After a nationwide frenzy, lottery officials revealed yesterday that three Maryland residents had pitched in to buy one of the winning Mega Millions tickets. Each of the lucky winners will pocket around $35 million, after taxes.
That figure is exciting in its own right. But what makes this story truly remarkable is that all three of these winners, who have chosen to remain anonymous, work in the state’s public education system—and they’ve all decided to keep doing the work they love.
Earlier this month, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed H.B. 4246, a bill that will prevent graduate research and teaching assistants at the state’s public universities from forming unions and bargaining collectively. We asked Alix Gould-Werth (pictured), one of the graduate student research assistants (GSRA) involved in an organizing drive at the University of Michigan, to shed some light on this latest attack on workers. Read more »
Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its annual report on union membership rates in the United States. In stark contrast to the decline in union membership we’ve seen in recent years, union membership levels held relatively steady at 11.8 percent in 2011.
Though cash-strapped state and local governments cut jobs, the percentage of public sector workers in unions increased from 36.2 percent to 37.0 percent. Job loss in the public sector was offset by gains in the private sector, where union membership stayed at 6.9 percent with an increase of 110,000 union members. The construction industry, which experienced one of the greatest drops in unionization in 2010, saw 73,000 union members added in 2011—the largest net gain for any industry. Read more »
It’s been quite a year for workers. From Wisconsin to Washington, D.C., on the football field and the factory floor, we’ve seen unprecedented attacks on workers’ rights from Big Business and corporate-backed politicians. But we’ve also seen the resurgence of a movement to ensure fairness for all Americans and the beginnings of a great political awakening for the 99 percent.
Today, voters will head to the polls in Ohio and determine the political fate of Senate Bill 5, a bill that would severely limit collective bargaining for the state’s public workers. The referendum on the controversial bill comes just a few months after similar legislation passed in Wisconsin, which was greeted with massive public outcry and protests, culminating in efforts to recall both Democratic and Republican state legislators.
Meanwhile, in California, an initiative has been proposed that would re-introduce so-called ‘paycheck protection,’ which would limit unions’ ability to represent their members’ interests in the political realm. All of these bills are supported almost exclusively by Republicans, who argue that stripping away rights for public servants will somehow generate private sector growth while simultaneously erasing government debt.
There’s an often overlooked motivation for this anti-union legislation: Each bill would significantly limit the workers’ ability, through their unions, to effectively participate in the political process. This is particularly important when one considers that unions represent one of the only counterweights to corporate influence in politics, and offer one of the few avenues through which the 99 percent are given an opportunity to shape the policy choices of our country. Read more »
Today we are honoring the people who have inspired us, given us the building blocks of a fulfilling life, and taught us to love learning. No, we aren’t talking about parents this time. It’s National Teacher Day, a time to reflect on everything teachers do for America’s students, schools, and communities.
From the first day of school to the last ring of the bell, teachers shape our experiences both inside and outside the classroom. Read more »
Students celebrate the last day of school as the end of homework and the start of summer. But for many teachers across Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker’s attacks on public employees are still in full swing, the end of this school year may also be the beginning of an early retirement.
More than 130 teachers in Madison and its surrounding counties will be retiring this June–a retirement rate that’s 62 percent higher than the average from the past five years. Of course, it’s not just teachers who find their retirement on the line. The number of Wisconsin public employees that have filed for retirement in 2011 is up nearly 80 percent over the same period last year. Read more »
Yesterday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for a hearing on the state and local budget battles playing out across the country. Not that there was much lingering doubt, but Walker’s visit to DC confirmed that his controversial bill stripping public employees of their collective bargaining rights in fact did nothing to address the state’s fiscal woes.
Shocker, I know.
Weeks of protests across Wisconsin let unionbusting legislators know that workers won’t stand for ideologically motivated attacks on their rights. And this week’s Supreme Court race took that message from Madison to the polls. Read more »
Guest Post by Author and Labor Scholar Brigid O’Farrell.
When my phone rang in Moss Beach, California, I was surprised to find a young girl calling from a small town in Ohio, not far from Columbus. She and her friends in eighth grade were writing a play about Eleanor Roosevelt for a school project. She saw my book on the internet, She Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker. They wanted their drama to address the workers in Ohio and Wisconsin. “Eleanor Roosevelt went into a coal mine, didn’t she?” the girl asked. “Do you think she would be supporting the workers today?” Read more »