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Figures holding signs spelling out picket line.
Workers at the University of California hospital system are planning a two-day strike to protest inadequate staffing levels, increased use of temp workers, and changes to their pension plan, though the university announced Friday that the California Public Employment Relations Board would seek a temporary restraining order limiting the strike. Already, 13 were arrested as they protested at a UC regents meeting this week. The arrests weren't the only way the workers made themselves felt at the meeting, with one state senator tweeting:
I have cancelled my dinner w/ UC Regents tonight b/c #AFSCME informed us they would picket the dinner. I don't cross picket lines.
@tedlieu via Twitter for BlackBerry®
The hospitals are already canceling elective surgeries during the planned strike, but:
The union representing the 13,000 nursing assistants, scanning techs, operating room scrubs, respiratory experts and others threatening the strike said it will keep weekend-level staffing in critical areas such as respiratory therapy for intensive care, neonatal and burn units during a walkout.

In case of medical emergencies, some strikers will go back to work and then return to picket lines after the patients are treated, said Todd Stenhouse, spokesman for Local 3299 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. "The most important thing here is that patient safety be preserved," he said.

Nurses at California's East Bay Sutter hospitals are also beginning a seven-day strike against pay and benefit cuts.

Continue reading for more of the week's labor and education news.

A fair day's wage

  • New Mexico's Republican governor, Susana Martinez, vetoed a raise in the minimum wage. But she's not too eager to talk about it publicly.
  • Good stuff from the Obama administration: The acting labor secretary is on the road pushing for an increased minimum wage.
  • Just a couple of the reasons fast food workers are fighting back across the country:
    Like so many of New York’s fast food workers, [Burger King worker Kasseen Silver] makes $7.45 an hour, and rarely if ever is he scheduled for a full 40-hour week. Transportation takes a chunk of that money right off the top. “If I don’t have lunch money, breakfast money, if I don’t have any money throughout the week I have to make sure I have transportation to get to work and get back home,” he says. “That’s like $30 taken out of a $180 check.”
    And even though he's a new employee trainer, Silver hasn't gotten a raise in two years at the same job.
  • Oh look. Another study showing that unemployment benefits don't keep people from getting new jobs.
  • Sharecropping on wheels in Savannah, Georgia.
  • The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, yet another important bill that Republicans will never let pass:
    Borrowing from the Americans With Disabilities Act, it would require employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees who have limitations stemming from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer. This means that an employer might be required to modify a no-food-or-drink policy, provide a stool, temporarily reassign heavy lifting duties to other employees, or give an available light-duty position to pregnant employees in order to accommodate pregnancy-related limitations.

    Despite the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, employers routinely deny requests for temporary work adjustments by pregnant workers, leaving many without a salary and health insurance because they were fired, forced to quit, or pushed to take unpaid leave. The PWFA is designed to address the gap in the law that leaves these workers unprotected.

  • As crappy labor law and powerful corporations weaken collective bargaining, what could replace it?
  • A Universal Basic Income? Yeah, Mike, that is definitely thinking utopian. But I like it.


  • Another charter school unionizes, this time the Morris Jeff Community School in New Orleans.
  • Major protests planned against Chicago school closings.
  • Remember the Seattle teachers who boycotted a flawed standardized test, and were joined by parents and students? They had an impact:
    [Superintendent Jose] Banda says he’s taken the newly-released recommendations of a district task force on student assessment, and won’t make high schools give the test anymore. "The recommendation that came out of the task force is that it was not as effective for high school-age students," Banda said.

    Garfield history teacher and boycott leader Jesse Hagopian welcomed the news. "The teachers at Garfield High School are overwhelmed with joy," Hagopian said. “I think this is a real vindication of the movement that was started at Garfield High School by teachers but was quickly joined by parents and students at our school, and around the city, and really around the country.”

  • Why do colleges give so much aid to wealthy students?
  • Harlem Children's Zone CEO Geoffrey Canada is one of the shining stars of the education "reform" movement. Why does he lie so much? He goes around claiming that his school has a 100 percent graduation rate, and it's not even close to the truth.
  • Is the backlash against testing-driven education not just spreading but becoming more unified?

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat May 18, 2013 at 10:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  picket line (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Why is it assumed workers will cross the picket lines?  Will maintenance staff?  What about clerical workers?  Nurses?  Until unions respect other union picket lines, the labor movement will continue to shrivel and die.

    Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite. John Kenneth Galbraith .

    by melvynny on Sat May 18, 2013 at 11:11:39 AM PDT

    •  Clerical workers (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tb mare, Eyesbright, Oaktown Girl

      at the University of California recently ratified a contract with a "no strike provision." So even if we (since I'm a member of that union) wanted to engage in a sympathy strike with our sisters and brothers at the medical centers, we could not.

      To be clear, I voted against the contract, and I inquired with the lead negotiator as to why she would ever agree to such a demand by the university. Since, to be frank, we clericals at the UC are tremendously disheartened and disengaged by the state of labor relations as a whole, there was little actual opposition to the contract and is was ratified by something like 80-20%.

      Hilarious and yet sad fact: we clericals are actually part of the Teamsters- yet we STILL are unable to strike. Additionally, we have received no communication from the union as to whether we can refuse to cross a picket line without disciplinary action being taken.

    •  princliples are great (0+ / 0-)

      They do not however put food on the table.

  •  Sutter sux. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, Oaktown Girl

    Whenever I hear this greedy chain has gobbled up another mom-and-pop hospital here in northern California, it fills me with sorrow.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat May 18, 2013 at 11:12:11 AM PDT

  •  The sorry part that relates to my profession (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, PhilW

      A part of my health-profession job (RTW state)  was to irradiate blood products which is really low exposure.   It was also a relatively small part of the job.   There was never a policy that pregnant women shouldn't have perform this task, it was common sense.
         These pregnant women were "required" to wear an irradiation badge as a measure of quality which is an after the fact process.

         While some things seem to be basic common sense and logical, it is sad that exploitation is deemed more important than health / welfare of the individual employee.

  •  you go (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    brothers & sisters of the 99%, fight the good fight.

  •  Remembering NN12 (0+ / 0-)

    As a Providence resident, one of the most moving moments of NN here was when the newly-unionized Westin Hotel workers came on stage to thank us for refusing to come to Providence until they had a contract. Others (Biden, I think?) who also refused to cross their picket lines had a huge impact.

  •  Welcome to health care reform, and unintended (0+ / 0-)


    You're going to see a lot of this over the next few years.  Nurses, techs, respiratory therapists--basically the blue collar workers of healthcare--are going to see a lot of professional strain as health care reform is poorly implemented and shaped by the interests of management.

    Already in my hospital they changing the staffing grid.  We have to pull all of our common medicines out of the AccuDose because they refuse to staff pharmacy correctly.  Since now I don't know which medicines are actually going to be in the room, I have to spend time that would be better used caring for patients instead standing in line to pull out medication.

    Nurses are put on call because the staffing grid is not met, then called in an hour into the shift as admissions come to the floor. They do not receive report from the nurse who took care of the patient during the twelve hour day shift, but instead from the night nurse.  This night nurse has to stop his or her evening to pass on report to the oncoming nurse.  Since the staffing grid rules all, things are missed during this haphazard passing of report.

    Do more with less.  It's a common demand from management to labor.  It just happens that this time the labor is that man or woman keeping your wife, your son, your mother alive.

    I'm living in an age that calls darkness light.

    by electricgrendel on Sat May 18, 2013 at 04:40:05 PM PDT

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