Labor Roundup | September 2020

Civil-rights, labor groups demand Senate pass HEROES Act. The New Poor People’s Campaign flooded Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office with calls on Aug. 3, demanding he let lawmakers pass the HEROES Act to aid the poor and workers nationwide, before people get evicted, starve or die.

The NPPC, joining the labor-led drive to force senators to OK the bill, held its “Digital March to Stop McConnell’s Misery, Meanness and Mayhem,” to show McConnell and the GOP that they’ll be held accountable.

“We have to pull him to the top and let people see what’s going on,” said the Rev. William Barber II, the campaign’s co-chair. “Right now, they only see Trump-Trump-Trump-Trump-Trump.”

“Back-to-school” orders endanger kids, families, teachers, union says. President Trump’s “back to school” command, despite the galloping coronavirus pandemic, risks the health of children, parents and school employees, says the outgoing president of the nation’s largest union.

Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, who steps down Aug. 31 from leading the National Education Association, said, “I rely on the experts – the Dr. Faucis – to tell us what to do to be safe.”

Beside safety precautions, the other big problem with physically reopening the schools is money, Eskelsen-Garcia added. Schools rely on local taxes for some 90% of their funding, and the pandemic caused those revenues to collapse.

Without adequate federal aid, needed testing, spacing and other safety measures and equipment, re-opened schools “will be your super-spreader” of the virus, she warned. “Look at what happened at those bars” GOP governors let reopen in May and June. “If there’s one (positive coronavirus) case, we might have to close the whole school down.”

“Show Me $15,” “Black Lives Matter,” echo from St. Louis strike. Cries of “Black Lives Matter” and “Show me $15” rang out through downtown St. Louis on July 20, when fast-food workers, clergy, unionists and allies rallied at a McDonald’s restaurant.

The St. Louis walkout was one of dozens of strikes nationwide, each lasting at least eight minutes and 46 seconds, to protest endemic U.S. racism witnessed in the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd.

“We cannot have economic justice without racial justice,” said Show Me $15 leader Betty Douglas. “It’s not possible to separate the two; they are linked, and that’s why we are out here fighting every day to organize unions and to push for an end to systemic racism and police brutality.”

News Guild pushes to save papers from “murderous” Alden hedge fund. The News Guild this summer launched a nationwide “Save The News” campaign to rescue newspapers from irresponsible owners, particularly the Alden Global Capital hedge fund.

The campaign proposes various solutions for breaking Alden’s increasing influence – nearing a stranglehold – on newspapers owned by the Chicago-based Tribune Co., ranging from the recently unionized Chicago Tribune to prominent papers nationwide, including the Baltimore Sun, Hartford (Conn.) Courant, Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel, the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press, and large groups of local papers in Maryland and Virginia. All are Guild-represented.

“Newspapers aren’t ‘broken’ and aren’t dying – they’re being murdered by Alden,” says the website of the anti-Alden campaign to save the Hartford Courant, “Alden has a well-documented history of buying newspapers, loading them with debt, slashing staff and selling off assets, extracting profits while the papers are left to bleed out,” the campaign website says. Job cuts of up to 75% have trashed quality.”

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News briefs courtesy of The Labor Paper

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