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On the picket line

March 8, 2002 | Page 11

Washington, D.C., public schools

By Bruce Cooley

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Maintenance and building workers at D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) are launching a fight against the school board.

The board wants to spend less to clean, heat and maintain the city's public schools--despite a federal study that found DCPS buildings topping the list of the nation's school districts that need major repairs or complete replacement.

And despite understaffing, they're planning to lay off maintenance workers, forcing many building and maintenance workers to re-apply for jobs they already have.

The cuts are a consequence of money gone missing. After a budget surplus last fall, DCPS reportedly now faces a shortfall of up to $80 million.

Nearly 100 workers, members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), rallied in mid-February before taking their message to a school board meeting.

Workers and IBT leaders expressed outrage at the cuts and the school board's callous disregard for public education. "You didn't lose that money, but you're being forced to pay for it," Rev. Graylan Hagler, a civil rights activist, told the crowd.

Workers, union leaders, public school students and teachers addressed the rally. "We need more workers, not less," IBT Local 730 President Archie Smith told Socialist Worker. "These workers are already on a shoestring budget and have more buildings than they can take care of."

Many pointed out the need for increased solidarity among the city's unions in this fight. "We've got to get into the streets," Smith told Socialist Worker. "And we need the support of all the city's workers because they're the parents of the kids in these schools."

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World Trade Center Marriott Hotel

By Michael Ware

NEW YORK--Workers at the former World Trade Center (WTC) Marriott Hotel rally every Wednesday in Times Square to demand that Marriott make good on its promise to rehire all workers laid off after September 11. "Boycott Marriott!" chant the protesters.

Although Marriott has received millions of dollars from funds to "rebuild New York" and is opening two new hotels nearby, they're refusing to rehire WTC employees. So much for "United We Stand."

Marriot is one of the world's biggest hotel chains with 2,300 properties and $10 billion in sales. "Marriott wants new workers for cheap," Amy Velez, an activist with Center for Immigrant Families, told Socialist Worker. "Instead of $17 an hour for a worker with seniority, they want to pay $11 an hour for somebody new."

The 500 laid-off workers are represented by Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union Local 6, which has yet to distribute the relief funds they have received for laid-off hotel workers.

Most of the workers are still unemployed but are determined to keep fighting until they are rehired by the hotel.

For more information, call Owen at 646-321-5682 or come to the Marriott Marquis in Times Square on Wednesday at noon.

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