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Hartford Rising to Support the SAND School Community
Hartford Public Schools’ superintendent is pushing an outrageous and possibly illegal scheme to hand-over Hartford’s S.A.N.D. School to Capitol Prep’s principal -- apparently to run it as a charter. Parents and the community learned of this plot for the first time less than a week before it was scheduled for a vote by the board of education.We are urging our members who live in Hartford to contact the Board of Education before their regular November 19 meeting and show their support for the S.A.N.D. community. Tell the BOE the school’s students and their families need support, not a hostile take-over.
Drop the Rowland Appeal
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen has decided to appeal last month's federal court ruling that former Gov. John Rowland and OPM Secretary Marc Ryan acted illegally by laying off nearly 3,000 unionized state public service workers and violated their First Amendment rights to freedom of association
In the decision, The Second Circuit Court stated, “included in this right to free association is the right of employees to associate in unions.” The Court remanded the case to the Connecticut District Court to “craft appropriate equitable relief.”
AFT Connecticut and all state employee unions defended our member’s Constitutional rights in a suit filed and fought since 2003. And we won.
Our legal victory is an unequivocal defense of our members' constitutional rights at a time when anti-worker politicians like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have stripped public workers of their bargaining rights.
Rowland's treatment of public service workers as the enemy has proven to be costly and destructive. The Hartford Courant recently reported that defending Rowland's actions has cost Connecticut taxpayers nearly $1 million in legal fees.
So we are shocked and disappointed by the Attorney General's decision to take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Dragging this case out further will cost taxpayers even more money while delaying justice.
It's time to move forward.
Please contact Attorney General Jepsen and urge him to accept the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision.
Give Charter School Employees a Voice
The Teachers’ Negotiation Act governs how teachers can join a union, but it was enacted long before the creation of state charter schools. Therefore, it does not address how charter school employees, who are not employed by a local board of education may form a union, should they wish.
In a traditional school district, signed union cards are delivered to the local board of education. In a state charter school, signed union cards are delivered to the equivalent of the local board of education, the state charter school governance council. Unlike a local board of education, a governance council may consist of administrators and others who have a direct supervisory relationship with employees. It is possible that charter school employees who want to join a union may find it difficult to do so without facing employer discipline, intimidation or harassment.
HB 6416 provides some measure of protection to charter school employees seeking to join a union. By requiring that signed union cards be presented to the State Board of Education instead of the individual state charter school governance council, employees can make the decision about joining a union in a neutral environment without worrying about jeopardizing their jobs.
Please support charter school employees’ right to join a union free from employer interference.
School Nurse Advisory Council
The role of school nurses has changed dramatically over the last twenty years. There are an increased number of mainstreamed special needs students and students managing chronic diseases and conditions such as seizure disorders, diabetes, and asthma and behavioral issues. Some of these children require medication during school hours.
With more medically fragile students mainstreamed into traditional classrooms and more students managing chronic illnesses, it's imperative that school nurses have the most up-to-date and helpful information available to them.
SB 1070 would establish a statewide School Nurse Advisory Council to advise the Commissioners of Public Health and Education concerning professional development for school nurses, school nurse staffing levels, the delivery of health care services by school nurses in schools and other matters that affect school nurses.
Contact your state representative and urge their support for SB 1070.
Support SB 823
The world has changed a great deal since our workers’ compensation statute was first enacted. Sadly, we live in a more violent society. Modern scientific research has shown that human beings, though they often can withstand and recover from the most debilitating of physical injuries, are often far more harmed by the emotional impact of the circumstances in which those physical injuries were sustained. We know now about post-traumatic stress disorder and that it can be a completely debilitating condition. When injuries occur in the workplace, whether they are physical, mental or emotional, we must provide parity of coverage and treatment in our workers’ compensation statute.
SB 823 An Act Concerning Mental or Emotional Impairment and Workers’ Compensation Coverage makes an employee eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if the employee experiences post traumatic stress disorder in the workplace.
Support Labor History in Schools
Since its inception, the labor movement has worked to establish worker rights and create the middle class. Sadly, the entirety of this history is rarely taught. As a result, Americans are largely uninformed or misinformed about the labor movement and the role that workers have played, and do play, in our nation’s economic, political and cultural life.
HB 5713 permits the history of organized labor, the collective bargaining process and existing workplace protections to be part of our public school curriculum.
Academic standards and curriculum resources such as textbooks have historically ignored or been deficient in their treatment of workers and the labor movement. Significantly, many teachers want to cover this history in their classrooms, but there are few written curriculum standards by local and state educational institutions to encourage the teaching of this material.
