Building Bridges: Amazon fires worker over coronavirus protest; Pandemic Reveals the Race & Class Divide of our Education System

Building Bridges over WBAI Radio, 99.5FM with Mimi Rosenberg & Ken Nash — Monday, April 6, 7 – 8 pm EST — streaming @ www.wbai.org/playernew.htmlsmartphone streaming @ https://www.wbai.org/listen.php & to listen, or download archived shows, https://www.wbai.org/archive.php

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Amazon’s plans to smear a warehouse worker who was fired after organizing a protest over the lack of coronavirus protection for 5000 workers was racist and classist, illegal and “immoral” says New York’s Attorney General calling for a federal investigation of Chris Small’s termination. W
ith Chris Smalls, terminated Amazon worker/organizer and Derrick Palmer, protesting Amazon warehouse worker

Chris Smalls a warehouse fulfillment center worker for Amazon, the third richest company in the world with a market cap that is nearing a trillion dollars was forced to organize a walk out, at the 5,000 employees warehouse when faced with the rising tide of COVID-19 there.  Well, what do you think Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, whose personal worth is estimated at $123.9 billion, making him the richest man in the world did in response to its frightened and vulnerable workers walkout, employees who are pay a mere $11 – $19 and hour was?  Bezos, himself and his top brass met with Amazon’s general counsel David Zapolsky to cook up a strategy to smear Chris Smalls, a memo leaked to Building Bridges revealed.With classic racist and classist characterizations Amazon contrived to defame and denigrate Chris Smalls, the courageous worker fighting for the very lives of his fellow workers against COVID-19.  And then, Bezos fired Smalls, who was demanding a temporarily shut down of the huge warehouse facility for cleaning, after reports of multiple employees testing positive for COVID-19, and then fighting for protective gear and hazard pay for the associates working through the pandemic and for the pay and full paid stick leave ALL workers deserve.
How the Pandemic Reveals the Race & Class Divide of the Education System to Assist Students and Families with Eleanor Bader, educator, freelance writer and activist. She is the author of Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism and a 2015 winner of a Project Censored award for “outstanding investigative journalism” and a recipient of an Independent Press Association award.

The COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding fast, with each day’s missives giving us new, and sometimes contradictory, information about the virus. Schools — public and private, pre-K through university — have been scrambling to figure out how to respond since the virus hit the U.S.  Meanwhile, all the evidence suggests that children—and poor children especially—will bear an incredible burden during the coronavirus pandemic and the attendant economic shocks. But that evidence has trouble breaking into a national conversation dominated by mortality rates and work-from-home strategies. The pandemic is acutely affecting the delivery of K–12 education.As of March 19, 2020, 44 states had closed 104,000 schools, affecting nearly 48 million students, turning millions of families into accidental home-schoolers.  The pandemic arises on the tail the nation’s public school system having been faced with a wave of protests, teacher strikes, and student walkouts exposing the outrageous inequality plaguing the public education system and where the budget numbers reveal how unfair funding programs dictate what our children are worth, depending on where they live, the color of their skin, and their families’ wealth.  School funding levels, according to the analysis of the Education Law Center and the Rutgers Graduate School of Education vary most dramatically along school-district lines, generally dictated by local property taxes, which renders the education of some wealthy children funded at double the rate of a poor kid’s. There are also stark disparities across state lines, with statehouses primarily managing education policy. Fifteen years after “No Child Left Behind” promised to “close the achievement gaps” in race and socioeconomic background, children in more than one-third of the states are not just stagnating, they’re sliding backward with what the ELC calls “regressive” funding.  Poor kids are priced out of educational equity.School budgets are moral documents, revealing not only how much society values education as a public good, but how we value the children of different communities. Today, with a reactionary administration seeking to privatize public education further, children living in extreme deprivation stand to lose the most. About four in 10 students attend schools in districts with poverty rates of upwards of 75 percent, which perpetuates the structural poverty that keeps families trapped in poor communities with impoverished schools. Now says Bader the likely outcome of this pandemic, like most others in history, will again uncover our most basic educational inequities.

