Who is ULU Local 100?

Local 100’s mission is to organize and represent unorganized service sector workers in the middle south states of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas, and allow our members to create a vehicle to allow them a clear voice and real power in their workplace and their communities.  After more than 25 years as an SEIU local, in October 2009 Local 100 became independent again. Please become a fan on of Local 100 ULU on Facebook!

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More on Local 100's Victory in Houston to Save Children and Workers from Lead Poisoning PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 08 July 2016 15:25

HISD Reverses Course, Will Test All Schools for Lead in Water


Copy of Article in Houston Press

After initially planning to only test nine schools this summer for lead contamination in its water outlets, the Houston Independent School District reversed its policy Wednesday evening and will now test all of its 153 elementary schools this year, following questions by the Houston Press about lead testing to HISD officials.

In interviews Wednesday, before the changed policy was announced, School Board Trustee Harvin Moore and United Labor Unions Local 100 Field Director Orell Fitzsimmons said HISD officials had previously told them they planned to test only nine schools for lead each year. When asked about this plan, HISD spokeswoman Lila Hollin said Wednesday, “As far as how many and which ones, that hasn't been decided yet.”

At a rate of only nine schools per year, with 283 schools to test, the district wouldn't have finished its tests for more than 30 years.

Yet around 6 p.m. Wednesday, after the Press spoke with Hollin and called numerous HISD employees that day with questions about the district's lead testing policy, Board of Education trustees received a one-paragraph email from HISD Interim Superintendent Ken Huewitt. That email said something very different.

“While we have tested a number of our schools in HISD, we have decided to take a much more proactive and aggressive approach,” Huewitt wrote in the email. “I have asked the facilities team to test all elementary schools this year. All middle schools will be tested in the 2017-2018 school year. Finally, any remaining high schools that have not been completed with the bond program will be tested in the 2018-2019 school year.”

“Results for each facility will be posted on the HISD website as well as a schedule outlining when testing will occur,” Huewitt added.

Fitzsimmons first took an interest in HISD's lead testing policies after watching the water crisis unfold in Flint, Mich. He submitted multiple public information requests asking about HISD's records and practices regarding testing for lead contamination, and spoke at the June 9 Board of Education meeting about the district's need to test all of its schools for lead, starting with elementary schools – the age group most at risk for lead poisoning.

Big Victory for Local 100 in Houston PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 08 July 2016 15:19

HISD to test for lead in drinking water in nearly all its schools

Copy of Article in Houston Chronicle

The Houston Independent School District announced Thursday that it will test for lead in drinking water at nearly all campuses over the next three years in "an abundance of caution" amid national health concerns.

The state's largest school district said it tested five of its 288 schools at random in March and found that lead levels in all samples were acceptable.

The district will start by testing all its elementary schools for the toxic metal during the upcoming academic year. All middle schools will be tested in 2017-18, and high schools not being rebuilt as part of the voter-approved bond program will undergo testing the following year.

The announcement followed a public request in June from union leader Orell Fitzsimmons. During a school board meeting, Fitzsimmons called on the district to test for lead in all schools.

"I'm so ecstatic that they're actually doing testing," Fitzsimmons, field director of United Labor Unions Local 100, said Thursday. "I think they're going to find some lead. And once they find lead, then the timeline's going to be expedited."

Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech professor who recently helped uncover the water problems in Flint, Mich., said he can "almost guarantee" that Houston will have troublesome levels of lead in some schools, if the tests are conducted appropriately.

Edwards applauded HISD for rolling out testing, even though federal law does not require any such checks.

"The worst examples are the schools that never test because then you just don't know," Edwards said. "The sooner you get the bad news, the sooner you can prevent harm to your kids."

Schools built before 1986, when Congress passed a lead ban, are most at risk for having tainted water. Lead generally affects children more than adults and can cause serious health problems such as brain disorders, heart and kidney disease, and reduced fertility.

HISD estimates the cost to test its elementary schools will total $130,000. It did not provide cost estimates for testing at middle and high schools.

