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Figures holding signs spelling out picket line.
Workers at the University of California hospital system are planning a two-day strike to protest inadequate staffing levels, increased use of temp workers, and changes to their pension plan, though the university announced Friday that the California Public Employment Relations Board would seek a temporary restraining order limiting the strike. Already, 13 were arrested as they protested at a UC regents meeting this week. The arrests weren't the only way the workers made themselves felt at the meeting, with one state senator tweeting:
I have cancelled my dinner w/ UC Regents tonight b/c #AFSCME informed us they would picket the dinner. I don't cross picket lines.
@tedlieu via Twitter for BlackBerry®
The hospitals are already canceling elective surgeries during the planned strike, but:
The union representing the 13,000 nursing assistants, scanning techs, operating room scrubs, respiratory experts and others threatening the strike said it will keep weekend-level staffing in critical areas such as respiratory therapy for intensive care, neonatal and burn units during a walkout.

In case of medical emergencies, some strikers will go back to work and then return to picket lines after the patients are treated, said Todd Stenhouse, spokesman for Local 3299 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. "The most important thing here is that patient safety be preserved," he said.

Nurses at California's East Bay Sutter hospitals are also beginning a seven-day strike against pay and benefit cuts.

Continue reading for more of the week's labor and education news.

A fair day's wage

  • New Mexico's Republican governor, Susana Martinez, vetoed a raise in the minimum wage. But she's not too eager to talk about it publicly.
  • Good stuff from the Obama administration: The acting labor secretary is on the road pushing for an increased minimum wage.
  • Just a couple of the reasons fast food workers are fighting back across the country:
    Like so many of New York’s fast food workers, [Burger King worker Kasseen Silver] makes $7.45 an hour, and rarely if ever is he scheduled for a full 40-hour week. Transportation takes a chunk of that money right off the top. “If I don’t have lunch money, breakfast money, if I don’t have any money throughout the week I have to make sure I have transportation to get to work and get back home,” he says. “That’s like $30 taken out of a $180 check.”
    And even though he's a new employee trainer, Silver hasn't gotten a raise in two years at the same job.
  • Oh look. Another study showing that unemployment benefits don't keep people from getting new jobs.
  • Sharecropping on wheels in Savannah, Georgia.
  • The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, yet another important bill that Republicans will never let pass:
    Borrowing from the Americans With Disabilities Act, it would require employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees who have limitations stemming from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer. This means that an employer might be required to modify a no-food-or-drink policy, provide a stool, temporarily reassign heavy lifting duties to other employees, or give an available light-duty position to pregnant employees in order to accommodate pregnancy-related limitations.

    Despite the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, employers routinely deny requests for temporary work adjustments by pregnant workers, leaving many without a salary and health insurance because they were fired, forced to quit, or pushed to take unpaid leave. The PWFA is designed to address the gap in the law that leaves these workers unprotected.

  • As crappy labor law and powerful corporations weaken collective bargaining, what could replace it?
  • A Universal Basic Income? Yeah, Mike, that is definitely thinking utopian. But I like it.

Education

  • Another charter school unionizes, this time the Morris Jeff Community School in New Orleans.
  • Major protests planned against Chicago school closings.
  • Remember the Seattle teachers who boycotted a flawed standardized test, and were joined by parents and students? They had an impact:
    [Superintendent Jose] Banda says he’s taken the newly-released recommendations of a district task force on student assessment, and won’t make high schools give the test anymore. "The recommendation that came out of the task force is that it was not as effective for high school-age students," Banda said.

    Garfield history teacher and boycott leader Jesse Hagopian welcomed the news. "The teachers at Garfield High School are overwhelmed with joy," Hagopian said. “I think this is a real vindication of the movement that was started at Garfield High School by teachers but was quickly joined by parents and students at our school, and around the city, and really around the country.”

  • Why do colleges give so much aid to wealthy students?
  • Harlem Children's Zone CEO Geoffrey Canada is one of the shining stars of the education "reform" movement. Why does he lie so much? He goes around claiming that his school has a 100 percent graduation rate, and it's not even close to the truth.
  • Is the backlash against testing-driven education not just spreading but becoming more unified?

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat May 18, 2013 at 10:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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