Here’s our weekly analysis of privatization in the news and in communities nationwide. Not a subscriber? Sign up.
This week’s highlights
- We’ve issued a call to action for a pro-public framework to counter decades of right wing assaults on the progressive role of government.
- Private, for-profit charter school operators and private colleges are about to be supercharged with up to $1 billion in public bailout money.
- Immigrant detainees at at CoreCivic’s privately operated Otay Mesa Detention Center were offered masks—but only if they signed contracts.
Governing for the Common Good
1) National: In the Public Interest issues a call to action for a pro-public strategic campaign to counter decades of right wing assaults on the progressive role of government. See ITPI’s new report on The Anti-Government Echo Chamber.
“We are publishing this brief as call to action to progressive leaders, thinkers, strategists, organizations, organizers and activists. Virtually every policy, program and issue we focus on relies on using the powers and institutions of government to create a fairer, healthier and safer country and world. Yet, progressives rarely talk about government successes and progress except when under attack. The language we use is often tinged with anti-government attitudes. Conservatives have waged a long-term campaign to discredit government while progressives have focused on specific issues and campaigns and remained silent on the ideas that unites those issues. This brief is not a prescription of particular messages or narratives. There are many organizations doing work to that end. This is about getting clear about the idea of government—that it is the only institution capable of ensuring that the public goods we all rely upon are available to everyone.”
2) National: “They got their wish,” the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank says of “the anti-government conservatism that infected the Republican Party in 2010 and triumphed with President Trump’s election. (…) What you see today is your government, drowning—a government that couldn’t produce a rudimentary test for coronavirus, that couldn’t contain the pandemic as other countries have done, that couldn’t produce enough ventilators for the sick or even enough face masks and gowns for health-care workers. Now it is time to drown this disastrous philosophy in the bathtub—and with it the poisonous attitude that the government is a harmful ‘beast’ that must be ‘starved.’ It is not an exaggeration to say that this ideology caused the current debacle with a deliberate strategy to sabotage government.” Milbank lays out the details of the right wing’s systematic assault on America’s health care capacity over past decades.
3) National: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), writing in the New York Times, says “Ronald Reagan famously said that the nine most terrifying words in the English language were ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ In this epidemic, we’ve seen that among the most frightening words in the English language are ‘We’re in a crisis and the government doesn’t have a plan to get us out of it.’ Our political system has debated the role of government since the founding, but the time for cheap political shots at government is over. Government action is essential to save lives and to rescue our economy. Congress should end its recess and get back to work now.”
4) National: San Antonio Express News columnist Andrew Dressler says COVID-19 has killed the argument for small government. “This ‘small government’ philosophy is not about returning control to individuals. The reality of deregulation is that when the government deregulates some part of the economy, control is ceded to corporations. The real choice we face is between regulation by the government or domination by corporations. While this approach to governing is cruel and economically counterproductive in good times, in times of tragedy, like this pandemic or climate change, it is turbocharging disaster. Corporations are simply not equipped, nor do they have the incentives, to solve these problems. Eventually this pandemic will end and we will then be able to consider how we are being governed. Unless our society changes how we view the role of government in our life, we’ll be woefully unprepared for the next disaster.”
5) National: The Pew Research Center finds that the public holds broadly favorable views of many federal agencies, including CDC and HHS. It seems as if reality is even moving the Republican Overton Window too. “Republicans feel far more favorably toward the Department of Health and Human Services than they did during Barack Obama’s presidency—and substantially more positively than they did seven months ago. Currently, 80% view HHS favorably, up 17 percentage points since last fall. In 2013 and 2015, fewer than half of Republicans viewed this agency favorably. Majorities of Democrats have consistently expressed positive views of HHS (70% currently).”
6) National: The Economic Policy Institute says at least another $500 billion is needed by states and localities to support their vital role in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and its effects. “As economic activity has collapsed, it has triggered a dramatic downturn in state and local revenues even apart from new spending demands imposed by the coronavirus. Unlike the federal government, most state governments are required by law or constitution to balance their budgets. As revenues decline because of lower incomes and reduced spending, state and local governments face serious fiscal constraints, often leading to budget cuts that further depress demand in the economy.”
