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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Negotiations begin for 13,000 Missouri home care attendants bargaining first contract


Home care attendant Julia May of St. Joseph

It was a great day, five years in the making, when home care attendants met with the State of Missouri for their first-ever contract negotiation session.

The Missouri Home Care Union bargaining team on Tuesday, Nov. 19, went over a range of issues with the state. The first day dealt with non-economic issues such as representation rights, a voice in policies and procedures, adequate training and resolving late-payment issues. Economic issues will be addressed in later sessions. The next bargaining date is scheduled for Dec. 10.

“We’re making it clear to the state that we’re united and committed to make home care better for attendants and the people we help, our consumers,” said Julia May of St. Joseph. “I can tell we’re making a difference.”

The negotiations are a result of the Quality Home Care Act, which Missouri voters overwhelmingly passed in 2008. The law opens the door to improvements in the Medicaid-funded program and allows the state’s 13,000 attendants to have a voice in their work. The Missouri Home Care Union, a partnership of AFSCME and SEIU, posted two resounding election victories and turned back right-wing legal attacks on its way to this month’s historic negotiations.

Posted In: Home CareLabor Movement

Monday, December 9, 2013

Black Police Officer Claims She Was Falsely Arrested by Two White Officers on Long Island

By Frank Eltman, Dec 5, 2013

A black police officer claimed Thursday that she was improperly charged with resisting arrest by two white officers from her own department last week on Long Island.

The 19-year veteran of the Nassau County Police Department said she immediately identified herself as a fellow officer during an initial confrontation Nov. 29 with a uniformed officer while she was off-duty and shopping in West Hempstead. She said she was targeted because she is black.

"I have been wrongfully charged and falsely arrested, requiring me to defend against allegations that are based on prejudice coming from my own police force," Officer Dolores Sharpe said during a press conference at her attorney's Long Island office. She declined to take questions from reporters.

Sharpe's attorney claims the off-duty officer was shopping for weather stripping at a "dollar store" last Friday afternoon when a uniformed officer confronted her in a parking lot. Attorney Fred Brewington said the officer began verbally berating the woman, saying that where she parked had blocked his view of something he was watching for an undisclosed investigation.

The attorney claimed the officer was "using all types of curse words and making comments to her that I can't repeat."

The woman eventually went into the store and when she returned she was again confronted by the uniformed cop. Sharpe eventually left the parking lot, but was pulled over by him about two blocks away. Another officer joined the first one at that point, and that is where she was taken into custody and brought to a precinct house and later given a summons charging her with resisting arrest.

She is due in court Jan. 9.

She said she was informed while being arrested that she was immediately suspended without pay. Sharpe is assigned to an office that screens prospective police applicants.

"I have been terribly disappointed by the Nassau County Police Department, to whom I have dedicated two decades of my work life," Sharpe told reporters.

A spokeswoman said Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano was "prohibited from commenting on an ongoing investigation." A police department spokesman also declined comment, citing an ongoing internal affairs investigation. Inspector Kenneth Lack, the department spokesman, said he was unable to even discuss basic details about the officer's arrest.

A telephone message for the president of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association was not immediately returned.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Black Women Worry That Their Natural Hair Could Affect Job Employment Or Retention

The Huffington Post  |  By 03/05/2013 

Is the texture or style of your hair preventing you from being hired? Sounds like a pretty silly question, however it was precisely the topic at hand during a panel discussion entitled “Black Women, Their Hair & The Work Place – A Dialogue” at Georgia State University.

Approximately 100 women gathered last week to contemplate the idea that their skills, talent and intelligence could be overshadowed by a hairstyle. And more often than not, the concern is based on women of color sporting their natural hair.

Yes, the hair that grows naturally from the roots of our heads could be contributing to the growing unemployment rates. Baffling.

Men are not immune to this hairy situation either. Last Summer, Hampton University issued a ban on cornrows and dreadlocks for male business students.

“You’re talking about being polished and (having) interview skills and yet no one is addressing the fact that natural black hair has been traditionally seen as not polished on its own whether it’s well cared for or not,” Nakisha McNeal, a student at the GSU Robinson College of Business, told SaportaReport. “So basically it’s all about maintaining the Eurocentric standpoint.”

This stance sadly echoes the stereotypes that we've fought against, and the personal freedoms we've strived to gain for so long. In fact, they're fighting words.

Case in point, take the firestorm that ensued a few years ago when a white Glamour magazine editor told a group of women at a New York law firm that afros were a "no-no", and that a "political" hairstyle like dreadlocks was inappropriate for the workplace. Black women were outraged and the comments got the editor six weeks on probation and ultimately resulted in her resignation.

Or when controversy stirred after meteorologist Rhonda Lee was fired from her post at Louisiana's KTBS news channel after defending her right to rock her short natural hairstyle via the television station's Facebook page.

As more and more women have decided to embrace their natural hair, we hope that potential employers' prejudice regarding our hair's kinks and curls will subside. It would be a shame to see women celebrating their curls personally and having to downplay them professionally.

How do you feel about sporting natural hair (locs, afros, curls, braids, etc) in the workplace? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.