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Tune in at 9 am Thursdays to Equal Rights and Justice hosted by Mimi Rosenberg
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In addition to being broadcast over WBAI,  99.5 FM in NYC and the tri-state area 7 – 8 pm EST Mondays, Building Bridges is syndicated to 50  broadcast and internet  radio stations in the US, Canada and the UK                            

Building Bridges National Edition is regularly broadcast over:

WADR, Janesville, WI
WPPM, Philadelphia, PA
KBOG, Bandon, OR
WESU – Middleton, CT
KYAQ. Newport, OR
KGRN Columbus, Ohio
KOPN, Columbia, MO
KWRK, Fairbanks, Alaska
WLSL, Dade City, FL
WMNB, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
WZBC, Boston, Mass.
WDRT, Viroqua, WI
KYRS, Spokane, WA
Liberty and Justice1640, Shirley Mass
KWTF,Sonoma County CA
KNSJ, San Diego, CA
KRFY, Sandpoint, ID
KMUD, Redway, CA
WXOJ-LP, Florence, MA
KPOV, Bend, Oregon
KONR Ankorage, Alaska
WAPJ, Torrington, CT.
WOOL, Great Falls, Vermont and New Hampshire
KKRN Bella Vista, CA
KGHI, Westport, WA
KSVR, Mount Vernon, WA
WAZU, Peoria, Illinois
KMEC, Ukiah, CA
KOWA, Olympia Washington .
WWUH, West Hartford, CT
WMNF HD FM Tampa, Florida
WPVM – MAIN-FM  Asheville, NC
WERU Blue Hill and Bangor, Maine
WGOT –  Gainesville, Florida.
WUOW – Oneonta, N.Y.
WVJW- Benwood, WV
KRFP, Moscow, ID
KSOW,Cottage Grove, Oregon
WKNH ,Keene, NH
CKDU, Halifax, N.S., Canada
WRPI, Troy, New York
WNRB, Wausau, WI
KQRP Salida, California
East Hill Radio, Snoqualmie, WA
KSKQ, Ashland, Oregon
KWMD, Kasiloff-Anchorage, Alaska
WPRR, Grand Rapids, Michigan
KROV, Oroville, CA

as well as internet stations:

                         Celebral Radio
Dirty Chai Radio
Workforce Rising
Chiampa Internet Radio
Global Community Radio 1, Geneva, N.Y.
WTF Radio, Bodega Bay CA
CPR Metro, NYC
Radio Free Radical
Radio Free Kansas
Radio Veronica, West Point, PA
Catalystradio.org,  U.K.
WXXE
Seattle Radical Radio
Radio for Peace International
Labourstart
AmericanFM.org
Grateful Dread Public Radio
Detour Network, Knoxville, TN
KDX Radio, Homeland, North American
Radio Ear Network, Sarasota, FL
TuneIn.com
Channel One Radio
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For  archived Building Bridges Programs go to
        our website:
                    
www.buildingbridgesradio.org                          

“Our Lives Are On The Line!”

We just received this email from Lavita Payton, a registered nurse and Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1104 member, and thought you should read it.

Payton tells us why she is petitioning President Trump to use the Defense Production Act to get all front-line workers the personal protective equipment she and others need to do their jobs now.

Will you add your name to the petition?

In Solidarity,

Team AFL-CIO

———- Forwarded message ———

From: Lavita Payton, CWA <action_alert@cwa-union.org>

Date: Fri, Apr 3, 2020 at 10:11 AM

Subject: Our lives are on the line.

To: Team AFL-CIO <peoplepower@aflcio.org>

FIGHTING FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE & DEMOCRACY

“We have done a hell of a job.”

– President Trump, March 27th, 2020 (New York Times, p. A8, March 28, 2020)

“Something’s going on. Where are the masks going—are they going out the back door? Somebody should look into that….”

– President Trump, March 29th, 2020 (New York Times, p. A7, March 30, 2020)

Is President Trump kidding?

Is he really accusing me and my co-workers of hoarding and stealing excess personal protective equipment? Does he have any clue about what’s really happening in my hospital, and hospitals like mine across the country?

My name is Lavita Payton, and I work at a major hospital in New York City. I’m writing today to let you know what’s really going on where I work and to ask you to take action now to tell President Trump to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to get us and all public-facing essential workers the protective equipment that we need NOW.

Never in my 25 years of nursing have my co-workers and I seen anything like what we are seeing with this COVID-19 pandemic.

