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Walkouts Underway In Virginia Against Attack On Trans Students

Chanting "trans rights are human rights," "DOE, let us be," and other slogans, students at scores of schools took part in demonstrations calling for the rejection of model Virginia Department of Education policies proposed earlier this month by Youngkin that, if approved, would force schools to categorize pupils according to scientifically dubious notions of "biological sex." The proposed changes would reverse existing trans-affirming guidelines that some students have credited with saving their lives. In what some opponents have called another attempt to erase trans people, the proposal limits the definition of "transgender student" to someone "whose parent has requested in writing, due to their child's persistent and sincere belief that his or her gender differs with his or her sex, that their child be so identified while at school."

NLRB Demand For UMWA To Pay Warrior Met Coal Strike Costs Is ‘Outrageous’

Triangle, Virginia - The United Mine Workers of America today made it clear that it will vigorously challenge an outrageous assessment of damages made by the National Labor Relations Board Region 10 regarding the UMWA’s 16-month strike against Warrior Met Coal in Alabama. “This is a slap in the face not just to the workers who are fighting for better jobs at Warrior Met Coal, but to every worker who stands up to their boss anywhere in America,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “There are charges for security, cameras, capital expenditures, buses for transporting scabs across picket lines, and the cost of lost production. “What is the purpose of a strike if not to impact the operations of the employer, including production,” Roberts asked.

The ‘Divisive’ Ban Whitewashing Virginia’s Classrooms

There's a recent painting that sums up what's happening to public education in Virginia: A white man, white paint roller in hand, is covering up Black historical figures—Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X—their bodies whitewashed, faces stoic. The piece by Detroit artist Jonathan Harris, titled "Critical Race Theory," stuck with Cassandra Newby-Alexander, a professor at Norfolk State University, a Historically Black University, since she first saw it online. Newby-Alexander is the former co-chair of the African American History Education Commission (AAHEC), a group of educators and historians brought together by former Governor Ralph Northam in August 2019 to recommend changes to add more Black history to Virginia's K-12 curricula. The state Board of Education implemented their recommendations in the fall of 2021.

Virginia Target Workers Seek To Unionize

Workers at a Target store in Christiansburg, Virginia, have filed for a union election and, if successful, the store would be the first belonging to the retail chain to unionize. Target has long opposed unionization, with anti-union videos to discourage workers from unionizing. Earlier this year, Target training documents for managers to prevent unionization within stores were leaked. Target has already reportedly pushed back on the union organizing effort in Virginia, trying to use union dues as a tactic to deter workers. But workers are seeking to capitalize on a surging energy in the US labor movement after recent union victories at dozens of Starbucks stores and the first Amazon warehouse in the US.

How An Israel Lobby Group Infiltrated US Education

Richmond, Virginia - In 2018, the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights (VCHR) successfully stopped the state from adopting textbook edits made by the Institute for Curriculum Services (ICS), a pro-Israel “educational” institution. The ICS promotes itself as improving the accuracy of K-12 instruction on Judaism and Jewish history in the United States. Yet, backed by the Israel lobby, its strategy appears more in line with advocating a Zionist narrative than enhancing education. Today, ICS boasts that it has helped better public education in all 50 states and impacted 11 million students across the country. With this in mind, MintPress News uncovered how ICS is twisting the truth about Israel in U.S. schools. The Fight In Virginia In January 2018, Virginia activist Jeanne Trabulsi attended a Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) webinar featuring ICS.

Virginia Caucus Of Rank-And-File Educators Votes To Unionize

Richmond, Virginia - On Saturday, members of the Virginia Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (VCORE) voted to unionize schools in Richmond, the state’s capital. The vote took place over two days, with 99 percent of educators in favor. The Richmond Educators Association (REA), of which VCORE is a part, will serve as official bargaining representative. This is a major victory for public-sector unions in the South, and it comes amid a wave of unionization across the United States and labor militancy among educators. A December vote to grant Richmond public school employees collective-bargaining rights paved the way for yesterday’s victory. That month, the city’s school board voted 8-1 in favor, making it Virginia’s first school district to reinstate collective-bargaining rights.

Richmond Educators Are First In Virginia To Win Bargaining Rights

Teachers and other public school employees in Richmond, Virginia, won a major victory in December when the city’s school board, in an 8 to 1 vote, approved a resolution granting them collective bargaining rights. The victory sets a precedent for other districts and public sector employees throughout the state. Richmond is the first school district in Virginia to reinstate collective bargaining rights, after the legislature in 2020 lifted the state’s 43-year prohibition on collective bargaining for local government workers. Members of the school board had made repeated attempts to delay the vote. Winning took a mass mobilization led by the Richmond Education Association, which convened district-wide workers’ assemblies, held rallies outside school board meetings, and shared dozens of teacher testimonies during public comment periods.

After Sale, Valley Proteins Workers Continue Fight For Workplace Justice

Valley Proteins, the Virginia-based rendering company at the center of an ongoing union organizing effort and a large class action lawsuit over alleged wage theft, has been sold. On Dec. 28, sustainable food processing multinational Darling Ingredients, headquartered in Texas, announced it was acquiring the privately owned Valley Proteins in a $1.1 billion deal. But current and former Valley Proteins employees are fighting to ensure that the sale doesn't provide cover for a company they say has long fostered a toxic and abusive work environment that has led to exploitative, unsafe conditions across its plants — a point driven home by the deaths of two workers over the summer.