HB 5713 would set standards to teach labor history in Connecticut’s public schools so that students can learn the role labor unions have played in our state’s heritage.
Did you know?
Thanks to the efforts of labor unions, today’s workers enjoy a broad array of protections that we now take for granted, including:
· An 8-hour work day & 40-hour work week
· A minimum wage
· Extensive child labor laws
· Safer working conditions
· Unemployment insurance
· Protection against workplace discrimination
· Workers’ Compensation
· Collective bargaining to give workers a voice
Students deserve to know that these protections were not just inherited from previous generations, but rather were won by the efforts of ordinary people who made extraordinary sacrifices to create the society we enjoy today.
Please support HB 5713.
Legislation requiring that history of the labor movement be taught in public schools has already been passed in several states, including California, Illinois, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Reporting for For-Profit Hospitals
With a number of Connecticut hospitals exploring the sale or transfer of their facilities to for-profit healthcare corporations, Healthcare access in the state could change dramatically. In 1997, the General Assembly passed legislation requiring the Office of Health Care Access and the Attorney General to review and approve conversions of non-profit hospitals to for-profit hospitals. To date, only one Connecticut hospital (Sharon Hospital), has undertaken this effort.
HB 6520 would require for-profit hospitals to provide more detailed information to be considered in the conversion process, in order to avoid conflicts of interest and continued access to healthcare, including:
- Foreign offices, employees and transactions over $5K
- If management or staff own stock in companies hired to provide services
- Properties on which tax abatements have been claimed
- Construction plans, including the timeline, estimated cost and source of funding
- Surplus revenue and it uses
HB 6520 allows the state, healthcare consumers and healthcare workers to determine value and patient care versus profit.
Contact the Public Health Committee today and urge their support for HB 6520.
While good teaching is crucial to student learning, there are factors in every child’s life that are beyond the teacher’s control and may deeply affect the child’s ability to perform well in school. In fact, decades of research have shown that out-of-school factors account for up to two-thirds of student achievement results. Sadly, there are more impediments to learning in the lives of poor children than there are in the lives of children from more advantaged circumstances. In order to fully close the achievement gap, we must address all factors that impede learning.
The most effective solution is to provide services right in the school building. Schools and districts should coordinate existing state and local services and offerings from nonprofit providers to provide services where students and families can readily access them.
Community school buildings remain open beyond regular school hours to provide access to tutoring, homework assistance and enrichment activities, as well as medical, dental and mental health services. Families and other community residents also may benefit from legal advice, immigration assistance, employment counseling, housing help and English-language or GED instruction, depending on needs. Support provided by community schools can greatly alleviate many family stresses that interfere with student learning. Among the benefits derived from successful community school programs have been higher student test scores, better student attendance, higher graduation rates and improved levels of meaningful parent involvement.
Community Schools would give Connecticut students the best opportunity for success by closing the achievement gap and building communities.
Contact your state representative and urge their support for SB 1002 - Community Schools.
Mandatory Flu Vaccinations
Nurses and other healthcare workers have a long history of supporting public health initiatives and recognize that immunization plays an important role in preventing the spread of illness.
But healthcare choices are intensely personal matters. Any entity, be it the state, individual hospitals or other healthcare employers, who mandates influenza immunizations disregard employee rights.
We encourage our members to get the flu vaccine, but we respect the fact that some choose not to be immunized for health or religious reasons. These healthcare workers should not have to be face fines, disciplinary action, loss of wages or termination as a result of their personal healthcare decisions.
Collaborative efforts between hospital management and staff to educate and promote voluntary immunization and allow alternative infection control measures for those who cannot be vaccinated have been very successful.
S.B. 1128 requires healthcare facilities to ensure that employees receive flu vaccinations. Contact the public health committee today and urge them to oppose this bill.
Staffing has an immediate impact on the quality of patient care in our hospitals. Not surprisingly, patient outcomes are related the staffing level of healthcare professionals. Inadequate staffing can put patients at risk and increase the likelihood of insufficient care, readmission and medical errors.
Current statute requires hospitals to work collaboratively with employees to create a staffing plan for healthcare workers. SB 968 would require that report to be provided to the Department of Public Health. It would also require hospitals to report their actual daily staffing levels on a quarterly basis.
