A March survey of 347 service workers in the US South found that a shocking 87% were injured on the job in the last year. The workers surveyed came from eleven states across the “Black belt,” or Southern states with historically large Black populations: North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Workers organized under the Union of Southern Service Workers filed a landmark civil rights complaint against South Carolina’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (SC OSHA), alleging that the agency “discriminates by disproportionately excluding black workers from the protection of its programmed inspections.”
Anderson, South Carolina - A February 13, 2023 ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) clarifies whether employees can be disciplined for recording conversations with management officials. The ruling (372 NLRB No. 50) involved two Starbucks stores in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and members of a rank-and-file group called Baristas United. Two leaders of the group were fired for ostensibly violating established store policy by secretly recording conversations with supervisors on their cell phones. During the conversations, the employees were illegally warned about making negative statements about Starbucks.
How many Dollar General workers does it take to whip up a strike at Store #10635 on Broad River Road in Irmo, South Carolina? Two. Two, because Miranda Chavez and TyBrianna Shaw constitute the entirety of the location’s fulltime, non-managerial staff. Two, because when a store is so drastically understaffed that there’s only one worker in the building for an eight-hour shift, she doesn’t get a lunch break. Two, because when a worker is forced to close up alone at 11 p.m., she has to walk by herself to her car in a dark parking lot, where even the Dollar General sign no longer glows. Two, because it doesn’t matter how many people are on the payroll if workers aren’t provided with masks and gloves when unloading boxes dripping with corrosive chemicals. Those were among the complaints lodged against the Tennessee-based chain by Chavez and Shaw, who on January 17 became the first low-wage workers to strike under the auspices of the newly formed Union of Southern Service Workers.
Columbia, South Carolina - Hundreds of service workers from across the South gathered in Columbia, South Carolina, November 17-19 to launch the Union of Southern Service Workers (USSW), taking their fight to a new level. The new organization grows out of the Raise Up, the Southern branch of the Fight for $15 and a Union, a movement backed by Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In addition to fast food, members work in hotels, gas stations, retail, home care, sit-down restaurants, and more. Some of these workers have been organizing their industries for a decade with Raise Up—fighting for higher wages and better working conditions. Others have only recently joined the effort—including many who felt that the pandemic exposed how essential their work was, and how little corporations and politicians valued them.
Anderson, South Carolina - On August 1, Melissa Morris, a manager of a Starbucks location in Anderson, South Carolina, accused unionized workers at her store of kidnapping and assaulting her during her first week on the job. The shocking accusation resulted from workers holding a “march on the boss” to demand that they benefit from the same pay raise the company was providing to non-union stores, and, as a result, 11 workers have been suspended while the company and police investigate the issue. These workers call the allegations “ridiculous” and part of the company’s broader anti-union campaign.
Columbia, South Carolina - Starbucks baristas in Columbia, South Carolina, returned to their jobs on Saturday, May 21, following a three-day walkout to protest anti-union retaliation. Managers began denying employees promotions and transfers several weeks ago after 22 of 28 “partners” at the Millwood Avenue store petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for union representation. The workers reached a breaking point on May 18 when a popular store manager was fired for refusing to engage in union busting. Two hours after learning of their manager’s dismissal the entire shift walked out, forcing the store to close early. “She was a large reason a lot of us were still with the company,” said barista Sophie Ryan of her former manager.
Columbia, SC - The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled Wednesday a program created by Gov. Henry McMaster to allocate $32 million in federal pandemic aid to private and religious schools is unconstitutional because the public money would directly benefit the schools. In the court’s opinion, Chief Justice Don Beatty acknowledged the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the lives of South Carolinians and the state’s education system, and the “unprecedented challenges” faced by state leaders including McMaster.
Can you imagine living without sunlight? Many of us experience seasonal affective (SAD) disorder in the winter months, causing symptoms ranging from depression and lethargy to thoughts of suicide. SAD can also exacerbate the symptoms of some mental illnesses, like bipolar disorder. But while grey skies may be depressing, or even hazardous to our health, most of us can’t fathom what it would be like to go over a year without sunlight. For prisoners in South Carolina’s Level 3 prisons, this scenario is all too real.
I purposely chose the word facetious, because South Carolina’s Dept. of Correction’s Director Bryan Stirling has absurdly decided to address serious issued in South Carolin’a prisons with impotent legislation. The problem in South Carolina’s prisons is NOT the fact that a few prisoners have obtained access to cell phones. The problem is that South Carolina’s prisons, some of the most dangerous and deadly in country, are in devastatingly horrific conditions and prisoners have been using cell phones to expose the issues that they are forcibly confined to.
