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This Week in Workers’ News

Federal workers in St. Louis protest, speak out against government shutdown
Their main message: They want to get back to work. But another key message was that the shutdown is not just tough on them financially, but also on the broader swaths of Americans they serve — particularly the rural poor. Read the full story in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Hundreds of TSA screeners, working without pay, calling out sick at major airports
“This problem of call outs is really going to explode over the next week or two when employees miss their first paycheck,” a union official at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport told CNN. “TSA officers are telling the union they will find another way to make money. That means calling out to work other jobs.” Read the full story on CNN.

Trump administration wages war on meatpacking industry workers
The Department of Agriculture is making changes to rules governing chicken and pork processing plants that will both eliminate restrictions on line speeds and reduce safety inspections. Injury and illness rates are already 2 ½ times higher than the national average for this industry, with rates for repetitive injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, nearly 17 times higher than average. Read the full article in Liberation.

Former employee files lawsuit against Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office
A former dispatcher and corrections officer with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office has filed a lawsuit claiming she was terminated because of her disability, pregnancy and requests for medical leave. Read the full article at the Bristol Herald-Courier.

Lawmaker Files Bill to Repeal Virginia’s Right to Work Law
The bill, HB1806, was filed by Delegate (and DSA member) Lee Carter (D-Manassas). Carter, a close ally of union bosses, also filed legislation granting government employees the right to strike and walk off the job, even when it would close public schools or threaten public safety. Read the full story in The Republican Standard.

‘We are not robots’: Amazon warehouse employees push to unionize
Workers at Amazon’s New York-based fulfillment center in Staten Island announced the launch of a union push with help from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Read the full story at The Guardian.

Federal employees union sues government over lack of pay
The American Federation of Government Employees alleged Monday that the government is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by forcing employees deemed essential to work without pay. Read the full article at CNN.

Why Aren’t Democrats Standing Up for Low-Wage Government Workers?
Janitors, security guards, and other contractors deserve back pay after the shutdown ends, just like federal employees do. Read the full article on The New Republic.

Protecting Pregnant Workers
The National Women’s Law Center urges that laws be passed to ensure paid family leave and accommodations for pregnant employees. Read more on the New York Times.

‘A kick in the stomach’: massive GM layoffs leave workers distraught – and angry
Cheryl Jonesco, who was laid off in early 2017 when the Lordstown plant cut its third shift, said: “They’re receiving our taxpayer dollars and investing in these other countries. I don’t know how Barra can lay in her bed and sleep at night.” Read the full article in The Guardian.

UAW sues GM over failure to transfer laid off Lordstown workers
The United Autoworkers Union has filed a lawsuit against General Motors claiming the automaker continues using temporary workers at its plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana instead of filling those jobs with some of the nearly 700 union members who have been laid off from the GM Assembly Plant in Lordstown. Read the full story at WFMJ.

The Exhilaration of Revolt
Teachers who have taken their fights to the streets have drawn the biggest share of our attention in the past years, but it has not just been them. The words “Green New Deal,” a demand that its proponents say can combine the needs of working people for decent jobs and a livable planet, are on the lips of many people — even in countries where the New Deal has little cultural resonance. Read the full article in the New York Times.

Benefits extended for National Grid workers
Massachusetts governor, Charlie Baker, has signed off on plans to extend unemployment benefits to National Grid workers who remain locked out of their jobs amid stalled contract talks. Read the full article at The Newburyport Daily News.

National Grid, Unions Reach Tentative Agreement To End Lockout
The two unions will present the terms of the agreement to their members for ratification on or before Jan. 7, 2019. Details of the agreement will not be shared [publicly] before both unions have had an opportunity to vote. Read the full story on CBS Boston.

Study details poverty, lack of health insurance among female health care workers
More Americans are employed in health care than in any other industry. Three quarters of them are women. The average hourly wage for female workers in health care is 25% lower than that of male workers. 34 percent of female health care workers, and nearly half of the Black and Latina women working in the health sector, earned less than $15/hour. Read more at MedicalXpress.

California’s devastating wildfires have made it harder for some day workers to find employment
Many homeowners in Malibu employed gardeners and housekeepers who lost their jobs after more than 300 homes burned down in the recent wildfires. Many workers are undocumented and can’t access federal disaster programs like FEMA, open a bank account, or access state unemployment benefits. Read the article at Marketplace.

Farm workers in California now eligible for overtime
Farm workers, who can work 10 or more hours a day, six (or more) days a week, have been denied overtime pay that many any other waged workers are entitled to under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Over the next three years, however, California farm workers at farms employing 26 or more workers will see overtime pay phased in; smaller farms have a 3-year extension before they need to start phasing in overtime pay. Read the article at Marketplace.

Women Working at Prisons Are Forced to Smuggle in Breast Pumps
Women working at Virginia’s Deerfield Correctional Center risked their jobs just to smuggle breast pumps past security. “Just one woman’s opinion, but maybe people shouldn’t be forced to resort to heist-level measures and risk their jobs just to pump safely at work.” Read the full story at Jezebel.

Government, union leaders fight closure of Catholic hospital serving DC’s poorest
Since Dec. 14, the hospital, a subsidiary of Ascension Health, has been operating only as an emergency room and bare-bones 10-bed inpatient facility, employing about 100 nurses and a small number of other staff. Ascension has said in public statements that the hospital, which has seen declining use, is no longer needed and that the company intends to provide for healthcare needs of the District’s communities in other ways, focusing on preventative care. But opponents of the closure are appealing to the courts and the National Labor Relations Board to keep the hospital open, arguing Providence and Ascension have a responsibility to sick patients who still need service. Read the full story in National Catholic Reporter.

Employee harassment at Green Bay prison
The hundreds of pages Target 2 received paint a picture of toxic working conditions at GBCI, riddled with fears of retaliation if employees voiced opinions or filed complaints. Read the full story at WBAY.

Misconduct in Federal Prisons Goes Unpunished, Congressional Study Says
The report, by the House Subcommittee on National Security, found that a permissive environment in the Bureau of Prisons had often made lower-ranking employees targets of abuse — including sexual assault and harassment — by prisoners and staff members. Read the full story at The New York Times.

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