Last week, professors joined workers, community members and students who have been waging an 8-month contract battle with Utrecht Art Supplies, a conglomerate of Blick Art Materials. The activists served management with a petition demanding that Utrecht move forward on a contract and supporting the workers’ right to unionize and earn fair pay.
Murphy Prof. Stephanie Luce explained the struggles of low-wage workers, many of whom are students, in work environment like Utrecht’s:
“A lot of the students have a hard time just covering their tuition because they work in these low-wage jobs…They also work at a lot of jobs that have unpredictable schedules so it’s even hard for them to make it to class.”
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Photo via rwdsu.info.
Photo by Thomas Altfather Good via flickr (CC-BY-ND).
Photo Credit: Kara Newhouse via Flickr
The latest cost-cutting strategy by the cash-strapped Philadelphia School Board strikes a shocking blow to educators in the city. Yesterday, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted unanimously to unilaterally cancel its teachers’ contract, throwing into question what it means to be an employed teacher in Philadelphia.
From “SRC cancels teachers’ contract” by Kristen Graham and Martha Woodall in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
The district says it will not cut the wages of 15,000 teachers, counselors, nurses, secretaries and other PFT members. But it plans to dismantle the long-standing Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Health and Welfare Fund, which is controlled by the union, and take over administering benefits.
Going forward, most PFT members will have to pay either 10 percent or 13 percent of the cost of their medical plan, depending on their salaries. They now pay nothing. Officials said that workers would pay between $21 and $70 a month, beginning Dec. 15.
Jerry Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, vows that the union will not give up without a fight:
“I am taking nothing off the table,” a clearly angry Jordan said at an afternoon news conference. Job actions could be possible, once he determines what members want to do. “We are not indentured servants.”
Read more at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Written by James Parrott, the Chief Economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute
For the first time in nearly five years, major labor agreements were recently reached covering public sector workers in New York City. On April 17, Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 concluded a new 5-year contract dating from January 2012 covering 34,000 workers at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), most of whom work for the subway and bus system in New York City. Two weeks later on May 1, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) reached a 9-year agreement with the City of New York stretching back to November 2009 that affects over 100,000 public school teachers and support staff.
Both contracts represented a breakthrough in ending managements’ demands for a 3-year wage freeze that had grown out of a counter-productive post-Great Recession conservative infatuation with public sector austerity, or more precisely, a mindset that held that workers had to sacrifice to help clean up the economic mess caused by financial sector excesses.
Continue reading The Significance of the TWU and UFT Labor Contracts