The Cypress-Fairbanks, Klein and Clear Creek school districts said they rely on local utility districts to ensure water safety. The area's other large public school districts did not respond to questions sent via email late Thursday.

Nationwide, about 1 percent of children from 6 months to 6 years old have been found to have elevated levels of lead, a significant reduction from decades ago, said Dr. Marcus Hanfling, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine who runs a lead and environmental clinic in Pasadena. Historically, he said, young children are tested for lead – and then a search for the source of the problem starts.

"This approach, checking the school water from a precautionary standpoint. makes more sense," he said.

The five HISD schools already tested are: Wharton Dual Language Academy; Hogg Middle School; Henderson Elementary School; Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy for Young Men; and McReynolds Middle School. A district spokeswoman said there are no records of lead testing in prior years.

Coverage of Legislative Hearing on Future of Little Rock Educaiton PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 May 2016 18:18
AR Times: Kurrus: '
And here is Arkansas Democrat Gazette story:

Baker Kurrus, who is being replaced as Little Rock School District superintendent when his contract expires June 30, said Monday that he would like to continue to work with the district in a nonpaying role -- but only if he can support the district's guiding policies.

"I am not willing to accept a role in anything unless I know where we are starting from and unless I have a clear indication of where we are headed," Kurrus said in response to a question about his future during a public forum hosted by Pulaski County legislators on the school district's leadership change.

About 150 teachers, parents, education organization leaders and displaced Little Rock School Board members attended the 4 p.m. event. City Director Kathy Webb, former Little Rock Superintendent Morris Holmes and Clay Fendley, an attorney who represented the district in a past legal battle over charter schools, were among the speakers.

Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key announced last month that he is replacing Kurrus -- a Little Rock businessman and Harvard-educated attorney whom he appointed to the school district job last year -- with Bentonville School District Superintendent Michael Poore. Key made the superintendent change for the state-controlled district without prior notice to or advice from Little Rock community members, large numbers of whom have rallied to support Kurrus.

Key, who was invited but was unable to attend the Monday forum at the state Capitol, has said Poore, who will be paid $225,000 a year, is an educator with the experience necessary to raise student achievement in the district, which was put in state control in January 2015 because six of its 48 schools were state-labeled as academically distressed.

But the commissioner has also praised Kurrus, who was paid $150,000, for his work this past year in strengthening the district's organizational structure and its finances. Key said he would like Kurrus to have an ongoing role in the district -- be it formal or informal. Poore has also said he would like Kurrus to play a part in the operation of the district, which has 25,550 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, told Kurrus that the most frequent question she is asked is whether he wishes to accept a role in the system.

Kurrus said that is a question that he continues to ask himself.

"I will say this ... I want to be part of the process to build, but I want to build from a strong foundation. What that means to me right now is I want to understand exactly how we got to where we are. Frankly, I don't quite understand that, but I hope to and I will. I have a wonderful working relationship with the commissioner. I've met Mr. Poore. He is certainly an easy guy for me to talk to."

Kurrus said he must know what the policies are that will guide or compel the district.

"If I can support those policies and we operate on a firm foundation where we know that we can build and build consistently for the long term, then I am willing to play a role. I don't think that will be a paid position. I think that is inappropriate. I don't think that would work for me right now.

"We are going to talk," he continued. "I hope to get with the commissioner this week and maybe with Mr. Poore at the end of the week to really thoughtfully consider how we can build a strong school district, but there will have to be some indication about the policies and the direction before I sign up."

He then joked: "I really feel like Mr. Poore and I have both been invited to a shotgun wedding."

Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, asked Kurrus whether he would be willing to continue in the superintendent's job should Key and Gov. Asa Hutchinson "walk this back."

"You can't unring the bell," Kurrus responded. "It's hard to work for people who don't want you to work for them."

Key notified Kurrus that his contract would not be renewed after Kurrus had argued to the Arkansas Board of Education against the nearly 3,000-seat expansion of the eSTEM and LISA charter school systems within the Little Rock district's boundaries. The independently run public charter schools have historically pulled more affluent, higher-achieving students from the Little Rock district, leaving the traditional school system with a greater percentage of high-need students and fewer resources to educate them.

