of Vice President Joe Biden if he decides to run for President. Additionally, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), long an opponent of free trade deals, has close relationships with several manufacturing unions such as Steelworkers and UAW.

While individual unions may endorse their preferred candidate in 2020, most labor observers think its incredibly unlikely that the AFL-CIO will back anybody.

To win the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, a candidate most receive 2/3rd of all the unions in the federation support.

As a result, the AFL-CIO hasn’t endorsed a candidate in a primary since 1999 when they endorsed Vice President Al Gore in a close presidential primary. In contested primaries in 2004, 2008, and 2016, the AFL-CIO remained a neutral; a position they will take once again.

However, Trumka’s close relationship with Warren could lead other unions to back her.

KKK Founder Statue Unlikely to Be Removed from Tennessee State Capitol

Anti-racist groups back down in Tennessee are upset this week that the Tennessee State Capitol will continue to host a bust of KKK Founder and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

While outgoing Tenn. Governor Bill Haslam favored removing the statue, incoming far-right wing Governor Bill Lee says he favors keeping the statue in place.

“I’ve said often times I think the removal of monuments is not the best approach to resolving the challenges that are presented with that conversation,” Lee told the Tennessean earlier this week.  “Wiping out history wipes out, also, the history that we’re not proud of.”

For more on the controversy, go to the Tennesean.

Weekend Reads

Over at The Prospect, retired New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse has a long look at the year of the strikes and why strike action is likely to continue:

For years, many labor experts seemed ready to write the obituary of strikes in America. In 2017, the number of major strikes—those involving more than 1,000 workers—dwindled to just seven in the private sector. Indeed, over the past decade, there were just 13 major strikes a year on average. That’s less than one-sixth the average annual number in the 1980s (83), and less than one-twentieth the yearly average in the 1970s (288).In 1971 alone, 2.5 million private-sector workers went on strike, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—that’s 100 times the number, 25,000, who went on strike in 2017.

But then came 2018 and a startling surge of strikes in both the private and public sectors. More than 20,000 teachers and other school employees walked out in West Virginia in February, followed by at least 20,000 more in Oklahoma. Probably the biggest educators’ strike came in Arizona, where more than 40,000 walked out. There were smaller, but still large, teacher walkouts in Colorado, Kentucky, and North Carolina.

This past September, 6,000 hotel workers went on strike against 26 Chicago hotels to demand year-round health coverage for all hotel workers. In October, 7,700 workers struck 23 Marriott hotels in eight cities, including Boston, Detroit, Honolulu, and San Francisco. In November, 15,000 patient-care workers, including radiology technicians, respiratory therapists, and pharmacy workers, held a three-day strike against the University of California’s medical centers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Irvine, and Davis. An additional 24,000 union members, including truck drivers, gardeners, and cooks, struck in sympathy. And in one of the most startling work stoppages of all, an estimated 20,000 Google workers walked out on November 1 to protest how the company handled sexual harassment accusations against top managers. “That was remarkable,” says labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein, pleased to see that even the elite workers at one of the world’s more prominent tech companies recognize the effectiveness of collective worker action.

To read the full story, go to the Prospect.

Folks, that’s it for a shortened Payday this week as things were slow. Be sure to check back in next week and

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. A native of Pittsburgh, Elk grew up in a UE union family. 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 attended journalism school at PUC-Rio de Janeiro. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburgh fluently. His email is [email protected]

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