Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Future of Fayetteville High School

The Future of Fayetteville High School Select Committee 2 will hold its first public comment session on the location of FHS at 6: 30 p. m. this evening in the Ramay Junior High cafeteria.

The first priority in deciding upon a location should be the best interests of the students in obtaining an outstanding education. We share the
Fayetteville School District’s goal of strengthening the partnership with the University of Arkansas, and that means advancing the best interests of the students at both institutions. Our position, like that of the Fayetteville City Council and the Fayetteville Council of Neighborhoods, is that we should build a world-class facility on the current site adjacent to the University of Arkansas.

The best interests of the students can be determined by a number of factors, some of which also involve the interests of our members. The current central location is especially convenient for our faculty and staff who have children attending high school, as well as for nontraditional students and single parents enrolled at the University. The current location allows high school students to walk to the University campus or the Fayetteville Public Library until their parents finish work or classes. Building a new high school in a remote location would weaken this bond and add concern for parents who would be unable to pickup and supervise the activities of their children to enhance their education or assure their safety.

The second point of concern is that the
University of Arkansas has proposed buying the current campus with no idea of how it would be used or even why it is needed. Vice Chancellor Pederson has proposed to issue approximately $60 million in bonds to be paid off by raising student tuition by $1,100 per student for the next 30 years. When we have staff members working at wages below the federal poverty level, female employees paid less than their male colleagues, and all faculty paid less than the regional average, purchasing unneeded property by increasing tuition cannot even remotely be considered the first funding priority for our University.

The University budget will be further endangered by raising tuition for this speculative real estate transaction. The University has millions of dollars for full scholarships for hundreds of athletes and for Chancellor's Scholars, but it has a miniscule budget for need-based scholarships, those that go to the nontraditional returning students and the children of middle class working families who seek a better education to improve their lives. Raising tuition on those who can least afford it will result in some students having to drop out for financial reasons. That is a significant problem in itself, but it will also impact the University by a loss of tuition revenue and a reduction in state funding based on enrollment and graduation rates.

We oppose the sale of the centrally-located campus of the
Fayetteville High School, and we support the proposal of UA Professor Tim Kring, a member of the School Board, to construct a world-class facility on the current campus. Attend tonight's meeting if you can, or sign the petition to support rebuilding on the present campus adjacent to the University.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Political Endorsements for May 20 Election

AFSCME Local 965 and the Northwest Arkansas Labor Council have endorsed the following candidates in the upcoming election on May 20th.

Arkansas Court of Appeals:
Courtney Henry

Courtney Henry is an honor graduate of the University of Arkansas and the UA~School of Law. She is especially qualified for the position, having served eight years as a law clerk for Judges Frank Arey, Terry Crabtree, and Special Judge Steele Hays on the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

Arkansas House of Representatives, District 99:
Tim Summers

Tim Summers has considerable legislative experience in three terms on the Bentonville City Council and seven terms as a member of the Benton County Quorum Court, where he has done an exemplary job. He is Director of Decision Point.

Arkansas House of Representatives, District 100:
Byron Warren

Byron Warren has legislative experience as a member of the Gravette City Council. He is a professional firefighter and has been an advocate in the state legislature as President of IAFF Local 2855 in Siloam Springs.

AFSCME Local 965 has operated since 1966 under charter as the Arkansas Public Employees Union for state, county, and municipal employees in Washington, Benton, Carroll, and Madison Counties.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Local 965 Members Honored by Sierra Club

Two members of AFSCME Local 965 were among those honored with Conservation Awards at the Arkansas Sierra Club's annual banquet last month.

Ward Four Alderman Lioneld Jordan received recognition as the state's Outstanding City Official on environmental issues. The awards committee cited his tireless work on the Fayetteville City Council in promoting transportation impact fees to reduce the public cost of sprawl, his support for the Ozark Botanical Garden, acquisition of the Mt. Sequoyah Woods and the Brooks-Hummel Nature Preserve, his backing for the city's trail system, and his leadership in advocating bike lanes and a landscaped median on the Crossover Road project.

State Representative Lindsley Smith received recognition as a state official for having a 100% Environmental Voting Record on the Sierra Club Legislative Scorecard for the second consecutive session. The awards committee also noted her sponsorship of the Citizen Participation in Government Act that protects activists from expensive SLAPP lawsuits, an appropriation of state funds for construction of Scull Creek Trail, her legislation expanding the Wetlands Mitigation Bank Act to include additional aquatic resources, and the Net Metering Act to promote conservation and alternative energy resources.

