October 21, 2011

UPDATE: Jobs legislation hits roadblock in Senate

Source: NYSUT Communications
Caption: Vice President Joe Biden speaks to union workers in support on the Teachers and First Responders Back-to-Work Act as NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi and NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue look on. Photo by Mike Campbell.

UPDATE 10/21

From the AFL-CIO:

Republicans Vote to Keep Teachers, First Responders Off the Job

For the second time in less than two weeks, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would put Americans back to work. This time, they said “No” to 400,000 teachers, fire fighters, paramedics and police officers.

Last night, Senate Democrats tried to overcome a Republican filibuster of the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work to Work Act (S. 1723) . But the 50-50 vote—with every Republican voting “No”—fell short of the 60 needed.

In a statement President Obama said: "That’s unacceptable. We must do what’s right for the country and pass the common-sense proposals in the American Jobs Act. Every American deserves an explanation as to why Republicans refuse to step up to the plate and do what’s necessary to create jobs and grow the economy right now."

The bill would have provided funds to local governments to put back to work or keep on the job some 400,000 teachers and first responders. It was originally part of the American Jobs Act that Senate Republicans also blocked with a filibuster. Other portions of that legislation are expected to be introduced in the Senate—including a provision to create hundreds of thousands of jobs by repairing the nation’s bridges, roads and other vital sectors of the infrastructure.

UPDATE 10/20: Senators, union leaders rally for the Teachers and First Responders Back-to-Work Act

On Wednesday, NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi led a contingent of NYSUT leaders who also serve as AFT vice presidents in an AFT-sponsored demonstration of union support for the jobs bill at a Capitol Hill rally. Vice Presidents Maria Neira and Kathleen Donahue; and NYSUT board members Stacy Caruso-Sharpe of the Amsterdam TA and Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester TA were among those speaking up in support of the Obama jobs plan.

The administration's piecemeal approach to the American Jobs Act started earlier this week with the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act. It would provide states with an additional $30 billion for 400,000 teacher positions in addition to $5 billion to prevent the layoffs of thousands of police officers and firefighters. Funding would be provided by a millionaire's tax. It will be brought up for a vote in the Senate on either Thursday or Friday. The AFT is urging members to call Congress to emphasize the importance of this bill.

10/19: NYSUT leaders join Senators for press conference on American Jobs Act

NYSUT officers and several members of the Board of Directors are in Washington, D.C., this week as part of their work as members of the American Federation of Teachers Executive Council. But with President Obama's American Jobs Act front and center on Capitol Hill, the council's agenda included advocacy for the bill that could restore thousands of teaching jobs across the nation.

On Tuesday, NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi addressed the media during a press conference called by Sen. Chuck Schumer. Iannuzzi - who along with AFT President Randi Weingarten and UFT President Michael Mulgrew joined Schumer at the press event - spoke about the positive impact the jobs bill would have on New York state and, in particular, on education in New York.

"The positive impact in New York State would be immense," said Iannuzzi. "The American Jobs Act would save and create 18,000 educator jobs in our state, create 29,364 jobs in construction to repair and modernize schools and community colleges; and keep thousands of first responders working. Just as importantly, it would provide a lifeline to 141,200 New Yorkers by extending unemployment insurance."

Here is some of the media coverage from that press conference:

On Monday, Weingarten led an AFT event at the decaying Gorton High School in Yonkers with YFT President Pat Puleo.

"At a time when we need to do everything possible to prepare students for the 21st-century knowledge economy," Weingarten said, "it is unacceptable to lay teachers off and cram students in buildings that are too small and antiquated." The jobs bill would immediately help to rectify such problems, she said.

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