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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg is among the plutocrats pouring money into LA's school board elections.
A group of billionaires and astroturf groups is trying to buy a Los Angeles school board election to expand the corporate education policy agenda in that city. One big goal is to defeat one-term incumbent and former teacher Steve Zimmer. The "Coalition for School Reform" has gotten $1 million from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But the group wasn't exactly broke before Bloomberg's contribution, according to the LA Times:
Education and arts philanthropist Eli Broad leads the way with a contribution of $250,000 to the coalition, which includes L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Also in for $250,000 is billionaire A. Jerrold Perenchio, who headed the Univision network for years.

Lynda Resnick, the entrepreneur behind POM Wonderful pomegranate juice and other ventures, has donated $100,000 to the coalition. Investor Marc Nathanson and his wife, Jane, have together given $100,000.

Bloomberg's former schools chancellor, Joel Klein, who now runs NewsCorp's education division, looking to turn corporate "reform" into profit for Rupert Murdoch, also chipped in $25,000, followed by another $25,000 this week. Also this week, Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst threw in $250,000.

This is the kind of money that's behind corporate education policy, with its attendant privatization, teaching to the test, and union-busting. And when you look at the players giving six and seven figures here, you realize how much more money is coming down the pike.

Keep reading for more in the War on Workers.

A fair day's wage:

  • Restaurant Opportunities Centers co-founder Saru Jayaraman, appearing this weekend on Bill Moyers:
    “If consumers asked, every time they ate out, or said to the management, ‘Love the food, love the service, I would love to see you provide paid sick days, as a consumer that’s important to me,’ or ‘I would love to see you do better on your wages, not pay $2.13,’ just before leaving, we feel like that could make a tremendous difference in moving the industry,”
  • Workers at the Castlewood country club in Pleasanton, California, were locked out for more than two and a half years before the lockout was declared illegal and workers let back on the job last October. But it's only now that they have a new contract:
    Under the new contract, workers will pay $225 per month for family health care, the same amount the union proposed before the lockout began. The workers’ payment will go down to $150 in the last year of the contract. The deal also includes raises, strong seniority rights and protections against subcontracting – which Castlewood proposed eliminating during the lockout – and a signing bonus.
  • Panera calls its bakers "artisans," but that's not how it treats them:
    VonEitzen, who has worked at her Panera franchise for two years, said she earns $10.45 per hour, or about $21,000 per year, putting her earnings at roughly 140 percent of the federal poverty line for a couple. The median pay for a baker in the U.S. is just a touch higher, at $11.27 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    But the cost of VonEitzen's employer health insurance plan for a couple would swallow nearly half her earnings, so she and her husband, who's had two heart attacks, go without it. Her paycheck brings in just enough to cover the mortgage payment and utilities, but the money is so tight that they often have to forgo her husband's costly heart medications, she said.

    Some Panera bakers are fighting to organize.
  • Hotel workers fired by the Hyatt Regency Baltimore for their union activism are back on the job after a settlement. And speaking of back on the job, workers at HealthBridge nursing homes will supposedly be back on the job on March 3 after HealthBridge dragged its heels all the way to the Supreme Court—twice!—to avoid an injunction ordering the company to reinstate the workers.
  • Curious about the real-life labor story that may have been behind the famous invocation against falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater? Corey Robin has it.
  • While CNN focused on passengers on that Carnival cruise ship, Josh Eidelson reminds us that the cruise ship's workers certainly had it far worse. In fact, their treatment on working ships is appalling:
    The international law governing cruise workers allows them to be worked up to 77 hours a week for as little as $600 a month. As Klein notes, that comes to less than $2 an hour. But in reality, he said, “a worker who’s slated as supposedly working 11 hours is very likely working 13 or 14,” and may go “10 or 12 months without a day off.”

    Isn’t that illegal? Sort of. Because Carnival and other top cruise lines operating in the U.S. fly the flags of other countries, they aren’t bound by most American labor laws (there are exceptions, including workplace injury cases). And while international convention sets bare minimums like the $600 per month wage, Klein says, “the enforcement of them depends on the country that regulates the ship.” Klein added that Carnival, the industry leader, is also “the leader in knowing how to keep your costs of worker treatment to a minimum.”

State and local legislation


  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is taking a "first step" toward possibly trying to refinance private student loans, which often have ridiculous interest rates.
  • The AFL-CIO has a new site @Work, highlighting stories of union workers and the jobs they do, like this:

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 10:55 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Could not agree more with this: (9+ / 0-)
    “If consumers asked, every time they ate out, or said to the management, ‘Love the food, love the service, I would love to see you provide paid sick days, as a consumer that’s important to me,’ or ‘I would love to see you do better on your wages, not pay $2.13,’ just before leaving, we feel like that could make a tremendous difference in moving the industry,”
    If consumers valued other things over "low, low prices," that would make a HUGE difference in everything.  If consumers valued "made in America" over low prices, we'd have more manufacturing jobs here.  If consumers valued good treatment of employees over low prices, and if they made purchasing decisions on that, you'd see big companies scrambling to make changes as to how they treat employees and then using that to increase business.

