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Georgetown University graduate employees cast historic vote for the union

Graduate employees at Georgetown University made history Nov. 9 when they finished tallying an 83 percent vote to join the union, the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees. The overwhelming victory is the first that circumvents the Trump-appointed National Labor Relations Board. Instead it is certified by the American Arbitration Association, and it decisively frames graduates not as students but as workers, with all the rights that title commands.

AFT members are taking Navient to court

A class-action suit filed in federal court sets out serious allegations that student loan servicer Navient has misled borrowers in public service professions from accessing a loan forgiveness program to boost its own profits. The landmark complaint, which seeks millions in damages and class-wide injunctive relief, details a spate of systematic misrepresentations, untruths and misdirection pedaled by Navient to stop borrowers from enrolling in Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a 10-year payoff plan administered by rival servicer FedLoan.

Paraeducators Look for Recognition, Livable Wages as School Returns

August 31, 2018

Washington News Service | Eric Tegethoff, Producer

Tacoma, WA - A low-paid group of educators known as paraeducators (or "paras") say it's time they received livable wages. Paras assist teachers in the classroom, often working with students with disabilities and in the special education department. Comments from Barbara Randall-Saleh ("suh-LEE"), president, Tacoma Federation of Paraeducators. [more]

A Decade of Neglect

“A Decade of Neglect: Public Education Funding in the Aftermath of the Great Recession” details for the first time the devastating impact on schools, classrooms and students when states choose to pursue an austerity agenda in the false belief that tax cuts will pay for themselves. The comprehensive report offers a deep dive into the long-term austerity agendas and historic disinvestment that sparked the wave of nationwide walkouts this spring.

Win for Community and Technical College Faculty Heads to Governor's Desk

March 14, 2018 | Washington News Service | Eric Tegethoff, Producer

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Community and technical college faculty scored a big win during this year's legislative session. Lawmakers passed Engrossed House Bill 1237 to allow faculty at these colleges to negotiate local wage increases through collective bargaining.

They were the only public-education employees prohibited from bargaining locally before this bill. [Read full story and hear audio version here.]

 

Critics to DeVos During Washington Visit: Policies Only Serve Wealthiest

October 13, 2017 | Washington News Service | Eric Tegethoff, Producer

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Protestors plan to greet Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in Bellevue today, where she is scheduled to speak at an annual fundraiser for the Washington Policy Center, a free-market think tank. 

The center says it invited DeVos to speak because she's one of the nation's top policy leaders and because of her support for charter schools and the so-called "school choice" movement. 

But Carl Livingston, a political science professor at Seattle Central College who will be speaking to protestors, says that policy tips the scales toward the country's wealthiest families. [read/hear full story]

Bill in Congress Would Make College Tuition Free

September 6, 2017 | Washington News Service | Eric Tegethoff, Producer

SEATTLE - The college year has started again, and for many students that means anxiety over debt is here again, too.

According to the Institute for College Access and Success, the class of 2015 in Washington state graduated with an average debt of $24,600. The College for All Act now in Congress aims to change that, making tuition for a four-year college free for students whose parents make less than $125,000 a year, and free for anyone attending a two-year community college.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., sponsor of the bill, said it is a practical and affordable plan. [read more]

 

Rescinding Loan-Protection Rule Leaves WA Students in Limbo

July 12, 2017 | Washington News Service | Eric Tegethoff, Producer
 
 
SEATTLE - Washington is one of 19 states suing U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for delaying a rule set to go into effect July 1 - a delay that has left many college students in limbo.
 
The rule was intended to help students who took out loans to attend for-profit colleges that ended up taking advantage of them through deceptive practices. Assistant state Attorney General Jeff Sprung said Corinthian Colleges, which closed in 2015, are an example of why the rule is needed, since students who attended still bear more than $380 million in loan debt. [full story]

A New Farm Worker Union is Born

Indigenous Oaxacan farm workers win themselves a union in the Pacific Northwest.

by David Bacon
June 26, 2017

Bob's Burgers and Brew, a hamburger joint at the Cook Road freeway exit on Interstate 5, about two hours north of Seattle, doesn’t look like a place where Pacific Northwest farm workers can change their lives, much less make some history. But on June 16, a half-dozen men in work clothes pulled tables together in Bob's outdoor seating area. Danny Weeden, general manager of Sakuma Brothers Farms, then joined them.

After exchanging polite greetings, Weeden opened four folders and handed around copies of a labor contract that had taken 16 sessions of negotiations to hammer out. As the signature pages were passed down the tables, each person signed. Weeden collected his copy and drove off; the workers remained long enough to cheer and take pictures with their fists in the air. Then they too left. [read full article]

In the Age of Trump, Can Labor Unite?

April 27, 2017 | IN THESE TIMES | BY ALEXANDRA BRADBURY
 
Donald Trump performed far better among union voters than previous Republican candidates, but since taking office has enacted disastrous anti-worker policies. Now, some unions are organizing their members around an explicitly progressive analysis, hoping to unlock the power of workers to help lead the resistance. [read full article]