The Indivisible Project has called on congressional Democrats to strengthen their draft legislation on a second rescue package: “The Democratic leadership needs to listen to their own constituents–their pain, anxiety and outrage. This is a crisis of unprecedented scale, and Democrats need to use the full power of the House to advance solutions that match the needs of the moment. We expect to see a bill following the principles of the People’s Bailout: a swift, inclusive bailout rooted in justice.”
7) National: Linette Lopez of Business Insider says that if America is going to survive the coronavirus, the GOP is going to have to give up on its 40-year crusade to keep government small and budgets austere. “But the GOP is still designing legislation with its ideological goal of limiting the role of government to the support of enterprise squarely in mind. This week they’ve proposed adding another $250 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, a loan program for small businesses. This is great, the problem is they don’t think anyone else should get emergency funds right now.”
8) National: States desperate for medical supplies are turning to each other for help, CNN reports. “‘If we had relied on the White House and its obligation to fulfill our needs from the SNS, our state and nearly every state in the United States would come up short and could not protect our health care workers and our first responders,’ Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday.
‘But here’s the good news,’ Pritzker added. ‘We haven’t trusted what we were told by the White House.’ California Gov. Gavin Newsom is the latest governor to lend out ventilators to other states, announcing Monday morning he planned to lend 500 ventilators to New York and other states hit by the coronavirus outbreak. ‘We’re meeting this moment with compassion,’ Newsom said in a statement.”
9) National: “Now Is the Time to Beg.” City officials are pleading with residents to stop flushing toilet paper alternatives.
10) National: Governing magazine has weighed in on what it says are and the strengths of our networked governance in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. “America’s system of federalism provides plenty of opportunity for fighting and recriminations among various levels of government. But as the coronavirus response is showing, this system also has underappreciated strengths that we should take care not to overlook. As we reassess the world post-coronavirus, we should make sure we don’t damage those strengths”
11) Maryland: The state is stepping in to try to respond to a dramatically rising wave of coronavirus infections. “Noting they’ve received few supplies coming from a federal stockpile, Maryland officials also said they’ve been rushing to purchase masks, protective equipment, ventilators and other supplies off the private market. Ellington Churchill, secretary of Maryland’s Department of General Services, said in an interview the state has spent more than $200 million on emergency equipment purchases since Hogan declared a state of emergency March 5. He said state officials have signed more than 200 contracts. ‘Just about everything is coming out of the private market,’ Churchill said.”
12) South Carolina: The U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina has launched a strike team to combat COVID-19 fraud schemes. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are part of the team. “What’s scary is there are people that are out there right now that will take advantage of people who are scared, vulnerable, who are very upset and at home right now looking for answers,” said Peter McCoy, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina.
13) Virginia: Local government has been steady and resolved during the COVID-19 crisis, Arlington County Board members Katie Cristol and Matt de Ferranti say in an interview with ARLnow.com. “Local governments and state governments have had to step forward, particularly because of an absence of leadership from the federal government, so the breadth of what local government can do is more clear to me than ever. There is an opportunity for innovation as we seek to serve all of our residents well.”
14) International: BBC Newsnight hosted a discussion on inequality and the COVID-19 pandemic. The segment addressed the future of public services, needed changes to the social contract, and the historic nature of the crisis. “We are told that coronavirus ‘does not discriminate’—but its impact is disproportionately affecting the poor. Can we prevent COVID-19 from creating a deeper divide in our society?” Joseph Stiglitz was interviewed. [Video, about 16 minutes]
15) International: Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) hosted a global forum on union responses to the COVID-19 crisis. Reports highlighted various ways in which the existing conditions that have left so many so vulnerable “are themselves a result of decades of austerity and increased privatization under neoliberalism, and the severe depletion of public health systems, other public services, and worker rights and protections.” [Video, about two and a half hours]
16) National: As Trumpian corruption envelopes the federal rescue plan, private, for-profit charter operators and private colleges are about to be supercharged with up to $1 billion in taxpayer bailout money. The CARES Act provided no guidance about how or when that money would be spent. But an analysis by MarketWatch reports that dozens of for-profit colleges—including some that have been accused of defrauding students—are set to receive up to $1 billion of it.
The charter school industry is moving ahead to take advantage of this opportunity, NPE’s Carol Burris says. “It is shocking,” says Burris, “that the National Alliance [for] Public Charter Schools is actively encouraging its members to take advantage of those taxpayer funds intended for small businesses, although their income has not been interrupted at all.”
