Labor Roundup | June 2018

“Medicare for All” campaign got Sanders, Ellison boost, but mixed congressional reception despite more than 150 nurses from around the country descending on Capitol Hill last month. The nurses were members of National Nurses United; they were praised by the measure’s main congressional sponsors – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Keith Ellison of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota. However, support was virtually nonexistent among Republicans and divided among Democrats.

The drive for single-payer, government-run national health insurance for everyone in the country has 16 Senate co-sponsors. Ellison has 122 lawmakers, more than half of the House Democratic Caucus.

But aides to Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) rejected Medicare for All in meetings with Chicago nurses, criticizing its funding and bureaucracy.

Besides single-payer health care, the nurses’ union is pushing for mandatory nurse-to-patient safe staffing ratios and legislation that orders health-care facilities to develop and implement anti-violence plans.

Christa Harris, a nurse at the University of Chicago hospitals, and Lilybeth Segara, a nurse, said they had to educate aides to Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) about workplace violence. “He didn’t believe it occurred,” Harris said.

Co-chair of New Poor People’s Campaign links war, racism, economy. Saying he wants the New Poor People’s Campaign to “promote an agenda of truth,” its leader, the Rev. William Barber, is connecting U.S. militarism and wars to racism and a distorted U.S. economy.

That economic distortion, at the hands of greedy corporations, includes their relentless campaign to eradicate the nation’s unions, he adds.

Echoing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 51 years ago, Barber declares that unless the United States turns away from a militaristic path, the nation is on a moral, political and actual downhill slide.

Militarism and war have extended through the centuries in the United States, Barber said, tied to corporate greed and profits, and it’s targeted black and brown people at home and abroad. That militaristic tilt and the racist tinge have occurred despite warnings from everyone from Republicans Abraham Lincoln to Dwight Eisenhower.

“This means we must challenge war and militarism,” Barber declared. “If this is left unchallenged and un-critiqued, America will have, as Dr. King said, ‘the potential to be the greatest purveyor of violence the world has ever known.’”

The NPPC was launched on Mother’s Day and is continuing with mass rallies at the U.S. Capitol and dozens of state capitols for 40 days. The drive, to push elimination of poverty to the top of the national agenda, will peak in a mass march in D.C. on June 23 and continue afterward with help from unions including the Steelworkers, Service Employees and the Teachers (AFT).

Tribune unionizing a ‘million-to-one shot.’ As the late, great Washington Post sports columnist Shirley Povich wrote, “The million-to-one shot came in. Hell froze over. A month of Sundays hit the calendar.” And Chicago Tribune management last month agreed to card-check recognition of the Chicago News Guild to represent the paper’s 235 workers.

Povich wrote his hell-froze-over lead covering Don Larsen’s 1956 World Series perfect game, The Trib’s voluntary recognition of the Guild had been seen as just as unlikely. For its 171-year history, the Tribune, Chicago’s dominant newspaper, has been virulently anti-worker and anti-union.

However, management had little choice: More than 85 percent of the workers signed union authorization cards.

“There is a rebellion brewing in newsrooms around the country,” said News Guild-CWA President Bernie Lunzer. “The journalists of the Chicago Tribune reflect that. Their fate and the fate of their publications are in their own hands. Workers are demanding quality journalism and quality jobs.”

NAACP official slams charter schools. California NAACP president Alice Huffman blasted the charter school movement as bad for teachers, kids and accountability, especially hurting kids in inner-city schools.

The NAACP commission on charters found that charters are a mess: Most don’t fulfill their promises, keep their budgets and spending secret, discriminate against the disabled, and yank due-process protections from disciplined kids and teachers.

“Believers in privatization” of schools, including for-profit charter school operators, “want to get the pot of dollars” states make available to public schools, she said. “And the one group they hated more than African-Americans was unions.”

News briefs courtesy of The Labor Paper

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