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Lorena and Martha Reyes at an International Women's Day rally against Hyatt hotels' abusive and sexist labor practices.
It's been a year since Lorena and Martha Reyes were fired from their jobs as housekeepers at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara just weeks after they objected to pictures of their heads pasted onto bikini-clad bodies being posted in a common area. They're still fighting to get justice, with supporters rallying Friday outside the hotel.

Officially the Reyes sisters were fired for "theft of company time," because they, like other housekeepers, sometimes took an extra 10 minutes at lunch to make up for other breaks they didn't have the chance to take during the day. Which is a super convincing reason to fire two people with a combined 30 years of employment at the same hotel, just a couple weeks after they stick up for themselves against treatment they found humiliating.

The Reyes sisters are waiting for the results of an EEOC suit they filed with the help of UNITE HERE.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

A fair day's wage

  • Josh Eidelson has more on planned Black Friday Walmart protests.
  • How does inequality in U.S. cities compare with other countries? New York is like Swaziland, Los Angeles is like the Dominican Republic.
  • AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Ai-Jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, respond to California Gov. Jerry Brown's veto of a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights:
    In the U.S., the labor movement continues to forge new partnerships with day laborers, taxi workers, domestic workers and other worker centres built around the dignity of all work.

    Communities around the country are joining together in our fight to reestablish opportunity and fairness.

    The governor can veto a law, but he can't veto a movement.

  • The ongoing protests against Bain-owned Sensata Technologies' plan to lay off American workers and move jobs to China led to three arrests Monday as protesters tried to prevent equipment from being removed from the plant as part of its closing.

    "I think a lot of people are scared because of the consequences," said a 16 year-old who was arrested as her soon-to-be-laid-off mother was inside the plant working. "But I believe that this is important."

    The workers have been appealing without success to Mitt Romney to help save their jobs; Romney has significant personal investments in the Bain fund that controls Sensata. Not only are they losing their jobs, but:

    The workers’ severance package was cut just a few months before Bain-owned Sensata took over the plant — signaling that the company wanted to avoid paying full severance to its employees when it shipped their jobs to China.
    They're petitioning to have their severance restored, but so far without success.
  • And more from Bain workers.
  • Brooklyn grocery store workers who'd been being paid below the minimum wage have gotten a $500,000 settlement, coming to about $9,000 per worker. The good news is these workers, who also unionized and have won pay above the minimum wage, overtime, and time off, got justice. The bad news is how common wage theft is.
  • This writing "job" pays "between .009 and .02 per word." Per Gawker's Cord Jefferson:
    In Portland, where the living hourly wage is $9.42, according to MIT's living wage calculator, that would mean low-end earners would need to write about 1,047 words per hour to keep their head above water. That's easy, right, professional writers?
    Ha ha ha. Yeah, sure.
  • More people over 65 are working.

The War on Education

  • Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard is gone, supposedly by mutual agreement.
  • Holy crap. Check out the money lined up behind a charter schools initiative in Washington state:
    Washington voters have rejected the opening of public charter schools three times — in 1996, 2000 and 2004 — but supporters are nothing if not persistent.
    First on the list (which starts with the biggest donations and goes down) is Microsoft founder Bill Gates, with a $2 million gift dated Oct. 4, 2012. He is also third on the list — with an $800,000 donation dated June 19, 2012, and he is No. 11 on the list — with a donation of $200,000, dated June 7.  He aggregate total, according to the Oct. 4. report, is $3.053 million.

    Another billionaire occupies the No 2 spot — Alice Walton of Walmart Stores, Inc., fame, who, unlike Gates, doesn’t live in the state. Her Oct. 5 donation is listed at $1.1 million. She is also fourth on the list, with a July 11 donation of $600,000, giving her an aggregate total of $1.7 million. [...]

    We move to No. 5 on the list, billionaire entrepreneur Nicolas J. Hanauer of Seattle, with a $550,000 gift dated Sept. 14, which adds to his $250,000 gift on July 11, his  $175,000 donation on June 28 and his June 5 donation of $25,000, for an aggregate of $1 million.

    No. 6 and No. 7 are Jackie Bezos and her husband, Mike, who happen to be the parents of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. They each gave $250,000, for a total of half a million, dated Aug. 28. But wait, they are also No. 13 and 14 on the list too, each with a $125,000 donation dated June 13. They are listed as living in Mercer Island, Wash.

  • Former New York City schools Chancellor Joel Klein has gone on to put the "corporate" in "corporate education policy" in a particularly literal way, working for Rupert Murdoch to develop a for-profit education division to Murdoch's corporate empire. It turns out that, like Michelle Rhee, Klein has created a mythology about his own background that's ... exaggerated.
  • Freddie deBoer explains why Klein's serial fabulism shouldn't be a surprise.

State and local legislation

Miscellaneous

  • I have such a writer's crush on Josh Eidelson:
    Like Obama’s canvassers, those for Working America tout the president’s accomplishments and assess public support for him. But they also probe grievances, swap stories and promote engagement. Working America wants to be a voice for these voters’ frustration, a challenge to their cynicism and an avenue for their mobilization. In the former steel towns of western Pennsylvania, where many have soured not just on this president but on all politics, Working America is trying to do something unions once did: bind working-class voters to progressive populism and to each other.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 10:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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