There is a long history of the charter school industry and its leaders practicing “disaster capitalism”—with New Orleans being the prime example. One thread of that is the revolving door trajectory of Nina Rees, now head of the NAPCS. Rees went from being an education policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation to working for the education department in the Bush administration during Hurricane Katrina to working for Knowledge Universe (now KinderCare Education, LLC) before moving to NAPCS.
Writing several years ago about the Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation (GEO) and its connections to the charter school advocacy and support network (Heritage, Reason, Walton), teacher Doug Martin provided some color. “Former Domestic-Policy Adviser to Dick Cheney and implementer of No Child Left Behind for the Bush U.S. Department of Education, Nina Rees also helps run GEO,” Martin wrote. “If this were not enough to set off sirens, Rees also is Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and is responsible for early-childhood education and after-school tutoring for Knowledge Universe, a global education company with 3,700 education locations, 40,000 teachers, and a network of online schools and colleges. Knowledge Universe is chaired by Mike Milken (who served two years for 98 counts of racketeering and securities fraud) of the Milken economic think tank. Milken’s plan to privatize and decimate public education is brilliantly laid out by Kenneth J. Saltman in the essay “Michael Milken and the Corporate Raid on Education.” Rees does not hold a degree in education or a Ph.D.”
17) National: In the Public Interest’s Cashing in on Kids newsletter reports a Koch-funded think tank says for-profit online schools are “what the future of learning looks like.” The National Education Policy Center reviewed the Mercatus Center’s argument: “This recommendation runs counter to a solid body of evidence documenting the shortcomings of this online approach.”
18) National: The pro-school privatization website The 74 has published a piece on “How 18 Top Charter School Networks Are Adapting to Online Education, and What Other Schools Can Learn From Them.” They “selected [charter school management organizations] that are part of the Charter School Growth Fund portfolio and serve 10 or more schools. We were curious to see if we could find common trends or variation in their approaches. Here is an early snapshot.”
19) Arkansas: Eight districts have proposed charter schools in 2021. “If all eight districts follow through with applications for the nine proposed charter schools, and all nine are approved, the state would have 42 special program schools operated by conventional school districts. In comparison, Arkansas has 25 open-enrollment charter schools with one more to open later this year. Open-enrollment charter schools are public schools but are operated by nonprofit organizations other than traditional school districts. The state has a soft cap of 34 open-enrollment charters. There is no cap on conversion charter schools.”
20) Florida: The state supreme court has ruled against local school districts who argued that a law mandating that they pay tax money to charter schools over which they have no authority to approve was unconstitutional.
21) New York: At an emotional public meeting, Riverhead residents lou dly objected to the expansion of a charter school. “At a time when the district is hoping to convince taxpayers to approve a $97 million capital construction bond and struggling with state education aid levels far lower than the statewide average, payment of about $7 million in tuition to the Riverhead Charter School is a bitter pill to swallow for district officials, teachers and parents alike.”
22) New York: Parents and students packed the Hempstead High School auditorium to debate the budgetary impact of Evergreen Charter School, which is “seeking state approval to grow from 750 students in grades from kindergarten to eighth grade to 1,100 students that would include grades 9 through 12.” Newsday reports that “At issue is whether an expansion of the school would take away funds from Hempstead’s budget, a fear that has been raised by observers including Jack Bierwirth, the distinguished educator who monitored the school system for about two years after being appointed by the state’s education commissioner. Bierwirth warned that the school district was spending more of its money on charter school tuition and transportation than in recent years, and that the obligation would threaten service.”
23) North Carolina: The board of the Shining Rock Classical Academy in Waynesville has signed a contract with Performance Charter School Development to secure land a build a school. “Performance Charter School Development is a national real estate firm that helps charter schools by funding and developing their long-term facilities.”