Ambulances streaming in hour after hour with critically ill patients in respiratory distress. ICU beds totally filled, as we frantically try to create new units for COVID patients around the hospital grounds. Doctors, nurses, respiratory techs, auxiliary personnel, working 14-16 hours a day, totally and completely burnt out, terrified of getting sick and bringing the disease home to our families.

And you know what? We don’t have the protective equipment we need. We are all reusing single-use gear like N95 respirators for a week because there aren’t enough. We don’t have enough surgical masks or surgical gowns to keep ourselves safe.  Estimates are that we will need literally billions of N95s for health care workers and others in this crisis.

And it’s not just health care workers who need proper Personal Protective Equipment.

Hospital workers are on the frontlines, exposed every day on the job to sick and dying patients. But across this country, there are other public-facing “essential workers”—people in grocery and drug stores, my brothers and sisters working for phone companies like Verizon, AT&T, Altice and Frontier, NYC Traffic Agents and Supervisors, my brothers and sisters working for city and state government, transit workers, utility workers, direct care workers—who also need PPE. They are required to go to work every day, they must interact with the public, they are getting sick and dying too.

Click here to sign the petition telling President Trump to use the Defense Production Act to its fullest extent to get all of our CWA members on the front lines the protective equipment we need.

Trump says this is like a war and that he is a wartime president. Then lead like it’s a war. Stop the delays. Stop quarreling with Governors. Invoke the DPA now and get American industry moving forward on producing the protective equipment that health care and other essential workers need NOW!

If you care about health care workers, if you care about all “essential” workers, please sign our petition right now to pressure President Trump to invoke the full force of the National Defense Production Act. Take action right now to tell him to get the federal government behind producing the massive amount of PPE we need.

Please sign now. It’s literally a matter of life and death.

Sincerely,

Lavita Payton
RN and CWA Local 1104 member

 

 

 

 

Priorities of the Labor Movement to Address the Corona Virus Pandemic: Protect Front-line Workers

PROTECT FRONT-LINE WORKERS

  • Streamline approaches for allocating and distributing personal protective equipment to working people in greatest need.
  • Issue a workplace safety standard to protect front-line workers and other at-risk workers from infectious diseases.
  • Provide workplace controls, protocols, training and personal protective equipment.
  • Provide clear, protective federal guidance for different groups of workers with different needs.
  • Increase funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Mine Safety and
  • Health Administration for additional inspectors and health specialists, and for developing and implementing an infectious disease standard.

MITIGATE THE BROADER PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS

  • Guarantee 14 days of paid sick leave for all working people.
  • Provide federal resources and guidance to increase capacity of the health care system, including hospital beds.
  • Use emergency federal authority to expand production of medical supplies and equipment.Increase capacity to provide testing for everyone, starting with a priority for front-line workers that includes health care workers, firefighters and paramedics.
  • Provide testing, treatment and vaccination (once approved) at no cost.
  • Emergency federal subsidy of premiums for multi-employer health plans.
  • Remove barriers to testing, treatment and benefits for immigrant workers.

SUSTAIN PEOPLE THROUGH THE CRISIS

  • Re-imagine the unemployment insurance system by dramatically broadening eligibility and increasing both benefit levels and administrative funding.
  • In addition to paid sick days, guarantee 12 weeks of paid leave.
  • A federal COBRA subsidy of 100% for workers who lose jobs or hours.
  • Provide relief for payment on rent, mortgages and student loans.
  • Issue a moratorium on foreclosures, evictions and student loan defaults.
  • Increase funding and remove restrictions on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the school lunch program.

SUSTAIN WORKERS IN SEVERELY AFFECTED SECTORS

  • Severely impacted sectors include airlines, other transportation, construction, retail, manufacturing, entertainment and hospitality.
  • The federal government should offer to assume payroll costs of idle or hibernating firms to ensure they stay in business and workers stay employed.
  • Additional targeted assistance to private firms in particular sectors should be conditioned on providing paid sick days, with no layoffs, pay cuts, benefit cuts, outsourcing, reopening of union contracts, abrogating union contracts in bankruptcy or stock buybacks, and including workers on corporate boards.
  • Provide aid to workers’ pension funds comparable to the aid available to business.
  • Provide funding for public transit and Amtrak to keep workers on the job and financial relief and flexibility for the U.S. Postal Service.

SUSTAIN STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

  • Provide federal funding for the full cost of Medicaid for one year.
  • Provide federal grants to state and local governments equal to 7% of state and local revenues, totaling more than $175 billion.
  • Pass the Students in Response to Coronavirus Act (H.R. 6275).

