Uber Fires Driver Over A Tweet, But Backlash Helps Him Get His Job Back: Punching In

Washington Post reviews the state of minimum wage ballot initiatives

Alaska, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Arkansas in strong position to raise wages.

Minnesota absentee voting outpacing 2010

State has a big gubernatorial and Senate race this year.

Florida inmates dying after Gov. Scott privatizes health care

“Between 2008 and 2013, Corizon Health was sued 660 times for malpractice. But Governor Rick Scott’s administration failed to take note of this history when it awarded Corizon a $1.2 billion contract in 2011.”

Uber driver fired over a tweet, backlash gets him rehired

“Ortiz’s firing also shows that despite Uber’s flexibility, drivers are completely at the behest of the company.”

Just the Facts? Not from Rick Snyder

Just the Facts? Not from Rick Snyder

In this week’s debate between Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer, Snyder ignored the advice Sgt. Joe Friday in “Dragnet” always proffered to witnesses and suspects, “Just the facts” when it came to his record on education, jobs and the economy. That’s alright. The good folks at You Got Schooled 2014 have the facts that Snyder ignored.

Here’s a sample. Click here for the full story.

On charter schools:

Rick Snyder: “They are giving parents choice because we have had a lot of failing schools, and the point was to give parents the opportunity to give their kids an education, create competition.”

Mark Schauer: “The first thing I will do is put the money back [Snyder] took from public schools. It is irrefutable.…Charter schools were allowed to expand with no oversight. That was a big mistake by this governor.”

The facts:

  • Traditional public schools perform better than charter schools, even when poverty is taken into account.
    “According to the Free Press’ review, 38% of charter schools that received state academic rankings during the 2012–2013 school year fell below the 25th percentile, meaning at least 75% of all schools in the state performed better. Only 23% of traditional public schools fell below the 25th percentile.“Advocates argue that charter schools have a much higher percentage of children in poverty compared with traditional schools. But traditional schools, on average, perform slightly better on standardized tests even when poverty levels are taken into account.” —“Michigan Spends $1B on Charter Schools but Fails to Hold Them Accountable,” Detroit Free Press
  • More than 80% of Michigan charter schools are run by for-profit companies.
    “Michigan has more for-profit charter schools than any other state in the country. ‘We’re an anomaly in the nation,’ says Western Michigan University professor Gary Miron. He says over 80% of the charter schools in Michigan today are operated by for-profit companies, while the national rate is 35%.” —“Three Little-Known Facts About Charter Schools in Michigan,” Michigan Radio

On $1.7 billion business tax cut:

Snyder: He thinks business owners shouldn’t be taxed on income beyond what regular folks pay. He said, “We made a fair system to encourage job creation.”

Schauer: “Yes, I will repeal the job-killing pension tax. It is wrong, it is bad tax policy and it is breaking a promise.…Our ‘accountant governor’ is missing some columns on his spreadsheet and it is called people.”

The facts:

  • Snyder shifted the tax burden from businesses to individuals, so low-income individuals and seniors saw their taxes increase the most. 
    “A major tax shift approved by the Michigan Legislature in 2011 made the state’s tax system significantly more regressive by cutting business taxes by 83% while increasing taxes for individual taxpayers by 23%, with a net loss of state revenue. Low- and moderate-income families were hardest hit, as many of the credits and deductions  intended to reduce their income tax burden were reduced or eliminated, most notably a 70% cut in the state Earned Income Tax Credit—a refundable tax credit that has been shown to lift children and families out of poverty, increase employment and reduce the need for public assistance.” —“Losing Ground: A Call for Meaningful Tax Reform,” Michigan League for Public Policy
  • Snyder’s tax increases included a new tax on pensions.
    “A big and controversial part of that income tax increase was the taxing of public and private pension income. That change alone was expected to raise for the state, and cost pension-receiving taxpayers, about $343 million in fiscal year 2012–2013.

    “The changes are phased in, with those reaching the age of 67 in 2020 or after facing more taxes.

    “According to a House Fiscal Agency analysis, a retired couple born after 1952 with $48,000 in pension income would pay $3,130 more in taxes.” —“Foul on Snyder for Playing Word Games with Pension Tax,” Bridge magazine

For even more on Snyder, check out 5 Reasons Why Rick Snyder Is One of the Worst Candidates for Working Families in the 2014 Elections.

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Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Missouri’s Tea Party Speaker Has A “Solution” for Poverty in Ferguson: Punching In

Missouri’s Tea Party Speaker says “right to work” is the solution to Ferguson

Not coincidentally, Speaker Tim Jones was the Missouri ALEC co-chair until this year.

Why wait? Nearly 1 million Americans have already cast ballots in midterm elections

904,000 votes already cast, according to the AP, with 60 percent of those in Florida.

More than 1,700 workers in New England strike against FairPoint Communications

Strike comes two days after company froze worker pensions and replaced them with 401(k) plans going forward.

New York Attorney General sues Papa John’s franchisee for $2 million

AG Schneiderman: “My office will combat wage theft whenever and wherever we see it in order to protect the rights of hardworking New Yorkers, including pizza delivery workers and others who toil at fast-food restaurants.”

Walmart Wouldn’t Make a Dime Without Its Workers

Walmart Wouldn't Make a Dime Without Its Workers

A group of Walmart associates marched today from the AFL-CIO to the Washington, D.C., Walton Family Foundation’s offices to deliver more than 15,000 signatures from workers asking Walmart to pay $15 an hour and provide full-time hours.

Shouts of “We’re fired up! Can’t take it no more!” rang out as the workers and hundreds of supporters and allies marched down I Street and made their way to the foundation offices. Before the workers attempted to deliver the petitions, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka reminded everyone that Walmart, which rakes in billions every year, wouldn’t make a dime without its workers, yet pays wages so low that many of its workers need to rely on public assistance and food stamps to get by.

One Walmart worker, Isaiah, shared heartbreaking stories of seeing co-workers cry in the Walmart break room when they found out their hours had been cut, making it impossible to provide for their families.

When the workers got inside the office, the building manager claimed no one from the Walton Family Foundation was working today (um, OK) and said they couldn’t call the office because they didn’t know the number. “We’ll be back,” shouted the determined workers, including Bene’t Holmes who was leading some of the chants. Holmes said they weren’t going to leave the petition with the front desk and promised this is not the last time they would attempt to hand deliver those signatures.

Following the demonstration outside the office, 15 Walmart workers and supporters sat down in a cross section of the street in front of Walmart heir Alice Walton’s condo and took arrest. See some aerial views from the action below:

The workers were accompanied by union members and allies from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), AFSCME, AFT, Jobs with Justice, UNITE HERE, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), UAW, United Steelworkers (USW), the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and many others. 

See more tweets here and some photos from a similar action in New York City today:

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Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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NNU, AFT Urge Stronger Patient–Worker Protections in Ebola Treatments

NNU, AFT Urge Stronger Patient–Worker Protections in Ebola Treatments

In a letter to President Barack Obama about the growing concern over Ebola in the United States, the National Nurses United (NNU) urged the president to “invoke his executive authority” to order all U.S. hospitals to meet the highest “uniform, national standards and protocols” in order to “safely protect patients, all health care workers and the public.”

Two nurses who cared for an Ebola patient in Dallas who later died have contracted the disease and there have been serious questions raised about that hospital’s protocols and preparedness and concerns if other health care facilities are prepared. In the letter, NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro writes:

Not one more patient, nurse or health care worker should be put at risk due to a lack of health care facility preparedness The United States should be setting the example on how to contain and eradicate the Ebola virus.

Read more here and here.

At a press conference today, AFT, which represents nurses and other health care professionals, called on all health care facilities to adopt a three-point plan as the core of their response to treating possible Ebola victims and protecting the health care workers who treat them. It includes an infectious disease control protocol and worker protections; developing a dedicated treatment team of willing staff members—doctors, nurses and support staff and providing front-line health care workers a voice in developing the procedures, protocols and plans to deal with Ebola at their facilities.

Says AFT President Randi Weingarten:

Nurses and health care professionals are the front line in this fight, and their number one priority is to keep their communities safe….Health care professionals step up when there are crises, they run toward crises.

Read more here and here.

Along with calling for stronger protocols and protections, the United States along with NNU and AFT have been providing assistance to nurses unions and health care workers organizations in West Africa who are in the center of the Ebola battle. That includes working with international organizations to provide health care workers with education, training and other support. Weingarten says:

We must deal with the Ebola crisis globally and locally.

Bonnie Castillo, RN, director of NNU’s Registered Nurse Response Network, says:

All of us have a responsibility to support the humanitarian effort and assist the heroic nurses, doctors and other health care workers who are on the front lines risking their lives to heal the thousands of infected patients in West Africa.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Walker Says Minimum Wage Serves No Purpose

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) doesn’t believe the minimum wage “serves a purpose.” Yes, that’s what he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board Tuesday. It should come as no surprise then that Walker also opposes raising the federal minimum wage from the $7.25-an-hour level where it’s been stuck since 2009.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) doesn’t believe the minimum wage “serves a purpose.” Yes, that’s what he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board Tuesday. It should come as no surprise then that Walker also opposes raising the federal minimum wage from the $7.25-an-hour level where it’s been stuck since 2009.

For the 700,000 Wisconsin workers who earn less than living wages and would like to be able to support their families, Walker has some sound and sage advice. He says those workers in fast food and retail and other low-wage jobs just have to get better jobs. He suggests welding. Hand me my helmet and spot welder. Then beam yourself up, Scotty. Obviously you’re from another planet. Here’s proof.

Earlier this month, a group of low-wage workers filed a complaint with the state that the $7.25-an-hour minimum wage actually violates a state law that says the minimum wage must be a living wage.

According to the Walker administration, $7.25 an hour is a living wage. Who knew? This is what the state’sDepartment of Workforce Development said in rejecting the workers’ claim of poverty wages:

The department has determined that there is no reasonable cause to believe that the wages paid to the complainants are not a living wage.

You can’t make this stuff up.

The group Wisconsin Jobs Now said after that decision that Walker’s “political stance against raising minimum wage is one thing.”

But for the governor to brazenly say to the working families of Wisconsin that $7.25 an hour is enough to sustain themselves is not only misguided, it is incredibly ignorant and willfully obtuse.

We agree. So does Mary Burke who is running to unseat Walker. Burke, who supports increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, said the wage law does indeed serve a purpose.

It’s important that people who are working full-time are able to support themselves without government assistance. That’s just sort of common sense.

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Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Yes, There Was A Fan, But They Said Stuff at the Florida Debate Too: Punching In

New report reveals horrific extent of predatory outsourcing–aided and abetted by governors

Michigan’s Rick Snyder, Kansas’ Sam Brownback, and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker have given sweetheart deals to private companies that coincidentally supported their campaigns.

Chart: It’s impossible to afford college with a minimum wage job

“The total amount of student debt in the US has more than tripled in the past 10 years, from $363 billion in 2005 to more than $1.2 trillion today.”

Ohio’s Gov. Kasich still hasn’t given a clear answer on “right to work”

“When both the governor and his major-party challenger were asked a series of 20 questions recently by the Kasich-friendly Columbus Dispatch, Johnny Pennsylvania didn’t even bother to answer a majority of them.”

Yes, you read it right: Rick Scott delayed the Florida gubernatorial debate over a fan

But other stuff happened to: Scott lied about the minimum wage killing jobs and Charlie Crist criticized Scott’s education cuts.

Democratic Early Vote Outpacing 2010 in Key States: Punching In

Unions and environmental groups push Obama on methane regulations

“Methane is a potent source of emissions, and taking steps to reduce emissions is a substantial opportunity to put American workers squarely at the forefront of developing, manufacturing, and implementing these technologies—providing high-quality jobs and stimulating local economies.”

Democratic early vote outpacing 2010

Numbers out of North Carolina, Iowa, Nebraska, and Florida see surprisingly rosy stats for pro-worker candidates.

 Third graders at Ohio charter schools fail reading test at twice the rate of public school students

“Many times what the real objection from the charter school advocates is many times is that they don’t like the results…Facts are facts.  It’s not some liberal plot or some teachers’ union plot. The facts are what they are.”

Key inequality measure highest since right before Great Depression

Report from Credit Suisse also finds that the world’s richest 1 percent own 48 percent of all the world’s wealth.

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Union-Made in America Halloween Candy Shopping List

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If you want your Halloween to be all treats and no tricks, make sure all your candy is union-made in America. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s resource site, Labor 411, has an extensive list of union-made candies. Here are some highlights, featuring sweets made by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW):

1. Baby Ruth
2. Butterfinger
3. Candy House Buttons
4. Caramello
5. Clark Bar
6. 5th Avenue chocolate bar
7. Ghirardelli Chocolates
8. Halloween Candy Corn (Herman Goelitz Company)
9. Hershey’s Candy Corn Kisses
10. Hershey’s Extra Dark Chocolate bar
11. Hershey’s Hugs
12. Hershey’s Kisses and Kissables
13. Hershey’s Nuggets
14. Hot Tamales
15. Jelly Belly
16. Kit Kat bars
17. Laffy Taffy
18. Malted Milk Balls
19. Mary Jane
20. Mike and Ike
21. Peanut Chews
22. Rolo
23. Smarties
24. Super Ropes
25. Tootsie Roll
26. Trolli

What are your favorite union-made candies? Comment below.

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In Ferguson and California, Labor Is Vocal on Mass Incarceration: Punching In

AFL-CIO gets vocal on mass incarceration

Trumka: “It’s a labor issue because mass incarceration means literally millions of people work jobs in prisons for pennies an hour — a hidden world of coerced labor here in the United States.”

Karen Lewis has a brain tumor, not running for mayor

The Chicago Teachers Union, which remains tight-lipped about Lewis’ medical condition, already handed Lewis’ duties as union president to Vice President Jesse Sharkey which he would retain “until she’s recovered.”

Could Alaska be the showdown where the Koch Brothers meet their match?

“They’re up here on the airwaves 24 hours a day, seven days a week, trying to tie Mark to Obama. They say things 50 times a day on the airwaves that aren’t true. You gotta push back.”

Challenge to Arkansas minimum wage ballot measure fails

Voters in Arkansas will have the chance to vote to raise the state minimum wage to $8.50.