Key has denied that Kurrus is being replaced because of his charter school stance.

Chesterfield told Kurrus that determining Poore's position on open-enrollment charter schools is "like working with jello."

Kurrus said they have only talked twice but that Poore is not the policymaker and will operate under the same constraints as Kurrus in that he will carry out policies and even influence policymaking, but ultimately the state education commissioner is the policymaker for the district, which operates without an elected school board.

"Ultimately, the community has to decide: Do we want a strong, vigorous, traditional school system with charter schools that have a limited purpose? Or do we think it is productive to have large charter systems that essentially act as alternative systems paid for by the state?"

Rep. Charles Armstrong, D-Little Rock, asked Kurrus whether his lack of experience as an educator was a weakness.

Kurrus responded that he never pretended to be an expert in curriculum and instruction and that he doesn't know how to arrange an elementary school library or teach first-graders how to read.

"But I know very, very good people who do," he said. "I tried in my role to set up a system where they were empowered and engaged, fully authorized, given clear, articulate goals and resources. Don't micromanage the people. Micromanage the process so the people are set up to succeed. That's what I did, and I don't think I was held back by the fact that I don't understand some of the things that experienced superintendents do understand.

"If I was in a smaller district where I didn't have the resources we have in Little Rock, it certainly would be a huge impediment. But I'm surrounded by world-class educators who sometimes weren't fully empowered to do everything they knew how to do. I didn't get in their way and I didn't pretend to tell them how to do their jobs, but I did help them get organized so they could focus on the things they knew how to do."

He said the district, with its $300 million budget, 4,000 employees and 60 schools and support sites, "is not a mom-and-pop organization. The one thing I felt good about was getting on top of that organization."

Rep. Michael John Gray, D-Augusta, asked Kurrus about the statewide implications of the Little Rock district's situation.

Kurrus said that 60 percent of the state's charter school students reside in Pulaski County and, of the students who left the Little Rock district for the eSTEM and LISA charter schools, 81 percent were proficient or better in reading and 77 percent were proficient or advanced in math.

"What is the state's obligation to fund an alternative education system for students who are succeeding?" he asked, then referred to constitutional language that calls for an "efficient" public education system. "If you begin to segregate students in any circumstance ... we need to look very carefully at that no matter who does that and seriously consider whether that is in the community's best interest. That is the policy issue."

Austin Bailey, the parent of two elementary pupils, was among the dozen people who took up to three minutes each to express their views about the leadership changes. Bailey called Kurrus "a genuine advocate for our students" and said the district doesn't need "a savior from the north." She asked the lawmakers for help in keeping Kurrus on the job.

"He claims us, and we claim him," she said.

Jeff Grimmett is a teacher at Little Rock's Henderson Middle School, which is one of the schools labeled by the state as academically distressed because fewer than half of students scored at proficient levels on state exams over three years. He said those schools are improving despite a lack of help from the state, and he called on the governor and Key to release the district from state control.

Grimmett also asked that charter school expansions and the re-segregation of the city's schools be stopped, that the governor replace Key -- a chemical engineer -- with an experienced educator, and that the upcoming formation of a community advisory board for the Little Rock district be transparent to the public to re-establish a sense of trust.

Fendley, who represented the Little Rock district in federal court in an unsuccessful legal battle over charter schools, said greater school stability could be achieved in Little Rock if charter schools had to offer bus transportation to students, which they're not required to do now, and if restrictions were placed on charter schools prohibiting their angry or misbehaving students from leaving their schools in mid-year to return to traditional schools.

Tracey Ann Nelson, executive director of the Arkansas Education Association, told legislators that what happens in the Little Rock district, where there are no community-driven decisions, is a bellwether for the rest of the state. "We are concerned about the chilling effect on those who speak to power," she said.