Alderman Jordan is a supervisor with UA Facilities Management, and Representative Smith is a Research Assistant Professor of Communication. We add our congratulations to that from the Arkansas Sierra Club.

Congratulations to Barbara Fitzpatrick

Local 965 member Barbara Fitzpatrick is unopposed for the Washington County Quorum Court position from District 6 in Fayetteville, and she will take office as a member of the county legislative body in January. Barbara is an administrative assistant at the University of Arkansas sociology department and has been active in the Fayetteville community for the past 11 years. She worked as an educator for about eight years, including as a science teacher in Fort Smith during the 1980s. She has a master's degree in education.

"Washington County has a diverse population with diverse needs, and I will work hard to build the necessary consensus for an effective government that addresses problems and finds practical solutions," Fitzpatrick stated.

"Declining tax revenues means that we will have to find ways to do more with less while maintaining a balanced budget."

In addition, Fitzpatrick stated," I am committed to an open process, both between myself and my neighbors I hope to represent, and in the operation of our county government.

"Just as we demand a financially stable county government, we must also work to ensure sustainable public policies and practices that protect the wonderful environmental blessings we have and preserve that natural heritage for our children and grandchildren," her announcement stated.

We wish Barbara the best and know that she will be an effective advocate for working families in her district.

Monday, March 17, 2008

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

March 17, 1937. U.S. Senator Joseph T. Robinson says, "Manifestly, the sit-down strike is unlawful."

March 17, 1944. United Garment Workers of America (AFL) representatives meet at Carpenters and Painters' Union Hall, 112 W Center in Fayetteville, to organize employees of Oberman and Company.

March 17, 2005. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette finally reports that the Arkansas Department of Human Services found that Wal-Mart Stores, with 3,971 of its 45,106 Arkansas employees on food stamps or Medicaid, 8.8%, had the highest percentage of all Arkansas employers with workers forced to seek public assistance.

March 17, 1898. The Arkansas Democrat boasts that the South has economic advantages over the North because Southern states gives big tax breaks to industry, and because Southern workers neither need nor want any increase in their wages.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

March 15, 1935. Norman Thomas speech to Southern Tenant Farmers Union meeting at Birdsong was interrupted by planter opposition thugs, who informed him, "There ain't gonna be no speaking here," dragged him from the platform, told him to leave Arkansas immediately.

March 15, 2002. Benton County Circuit Judge Jim Spears issued a permanent restraining order against labor organizers with United Food and Commercial Workers International Union from soliciting members on any and all Wal-Mart properties in the nation.

March 15, 1991. Governor Bill Clinton signed Act 565 to authorize the Director of the Arkansas Department of Labor to determine hazardous occupations for children under 16 years of age.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Another Arkansas Worker Killed on Job

James Ivy, 29, of Etowah, died instantly at the Tenaris Hickman plant in Armorel this morning when the pipe he was loading on a rail car rolled back and crushed him against a backstop. This is the third fatal industrial accident in Mississippi County, Arkansas, in less than three months.

The toll of workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths remains unacceptably high. Each year, thousands of workers are killed, and millions more are injured or contract preventable diseases on the job. The state legislature is eager to provide millions of dollars in tax exemptions and direct subsidies for business and industry in the name "economic development," but a majority of our legislators and the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce oppose any improvement or expansion of the Workers' Compensation law to cover medical expenses for workers injured on the job.

With union backing, Congress passed important legislation to establish job safety and heath standards for every industry more than three decades ago. In recent years, however, many of the safeguards we fought hard for have been eroded by lax enforcement under the Bush Administration.

Labor Celebrates Women's History Month

March is Women’s History Month—and who better to lead the way than Rosie the Riveter?

Show your Rosie spirit by sporting the Rosie the Riveter T-shirt that proudly states, “A Woman’s Place Is in Her Union.” On your coffee table, a set of four Rosie the Riveter coasters will make your point. The Rosie the Riveter We Can Do It poster will look great in any room.

Finally, learn all about Rosie’s origins with the paperback book by Maureen Honey, Creating Rosie the Riveter: Class, Gender and Propaganda During World War II. Honey’s book studies how advertisements and published stories were used to encourage women to enter the workforce during World War II—and how the Rosie the Riveter figure came about.

And be sure to see what else The Union Shop Online has to offer—everything’s union-made-in-the-USA.

