Teachers’ President Weingarten links school privatizers to segregationists. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten tied the so-called school privatization movement to the racists and segregationists of the 1950s and before. School privatization features taxpayer-paid vouchers for parents of private school students, “choice” schools and similar schemes.

The battle for public schools predates President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Weingarten said. It recalls the racism before and during Southern “massive resistance” to school desegregation that the U.S. Supreme Court ordered, starting in 1954. It’s also class-based, she added.

“Decades ago, ‘choice’ was used to cloak overt racism by segregationist politicians,” she noted. “The ‘real pioneers’ of private school choice were the white politicians who resisted school integration.”

Organizer proposes “Workers’ Bill of Rights.” In a report this summer for The Century Foundation, longtime union organizer Shaun Richman proposed 10 rights for workers “rooted in the Constitution.” They are free speech, freedom from cruel and unusual regulations, the right to strike, the right to your job, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure during organizing drives, the right not to be locked out for exercising rights, to process union dues, to self-defense and mutual aid, to make demands and bargain freely, and for non-union workers to engage in concerted activity.

Rauner originated key anti-union lawsuit, AFSCME says. Roberta Lynch, executive director of AFSCME District Council 31, said a key lawsuit that could toss out “fair-share fees” paid to public-sector unions by “free riders” nationwide originally was filed by Illinois’ virulently anti-union Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Lynch wrote the nationwide crusade against unions in general and fair-share fees in particular is corporately financed. The Cook County Record, a lawyers’ publication owned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, confirmed that, noting Rauner originated the lawsuit, and the current plaintiff, state employee Mark Janus, became the lead foe later.

Lynch said that Rauner recently told a conservative think tank that he wants to use the court case “to change the culture and power structure in Illinois.”

“Janus v. AFSCME” is the second time the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund and its business backers have taken a case involving “agency fees” paid by “free riders” all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the group and Rauner prevail, it would prohibit contracts requiring that workers benefiting from union representation must share in the costs of bargaining and enforcing contracts.

“That would financially cripple unions and eliminate opposition to the pro-business, right-wing agenda,” Lynch wrote. “Attacking the freedom of working people to come together is exactly what the ‘Janus v. AFSCME’ lawsuit is all about.”

Oregon curbs scheduling abuses. Oregon has become the first state in the nation to crack down on a set of abusive scheduling practices that have become increasingly common at some large retail and food-service chains.

The “Fair Work Week” law applies to retail, hotel and food-service establishments with 500 or more employees worldwide. It requires employers to give workers two weeks’ notice of their work schedules, to pay for last-minute employer-requested schedule changes and to separate shifts by at least 10 hours.

A number of Republicans joined Democrats in backing the bill.

Oregon’s law, following similar municipal ordinances in New York City, San Francisco and Seattle, is likely to add momentum to the effort.

Missouri rolls back St. Louis minimum wage increase. Missouri lawmakers have forced a rollback of a higher minimum wage in St. Louis. Their action prompted a broad coalition including unions to launch a “Save the Raise” campaign that puts pressure on low-wage firms to keep, not yank, the $10 minimum wage the city mandated.

If successful, the drive would help 35,000 workers, one of every eight in St. Louis, to retain a minimum wage higher than the $7.70 state level.

The St. Louis ordinance is part of a nationwide movement by cities and states to raise the minimum wage despite federal inaction. The federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, hasn’t increased since 2007, and the GOP majority in Congress votes down all proposed increases.

If St. Louis employers roll back the wage for their lowest-paid workers, as Schnuck’s said it would do, “Save the Raise” organizers vow to protest. But they’re also rallying to show support for employers who are saving the raise. They started with a rally in late July in front of the Southwest Diner, a popular St. Louis restaurant whose owner Jonathan Jones said he planned to continue paying his employees the higher wage.

“When the city passed this, all the businesses that were against it said ‘The sky is falling! The sky is falling!’ ” said St. Louis Labor Council President Pat White. “Well, the sky hasn’t fallen, and I think if you look at cities like Seattle that have passed a higher wage, the workers turn right around and spend that money in the community. So it’s good for business and good for the economy.”

Letter Carriers’ food drive collects 35,000 tons. The Letter Carriers’ 25th annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive this year collected 71.1 million pounds of food distributed to local religious institutions, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, pantries and other enterprises that feed the hungry.

“At least six days a week, Letter Carriers see firsthand the needs of the communities they work in, and we’re privileged to be able to help those in need while leading an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans,” said union president Fredric Rolando.

News briefs courtesy of The Labor Paper

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