Toney Orr, a parent of students in the district and a community activist, compared the district, where he said his rights have been taken away, to "a sharecropper plantation where we are working the fields for the man in the house and the man in the house is calling all the shots."

Metro on 05/03/2016

Print Headline: Kurrus: Open to role in district; But need to know where LR schools headed, he says

Bill Kopsky

The Arkansas Public Policy Panel
Building a Better Arkansas by putting the PUBLIC back in Arkansas public policy since 1963.
Organize to win.

Watch a brief film on our 50 years of social change in Arkansas here.

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Little Rock, AR 72201
501-376-7913 x 12
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Our sister organization Arkansas Citizens First Congress at www.CitizensFirst.org orwww.facebook.com/citizensfirstcongress
Dallas Workers Got Sick Working for DISD PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 09 April 2016 14:58

15 Retired DISD Maintenance employees who have been exposed to Lead, toxic chemicals and heavy metals while remodeling a 1920s era Proctor and Gamble soap factory for use as a DISD central maintenance facility while employed at the DISD met with Community and Civil Rights organizer Peter Johnson on April 7, 2016

                  Peter, coincidentally, is conducting lead and mold tests in the South Dallas neighborhood around the old Proctor and Gamble factory to prove his theory that low tests scores in inner city schools is due to the fact that kids in these neighborhoods have been affected by lead and mold exposure. If the DISD refuses to test us, we have developed a campaign strategy with plans to include all employees and ex-employers who worked at this site. Mr. Gomez pictured below has bladder cancer as a result of his work environment and does not expect to live long enough to receive anything from this, so he asked if his survivors would get anything coming to him.


Local 100 fights for Environmental Justice PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 19 March 2016 19:05

In 1921 Proctor and Gamble built a factory in South Dallas. In the 1990s the DISD bought the closed plant for a song because no one was interested in cleaning up the toxic chemicals, lead, arsenic, mercury, that Proctor and Gamble had left behind. The DISD used its employees to do the cleanup and convert the building into a maintenance facility and named it the Cotton building.

The presence of toxic chemicals in the building has become an issue and the DISD began giving blood tests to the current employees working in the building but has refused to test the retirees and temps who had to clean up the building and do the renovation to begin with. Local 100 held its first meeting of retirees who worked in that building to begin the process of building the power to pressure the DISD to” Do the right thing” and test everyone who has ever worked in the building, not just current employees. This meeting was organized by Ms. Doris Taylor, a local 100 member during her years working for the DISD and who remains a Local 100 member on Backdraft. She has also assumed the leadership of the Dallas Local 100 Retiree organization.

Pictured, left to right, Thomas Taylor, Doris Taylor, Kenneth Morgan and William Morgan

retirees 001_1

Local 100 Demands Change PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 11 March 2016 03:05

Local 100 leaders, Norma Rivera, Flora Norman, Alvin Jimmerson, and Stewards Larry Williams Howard Pearlman, and Ruby Ross Attended the March 8th Dallas County School Board Meeting to tell the Board to change its Attendance Bonus Policy. Also attending were Friends and supporters of Local 100 Cledell Kemp and Mary Stretcher.

Dallas County Schools operates 2000 school buses and have a difficult time keeping drivers for all of its routes, so it offers an $800 yearly bonus to those who don’t miss a shift. Their policy has the unintended consequence of encouraging people to come to work sick which poses risks for drivers, students and other drivers, and to avoid jury duty or not take off for legitimate reasons or workers compensation. Ruby presented petitions signed by almost 750 Drivers and monitors that asked to not be penalized for taking time off for legitimate reasons. Other issues raised to the board were the need for suitable video training for new drivers from the Middle East and the need for buses with 2 speed differentials instead of turbo charged buses.  

board pic

Dallas Local 100 on a Roll PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 December 2015 23:59

Thirteen Dallas County Schools School Bus Drivers joined Local 100 on December 15. Cledell Kemp, a Local 100 organizer, who is currently on medical Leave is shown at an information table in the Lawnview break room signing up a Lawnview driver.




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