Thursday, March 28, 2013

Will fight this bill to the end. And then we march. Justice for School Workers.

Despite passionate arguments by the GA senators that stand with working people, HB361 passed the senate on a party line vote (36-16) on Monday.  It now goes back to the house for an up or down vote, and if voted through it will go to Governor Nathan Deal to be signed or vetoed.  We will fight this bill to the end and then we will March to Defend Unemployment Benefits in GA on April 20th.

Tomorrow (Thursday) is the last day of the legislature (called "sine die") and HB361 needs an up or down vote in the house.  Take action below to urge speaker of the house David Ralston, your congressperson, and Governor Nathan Deal to stop it.

HB361 would put into state law Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler's unemployment benefit cuts to laid off Georgia school workers. HB361 would also undermine workers' ability to sustain union representation in their workplace.  Stand with Georgia cafeteria workers, bus drivers, crossing guards and private school teachers!

Please Take Action to Stop HB 361:

1) Click Here to take action online and send a message to your representative, the Speaker of the House David Ralston and Governor Nathan Deal opposing HB 361.


2) Call your GA House Rep. and David Ralston the Speaker of the House and tell them to oppose this bill.

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David Ralston's Office Phone number: 404.656.5020

Find your Congressperson's number here
Sample Call Script:

Hello my name is _____________,
I am calling because I am opposed to HB 361, a bill that would eliminate unemployment benefits for over 60,000 school workers in GA. This bill is not fair because these workers are laid off multiples times a year during school breaks oftentimes with no income. They do not have the same job security and benefits as public educational workers. HB 361 is bad for GA school workers and bad for GA's students.

3) Join us at the capitol tomorrow (Thursday).  We will be there all day beginning at 10:00 am tracking the bill

4) In April we will be hitting the streets for a statewide march to defend unemployment benefits in Georgia! Georgia school workers, students and community members from across the state will unite in Atlanta.  Mark your calendars for 12:00 pm April 20th, gather at the AUC Promenade, 223 James P. Brawley Dr. SW Atlanta, GA.  Facebook event is HERE , or for those of you not on Facebook there is more information HERE


Monday, March 25, 2013

Today GA Senate Decides whether to Ban over 60,000 School Workers from Receiving Unemployment Benefits

This afternoon, the GA State Senate will vote on HB 361, a bill that will effectively ban over 60,000 school workers in the State of GA from receiving unemployment benefits when laid off during school breaks. This bill comes a year after GA Labor Commissioner Mark Butler unilaterally denied unemployment benefits to GA school workers with out any authorization under the law. This bill is an effort to bring Mark Butler's extralegal decision into accordance with unemployment law. The push for this bill highlights the unlawful nature of the unemployment benefits that were already denied to GA school workers throughout 2012.

Earlier this month the senate tried to pass this measure as an independent bill SB 227, however that bill failed to crossover. The language of SB 227 was amended to HB 361, a bill designed to allow let union members leave their union at any time during the year, and require the posting of instructions on how to leave or decertify unions in the workplace.

Today, GA Senators will decide whether low-income school workers across the state will permanently loose access to the unemployment benefits in which they require to support their families.

NOW IS THE LAST CHANCE TAKE ACTION (Click to take Action)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SB 227 has been resurrected as HB 361! We need you to contact GA State Senate Members

The Georgia anti-working family legislators are at it again. After SB227 (the bill that would put Labor Commissioner Mark Butler's denial of unemployment benefits into law) failed to pass a Senate Committee, legislators are still trying to pass this bill by attaching it to HB361.

HB361 would now legalize Mark Butler's unlawful denial of unemployment benefits to GA school workers and undermine workers' ability to sustain union representation in their workplace, an all out assault on the rights of Georgia workers.

Please Take Action to Stop HB 361:

1)
Click Here to take action online and send a message to the GA Senate opposing HB 361.

2) Call your GA State Senator and Lt. Gov Casey Cagle the President of the Senate and tell them to oppose this bill.


Lt. Gov Casey Cagle: Your Georgia State Senator:
240 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334

Phone: 404-656-5030
Fax: 404-656-6739
Click here to look up your senator &
Find contact info for all GA State Senators at:
www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/SenateMembersList.aspx

Sample Call Script:

Hello my name is _____________,
I am calling because I am opposed to HB 361, a bill that would eliminate unemployment benefits for over 60,000 school workers in GA. This bill is not fair because these workers are laid off multiples times a year during school breaks and most have no income during these periods. They do not have the same job security and benefits as public educational workers. HB 361 is bad for GA school workers and bad for GA's students.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day Laborers and the Struggle for Bread. India and the US.

The United Workers Congress (UWC) met with members of  the independent construction workers union called Nirman Mazdoor Sanghatana (NMS) in Mumbai, India this past week.  This union organizes in the informal sector, largely among workers that we would call "day laborers" in the United States, while in India they are referred to as "daily wagers."  Day laborers gather in small to medium sized groups in informal yet visible sites in a city or town (for example in front of a gas station, a public street corner, in-front of a shopping center) in search of work ranging from roofing, small construction projects, painting, loading and unloading goods and any tasks that the homeowner, business owner or small contractor may need.
Shelter built by organized daily wagers.

In Atlanta, GA one might find day laborers on Ponce de Leon standing in-front of the shopping center that includes Home Depot and Verizon Wireless stores....