REBUILD THE ECONOMY AND PUT PEOPLE BACK TO WORK

  • Reauthorize the Surface Transportation Act.
  • Pass a $1 trillion infrastructure package.
  • Pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act and guarantee comparable rights and protections for public employees.

Labor Movement Relief Funds

A number of unions, guilds and affiliated nonprofits have established relief funds for workers devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which are listed below. Your donation will help provide crucial support to workers during this challenging time.

Actors’ Equity Curtain Up Fund

Help everyone in performing arts and entertainment in need, in particular seniors, immunocompromised individuals and those in financial distress.

Donate Now

The Actors Fund

Help our nation’s performing arts and entertainment community in times of need.

Donate Now

AFA-CWA Distaster Relief Fund

Assistance for flight attendants or their partners or surviving families in the aftermath of disasters.

Donate Now

The AFC

Help provide crucial support to Canada’s arts and entertainment professionals and their families.

Donate Now

AFM Emergency Relief Fund

Help support American Federation of Musicians members in need.

Donate Now

AGMA Relief Fund

Help provide critical aid to American Guild of Musical Artists members in times of crisis.

Donate Now

Motion Picture and Television Fund

Help provide essential programs and services for the entertainment industry community.

Donate Now

National Domestic Workers Alliance Coronavirus Care Fund

Help provide immediate financial support for domestic workers.

Donate Now

SAG-AFTRA Foundation COVID-19 Disaster Fund

Help provide relief to SAG-AFTRA members impacted by the pandemic.

Donate Now

UNITE HERE Education and Support Fund

Donate to help hospitality workers impacted by COVID-19.

Donate Now

AFL-CIO COVID-19 Pandemic Resources

The Information on the pandemic and virus is constantly evolving, and this site is updated frequently.

COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic, and the disease is spreading rapidly across the United States. Federal, state and local governments are taking steps to slow the spread of the disease by limiting crowds in public settings, such as schools, workplaces, public transportation, and cultural and sporting events. These necessary measures not only disrupt everyday life but cause economic uncertainty for millions of working people.

The labor movement is working nonstop to protect the health and safety of all workers, including workers on the front lines of this public health emergency. We have trained, educated and equipped our members with the tools they need to be safe on the job, but we are demanding additional urgent action to ensure employers implement comprehensive plans to protect front-line workers and reduce the risk of exposure to the general public.

This crisis has exposed the shortcomings of our worker protection and health care systems. We cannot afford to allow cost considerations to discourage workers from taking the necessary action to protect public health. Workers should not incur additional costs for doing what is recommended or required, including staying home from work or getting the tests and treatments they need.

The pandemic also is beginning to inflict a heavy toll on the economy. We are doing everything we can to limit the negative impact on the livelihoods of working people, and we continue to demand dramatic action from local, state, and federal governments on a scale every bit as large as the threat.

Below are resources and guidance from leading experts, government agencies and America’s unions about the COVID-19 pandemic, and recommendations to limit its impact on working families.

GENERAL GUIDANCE AND RESOURCES

DOWNLOADABLE MATERIALS

HARDSHIP ASSISTANCE AND RELIEF FUNDS

Participants in the Union Plus Mortgage, Credit Card, Personal Loan, or supplemental insurance programs may be eligible for additional hardship assistance. Visit Union Plus Hardship Help for eligibility requirements

2020 Primary Most Frequently Asked Questions

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I voted by mail or in person before March 17, 2020, do I need to vote again?

No, all ballots already submitted by mail or in-person will count, so long as they were otherwise valid. If you voted prior to March 17th your ballot is secured behind double locks at your county board of elections and will be counted on April 28th. Please encourage friends and family who haven’t already voted to request an absentee ballot from your local board of elections.

Will there be in-person voting on April 28, 2020?

Yes, but since most Ohioans are being advised to stay home right now, the new law only allows for limited in-person voting on April 28th. In-person voting will only occur on April 28 and only at boards of elections early vote centers, not at precinct polling locations. And in-person voting will only be available for individuals with disabilities who require in-person voting and those who do not have a home mailing address.

What is the deadline to register to vote in the 2020 primary?

The deadline to register for the 2020 primary election was February 18, 2020. Anyone who is eligible to vote, but has not yet registered, can do so for the November 3, 2020 General Election, at VoteOhio.gov(opens in a new window).

