This Week in Labor: Union Fights Scheme to Give Guns to Firefighters, Hoses to Cops

Lindsay Beyerstein

Every Friday, Working In These Times rounds up labor news we’ve missed during the past week, with a focus on new and ongoing campaigns and protests. For all our other headlines from this week, go here. —Jeremy Gantz, Working ITT editor

—The Michigan Professional Firefighters Union is pushing back against a harebrained scheme that would give guns to firefighters and hoses to cops. Several towns in Michigan are debating whether to combine policing and firefighting into one job, Public Security Officer (PSO). The union is running ads in a bid to convince the public that combining two very different jobs won’t save lives or money, including this one:

What’s more, combining the jobs of police officers and firefighters would be a civil liberties nightmare. Firefighters don’t need a warrant to burst into your house, but police officers do. What happens to our constitutional rights if the cop and the firefighter are the same person? Besides, if police and fire are merged, some people will hesitate to call the fire department in an emergency because they are afraid of the police. Maybe the city managers are really hoping to save money by effectively cutting off fire service to anyone who’s afraid of the police.

—During Passover and Holy Week, hundreds of religious leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego are leading processions in front of Hyatt hotels, calling for justice for Hyatt workers. The action is organized by UNITE-HERE. Clergy in religious garb will carry heavy mattresses through the streets, to draw attention to the risks Hyatt housekeepers face every day. Housekeepers are expected to lift mattresses that weigh up to 100 pounds, and many are injured. The California legislature is considering a bill that would require hotels to use fitted sheets, which can be changed with less mattress-lifting.

—Remember how the revolution in Egypt was supposed to usher in a new era of freedom and democracy? Well, like their American brothers and sisters, Egyptian workers still have a lot of work to do to fulfill the promise of their revolution. With Mubarak gone, the interim military government is trying to re-abolish the right to strike.

Unionized teachers took to the streets this week to oppose the proposed anti-strike law and demand an end to political security” officers spying on teachers in the classroom.

—This week, National Nurses United launched an online game called Wheel of Misfortune” (www​.Gov​er​nor​sOfM​is​for​tune​.com.). Players are invited to spin the virtual wheel to find out who’s the worst governor in America. The virtual wheel bears the likenesses of ten Republican governors, including Rick Perry of Texas, Jan Brewer of Arizona, Ric Snyder of Michigan and — wait for it — Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

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Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times’ City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (http://​www​.hill​man​foun​da​tion​.org/​h​i​l​l​m​a​nblog), a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.
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