In any case, the polling makes clear that neither side can take these measures for granted. And they fucking matter. Putting collective bargaining rights into the Michigan state constitution would be a huge step forward for workers, especially in a state where Republican legislators have had real successes in their war on workers. In contrast, if Prop. 32 passes in California, it not only weakens the political power of workers through their unions, but slashes an important source of contributions for Democrats while leaving Republican corporate funding largely intact.
Make sure your friends in California know the stakes on these important ballot measures.
A fair day's wage
- I think the opening sentence of this story says it all:
A Texas company that profited for decades by supplying mentally disabled workers to an Iowa turkey plant at wages of 41 cents per hour must pay the men $1.37 million in back wages, a federal judge ruled late Tuesday.
- Flexibility means very different things at the top and the bottom.
- Something's going around at American Airlines. No doubt coincidentally after a judge allowed the airline to throw out its contract with pilots as it goes through bankruptcy, pilots have been calling in sick in large numbers. Along with increased reports of problems from maintenance crews, that's forcing the cancellation of 300 flights this week. The union is advising pilots that if they do call in sick, they should be sure to have a doctor's note.
- How many beloved American brands have private equity firms completely trashed? Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers union members at Hostess have rejected the company's "last, best, and final" contract offer with a 92 percent vote. Union President Frank Hurt says:
“Our members have seen this company attempt to give millions of dollars in unseemly and unjustified bonuses to managers and supervisors in the midst of this bankruptcy. They have seen this company go through numerous CEO’s in the last seven years with not one of them having had any significant experience in the wholesale bread and cake baking business.It's not just Hostess. Mitt Romney's now-infamous secret video was filmed at a fundraiser held by private equity manager Marc Leder, who trashed Friendly's. Read more about him here.
“Our members reviewed the analysis of this company’s business plan provided by a highly-respected financial analyst retained by the company which showed that the plan has little or no chance of succeeding in saving the business but would provide the investors with a windfall.
“Our members know that this is a company that is controlled by Wall Street private equity and hedge fund firms, whose sole objective is to maximize their own returns, not rebuild a company for the long haul.”
- Oh, Walmart. You suck so much in so many ways. Gawker's Hamilton Nolan has a farewell letter from a now-former Walmart employee and oh boy:
If you're ever in our store when the late night bi-weekly cleaning of the meat department cases takes place you'll learn first hand what a rotting corpse probably smells like..it should be done more often but no one wants to do it and the managers don't really give a shit to enforce it...this filthy cesspole catch basin of liquid blood scum is lurking about six inches below that package of hamburger meat you're about to buy, Mr and Mrs. Customer. Bon Appetit!!
- Warehouse workers in Illinois have joined the workers in California striking against Walmart-contracted warehouses.
- Outsourcing in the fields is screwing farm workers the same ways it screws so many other workers: wage theft, lack of accountability, labor law abuses.
State and local legislation
- Once you get past the "Whoa! So many West Wing cast members reuniting for a web video" aspect of this, there's an important political point here. I'm not a big fan of judges being elected, but in many states they are. And it's important to vote for them, because they make some big decisions that affect people's lives. But where they're elected in non-partisan races, how do you know who's who? It takes research and remembering the names very clearly. But it's worth doing, for judges and other non-partisan elected offices. For instance, it was the Michigan Supreme Court that decided whether ballot measures to put collective bargaining rights in the state constitution and to repeal the Emergency Manager law would be allowed on the ballot. In Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court will once again decide the fate of Gov. Scott Walker's law taking collective bargaining rights from public employees.
- Orange County, Florida, judges ruled Monday that a paid sick leave initiative should get a vote. But the judges also gave the county long enough to respond that the deadline for getting the initiative on the ballot could have passed. And lo, the deadline passed and the question isn't on the ballot. Predictably, businesses are insisting their very survival and ability to create jobs hinges on being able to make workers come to work to sneeze all over customers and their food.
- A dispatch from the 47 percent:
A lot of the people who are with me in and on the borders of the 47 percent are here for similar reasons. They fall into enough tax deductions and credits at the moment that they end up with no obligations to the federal budget, or they’ve worked and paid taxes all their lives, and now they’re retired and collecting Social Security. My guess is that many people don’t even know that they’re in this camp, especially if they don’t do their own taxes and don’t bother to compare the deductions on their paychecks to their refund checks.
- You can earn the right to tell the AFL-CIO Super PAC where and how to spend its money.
- Talking to Ohio swing voters with Working America.