SB 968 will make important information available, including:
the number and ratio of registered nurses per patient care unit
the number and ratio of licensed practical nurses per patient care unit
the number and ratio of nurse’s aides per patient care unit
the number of administrative staff per patient care unit
SB 968 would ensure that hospitals are safely staffed so that Connecticut residents can count on receiving adequate care in their community hospitals.
Contact the Public Health Committee and urge their support for SB 968.
Learn more at SafeStaffingCT.org
Keep the Promise to Teachers
The Appropriations Committee voted to restore 25% of the state’s contributions to the retired teachers' health insurance fund for the next two year. Although this is not the one-third required by law, it is a significant improvement from the Governor’s proposed budget. AFT Connecticut strongly supports this change over the Governor's proposal and urges legislators to vote in favor of this amendment.
The reduction in the state’s contribution to the health fund will negatively affect its long-term solvency. Active and retired teachers have been paying into the health fund with the understanding that it will be there for them when they retire. Active teachers make the largest contribution to the retired teachers’ health insurance fund — contributing 1.25% of salary annually. In 2012-13, contributions from active teachers of over $45 million will be deposited into the health fund.
The state should honor its obligation – active and retired teachers have always dutifully made their required health insurance contribution.
HB 5900 Transparency in Education
Over the last year, the State Education Resource Center (SERC) has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in several no-bid contracts to vendors and consultants. Some of these vendors assisted the State Department of Education in its efforts to develop and negotiate the education reform law passed last session (Public Act 12-116). Others participated in additional ongoing reform efforts.
Among the contracts awarded without a transparent vetting process are:
· $195,000 to Leeds Global Partners
· $124,924 to an individual consultant to develop CT’s ESEA waiver application.
· $60,000 to Education First Inc.
· $225,0000 for the Windham Special Master
For purposes of transparency, Public Act 12-116 requires that all school districts, RESCs and charter schools adopt a common chart of accounts. It is appropriate that the State Department of Education and SERC comply with the spirit of those provisions and provide taxpayers with a clear view of how it’s spending public dollars to improve public education.
HB 5900 would:
· Require SERC to comply with the statutes administered by the Clean Contracting Standards Board and require that the Commissioner of Education annually report to the General Assembly:
- All contracts issued to private sector vendors and RESCs for the purposes of conducting the work of the State Department of Education
- The amount and sources of all private funding used to pay SDE employee and consultant salaries and/or benefits.
Contact the GAE Committee today and urge them to support HB 5900.
Support HB 6502 Paraprofessional Advisory Committee
GREAT NEWS! GOV. MALLOY HAS AGREED TO SIGN THE BILL TOMORROW!
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR EFFORTS TO GET THIS BILL PASSED!
The Paraprofessional Advisory Committee was created in 2007 to identify and provide more appropriate, effective and meaningful professional development to Connecticut’s 13,400+ instructional paraprofessionals. It gave a much-needed voice to paraprofessionals in their quest to be respected and heard.
Over time, the State Department of Education has added agency staff, consultants, teachers, principals and other non-paraprofessionals to the Paraprofessional Advisory Committee.
Today, only 20% of the Paraprofessional Advisory Committee’s membership consists of paraprofessionals. Once again, the voices of paraprofessionals have been silenced.
HB 6502 would recalibrate the membership of the Paraprofessional Advisory Council so that paraprofessionals would have a majority representation, making certain that their voices are heard, not diluted. HB 6502 is revenue neutral.
Contact Gov. Malloy today and urge him to sign HB 6502.
Checks and Balances
In the wake of the Watergate scandal, and again following the contracting scandals leading to former Governor Rowland’s arrest and conviction, Connecticut established and empowered certain government agencies to ensure that corruption would not be commonplace here in our state.
Those agencies, including the State Elections Enforcement Commission, the Office of State Ethics and the Freedom of Information Commission, were consolidated under the Office of Government Accountability (OGA) in 2011 by Governor Malloy. Since then these offices have seen their budgets cut and their staff downsized. As a result, their ability to sustain government transparency and accountability.
This year, in an attempt to save money, Governor Malloy has proposed that all of these agencies fall under the control of his appointee, the Executive Director of OGA. The problem is these agencies cannot act as independent watchdogs if their staff are at the will of a gubernatorial appointee.
He has also proposed that staff at each of these offices be cross trained so that jobs would essentially interchangeable, robbing the professionals who protect the public trust with the level of expertise and experience to fulfill the mission of their offices.
The legislature has opposed previous attempts to undermine and consolidate these watchdog agencies.
We must call on our legislators to once again protect these agencies and ensure that our government is transparent and accountable.