24) South Carolina: In a unanimous vote, the Sumter School District’s Board of Trustees voted down the application of a charter school. “While noting some areas in the application where BRAG’s planning committee met required expectations, administration indicated BRAG fell short of meeting the requirements of the South Carolina Charter Schools Act in many areas, including its education plan, organizational plan, transportation plan and budget/financial plan, among others. During the hearing, Canty, the district school board’s chairman, asked Martin-Knox, the superintendent, if there was anything unique to BRAG’s charter that could supplement what Sumter School District is not currently doing to meet student needs. She said, based on BRAG’s application, the proposed charter didn’t offer anything unique, and the data used in its analysis were from the 2017 ACT and that that’s considered ‘lagging data’ at this point.”
25) Texas: Longview ISD trustees will vote today on charter school expansion plans. The board eliminated half of the partnership applications. “The district already has six Senate Bill 1882 charter campuses run by the nonprofit group East Texas Advanced Academies.” The News-Journal in January “requested the applications submitted by the organizations. The district denied the request and sought a Texas Attorney General’s Office opinion on whether the applications were public records. Longview ISD provided the applications Thursday evening.”
26) International: Corruption during the pandemic “will cost lives,” says Transparency International. “Thirteen regional chapters of the group in Latin America have published a set of proposals to mitigate the risk of corruption in public procurement as the region responds to the pandemic. They hope to reduce the risks of a lack of transparency, hidden contracts, a lack of competition and collusion. ‘It is essential that transparency, openness and integrity are preserved and that public purchases and contracts are reinforced during the declared emergency in Latin America,’ said a statement from the group’s global headquarters.”
27) National: Prominent municipal bond analyst Matt Fabian says COVID-19 will slow down states’ borrowing plans, if not curtail them altogether. “New money bond projects will slow through the end of the year and perhaps into 2021 as well, he said. ‘States like people, states tend to take on less debt when their financial prospects get harder, so that’s what happened with the virus,’ Fabian said. ‘So it’s likely they’ll put off projects instead of pushing through and borrowing on things that are nonessential like projects that they need to do like replace important facilities that are part of ongoing financing.” [Sub required]. It’s worth remembering in this context that Trump’s last infrastructure plan relied heavily—most said too heavily—on state and local government financing. Any new proposals along this line from Trump would be facing an even bleaker situation.
Any such infrastructure initiative may never get off the ground. The Washington Post reports that “in public remarks, Trump also has seized on the idea of a $2 trillion infrastructure package after conversations with long-standing business associates in New York, an idea also popular among congressional Democrats. But Trump faces internal skepticism over an infrastructure bill from leading White House players, with chief of staff Mark Meadows and senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow seen as opposing the effort, according to one of the people familiar with internal dynamics.”
28) National: Toll roads revenues, which are at the heart of both all-public and “public-private partnership” road projects have declined across the country by as much as 50-90%, according to the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association. “Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings all have negative outlooks on the toll road sector, but relief could be coming. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, which was signed into law March 27, didn’t provide funding for toll roads and state transportation agencies. But that may change as Congress considers new legislation.” [Sub required]. The 2008 financial crash, which also seriously curtailed road traffic, severely damaged infrastructure financing for an extended period.
29) National/International: Joyce Nelson, author of Beyond Banksters: Resisting the New Feudalism, takes an in-depth look at the role of BlackRock as manager of the Federal Reserve’s corporate debt purchase program.
“BlackRock is a key focus in my book (along with McKinsey & Company) because both firms have been playing an outsized role in Canada’s politics since the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015. Trudeau has created a Canada Infrastructure Bank—widely called the “privatization bank” by us serfs—and has proposed to pour some $120 billion into infrastructure spending in order to attract investment from the international financial sector. As I wrote, by August of 2016 Trudeau was reportedly ‘courting BlackRock’ in the hopes that some of its huge torrent of money would be directed into Canada for infrastructure projects.
“Of course, those private investors would want a sizeable return (at least 9%) on their investments, so most of those projects would be either: 1) the outright conversion of a publicly-owned asset into a private one (selling off roads, bridges, ports, airports, water and wastewater systems, etc.), or 2) the building of new infrastructure (like transit) through a public-private partnership (P3) in which the private sector would pocket the tolls and operate risk-free during long-term contracts, or 3) the clever combination of both, by which an existing public asset would become a P3.”
30) National/Tennessee: Is TVA behaving like a public or private operation? International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers AFL-CIO (IFPTE) President Paul Shearon says TVA “is sending pink slips to Americans and providing paychecks to foreign nationals. “Does this make any sense? Does this violate not only the needs of our economy now, and also violate TVA’s long-stated mission?”