When a man barged into Isiah Kinloch’s apartment and broke a bottle over his head, the North Charleston resident called 911. After cops arrived on that day in 2015, they searched the injured man’s home and found an ounce of marijuana. So they took $1,800 in cash from his apartment and kept it. When Eamon Cools-Lartigue was driving on Interstate 85 in Spartanburg County, deputies stopped him for speeding. The Atlanta businessman wasn’t criminally charged in the April 2016 incident. Deputies discovered $29,000 in his car, though, and decided to take it.
Photos obtained by Prison Legal News appear to reveal the bloody aftermath of a riot that occurred at the Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina around 7:15 p.m. on April 15. The violence, which culminated in the deaths of seven prisoners, was the deadliest event of its sort in the past quarter-century in the United States. A source who requested anonymity and said he is currently imprisoned at the Lee facility in Bishopville provided PLN with a series of photos that appear to have been taken with a cell phone. The images show dead or badly-wounded bodies covered with blood and a blood-soaked floor. PLN could not verify the photos at press time, and our investigation into the authenticity of the graphic pictures remains ongoing.
Under pressure from the state's major utilities, the S.C. House killed a solar bill Tuesday that was intended to protect thousands of jobs and save customers money on their monthly power bills. The bill's defeat, a stunning reversal from a House vote last week, brought withering criticism from many lawmakers, who said the House caved in to opposition by Duke Energy and SCE&G, derailing the legislation. Utilities have expressed concern about how competition from solar could affect them. State Rep. James Smith, the bill's chief sponsor, also blamed Republican Gov. Henry McMaster. Smith, a Democratic candidate for governor and potential opponent to McMaster in November's general election, said the Republican urged some lawmakers not to vote for the bill — a point McMaster's office hotly disputed.
By Marina Fang for The Huffington Post - Slager, then an officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, shot Scott while Scott was running away from him. A bystander captured the death on cell phone video. The killing was one of many high-profile cases of police killing unarmed black men in recent years. At Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Slager said that he takes responsibility for Scott’s death, and Scott’s mother, Judy, expressed forgiveness. In May, Slager pleaded guilty to violating Scott’s civil rights by using excessive force. Two other federal charges and a murder charge from the state were dropped in exchange for the guilty plea. “Law enforcement officers have the noble calling to serve and protect,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement Thursday. “Officers who violate anyone’s rights also violate their oaths of honor, and they tarnish the names of the vast majority of officers, who do incredible work. Those who enforce our laws must also abide by them — and this Department of Justice will hold accountable anyone who violates the civil rights of our fellow Americans. On behalf of the Department of Justice, I want to offer my condolences to the Scott family and loved ones.”
By Sarah Rankin for Associated Press - RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The developers of a disputed natural gas pipeline on the U.S. East Coast are considering a major expansion of the project into South Carolina, according to remarks made by an energy company executive and interviews with others in the industry. Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline said that raises questions about whether Dominion Energy, the project's lead developer, has withheld important information from the public and whether the pipeline is even needed as initially proposed. But business leaders say the pipeline would help lower energy costs and boost economic development in South Carolina. Dan Weekley, Dominion Energy's vice president and general manager of Southern pipeline operations, told attendees at a recent energy conference "everybody knows" the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — currently slated to pass through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina — is not going to stop there, despite what the current plans say. "We could bring in almost a billion cubic feet (28 million cubic meters) a day into South Carolina," Weekley said, according to an audio recording The Associated Press obtained from a conference attendee. The attendee requested anonymity out of concern for not wanting to harm business or personal relationships. The remarks appear to be the Richmond, Virginia-based company's most direct public signal to date that it intends to expand the pipeline, though industry analysts said the potential has been discussed for years.
By Seanna Adcox for AP News - This week, having spent more than $10 billion, executives with South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper acknowledged that all their assumptions were wrong. Worse still: Consumers may have to pay billions more on the rusting remains of two partially-built reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station north of Columbia. “When we started, there was talk of a nuclear renaissance restarting a whole industry in the U.S.,” said Santee Cooper’s chief financial officer, Jeff Armfield. He was among several executives recommending the project be abandoned. The board of the state-owned utility unanimously agreed at a public meeting Monday. “When we started, there was talk of a nuclear renaissance restarting a whole industry in the U.S.,” said Santee Cooper’s chief financial officer, Jeff Armfield. Most of the 18 nuclear projects pending before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission a decade ago have been aborted or suspended indefinitely. None of the 7 projects the NRC licensed are operational. Only one is still being built, in Georgia, at a cost of $100 million a month. Southern Company financial documents filed Wednesday say the project, slated to cost $14 billion, could cost $25 billion or more if completed.