Privatization of public services on the march
How billionaires use minority groups to push an education privatization agenda.
The growing power of Michelle Rhee’s pro-privatization political arm, Stand for Children.
Does the privatization of public services save money? Not according to, well, numbers.
Booming business at Alabama shipyard fuels union campaign.
Key Quote: “The young kids, and there are a lot of them [at the shipyard], just don’t know anything about unions…They’re young and they’re not really scared of anything.”
The power of public worker unions in Southern organizing.
Missouri considers bill to force disclosure of model legislation.
Wisconsin Republicans push voter restrictions, lobbyist-friendly bills ahead of election.
Epic takedown of Pennsylvania’s paycheck deception supporters.
Finally: The ugly side of SAT prep
Wage theft, union-busting, terrible work environments at Kaplan.
Have you ever thought about how much money your employer is saving when you perform job duties off the clock?
Well, a group of bus drivers in Baltimore banned together and won a $350 million wage theft case against their employer, Durham School Services, for that exact reason.
From 2011 to 2013 Durham failed to pay workers overtime for things like bus inspections, cleanings and fueling, In These Times reports.
“We work hard and don’t make a lot of money to begin with,” Rosedale driver Martin Fox commented in a union press statement. “For many of us, the pay we didn’t receive was the difference between being able to pay the electric bill and having food on the table for our families. We are glad to finally win back the pay that was stolen from us.”
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 750 has been trying to organize drivers and aides for quite some time. The union was instrumental in getting the workers to file suit, and the union hopes that this move will be a stepping stone in the unionization process.
As it pertains to Durham School Services, there are several instances of this type of behavior. Worker complaints have been recorded in Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Florida. In 2011, California school bus drivers won a class action suit against Durham for $7 million in lost wages.
Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks on Flickr
A movement was reignited in Raleigh on February 8th.
The Moral March, better known as the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ), was held in support of fair voting standards and economically just policies in North Carolina.
That day, the streets surrounding Shaw University were choked with people as far as the eye could see.
We were joined by brothers and sisters from across the country, and we took to the streets to deliver a simple message to the state capitol: we’re not going to stand for regressive policies that hurt our families and communities.
Instead of tax cuts for the wealthiest few in North Carolina, we need to reinvest in our children’s educations, our colleges and universities, and our jobless. Instead of turning back time and making it harder for people to vote, we need to encourage participation in our democracy.
Supporters came out with signs in favor of immigration reform, women’s rights, labor, civil rights, education, environmentalism, faith, love, and basic human dignity.
This wasn’t a “fringe” group, by any means. We represented all stripes of North Carolinians. A Working America member told me this was the most exciting thing he’s ever seen and that he knows we’ve made it, because PTA groups from around the state were out in full force.
We’re fighting back
A policy that fueled the closely related Moral Monday movement last year was the passage of one of the most flagrantly undemocratic voting bills in the country. Among other things, the measure included cuts to early voting, eliminated same-day registration, photo ID requirements in 2016, and relaxed limits on campaign contributions.
These changes have the sole goal of making it harder for working people, poor people, minorities, students and seniors to elect people that represent their best interests.
“All these changes are just voter suppression. I think it’s unfair to keep people from their constitutional rights. We can fight back and protect the right of each American,” said Florence Price-Harrell, an activist from Greensboro. And fight back we will!
In addition to participating in the Moral Monday movement, our members are hard at work in our own communities. In January, Working America activists set a goal of educating 364,250 North Carolinians in the Triad about the voter suppression laws.
We’re reaching out to community groups, tabling at events, talking to friends and family, canvassing neighborhoods, and writing letters to the editor in hopes of ensuring these laws don’t have their intended impact: weakening the voice of the working class come election time.
With the Moral March in Raleigh on February 8th, we assembled again to make sure our voices were heard loud and clear. We’re back and bigger than ever. Forward together, not one step back!
To get involved in our team’s voter education efforts, contact Katie at 336-299-0635 or email@example.com.
Photo courtesy of alexmh17 on Flickr.
Senate Democrats plan all-night session on climate change.
In 2013, use of public transit reached highest level since 1956.
Key Quote: “We’re seeing that where cities have invested in transit, their unemployment rates have dropped, and employment is going up because people can get there.”
Is the 113th the worst Congress ever? Members of the 113th Congress think so.
ALEC goes hyper-local with American City Council Exchange (ACCE).
