It might come as surprise to many, but as a labor journalist I feel that both Jonathan Tasini & Arianna Huffington are wrong in their current squabble over labor relations that has broken out as a result of Tasini’s lawsuit for $115 million against the Huffington Post.
Over the last few months, many people have approached me about suing the Huffington Post. Nobody has a stronger legal claim than me since I was “fired” or dismissed as an unpaid blogger after I used press credentials obtained citing myself as a blogger for the Huffington Post to help 200 construction workers invade a conference of mortgage bankers to protest a bailout. (Only in 2011, can you be “fired” from a “job” that doesn’t pay you anything.)
A recent New York Times profile of several young male trend setting DC journalists known as the "Brat Pack" inspired Good Magazine Executive Editor Ann Friedman to write a piece on the "DC Lady Journo Mafia." Friedman recounted a meeting composed of several female journalists to discuss barriers that women journalists face in the industry. “Everyone’s gotten a little bit older and a little more tired of being constantly rendered invisible,” Ms. Friedman was quoting saying about a group of young women journalist who come of age together in D.C. speaking of a wave of Washington women journalists who have come of age together. “Four years ago, we were fact-checking and editing these male pundits, along with creating award-winning work of our own. None of that has changed.”
Friedman's article recounted how these young women journalists see the social scene many men inhabit: "In a city where male journalists still get away with sexual harassment and the glass ceiling is still firmly in place at many publications, the scene these young women inhabit is as foreign as Mars. It’s not uncommon to spot them in packs, swilling whiskey at Dodge City or elbowing bros out of the way at new spots like American Ice Company."
Much like how these brave women had set trends and redefined styles to be all but ignored, working class labor journalists have challenged those in power while turning heads with their social exploits and style.
Last month, President Obama wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal calling for “a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.”
The announcement by Obama to eliminate burdensome regulation was seen as dramatic tilt to the right for the White House, which is increasingly pro-business. Others, though, dismissed the move as mere posturing that would not seriously affect workers. But since calling for the regulatory review, the Obama Administration has done away with several proposed workplace safety regulations that have upset worker safety advocates.
For criminals, terrorists, and mentally unstable people buying a gun without a background check is easier than getting a driver’s license. Many of these people can buy guns at frequent gun shows were background checks are not required. In fact, a large amount of weapons came from this type of shows.
Recently, NYPD sent two undercover investigators to a gun show a hundred miles from the Tucson shoots in nearby Phoenix, Arizona. There they were able to buy on tape three guns with no questions asked. In fact, the investigators told the gun sellers that they were glad they could buy the gun on site since them "probably couldn’t pass a background check". Saying this to a gun seller who then allows you to buy a gun is illegal.
Earlier this year I witnessed a drive-by homicide in Northwest DC. There are few images that stick in my mind more than the moment I realized that the bright flashes coming from the car next to me were gunshots being fired at a teenage youth who was running away. It haunts me to this day.
Anyone who was ever witnessed a murder knows that something must be done to prevent guns from failing into the hands of violent criminals. It's wildly depressing that, in the wake of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, gun policy is just starting to break into the debate. Why? In Washington's lazy old-school echo chamber, many political consultants and commentators say gun policy is simply too "risky" an issue.
TSA workers have one of the worst jobs in America. Reports and surveys by the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General show morale among TSA workers is at record lows for the federal workforce and jeopardizes airport security. "It is no secret that the morale of the TSA workforce is terrible as a result of favoritism, a lack of fair and respectful treatment from many managers, poor and unhealthy conditions in some airports, poor training and testing protocols and a poor pay system" says American Federation of Government Employees National President John Gage. In addition to the poor treatment by their employers, TSA workers are the scorn of airline travelers everywhere as a result of the invasive procedure which they are forced to perform.
The only thing more outrageous than TSA's policy of invasive procedures is the fact the TSA workers are legally barred from collectively bargaining.
