Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Georgia School Workers Stand Up Across State!

Mark Butler the Georgia Labor Commissioner
The precarious employment situation for school workers has been laid bare by the Georgia Labor Commissioner's callous decision to remove unemployment benefits for thousands of school workers (64,702 Georgians were classified as private "educational workers" according to the US bureau of Labor Statistics).  School workers (many of which are making wages well below the federal poverty level for a family of four) are laid off over summer months and other school breaks and therefore have relied on unemployment benefits as their only source of income.  This removal of income came as a complete surprise to many Georgia school workers as articulated by this Pre-K teacher in Norcross, GA:

"We had no idea about the new law.  Our employer told us nothing and the only thing we'd heard in the news was that bus drivers and cafeteria workers were no longer getting the benefit.  So, I've been being very patient like the instructor of my unemployment class advised.  Then, here comes the denial letter explaining that since I am guaranteed work in August, I don't qualify for the benefit.  I am in panic mode right now.  I have told everyone to give me until July to make payments because unemployment is backed up and now I am screwed.  There are no jobs, I have no children so no one will help me.  I don't expect a handout and I had a small savings, but it is gone.  I am upset because my employer told us nothing.  I could have been better prepared for this.  I feel betrayed!"


Pre-K Teachers in Norcross, GA Speak Out on Fox 5
It is no surprise that school workers from across the state are standing together and calling for an immediate reversal of Mark Butler's ruling.  This past week a group of 30 brave crossing guards in Augusta, GA went together to the Department of Labor to demand answers, they were escorted off of the premises by authorities.

Teachers in Griffin, GA are lifting their voices and connecting with other impacted workers across the state.

Impacted drivers in Columbus, GA are working with local community organizations to build public support and share resources.  Columbus workers are networking with their church congregations and meeting with local representatives to build a base of support for their upcoming speak outs and actions.

This weekend in Atlanta, GA food service workers from colleges and universities across the city as well as educational workers from through out the state are building a strategy together.  Impacted workers are getting connected because they are reaching out to communicate.

Workers are calling our office, calling their co-workers, e-mailing supportive organizations, posting on their Facebook walls, signing petitions and more.  All of these actions are simple first steps that help to build communication with the thousands of impacted workers that may feel stranded.  Please reach out to your co-workers, congregations, neighbors and anyone being impacted by this change.  Call our office at 404-913-9595 or e-mail us at admin@atlantajwj.org

Know that you are not alone.  There are thousands of hard working Georgians (and their families) that have been debilitated by Mark Butler's cold and reckless decision.  When thousands of educational workers, community supporters, unions and other allies come together and support each other, we are strong.  Mark Butler expected a whimper... It shows how out of touch he is with hard working Georgians.  By the way, Mark Butler's office number is 404-232-7300.  He is a state wide elected public official and needs to hear from the people of Georgia.  Let him know that you expect educational workers to receive unemployment benefits when they are laid off.