Is “right to work” alive in Ohio? Many fear a repeat of Michigan lame-duck session.
Related: Missouri workers deliver more than 7,000 letters to Speaker Tim Jones opposing “right to work.”
New Paul Krugman column: “Taking action to reduce the extreme inequality of 21st-century America would probably increase, not reduce, economic growth.”
Senator Bernie Sanders says he’s “prepared” to run for president in 2016: “somebody has got to represent the working-class and the middle-class of this country…”
Protesters are forgoing Congress and taking immigration reform into their own hands.
New York state is pretty close to giving workers paid family leave.
Finally: Despite conservative belief, the long-term unemployed aren’t prospering under the GOP’s “tough love”.
People who oppose raising the minimum wage are out of touch. That’s the key message to be taken from a new poll released Thursday. The poll, conducted on behalf of Small Business Majority, shows that 57% of small business owners support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Most of the respondents said that the higher wage would increase consumer demand and make them more competitive with large chain retailers like Walmart.
Nearly half of the poll respondents were self-identified Republicans or Republican-leaning, compared to only 35% who identified with Democrats. Overall, 27% strongly favored raising the wage to $10.10. The survey included a random sample of small business owners and was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner in February. Small businesses were defined as those with fewer than 100 workers. Several of the respondents spoke on the record:
“I welcome a nationwide increase that would pay all workers enough to survive,” said Zach Davis, owner of The Penny Ice Creamery in Santa Cruz, Calif., on a call with reporters Thursday. “An increase to the minimum wage would allow us to compete far more effectively with bigger chains,” Davis added. That sentiment was echoed by Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of St. Louis-based Left Bank Books. “If big businesses have to pay an increased minimum wage as well, it would be much easier for us to compete for a talented workforce.”
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: minimum wage
After proposing a $9.50 an hour minimum wage, legislators have been unable to decide whether or not the wage should gradually increase in future years.
Casting an even grayer cloud over the likelihood of an increase, Senate majority leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) has said that if the wage does adjust on account of inflation, the bill will be null and void this session.
“It doesn’t look like we’re making a lot of progress,” Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, told his fellow lawmakers as they attempted to negotiate a minimum wage compromise on Wednesday, the Star Tribune reports.
But, there’s still hope. Some legislators are encouraging residents of Minnesota to get involved in order to raise the wage.
On his Twitter feed, Minimum Wage Challenge participant Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul) encouraged people to get involved in the fight:
“If you live in Minnesota, and you care about a respectable minimum wage, you need to contact your state senator. Now. #RaiseTheWage.”
The distinction between an independent contractor and an employee is undoubtedly a confusing issue for many workers, but being misclassified as an independent contractor can result in quite a bit of lost revenue for actual employees.
A few weeks ago, two exotic dancers hailing from Illinois filed a class action suit against their former employer for improperly classifying them as independent contractors when they believed they were treated as employees.
The two ladies claimed that on paper they were independent contractors, exempt from benefits, hourly pay, overtime pay and a minimum wage, but, in person, they were treated as employees, forced to share tips and follow managerial instructions regarding schedules and attire.
The problem is that a lot of businesses get a financial break by classifying workers as independent contractors, while maintaining the same supervisory authority over them.
That’s a great deal for employers, but it’s also illegal. True independent contractors cannot be told how or when to do their job, they are their own business.
According the suit:
Defendants [VCG Holding Corp.] set the hours of operation; length of shifts dancers must work; the show times during which a dancer may perform; … the sequence in which a dancer may perform on stage during her stage rotation; the format and themes of dancers’ performances (including their costuming and appearances); … conduct while at work (i.e. that they be on the floor as much as possible when not on stage and mingle with patrons in a manner that supports Defendant’s general business plan) …
Another plus for employers, since independent contractors are viewed as individual businesses, they can’t organize.
“the industry-wide shift toward classifying dancers as independent contractors … has certainly made it more difficult for dancers to organize for labor rights. By law, independent contractors are unable to unionize. More insidiously, dancers’ endless competition for tips undermines the worker solidarity necessary for any sort of workplace organizing,” Rachel Aimiee, co-founder of the exotic dancer advocacy organization We Are Dancers, wrote in a 2012 essay for In These Times.
Although the distinction isn’t always clear, workers need to ensure that if they’re classified as an independent contractor, they’re treated as such.
Photo courtesy of Wendy on Flickr.
Tags: independent contractors, misclassification, wage theft