*Update on Las Cruces school bus drivers*

Las Cruces Public Schools Withdraws Restraining Order against Union Bus Drivers
From AFT press release

April8, 2016

American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly and Las Cruces Transportation Federation #6341 President Marcos Torres released the following statement:

“It is welcome news that the Las Cruces Public Schools Board has voluntarily withdrawn its motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent a strike by the members of LCTF #6341. In addition to withdrawing its motion, the LCPS Board has also vacated its temporary restraining order, and the courts have dismissed the lawsuit in its entirety. This is a victory for the rights of our members and organized labor across New Mexico. The right to strike over labor disputes is guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act, and we feel that any lawsuit attempting to curtail this right represents a grave injustice to our ability to negotiate safer conditions for our students and better policies for STS-NM employees. We renew our call for parents, community members, and the Las Cruces Public Schools Board to continue to pressure STS-NM to improve its policies on safety for our students and to create policies which attract and retain the best equipment operators possible.

[UPDATED] Las Cruces school bus drivers striking? Not so fast.

[UPDATED on 4/6/16. Update at bottom of post.]

Members of Las Cruces Transportation Federation Local 6341 voted to strike this week after STS-NM, a private school bus company contracted by the Las Cruces Public Schools, failed to agree to needed changes to drivers’ contracts. But late Thursday afternoon a Las Cruces district Judge issued a temporary restraining order against the union and ordered all drivers to work until at least April 12. Drivers are not currently offered sick leave, haven’t seen a pay raise in years, and often drive overcrowded buses which threaten student and driver safety. LCPS Superintendent Stan Rounds sought the injunction, citing concerns about kids not being able to get to school, but didn’t seem worried about them crowding into over-packed buses with drivers who may be ill but can’t afford to stay home from work.

Supporters of local control defend Cruces school board against PED overreach

Tuesday night the Las Cruces Public Schools board of directors met for work and ProgressNow NM was there. It was the first meeting since Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera sent a scathing letter threatening a state takeover of the board last week. Tuesday’s meeting was full of supporters of the LCPS board, many wearing stickers that said, “I support local control.”

That’s feeling of local teachers, administers, parents and even students who feel that the PED secretary’s heavy-handed, top-down policies take needed control away from local schools. At points the audience applauded comments from the board and fellow attendees in calling PED’s accusations baseless and an intrusion into local matters. From the Las Cruces Sun-News:

The board room at the LCPS Administration Building was nearly full Tuesday, filled mostly with district employees, union representatives and members of the community who had shown up to express their support for the beleaguered board.

Skandera threatens Las Cruces School Board, again

Hanna Skandera is upset. She sent a lengthy letter to the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Directors yesterday in which she voiced concerns over how the board conducted some of their meetings last year and certain actions that may have been “in direct defiance” of directives issued from the PED. While LCPS certainly has a long history of problems complying with the state’s open meetings act, the letter comes off as personal and defensive. Also, the first charge over the board directing Superintendent Stan Rounds to ignore directives is off base and was a matter of much controversy last year. Last year, Skandera bullied LCPS into submission and forced the board to rescind their decision that protected teachers’ sick days from being included in end-of-year evaluations.

Report: 500,000+ New Mexicans at risk from breathing dirty air; Coal-fired plants and dirty diesel contribute

A new report from the American Lung Association says more than 500,000 (about 1-in-4) New Mexicans are at risk for air-pollution related illnesses and the state’s two most populous counties, which account for almost half of the state’s population, get failing grades for air quality. Many state and local leaders are sure to see the report as a call to action, so conservative pro-business groups took to social media and email in a rapid-response effort to deflect from the report’s major conclusions. The New Mexico Business Coalition was the first to weigh in to redefine the report. From their email Thursday morning:

What? No Air Pollution Crises in NM?  Radical environmental groups have been shouting, protesting and spending thousands of dollars on advertising to say there is a toxic air pollution crisis in New Mexico.

Anti-Minimum Wage Ideologues Lose Another Battle in Las Cruces

 

In yet another example of how out-of-touch New Mexico conservatives are with prevailing views about economic fairness, anti-minimum wage ideologues in Las Cruces have failed (yet again) in their attempt to recall a city councilor. The Las-Cruces Sun News reports that the conservative PAC “New Mexicans for a Better Tomorrow” failed to gather enough signatures to recall City Councilor Olga Pedroza. This comes a week after the group also failed to gather enough signatures to recall City Councilor Gill Sorg. From the article:
The Las Cruces city clerk’s office announced Thursday that supporters of a recall attempt didn’t get enough valid signatures to trigger an election against City Councilor Olga Pedroza of District 3. …