    But part of the problem is that the vast majority of consumers make purchasing decisions based overwhelmingly on low price (which is why Wal-Mart has been so successful).

  •  Good news from Arizona? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Krush, DavidMS, high uintas, luckydog, mkor7


    Glad to hear it though!

    Also good to see Bloomberg getting rightly criticized here...I may like what he's doing in regard to gun control, but his record overall is nothing for him to be proud of.

    “Now, I can imagine the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow morning: 'More guns,' you’ll claim, 'are the NRA’s answer to everything!'" -- Wayne LaPierre

    by tytalus on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 11:10:08 AM PST

  •  That election shows why we should tax the crap out (10+ / 0-)

    of these billionaires.

    It's the only way to keep them from destroying our democracy.

    Plus, we need the money.

  •  They want to privatize education (6+ / 0-)

    and "liberals" and "democrats" are leading the way.

    Make the poor kids "perform". Make us pay rent on what used to be the public weal for the profit of said "liberals", "democrats", and their hedge fund bosses.

    Perpetual crisis means never having to say you're sorry.

    by chuckvw on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 11:12:13 AM PST

  •  Didn't see that coming. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, a2nite, high uintas

    Actually, that's always been my fear.

    That's why I disagree when people say Chicago should have an elected school board.

    The corporate influence is bad enough now, but we can blame Rahm if it fails.

    It would be a zoo if the corporations could buy the election and nobody would be accountable for their behavior.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 11:17:12 AM PST

  •  Bloomberg union buster (6+ / 0-)

    Bloomberg demonstrates no respect for working people. To him, they deserve no job security no matter how long and faithful their service. And, they are entitled to no voice, hence the union busting. It is ironic that he pretends to be an advocate for kids. If his policies prevail, most kids will grow up to find an America where they have little chance for good wages, economic security and respect from their employers. I don't know what his motives are, but maybe his great wealth has made it impossible for him to understand the problems most people face in earning a living and providing for their families.

    Hooking up with Michelle Rhee and Students First is a natural for him. Remember, she thought it was a good idea to actually fire an educator on TV. Nice lesson for our kids.

    •  Bloomberg (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mike101, high uintas, akze29, ER Doc, mkor7

      Watching the lovefest by some on this site for Bloomberg on the gun issue, most specifically his purchasing of the IL-2 race, has been sickening over the last few weeks. Plutocrats like him want the "little people" to argue about social issues like guns while they further consolidate the political and economic power of the top 0.01% through privatization of public services like education.

      Bloomberg is no friend of progressives. He gets the bread, we get the social issue circus.

  •  I don't understand... (11+ / 0-)

    Everyone, from Kos on down, seems determined to aid and abet Bloomberg's interference with an election in Illinois, but we're all in a lather when he tries the same crap in Los Angeles?

    Things are more like they are now than they've ever been before...

    by Tom Seaview on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 11:30:56 AM PST

  •  Re wage theft: the magazine In These Times has a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, DavidMS

    good article about how states are no longer enforcing laws against wage theft:

  •  Illiberals (0+ / 0-)

    The hypocrisy of this article is that it sides with the the Teacher's Union which is by definition anti-outcomes and anti-children. As the head of the CTA in Los Angeles said: : we will favor the children only when kids form a union stronger that ours."

    There is no room for public employee unions when those who negotiate contracts are the beneficiaries of union funds. That is nuts. The taxpayer does not sit in on the negotiations, only the two partners in the incest that have destroyed public education.

    Rhee and her millionaires are asking for accountability and outcomes evaluation, nothing more. The money guys support the kids. Rhee is a right wing nut who, like a broken clock, is right twice a day. On teacher accountability she is right. Children in D.C. are victims of teachers and bad parents.

    BTW: Parent accountability must be addressed if this second rate country is to regain its educational leadership.

    •  Where does that come from? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      spacecadet1, ER Doc, mkor7, genocideisnews

      "We will favor the children only when kids form a union stronger that ours."

      Is that Rush Limbaugh speaking?

      Rhee went to D.C. and made a point of bringing cameras in to record a Principal's reaction to being fired. Of course, despite the obvious, she insists that she's the smartest person in every room she's ever graced.

      Problem is, no teacher can make up for bad parents. And only some of it for the problems that have some kids at IQ 60 - 70 - 80 when they arrive at First Grade.

      Rhee and her crew talk brilliantly. Listen? No.

    •  As a 37 year member of the NEA (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I can tell you that our local teachers' union which represents about 12K teachers is lead by other teachers who earn the same teachers' salary while on leave from the classroom to serve their term of office.  This only applies to the President and Vice President of the union.  The other officers and members of the bargaining team are all volunteers. No one is getting rich in our teachers' union. Union officers and the bargaining team bargain with the elected board of education.  Taxpayers are represented by their elected BOE.  Also--I might add--that public employees are taxpayers.  Somehow, people always seem to forget that.  