Defenders Of Homes, Hills, And Heritage Unite Against Pipeline

Though it’s been under construction for the past three years—and in discussion since 2014—the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) has been somewhat easy to overlook. Easy, that is, for those who don’t live along its proposed route: West Virginia landowner Maury Johnson calls it the “ugly stepchild of pipelines” because, compared to high-profile pipeline fights like that against Keystone XL, for a long time only a small segment of Appalachian residents seemed to be talking about the 303-mile MVP. As Gillian Giannetti, an NRDC attorney who focuses on energy issues at the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC), explains, MVP has likely received less national attention because it passes through a rural, low-income part of Virginia, through places even many Virginians themselves haven’t visited.

Virginia State University Unveils Student Debt Cancellation Initiative

The debt elimination effort was financed through the CARES Act. For scholars who attended the institution during 2020 and spring 2021, all debt owed to the school will be erased. Donald Palm, Ph.D., who serves as Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, says the effort will play a pivotal role in shaping their financial futures. He also mentioned students should be solely focused on learning without feeling the burden of unaffordability. “We care about our students and their academic success and want to provide them the privilege of moving forward with a zero balance,” he said in a statement. “We believe that relieving them from these balances will provide much-needed relief that will allow our scholars to focus more intently on their academics and degree completion.”

Old Hills And Old Folks Resist The Mountain Valley Pipeline

Bent Mountain, VA - On Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 5:30 A.M., Deborah Kushner, Alan Moore, and Bridget Kelley locked themselves in and to a broken down vehicle on Honeysuckle Road, blocking Mountain Valley Pipeline’s access to the pipeline easement, a work yard, and 2 access roads. Written on the vehicle blockade are slogans including: “Old Hills & Old Folks Resist,” “Protect What You Love,” “McAuliffe’s Climate Catastrophe,” “Land Back,” and “Water Is Life.” Nearly 20 people rallied on site in support of today’s blockade. At 12:45 P.M., law enforcement issued a dispersal order for the rally of supporters. By 2:30 P.M., they began extracting the 3 folks locked to the blockade vehicle.

Volvo Truck Workers In Virginia Return To The Picket Lines

Following Sunday’s massive repudiation of the second sellout contract negotiated by the pro-corporate United Auto Workers, 3,000 workers at the Volvo Truck North America’s New River Valley Plant in Dublin, Virginia, are back on the picket line. Inasmuch as the struggle of the Volvo truck workers has been scarcely reported on in the national media and all but ignored in the publications of the middle-class pseudo-left organizations, it is necessary to provide a concise review of the events leading up to Sunday’s vote. Volvo workers originally went out on strike on April 17, determined to reverse the concessions that had been granted by the UAW to the Sweden-based transnational corporation over the last three contracts.

After Strike, Workers Resoundingly Reject Contract At Volvo Truck Plant

The 2,900 members of UAW Local 2069 had voted by 98 percent to authorize a strike; they hit the bricks April 17. Though union officials were close-mouthed about bargaining goals, rank and filers wanted to get rid of the two-tier wage system they had worked under for years. The strike was solid, shutting down the largest Volvo truck manufacturing facility in the world. But 13 days later many workers were dismayed when their union sent them back to work and said they would be told later what had been bargained. It wasn't easy finding out the tentative agreement's contents. A “highlights” pamphlet was distributed, but unlike the UAW's practice at the Big 3 automakers, the entire proposed agreement was not put online. Workers could get a copy at the union hall, and soon the thick document was brought into the plant and copied.

Shareholders Demand Dominion Energy Clean Up Its Reporting

Shareholders have submitted a resolution calling on Dominion Energy to fully disclose its lobbying efforts. The resolution will be voted on Wednesday morning at Dominion’s annual meeting.  When Dominion released a statement encouraging shareholders to oppose the resolution, the shareholders responded with a 12 page memo explaining why they should vote yes on Item #4 Dominion’s Report on Lobbying. The memo includes a deep dive into Dominion’s involvement with organizations associated with fraud, corruption and the recent rally before the insurrection attempt on January 6 at the US Capitol Building. From the memo: “Proponents believe Dominion’s trade associations’ activities are jeopardizing our Company’s reputation.

Women Run 415 Miles To Protest The Mountain Valley Pipeline

Bent Mountain, VA - The Mountain Valley Pipeline protest community came together Sunday at the Bent Mountain Center to thank and commend three women who are running and cycling alongside the MVP construction path. MVP protesters held a feast to celebrate the women who are running and cycling 415 miles from West Virginia to Virginia, paralleling the pipeline. “We’re all runners, so to be able to take something that we enjoy to be able to raise awareness to the issues that are happening, it’s important to us,” MVP protest runner Katie Thompson said. Sarah Hodder, Merecedes Walters and Thompson started their 10-day relay-style running and cycling journey April 24 and as of Sunday, May 2, have two days left.
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