What should disabled or visually impaired voters do if they rely on accessible voting machines?

A remote ballot marking system is available through each county board of elections for use by an absentee voter with a qualifying disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The remote ballot marking system allows a qualifying voter to mark their ballot privately and independently. You can contact your county board of elections or fill out the Form 11-G online form.

Disabled and visually impaired voters may also vote at the board of elections early vote center on April 28, 2020.

I have since moved. Do I need to update my registration before requesting my ballot?

A voter must be properly registered by February 18, 2020. If a voter has moved but did not update their address, the voter may apply for a ballot and will receive a provisional ballot by mail from the board of elections. State law requires registration and address changes for the 2020 primary to be completed by February 18th 2020, so no new address changes or registrations are being accepted for the 2020 primary.

When will the results of the election be announced?

Tabulation of votes will begin on April 28, 2020 after 7:30 p.m. It’s important to note that ballots postmarked by April 27, 2020 will all be counted, so final unofficial results won’t be available until May 8, 2020. (This is standard for every election.)

ABSENTEE VOTING

I don’t have a printer. Can I request an absentee ballot?

Yes. You can call your county board of elections and a request can be sent to you. A directory of all boards can be found here: OhioSoS.gov/boards.

Voters who can’t print their own form may also simply write the following information on a blank sheet of paper and mail it to their board of elections;

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • full registration address including county
  • address where ballot should be mailed if different from your registration address
  • one of the these: Ohio driver’s license number, last four of your Social Security number or include a copy of an acceptable form of ID
  • state that “I’m a qualified elector and I’m requesting an absentee ballot for the March 17th Ohio Primary”
  • indicate if you want a: Democratic, Republican, Libertarian or Issues only ballot (choose only one)
  • sign it
  • today’s date
  • phone number (optional, but suggested)
  • email address (optional but suggested)

When does my ballot need to be postmarked?

Unless you are a member of the U.S. military currently deployed overseas or an American living abroad, ballots must be postmarked by April 27, 2020 and received by the board of elections by May 8, 2020 to be counted in the primary election if the proper information was provided on the identification envelope.

I’m registered to vote but have changed my name. Can i still vote?

Yes. If you are able to provide a signed Form 10-L and a proof of the name change(opens in a new window), a regular ballot may be provided. However, if you request a ballot under a former name and request to receive an absentee ballot by mail, a provisional ballot will be provided to you by your local board of elections.

What date do I put on the absentee ballot application under “date of election?”

Please write March 17, 2020 (or 03/17/2020) as the election date has not changed, only extended for mail-in voting. However, anyone who writes another date will still have their absentee application processed if the remainder of the required information is included on the request.

Can corona virus be spread over the handling of paper?

The experts at the Ohio Department of Health have said that COVID-19 doesn’t spread by penetrating the skin on your hands, but only leads to infection when it is transferred from your hand to places like your mouth, nose, or eyes. Given that, the best measure you can take to prevent the spread of germs is washing your hands after handling mail and even cash.

Is voting by mail secure?

Yes. From the moment you request your ballot to the moment it is received at the board of election to be counted, the ballot may be tracked at VoteOhio.gov. Ballots are stored securely in rooms requiring both a Democrat and Republican staff member to gain access.

POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS AND CANDIDATES

Has the deadline for independent candidates been changed? (the deadline says “day before the day of the primary election” in the orc)

No. As the election has not been rescheduled, only extended, all of the deadlines stay in place except for absentee mail-in ballot submissions.

My ballot issue committee, for a school levy, wants to file for the august special election if it fails in the primary. Can i still do that?

Yes, as this extended election ends on April 28, 2020, the deadline to file for the August special election is May 6, 2020. A question or issue that is approved by the voters in the Primary may be withdrawn before the August special election.

I’m a candidate, campaign or committee. Can i send absentee ballot requests to my supporters?

Yes, you can send the absentee ballot request form to any Ohio voter who hasn’t already voted. You can find and print that form here(opens in a new window). Make sure to let them know the address of their county board of elections which can be found here. You may also include a pre-addressed envelope with the board of elections address on it but state law says that you may not provide them postage.

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about Accessible Absentee Voting in Ohio.

Click here for a printable (PDF) version of these Frequently Asked Questions