      The negotiated agreement deals more with working conditions (only a few pages are devoted to pay issues) which directly impact students.  Teaching conditions happen to also be learning conditions.  Eliminating tenure and other job protections directly impacts students as often the teacher is the only one advocating for costly services for students that the system doesn't want to provide.  Without tenure or some other sort of protection, the teacher can be put in the position of advocating for the student at the cost of their job.

      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

      by musiclady on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 05:33:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I say fuck this noise! General Strike! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Krush, akze29, genocideisnews

    It works in France. I'm just sayin'.

    Seriously though, these titans of industry and their Randian insanity think we can't live without them? Maybe we should show them what it is like to live without us.

    "Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination." - Mark Twain :*Which is odd, because I've never seen I Republican and thought, gee that person looks happy" -me

    by You know me man on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 11:37:56 AM PST

  •  About the LA schools, let's at least consider (0+ / 0-)

    that the billionaires are motivated not by hatred of workers but by love of children...all the studies are ambiguous about charter schools vs regular public schools, and having been only to public schools myself, I think that's one of American's greatest contributions.  But to think that very rich people are out to screw poor teachers rather than help poor children is paranoid at best.  What exactly would they have to gain?  Jerry Perenchio produced Blade Runner, perhaps the most influential motion picture of the last half of the twentieth century.  I just can't believe that he and Michael Bloomberg have any evil intentions...misguided, perhaps?

  •  Why do hedge funds ADORE charters? (6+ / 0-)

    There's gold in them thar hills!

    In a meeting with the Texas Charter School Association this morning, they related that the average rate that charters in Texas are paying for bonds is about 8% compared to about 3% for traditional public schools. That can mean the difference between debt service of $19 million and $29 million dollars over a 20-year term— ~$10 million. Now if you were a hedge fund manager, would you find that level of return inviting?
    the New Markets Tax Credit...
    Wealthy investors and major banks have been making windfall profits by using a little-known federal tax break to finance new charter-school construction.

    The program, the New Markets Tax Credit, is so lucrative that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years.

    Perpetual crisis means never having to say you're sorry.

    by chuckvw on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 11:43:25 AM PST

  •  Private Profit at the Public's Expense (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Money they spend on Rigging the Elections is

    The ONLY thing they care about is PROFIT.

    If Johnny Average manages to Read and Write it
    will be a Complete Accident.

    Local School Boards can be voted Out.

    Just TRY doing that AFTER the Corporations Take Over.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 11:46:38 AM PST

  •  "Joel Klein, who now runs NewsCorp's education (0+ / 0-)


    The Murdoch Gang is behind this !!

    That's all I need to know. Whatever Murdoch backs, there's a Bayesian formula that tells me it's 99% certain to be dishonest and a scam on the middle class and not quite as bad as what Bain Capital was doing on the same afternoon.

  •  Bloomberg (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    squarewheel, genocideisnews

    For all the good he's doing on gun control... is STILL an asshole.

    28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 11:56:33 AM PST

  •  He's trying to buy us, too (0+ / 0-)

    Remember this next time Bloomberg donates to IL-2.

    He's arguably trying to "buy" that election too, the difference is just that he's on our side.

    I'm not saying we should refuse money when our interests line up with someone wealthy, but let's be clear-eyed about what we're getting. Robin Kelly will be as beholden to Bloomberg's largesse as an LA school board member would be. I think she's clearly better than the alternative, but when those financial deregulation votes come up, maybe watch out for how she's leaning?

  •  Oh please, teachers unions are the biggest funders (0+ / 0-)

    of school board elections. And then we have these pathetic situations where the public isn't represented. In my home town, the teachers union represents the teachers.......and the school board represents the union. The negotiations are pathetic and the contract is wildly tilted to the job protections of adults as opposed to the academic needs of kids. Thousands of poor brown kids are failing. Progressives shouldn't be defending a system that is hurts kids, especially kids of color.

    •  Not all teachers' unions operate that way. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

      by musiclady on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 05:36:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Come off of it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Teachers unions and work rules aren't hurting kids; a total lack of proper funding for schools is the culprit.

      How due process and fair work conditions magically damage young people in your world is interesting. Let's try rampant poverty and the constant war on the poor by the rich as the real reason why young children have been failed. You can go peddle your anti-teacher rhetoric off of a cliff.

  •  Bloomberg-Chicago Representative Race Hypocrisy (0+ / 0-)

    It's amazing. Bloomberg's PAC helps out Robin Kelly in the Chicago Representative special election and he's a hero but now he's suddenly buying an election in LA. The truth is he's trying to buy the election in both places. Certain people just support Kelly so it's OK there. Hypocrisy. Bloomberg is a hack and a wannabe dictator either way.

    "This site's unofficial motto used to be "more and better Democrats", but we've gradually evolved it to "better Democrats".- Kos,11/29/2011.

    by progressivevoice on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 06:23:44 PM PST

  •  We've got 46 comments. They've got 2 million $ (0+ / 0-)

    People, not corporations. Democracy, not totalitarian capitalism. Fuck the NRA.

    by democracy is coming on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 08:20:30 PM PST

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