Why Alt-Labor Groups Are Making Employers Mighty Nervous

From American Prospect:  http://prospect.org/article/why-alt-labor-groups-are-making-employers-mighty-nervous

Union membership remained steady last year—steady at its near-hundred-year low. A mere 6.7 percent of private-sector workers are union members, as are 11.3 percent of U.S. workers overall, according to figures released last Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.)

Those government union membership statistics, however, don’t capture an entire swath of new, exciting and emerging labor activists—“alt-labor” activists—whom alarmed employers would like to see regulated by the same laws that apply to unions. Yet before we regulate them as unions, shouldn’t we first count them as unions?

Consider those striking fast food workers you’ve been reading about, the ones calling for a $15 an hour wage. Their numbers are not counted in the union membership figures. How about those Wal-Mart workers who struck for Black Friday and just won a key court case? Uncounted. What about the day laborers who joined any one of hundreds of workers’ centers nationwide? You got it, not included.  Neither are the restaurant workers, home health care workers, taxi drivers or domestic workers, all of whom are organizing for workplace power outside traditional unions.

Why are these labor activists uncounted? The BLS bases its union membership numbers on the Current Population Survey (CPS). Every month, the government asks about 15,000 people whether they are union members or members of an employee association like a union. The people who went on strike at McDonald’s for a day, or who joined a local workers’ center, will almost certainly say “no” to this question, because they don’t pay union dues or aren’t covered by a contract. The government’s questions have no place for these workers who are part of a new breed of “alt-labor” groups leveraging workplace power outside the realm of collective bargaining —such as through worker centers, labor coalitions, or the three million members of the AFL-CIO’s Working America. In addition, the government union numbers exclude people who report they are self-employed. In todays’ economy, that could easily mean day laborers and domestic workers who are part of new labor groups.

Continue reading at:  http://prospect.org/article/why-alt-labor-groups-are-making-employers-mighty-nervous

 

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Pete Seeger

I guess everyone has figured out how important Pete Seeger was to me.  He was always like a wise teacher, better than a priest at helping me to choose an ethical moral path through life.

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Conservative groups call for national boycott of Girl Scout cookies

Buy Lots of Girl Scout Cookies!

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/30/conservative_groups_call_for_national_boycott_of_girl_scout_cookies/

The organization tweeted a link about Wendy Davis, and now all Thin Mints must be thrown into the sea


Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

Conservatives are in a tizzy over the Girl Scouts again.

Remember when pastor and right-wing activist Kevin Swanson called the organization “wicked” and pleaded with the American public to boycott Thin Mints? Well, there’s another boycott happening, this time because a group of anti-choice organizations think the Girl Scouts endorsed Wendy Davis in the Texas governor’s race.

Which, you know, never happened.

As Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress points out, the “endorsement” in question is actually a tweet from December linking to a Huffington Post slideshow naming Davis, Malala Yousafzai, Beyoncé, and others as the “2013 women of the year.” The Girl Scouts’ official Twitter account then asked followers who they thought should be included in the list of “incredible ladies.”

But the tweet was enough to inspire John Pisciotta, an anti-choice activist in Texas, to call for a boycott, and a number of anti-choice groups have agreed to stop eating Caramel DeLites and TagaLongs to prove their point.

“The Girl Scouts were once a truly amazing organization,” Pisciotta told Breitbart. “But it has been taken over by ideologues of the left, and regular folks just will not stand for it.”

The boycott website also warns that the organization’s curriculum for girls celebrates “pro-abortion role models” like Hillary Clinton.

As I’ve written before, the Girl Scouts have inclusive but pretty anodyne policies regarding sexuality, gender and religion, and do not have an official position on abortion rights or reproductive healthcare. Angry speculation about its connection with Planned Parenthood and other issues has gotten so intense that the organization directly addresses these questions on its website.

