In Other News

Behind all the trending news of the week, the news that is so interesting and full of implications about the Trump White House (Hope Hicks is leaving, Jared has no security clearance, Trump v Congress and the NRA on guns, shades of the DACA summit) news which we love to speculate about – and behind the news today of the tariffs on steel (25%) and aluminum (10%) –  there is plenty of other news about subjects I have been following that gets little coverage on television. Some great articles have been written recently on these topics.

First topic: Unions

The decision in front of the Supreme Court is about something called an agency fee which allows unions to charge fees in lieu of dues to non-members of the union (because  non-members also benefit from the wins unions get on behalf of employees). In this case the unions we are talking about are public employees unions, although there would be implications for all unions.

The opponents of the unions, mostly Conservatives, right-wingers, the Koch brothers, contend that they favor “right to work” laws, laws which get rid of the possibility of charging an agency fee to non-members. Right to work laws hurt unions and, in the long run, employees by robbing the unions of power, of funding, and of leverage. Right to work laws sound like they favor employees but they actually favor employers. This matter was argued in front of the Supreme Court on Monday, 2/26/2018.

An interesting article in The New York Times describes the matter as more heated than one would think. The lawyer presenting the case for the unions is a former colleague and friend of Neil Gorsuch, a member of the same law firm. That suggests some black-robed drama right there as they are believed to be on opposite sides in this case.

The Conservative Supremes accused unions of bringing cities to the brink of bankruptcy to which the unions responded that this is not the point of the case. But evidence of the Freedom Foundation and other right wing groups meddling in the business of the court suggests that the fix is in. If this doesn’t highlight the partisan nature of this Supreme Court then you are clearly blinded by you own political (right wing) bubble.

“Confronted with such briefs and articles, some judges might pull back and think twice about overturning a 40-year-old precedent for reasons so obviously grounded in policy rather than law. But if the effort was to shame the five justices who now hold the upper hand, I think it most likely backfired. The voice that came through to me was one that said: “Oh, yeah? Save your breath. We’ve got the votes and — in case you’ve forgotten — life tenure besides.”

Second Topic: Sinclair Broadcasting – Conservative creep

Sinclair Communications/Broadcasting is still pursuing its merger with Tribune Media even though this puts them over the current limit of  ownership as set by the FCC.

The FCC admits that they are custom-building their policy for Sinclair as we are told in this article from The Daily Beast.

But Variety calls out Sinclair’s proposed scam of selling off the media outlets which put it over the FCC limit but signing management agreements with those same outlets so as to maintain control over those markets. If the FCC is forced to stick to existing rules Sinclair has strategies they hope will make their merger happen anyway.

“Newsmax, the conservative news outlet, says Sinclair Broadcast Group’s plans for station sales are a “sham” to gain FCC approval for its proposed   acquisition of Tribune Media.”

Third Topic : Changes at the New York Times

The New York Times has made editorial changes which have created “an op-ed crisis.” NYT was reliably left-leaning and moderate – but after the 2016 election the op-ed section has turned more activist, as have most readers on the left. James Bennet seems to be unhappy with that slant and is trying to introduce “balance”, which means more right wing input, and he is also moving to give new authors coverage, but the new authors he is choosing do not please the traditional NYT reader. The right wing, which has its own 24/7 television channel and plenty of talk radio coverage has been whining about unfair coverage by mainstream media. It is my contention that if the right said anything that could be mistaken for good policy then they would not have to whine and tattle. I am thinking about switching my subscription to the Washington Post.

Fourth Topic: Deportation

ICE and the mayor of Oakland, California are involved in a conflict over deportations because she keeps warning residents about upcoming deportations.

150 to be deported in California is a story reported in the UK press.

From Syracuse, NY, another sanctuary city, we have more news about deportation.

This article asks what happens to family members left behind after deportations.

Fifth Topic: New Study on Segregation (and it is not good news)

A new study shows that segregation and inequality are worse, and makes the argument that these issues will not be solved by privatization. This article includes excellent graphs and charts.

Sixth Topic: Climate Change

The New York Times adds to its Climate Change series with another article headed by a spectacular video showing permanent changes on the Louisiana Delta caused by rising seas.

Seventh Topic: Conspiracy Theories (How they go mainstream)


I could go on but I won’t. Clearly there are stories about the White House and then there are the other news stories that describe the aftereffects of what goes on in the White House and Congress. Keeping an eye on how Conservative policies are working is a must if we someday hope to overturn these policies.







Unions and the Supreme Court

Unions are having tough days. Conservatives love corporations therefore they do not like unions. Conservatives, which these days includes almost all Republicans, have put out a story that unions are to blame for the flight of the factories from American cities. When they say unions are to blame they really mean that workers are to blame. Workers were too greedy. They kept wanting more money, more vacation time, more protection from unfair labor practices and safer working conditions. In other words they wanted a small piece of an increasingly gigantic money pie.

So Conservative talkers went on the radio or TV (FOX) and used obfuscation to convince laid-off workers that the unions are to blame for their plight. Of course, they neglected to mention that in this scenario they are actually placing the blame on the workers. They did such a good job that the workers began to blame the unions too. After all, Conservatives need those very workers to help sideline unions. Voila! We have anti-union “pod” people, who used to be pro-union, now joining the right-wing movement to destroy unions. The story they told had a happy ending. Once there is proof that the unions have no power, the corporations who left will come rushing back.

The right-wingers lied. They know this won’t happen but their future plans for workers do not include a role for unions. Organized labor is anathema to them, just as are all regulations on businesses. Corporations that have remained in the US can do as they please with workers when there are no unions. We were in that position long ago at the turn of the 19th century when child labor was common and working days were long. People worked weekends, every weekend. Why would we want to give up unions that Americans fought so hard to organize? People died in those struggles.

The right-wing talkers have managed to get workers all riled up over something called an “agency fee”. Unions can charge nonmembers yearly fees. People have never liked having to pay to a union they had not joined so they were ripe for the right-wing message. Conservative talkers have now hammered home the message that this fee strips workers of their freedom and that it is un-American. They don’t use the term “agency fee”, they call it something that sounds much better, they call it “right to work”.

But when a union wins a victory on behalf of workers, all of the workers enjoy the fruits of the victory, not just the members. For this reason an “agency fee” seems appropriate. We all pay extra for meds so that drug companies can do research (and make enormous profits). We don’t get to opt out of high prices if we don’t want to pay for research. The idea of the “common good” comes into play. In the case of the unions the “agency fee” keeps the union powerful enough to stand up to the wealthy and powerful corporate owners and CEO’s.

On Monday, February 26, 2018 the agency fee will be taken under consideration by the US Supreme Court in a case called Janus vs AFSCME. You should go on social media and let the Supremes know that the agency fee is important and that you don’t want the court to rule against the union in this case. Pay your union dues as long as you can afford to. You never know when you may need a union again. Without unions it would be quite easy to turn us into serfs.

Here is a link to an article on this subject from today’s NYT’s: