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Please begin with an informative title:

Thousands rallied in protest of the planned closing of 54 Chicago public schools this week, with more than 120 ticketed by police after sitting down in the street. Protesters pointed out that the vast majority of the students affected by the closings are black and Latino and all are from poor neighborhoods.

The Chicago Teachers Union's Kenzo Shibata gives some background showing that this kind of mass school closing is what Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett was brought in to do:

When Byrd-Bennett was appointed as Chief Education Officer of CPS in the spring of 2012, quickly and with little fanfare, her savior reputation preceded her. In Cleveland, where she was hired as schools CEO in 1998, Byrd-Bennett was called the “$300,000 wonder,” a reference to her salary. The narrative in Cleveland was that she expensive, but worth every penny. While media wrote glowing reports about her, Byrd-Bennett cut hundreds of teacher jobs and closed over 20 schools before leaving the district in 2006.

Flash forward to 2009, when Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Robert Bobb hired Byrd-Bennett as his “chief academic and accountability officer.” Over the next two years, Bobb and Byrd-Bennett closed 59 schools and cut 30 percent of the workforce. In the tradition of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s “Renaissance 2010” plan and Philadelphia’s “Imagine 2014,” in March 2011, DPS announced its “Renaissance Plan 2012,” which included adding 41 charters, making 29 percent of district run by private interests.

Byrd-Bennett  has proven herself so skilled at the art of “cleaning” districts that she has part time job with the Broad Academy training school superintendents in the ways of corporate education reform.

In Chicago, she's facing real opposition, though, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's poll numbers were already tanking before the school closings issue heated up.

Continue reading about wages, education and workplace safety below the fold.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

A fair day's wage

  • You really don't want the people taking care of you when you're sick to be overworked and exhausted. So this map of which states have banned mandatory overtime for health care workers is an interesting one.
  • Yes, it's still stupid to compare the federal budget to a household budget.
  • Bruce Vail reports on some more workers who aren't getting justice because the NLRB is paralyzed:
    Similarly, some Connecticut nursing home workers are being deprived of their legal wages and benefits, says Deborah Chernoff, a spokesperson for the New England division of the healthcare workers union 1199SEIU. In a case notable for both its bitterness and complexity, strikers at five nursing homes operated by HealthBridge are back at work, but not at the compensation levels ordered by the NLRB last year. Instead, they are receiving lower wages and reduced benefits ordered by a bankruptcy judge, and the NLRB is powerless to enforce its order or challenge the bankruptcy court's decision, Chernoff says.

    Meanwhile, the decision has stopped some organizing campaigns in their tracks. Ann Twomey, president of the New Jersey-based Health Professionals and Allied Employees union, says that about 200 nurses fighting for a union at Memorial Hospital of Salem County are “on hold” because of the legal uncertainty at the NLRB. The employer—notoriously anti-union Community Health Systems (CHS)—is stalling talks toward a first contract, despite the union’s 2010 victory in a representation election, Twomey says. Normally in such a case, the union could call on the NLRB to order the employer to the negotiating table. But that’s not an option until the legal authority of the NLRB is re-asserted, says Twomey. “The nurses are functioning as a union and are doing their best,” she says, “But they don’t have a contract, and there isn’t a way forward” without the NLRB.

  • Hyatt Andaz housekeeper Cathy Youngblood is a rock star of activism.
  • Hot new(ish) thing in cab hailing Uber faces allegations of tip skimming.
  • Walmart is suing the UFCW and other protesters in Florida for illegal trespassing. Guess those protests are getting under Walmart's skin.


  • A cyber school teacher talks: "Cyber schools are much worse than you think."
  • Michelle Rhee's spokeswoman apologizes to the Los Angeles Times for "misleading" statement.
  • Waves of school closings are hitting major cities including Chicago and Philadelphia, even though prior experience shows that the cost savings touted by supporters of school closings are often dramatically exaggerated. Valerie Strauss has a suggestion:
    Given that school reformers are always talking about the importance of giving parents “school choice,” you’d think they’d listen to the people who want their neighborhood schools saved. One way is to actually start to address the real reasons that many kids don’t perform well in school: Their lives. Living in poverty has consequences. Living in an unstable family has consequences.

    Why not turn under-enrolled schools into community schools?

  • As Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett slashes public higher education budgets in his state, one of those universities asked him to be its commencement speaker. Kevin Mahoney at Raging Chicken Press is trying to find out how Corbett was decided on for that role, but university officials really don't want to talk about it.

Workplace safety

  • Note the temporary staffing agency bit here:
    By the time Carlos Centeno arrived at the Loyola University Hospital Burn Center, more than 98 minutes had elapsed since his head, torso, arms and legs had been scalded by a 185-degree solution of water and citric acid inside a factory on this city’s southwestern edge.

    The laborer, assigned to the plant that afternoon in November 2011 by a temporary staffing agency, was showered with the solution after it erupted from the open hatch of a 500-gallon chemical tank he was cleaning. Factory bosses, federal investigators would later contend, refused to call an ambulance as he awaited help, shirtless and screaming. He arrived at Loyola only after first being driven to a clinic by a co-worker.

    Centeno died three weeks later. And he wasn't the only temporary worker treated as disposable by the company he was working for: "Such workers are hurt more frequently than permanent employees and their injuries often go unrecorded, new research shows."
  • Workers—including teenagers—continue to die smothered by grain, 26 of them in 2010 alone. The managers of grain storage facilities know the dangers, yet routinely send workers into grain bins to "walk down grain," breaking up clumps and knocking them off the walls, without safety equipment. Nobody is going to jail, and while OSHA often proposes big fines, it almost always cuts those fines way down in the end, for deaths that look like this:
    “It created kind of a quicksand effect,” Piper said. “So we worked around it and we were aware of it, and after a while … Wyatt ended up getting caught up in it and started screaming for help. Me and Alex went in after him, and we each grabbed one side of him under his armpits and started dragging him out, and got pretty close to the edge of the quicksand and then we started sinking in with him.” [...]

    “And it was just me and Alex standing there up to our chests completely, just trapped in the corn,” Piper said. “And Wyatt was underneath. I was hopeful that he was still alive, but at this point I’m pretty sure that he suffocated pretty quickly. The pressure underneath the corn was just too great.” [...]

    The corn kept flowing around Piper and Pacas. “After a little bit [Pacas’s] hand was sticking up above the grain and I could just see his scalp, and his hand stopped moving,” Piper said. “And the corn was up to my chin at that point. And it was slowly trickling down … and I was about to be covered, too.”

    The boys who died were 14 and 19 years old. Their employer was fined $68,125 for having workers too young for such hazardous labor, but a $555,000 fine from OSHA for 25 safety violations was cut down to just $200,000.
Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Invisible People, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Daily Kos.

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