Information about membership and the important work of the Coalition of Labor Union Women can be found online at their website.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

March 13, 1939. Arkansas Supreme Court in Johnson v State upholds night-riding conviction of Southern Tenant Farmers Union member Dolly Beatrice Johnson for posting strike handbills on plantations in Mississippi County.

March 13, 1935. Governor J Marion Futrell tells Norman Thomas that there is no state money available for an investigation of landlord and law enforcement abuse of rights of Southern Tenant Farmers Union members.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

March 12, 1886. United States Marshall Fletcher and deputies fire 50 shots at striking railroad members of the Knights of Labor near Little Rock and severely wound one Sullivan with a shot to his leg.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Lioneld Jordan Will Announce Sunday

Come help jump-start Brother Lioneld Jordan's campaign for Mayor of Fayetteville. Brother Lioneld is President of the Northwest Arkansas Labor Council, past president of AFSCME Local 965, a member of the Executive Board of AFSCME Arkansas Council 38, and a member of the Washington County Democratic Central Committee. He's one of Fayetteville’s strongest leaders -- a proven champion of working families and a strong advocate for open and responsible government during his seven years as Ward Four Alderman. So bring your friends and let's shout it out for Lioneld. –

When: Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Time: 2:00 pm Central Daylight Time (Don’t forget clocks spring forward this weekend so adjust the clock and don’t miss the time

Where: Fayetteville Downtown Square.

(FREE Parking this weekend at the parking lots across from City Hall, around the square and at the Town Center Parking Deck.)

As most of us know, Lioneld has served as an Alderman for Ward 4 in Fayetteville since 2001. He strives to work with all sides, and he's been Vice Mayor since 2004. We'll need his proven experience and passion and desire to work for all of the people of Fayetteville in the coming years.


And if you have an extra buck or two -- or can contribute some time – come sign up! We need your help. We'll begin gathering at 1:45 pm at the Square, and we can use all the people we can get to help launch this campaign both on Sunday and over the next many months.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

National Student Labor Week of Action

We are a little less than a month away from what is shaping up to be an amazing National Student Labor Week of Action. This March 28th – April 4th, students will stand together with workers, faith allies, and community organizations in a week of actions and events across the country to celebrate the lives of Cesar. E Chavez and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr..

Last week almost 30 campuses hopped onto our first national conference call and shared their amazing campus campaigns and initial plans on the week of action. Farmworker Justice, Affirmative Action, campus worker contracts and union drives, and living wages were but a few of the issues students are bringing to the forefront of the fights for social and economic justice in campuses across the country. We know that there are dozens of campuses that weren’t able to join us, and that’s why we scheduled a second national conference call for NEXT Thursday, March 13th @ 9pm Eastern. Hear updates and get new ideas on how to participate, and also get some amazing MEDIA TRAINING on our next conference call. If you’d like to learn more about the week of action or join us on the next national conference call, you can email

Visit to learn more about the week of action, download the organizing kit and get ideas on how to get involved, and learn about great national campaigns you and your peers can get involved in.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

March 1, 1886. Arkansas Knights of Labor railroad workers strike Union Pacific Railroad in the Great Southwest Strike. Master Workman Martin Irons of the Knights District Assembly 101, former and futue Little Rock resident, was strike leader.

March 1, 1899. Arkansas House of Representatives passed (74-8) Rep. Tatum's HB135 to outlaw blacklisting and guarantee workers' right to join unions; imposed $100 fine and 6 months imprisonment for each violation, plus $500 liquidated damages per individual.

March 1, 1937. John Russell Butler, President of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union, arrives in New York to direct activities during National Shapecroppers Week.

March 1, 1943. Prairie County Grand Jury indicts James Hanson for the murder of Roosevelt Robinson, a Negro tenant whom had been held in peonage on his Hanson's near Hazen, Arkansas.

March 1, 1991. NLR Assistant City Attorney Tim Fox warned Allied Industrial Workers Local 370 from Whirlpool plant at Fort Smith that they must comply with McCain Mall regulations and city laws when leafleting or face arrest.

March 1, 2000. Wal-Mart agreed to pay $205,650 for 1,436 violations of child labor laws in the biggest case of its kind ever investigated by the Maine Labor Department. Violations were found at all 20 Wal-Marts in Maine.

March 1, 2003. Pine Bluff Police Officer Jimmy Singleton shot in the head and left ankle by a suspect; the Workers' Compensation Commission subsequently denied his claim for 8% disability benefits for job-related injury.