We had the opportunity to visit a daily wager site in Mumbai that is organized with NMS.  This location was on a street corner on a busy road in Mumbai.  The organized daily wagers had built a shelter at this location to protect themselves from the weather while waiting for work.  As we stood hearing about the organization and the struggles and experiences of day laborers at this street corner, a group of workers quickly secured cold sodas from the store front just adjacent to the shelter and gave them to our delegation.
Impromptu political consciousness raising in Mumbai.
Daily wagers and members of the community quickly gathered at the site to understand what was going on and a leader of NMS took the opportunity to build political consciousness among the crowd around the need for worker organization in India.

Day laborers in both India and the United States face similar issues in their quest for work.  The strong connection between the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON) - a key part of the United Workers Congress - and the daily wagers in India was obvious.  Harassment from police officers for occupying public space, wage theft from employers, unstable employment and pressure from the surrounding community that may be wary of the day laborers presence to name a few.  NMS uses a community/labor organizing model and ensures that there is community representation on the elected leadership body of each daily wager site.  This promotes communication and understanding between the local community and the daily wagers.

Roses given to each member of our deleagtion
Before we left, the daily wagers again brought us gifts, this time roses (note that these gifts appeared spontaneously, the daily wagers were working their magic - or community connections - as we stood learning). The roses were presented to each member of our delegation.

As we were leaving the site a small, tight knit group of women approached us.  They were construction workers (day laborers).  When asked about their experiences working as construction workers as women, their response was simple, "if we don't do this work we cannot eat."
I was struck by the tight unity of the women as they rolled up to the crowd, here you can see their hands touching each other's shoulders as they addressed our delegation.

 
Indian day laborers engaging with the National Day Laborers Network (NDLON) from the US
In-front of the daily wager shelter, speaking with the construction workers




Monday, March 4, 2013

SB 227 Unemployment Benefit Cuts Bill Passes In Committee, The Fight Goes to the Full Senate Floor

Today the attack on school workers earned benefits and the unemployed continued with a 'unanimous' yes vote of the GA Senate Insurance and Labor committee (with two state Democratic senators not showing up for this critical vote, including 'friend of labor' Sen. Ron Ramsey!).  Now the fight to stop SB 227 moves to the Senate Floor.

Given that this bill was just introduced 4 days ago and the initial deadline to pass this bill is this Thursday, March 7th, we expect the Senate to bring this bill to a vote this week!  We need everyone to continue to contact their senators and tell them to oppose SB 227. 

Please send a message to your GA State Senators telling them to oppose SB 227. They need to know that SB 227 harms struggling hard working employees and hurts our state's economy.

Also please call our Senators, especially the Republican ones and tell them to vote against SB 227 when it comes up for a vote. You can look up the phone numbers of all State Senators here: http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/SenateMembersList.asp

Sample Call Script:
Hello my name is _____________,
I am calling to urge you to vote no on, SB 227, a bill that would eliminate unemployment benefits for over 60,000 educational workers in GA. This bill is not fair because these workers are laid off multiples times a year during school breaks and most have no income during these periods. They do not have the same job security and benefits as public educational workers. They require unemployment benefits every time they are laid off in order to survive.

WE NEED EVERYONE TO CALL & MESSAGE OUR GA STATE SENATORS BY THURSDAY, MARCH 7th.


SB 227 Background Information:
SB 227 makes the unemployment benefits cuts imposed on over 64,000 workers by GA Labor Commissioner Mark Butler permanent under law.  The workers that this impacts are private-sector workers in the education industry who are typically laid off multiple times a year during school breaks.  These school workers are living paycheck to paycheck working hard for limited pay and they require unemployment benefits to survive during these breaks.

Fortunately, the US Department of Labor challenged Mark Butler in his decision to cut benefits for these worker. They claimed that he had violated state and federal guidelines and threatened to cut off $72 million in federal administrative grants to the GA Department of Labor if the benefits were not restored. Unfortunately, the USDOL has not followed through with this action and now this issue has landed in front of the GA State Senate. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

URGENT ACTION NEEDED: Committee Vote on SB 227 this MONDAY, MAR 4 - 11AM

​URGENT: This Monday, the Georgia State Senate Committee on Insurance and Labor will be voting on: SB 227 a bill that would make the unemployment benefit cuts imposed by GA Labor Commissioner Mark Butler permanent under state​ law.

We need everyone to:

1. Take the online action to contact members of the Committee on Insurance and Labor before 11 am this Monday and Tell them to vote against SB 227

2. Attend the SB 227 Committee Vote:
Monday, March 4th - 11 AM
Capitol Building, Room 125

3. Quickly Spread the Word: Forward this email, Share this on Facebook and Twitter, Call your Coworkers, Friends, and Family.

4. Call Members of the GA Committee on Insurance and Labor:
*Committee Chairman Sen. Tim Golden - Phone: (404) 656-7580 
*Sen. Joshua McKoon -Phone: (404) 463-3931
*Sen. Ronald Ramsey - Phone: (404) 463-2598
Sen. Charlie Bethel - Phone: (404) 651-7738
Sen. Ed Harbison - Phone: (404) 656-0074
Sen. Judson Hill - Phone: (404) 656-0150
Sen. Burt Jones - Phone: (404) 656-0082
Sen. David Shafer - Phone: (404) 656-0048
Sen. Renee Unterman - Phone: (404) 463-1368
*Highest Priority

We at Atlanta Jobs with Justice ask you to stand with these workers who have lost so much as it is. Your efforts could make all the difference here.