News & Commentary

January 15, 2019

Vail Kohnert-Yount

Vail Kohnert-Yount is a student at Harvard Law School.

More than 32,000 teachers in Los Angeles went on strike yesterday asking for higher pay, smaller class sizes, and schools fully staffed with nurses, counselors, and librarians. After negotiations stalled between the school district and the teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles, an overwhelming 98% of teachers voted to authorize a strike. LAUSD is the country’s second largest school district, where eight in 10 students receive free or reduced-price lunches. UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl described the strike as “a fight for the soul of public education.” He told a picket line of educators outside a high school, “Here we are on a rainy day in the richest country in the world, in the richest state in the country, in a state as blue as it can be, in a city rife with millionaires, where teachers have to go on strike to get the basics for our students.”

In the American Prospect, Joseph McCartin suggested that a “sickout” by unpaid federal employees could bring the impasse over the government shutdown, now in its 25th day, to an end. Although they have no legal right to strike, public sector workers have turned to calling out sick en masse in the past when no other means of protest was available. “Collective action by federal workers might be the most plausible mechanism at hand to free the nation from the impasse in which we now are mired,” he wrote.

In the New York Times, Barbara Ehrenreich and Gary Stevenson advocated for TSA workers to go on “a genuine, old-fashioned strike” in response to the government shutdown. Although 5.6% of roughly 51,000 TSA workers called in sick last Saturday, the authors called for workers to take a more explicit stand against the shutdown, following in the footsteps of striking teachers.

NPR wrote about the pervasive discrimination faced by people with hearing disabilities in finding employment. The unemployment rate among the deaf and hard of hearing is disproportionately high, including for those with college and graduate degrees, and fewer than 40% of people with a hearing disability work full-time. Even as improvements in technology and accommodations make it easier for those who are hearing disabled to work and communicate with non-disabled colleagues, many deaf and hard of hearing job seekers report that prospective employers lose interest in their applications after they disclose their disability status.

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