Noted labor historian Joe Burns has called the lockout of 230 workers at the Honeywell uranium processing facility in Metropolis, IL - the highest profile ongoing labor dispute in the country right now. Despite this, not a single major news outlet outside of the Huffington Post has covered the story. Indeed trusted journalists like ABC's Christine Amanpour refuse to ask Honeywell CEO David Cote questions about his role in the lockout when interviewing him. By letting Honeywell go unchallanged, the White House has been able to reward Honeywell CEO David Cote with a front seat in the Obama White House.
Just last week, President chose to have Honeywell CEO David Cote accompany him on a tour of India designed primarily to ease barriers to outsourcing in India. Obama invited Cote to accompany him touring India despite Cote's status as one of the country's most infamous union busters.
Many Jon Stewart followers see his "Rally to Restore Sanity" on Saturday as a progressive rallying cry. Stewart claims on his website it is not, saying, "If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence... we couldn't. That's sort of the point."
However, over 200,000 attendees, who mostly identify themselves as progressives have RSVP'ed for the rally on Facebook. The rally is being backed by major progressive forces like Arianna Huffington -- who is paying to bus in 10,000 supporters from New York City to attend the rally. Stewart himself on his website compares the rally to major progressive events like Woodstock and the more recent Million Man March for civil rights. Whether or not Stewart intends the Rally to Restore Sanity to be a left wing political event, progressive activists throughout the country see it as an important political statement that counters the message of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party.
Late last week, AFSCME President Gerry McEntee endorsed former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the Chicago Mayoral Election. McEntee told Politico, "If I lived in Chicago, I would vote for him for mayor." The president of the giant public workers union said that Emanuel's record was, on balance, "for progressive forces and ideas."
McEntee's words carry a lot of weight within the labor movement. Since 1990, AFSCME has donated $42 million to federal election campaigns, with over 95 percent of that going to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He made headlines in 2007 by telling the Washington Post that "I'm the sheriff of the incumbent-protection program." McEntee's opposition to the labor movement knocking corporate Democrat out in primaries has led one union political director to privately label him "the Democratic Party's representative on the executive committee of the AFL-CIO."
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On Saturday, tens of thousands of people from all over the country -- perhaps 200,000 people -- stretched across the Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial in a quilt-like patchwork of colors representing various races and organizational affiliations. (See video here.)
The message of the day was "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs," according to one organizer of Saturday's "One Nation Working Together" rally. "In many ways this march reminds me of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom," Rev. Jesse Jackson told Working In These Times.
But if this weekend's rally was modeled on the 1963 March on Washington, it lacked the spirit of civil disobedience and direct action that marked that event 37 years ago. The March on Washington was successfully because it had been preceded with a massive campaign of direct action and civil disobedience. The showing of 300,000 people was a subtle threat that if action was taken to correct injustice, more civil disobedience was on the way.
Monday, my eyes glistened with pride as I was watched 150 picketers storm the sidewalk in front of Morgan Stanley's Washington D.C. office. My union, United Electrical Workers (UE), had arrived. I grew up in a union household—my father has been a union organizer with UE for 33 years. And it made me excited that day to see its members running a lively, politically smart picket against Morgan Stanley for its role in advocating for the privatization of Social Security.
Tuesday, when I saw picketers on the Daily Show (see video), I wanted to cry—but for entirely different reasons. A United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local in Nevada had hired non-union temp workers at the rate of $8.25 an hour to picket a Wal-Mart. The Daily Show commentator joked, "the union was paying workers low wages to protest Wal-Mart paying its workers low wages."
Today more than 150 members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) protested the deficit commission's proposed cuts to Social Security outside of the DC offices of Morgan Stanley. One might ask, why did union members protest outside of a big bank's office when it is the President's commission that is proposing to cut Social Security?
UE Director of Organization Bob Kingsley had the answer. "We are gathered here at the scene of the crime," Kingsley said. "Morgan Stanley and the other big banks are the source of the plan to privatize and cut Social Security."