Saturday, June 30, 2012

School Workers Speak Out, Demand Meeting with Labor Commissioner.

Teachers, students, trade unionists, unorganized workers, community members and others came out in force to the Georgia Department of Labor earlier today to speak out against the sudden removal of unemployment benefits for contracted school workers across Georgia.  This change will impact thousands of hard working Georgians.

Alvin Edwards a school bus driver in Savannah, GA spoke out: "Not only are these drivers and monitors throughout the state of Georgia being effected by this... But our most precious cargo, our most precious entity, which is our children are directly effected by the decision of just a few people."

Our school systems (and school children) will lose experienced school bus drivers and food service workers if this change stands and workers are forced to find new jobs.

Kelley Grant a food service worker at Agnes Scott spoke out saying "I have been stressing, I have been worrying.  What am I going to do?"  Most workers were given little to no warning to prepare for the removal of their income over the summer.

Following the speak out the participants entered the Department of Labor to discuss the pressing issues directly with the Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler (the man that decided to remove the benefits).  At first, it was promised that someone would come down to dialogue with the workers.  However, they later rescinded their offer, stating that workers should just reapply for their unemployment.  Upon hearing this we decided that we would all sign in and go up to Mark Butler's office to engage with him directly.  After signing in we were barred from entering further into the building by security.

Earlier in the week we had requested a meeting with Mark Butler so he knew that we were coming.  It is telling that Mark Butler (an elected public official) was unwilling to engage with his constituents and the people that are being directly impacted by his decisions.  We will most certainly be back to seek resolution to this crisis.

Please sign and share the petition against these unemployment cuts.

Media Coverage:
Channel 2 WSBTV
Rome News Tribune Pre Rally
Rome News Tribune Post Rally


  1. Since when is unemployment for a worker that is in a job for 9 months and off for the summer? They are NOT unemployed. This is not what the unemployment system was meant to handle. We can fix this by simply paying the school workers over the full year instead of 9 months if that will help them budget their income. Get a summer job and quit complaining.

    1. For at least the past 16 years these workers have received unemployment benefits when they are laid off for school breaks. Workers in question are often laid-off for these school breaks with no reasonable assurance that they will be rehired.

      Budgeting the pay for the contracted school workers over the full year would leave some workers making less than minimum wage and almost all living under the federal poverty level.

      This change hurts our local economy, school children, employers and thousands of hard working Georgians. Small businesses will be hit because working families will not be able to spend, school children will be impacted because companies may be forced to higher less experienced drivers and cafeteria workers, employers will be hurting because they will have to recruit and train new workers with little experience and working families will suffer because they will have no income. Mark Butler should reverse his decision immediately.

    2. Roger,
      In order of your comments:
      1) 16 years does not make it the GA legal system there are rules over 100 years old that make no sense.
      2) Independent contractors are not subject to unemployment; employees are, but seasonal employees know the deal when they sign up. If their wage is not fair, then they should seek other employment.
      3) This change hurts all Georgians by placing the burden on the back of an unemployment system that is not intended to compensate a seasonal worker with a paid vacation. The cost of all goods in GA rises to cover the burden spread to all companies that hire in the state.
      If these workers would place half the effort that they did in picketing to finding gainful summer employment, they would EARN 3 times the money in a summer job than sitting on their butt adding nothing to the economy.
      If these workers are not employable in any other capacity than driving a bus or serving lunches, than we have a larger problem with that work force.


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