31) National: The Financial Times reports that the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the woeful state of America’s internet infrastructure. “Even as the US races to be the first country to roll out superfast 5G internet connectivity nationwide, 21m Americans remain without any broadband connection at all, according to the most recent figures published by the Federal Communications Commission last year. BroadbandNow, a consumer website, puts the figure at double that. It is especially a problem in rural areas: the Pew Research Center estimates that a third of rural Americans do not have broadband at home.” [Sub required]
32) International/Maryland: “Not even an alien invasion could stop Transurban screwing the travelling public,” writes Australian Financial Review columnist Joe Aston about the road privatization company, which has been emitting soothing noises about its commitment to the public interest during the current corona crisis. Transurban’s Samantha Mostyn “made these remarks in the heady midst of corporate self-deprivation for the national interest: a cavalcade of boards has foregone directors’ fees, Telstra lifted all broadband data caps and BHP gave $50 million to COVID-19-affected mining communities, et cetera. But two days later, Transurban—on whose board Mostyn has been perched since 2010—proceeded with scheduled toll increases across its portfolio of freeways in the middle of an economic crisis. Bastardry without pause from an untouchable, blood-sucking monopoly.”
A bit closer to home, Transurban North America, which operates toll roads in the DC area, has hired an aide to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) just as the company is “expected to compete for billions of dollars in state contracts to build toll lanes on the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270.” Beware those soothing words about toll raises on the multibillion dollar “public-private partnership,” which is whizzing through the state legislature without restraints. One piece of legislation deep-sixed by Maryland Senate lawmakers would have put conditions on, surprise surprise—increasing tolls.
Criminal Justice and Immigration
33) National: A mother in an ICE detention facility run for profit by the GEO Group pleads for her life. “I am the 40-year-old mother of a 7-year-old girl and a former nursing student,” says Tatalu Helen Dada. “I am also trapped in immigration detention, severely immunocompromised, and terrified of dying from COVID-19, which is ravaging the state and will inevitably reach my detention facility. I suffer from Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder in which a person’s immune system attacks their thyroid, for which I have been hospitalized seven times.” The Independent reports that “women at the same facility told The Intercept a few days earlier that they were concerned that they had become exposed to the virus after a cook fell ill.
“The guards come in from outside and wear no masks,” said Ranzola Lamas, one of the detainees. ‘I am having nightmares. We feel almost forgotten.’ She added that social distancing at the facility was impossible because they were ‘living on top of each other.’”
34) National: The GEO Group has released its proxy statement for the year, detailing the compensation its top executives received for their services last year. CEO and board chair George Zoley was paid $6,046,112 in 2019. Over the past three years GEO’s executives have been paid $47,586,008 (total, p. 35). A week ago GEO Group declared a quarterly dividend of $0.48 per share. With 122.38 million shares outstanding, that represents a $58.74 million quarterly payout to its stockholders.
35) National/California: Six detainees and five employees tested positive for the coronavirus at CoreCivic’s Otay Mesa Detention Center at the beginning of last week. “Advocates have faulted CoreCivic, the company that runs the center, for not adequately protecting detainees against the spread of the virus, and letting employees spread the infection among the detainee population.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that detainees were offered masks—but only if they signed contracts. “The document, as read over the phone to the Union-Tribune, included a section saying that detainees agree to ‘hold harmless’ CoreCivic and its agents and employees ‘from any and all claims that I may have related directly to my wearing the face mask.’ When the unit manager began to verbally translate the document into Spanish, one of the bilingual detainees noticed that she skipped the ‘hold harmless’ section in her translation. She pointed that out to the other detainees, and they became angry.”
36) National: Route Fifty’s Emma Coleman reports that coronavirus makes bail reform efforts more urgent. “Criminal justice reform advocates are calling for jails to release most, if not all, pretrial detainees—meaning people who are accused of crimes and still awaiting trial—not only for their own safety, but also to protect the broader community that could catch the virus from correctional officers and other staff if more jails become outbreak vectors. But they face pushback from tough-on-crime lawmakers and the representatives of the bail industry, both arguing that sweeping release measures pose greater risks for safety than the public health benefits they might provide.”
37) National: Fallout from the coronavirus crisis has hit state budgets like “a hurricane,” Alan Greenblatt reports in Governing. “New York, which began its fiscal year on April 1, is projecting budget shortfalls ranging from at least $4 billion to more than $10 billion. Neighboring Connecticut expects to fall $500 million short by June 30, then face a bigger hole of $1.4 billion in the next fiscal year. Michigan projects its tax revenues could drop as much as $3 billion for the current fiscal year and as much as $4 billion next year. It’s tough to cut that kind of money with only weeks left in the fiscal year, just as demands on government services are rising fast. Pennsylvania has let go 2,500 part-time or seasonal workers. Nearly 9,000 full-time state employees, representing more than 10 percent of its workforce, will stop getting paid by the end of the week.”
38) National: With the collapse of state and local tax revenues from the economic implosion produced by the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Reserve has stepped in to stabilize their finances, extending them a loan lifeline of as much as $500 billion for short term debt operations. “The step will ensure that states and the most-populous cities can raise money to keep operating as tax collections dry up while their economies grind to a virtual halt and annual filing deadlines are pushed back. Wall Street analysts had predicted that such sales would jump in the coming months, which could have put pressure on a segment of the market where interest rates surged sharply last month when money managers dumped the shortest-dated securities to raise cash.” [Read the Term Sheet for the Fed’s Municipal Liquidity Facility]
While muni market participants largely welcomed the Fed’s move, there was also sharp criticism from smaller municipalities who feel the federal financial relief may pass them by in their hour of greatest need. “Mike Nicholas, CEO of Bond Dealers of America, welcomed the program but expressed some concern and called for more action. ‘We are looking particularly at how smaller issuers will access the facility,’ Nicholas said. “BDA looks forward to working with the Fed and others to ensure that any extraordinary help for the market is applied as effectively as possible. We also urge the Fed to use its CARES Act authority to provide support as needed for the secondary market for municipal bonds—providing much needed liquidity, benefiting the overall market.” Matthew Chase, CEO of the National Association of Counties, is waiting to see what the facility does for smaller municipalities. Right now, 3,054 counties have populations below two million and would not qualify under the facility. Only 15 counties are above two million people, Chase said.”
The ball is no w in Congress’ court.
39) National: With the U.S. Postal Service near financial collapse during a crisis in which it is desperately needed, Trump refuses support. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) urged “Congress to act immediately to stop President Donald Trump from using the novel coronavirus outbreak ‘as an opportunity to bankrupt and privatize the Postal Service,’ a longstanding goal of the conservative movement. (…) As the Washington Post reported Saturday, the president ‘threatened to veto the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, if the legislation contained any money directed to bail out the postal agency.’”
40) National: Some Las Vegas public service union contracts have been suspended. “Prior to the pandemic, North Las Vegas in 2012 was the last local government to take such action. Facing a budget deficit estimated at nearly $31 million, the city declared a financial emergency at the time, which it used to invoke the rarely used law allowing suspensions. The city’s unions sued, arguing that the law did not cover financial emergencies. A Clark County District Court judge reversed the suspensions in January 2014. Whether the law would cover a pandemic is unclear. It lists examples of emergencies ‘such as a riot, military action, natural disaster or civil disorder’ but doesn’t limit what an emergency is.” Mike Elk of Payday Report says similar efforts are afoot in other cities.
41) New York: Public libraries across Nassau Count heard the call to action and stepped up. “They’re now using 3D printers to make face shields for our hospitals and first responders.”
42) National: CWA says private companies are not doing enough to protect call center workers. “Workers at major call center operators are speaking out about their concerns. Some of the companies have failed to move their employees to telework or have only moved a percentage of their workforce home. Some companies have also failed to implement effective social distancing policies and cleaning to protect employees.”
43) Florida: As public interest groups call for transparency and accountability from government at all levels on the extent of the crisis and their responses to it, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has brought political pressure on the Miami Herald to drop a lawsuit seeking information on the extent of the crisis in elder-care facilities. “We are disappointed that the governor’s office would go so far as to apply pressure on our legal counsel to prevent the release of public records that are critical to the health and safety of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens,” Marques said. “We shouldn’t have had to resort to legal action in the first place. Anyone with a relative in an elder care facility has a right to know if their loved ones are at risk so they can make an informed decision about their care.”