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Sandra Fluke ‘Strongly Considering’ Run For Henry Waxman’s Seat In Congress

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/30/sandra-fluke-congress-_n_4697696.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

By Posted: 01/30/2014

Sandra Fluke, the former Georgetown University Law student who became a national figure after conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut,” said Thursday that she is considering a run for Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-Calif.) seat in the House of Representatives. Waxman announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of this session after 20 terms in Congress.

Fluke, who currently works as a social justice attorney in Los Angeles, said in a statement obtained by The Huffington Post that she is exploring a run for the seat, which lies in a safely Democratic district.

“I’m flattered that I’m being discussed as a potential candidate, especially for Rep. Waxman’s seat, considering his incredible legacy,” Fluke said. “A number of folks I respect very deeply have reached out today and encouraged me to run. I am strongly considering running. I’ll be making my decision soon.”

Fluke, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention in September of 2012, is a vocal proponent of reproductive rights. Limbaugh’s comments about her came in response to her advocacy for contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

On her personal website, Fluke writes that she’s “devoted her career to public interest advocacy for numerous social justice concerns, such as LGBTQ rights, worker rights, economic justice, immigrant rights, and international human rights, including focusing on the impact to communities of color.”

Hilary Rosen, a Democratic campaign consultant who works for SKDKnickerbocker, which handles Fluke’s press, tweeted Thursday that she thinks Fluke would make a good candidate.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/30/sandra-fluke-congress-_n_4697696.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

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Davis Says Critics Picked on “Wrong Texas Gal”

From The Texas Tribune:  http://www.texastribune.org/2014/01/28/davis-says-critics-picked-wrong-texas-gal/

by
Jan. 28, 2014

Saying she’d “had enough,” state Sen. Wendy Davis unloaded on Attorney General Greg Abbott on Tuesday night, blaming him and his allies for waging a smear campaign against her family and warning he had picked a fight with the “wrong Texas gal.”

Abbott’s campaign could not immediately be reached for comment. A day after the publication of a Dallas Morning News story questioning some of the details her personal story, Abbott campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch said Davis had “systematically, intentionally and repeatedly deceived Texans for years about her background, yet she expects voters to indulge her fanciful narrative.”

Davis’ remarks on Tuesday night were the most direct, personal and sustained criticism the Democratic candidate for governor has leveled at her expected Republican opponent so far.

“They know they cannot defend their public record,” Davis said of the attorney general and his allies. “So they’re attacking my private life.”

Davis was speaking at a boisterous, sold-out fundraiser for the Travis County Democratic Party, serving as keynote speaker at the Johnson-Bentsen-Richards dinner at the tony Four Seasons hotel in downtown Austin.

Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, rose to prominence last summer after waging an 11-hour filibuster against a restrictive abortion bill. A few weeks later, she announced she was running for governor. Her celebrity helped her rake in millions and raised Democratic hopes that the party can win statewide office after nearly two decades in the wilderness.

But for the last 10 days, her campaign has been rocked by criticism about the way she characterized her early biography, which stressed her struggles as a single mother. Davis acknowledged she got a couple of details wrong, in particular the age at which she and her first husband divorced. It was 21, not 19, as she had previously stated.

On Tuesday night, Davis attempted to forcefully reclaim that narrative while criticizing Abbott on a range of policy issues and promising to change the direction of Texas, where Republicans control every statewide office and both houses of the Legislature.

Continue reading at:  http://www.texastribune.org/2014/01/28/davis-says-critics-picked-wrong-texas-gal/

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Climate scientist’s lawsuit could wipe out conservative National Review magazine

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/30/climate-scientists-lawsuit-could-wipe-out-conservative-national-review-magazine/

By David Ferguson
Thursday, January 30, 2014

The National Review magazine, longstanding house news organ of the establishment right, is facing a lawsuit that could shutter the publication permanently. According to The Week, a suit by a climate scientist threatens to bankrupt the already financially shaky publication and its website, the National Review Online (NRO).

Scientist Michael Mann is suing the Review over statements made by Canadian right-wing polemicist and occasional radio stand-in for Rush Limbaugh, Mark Steyn. Steyn was writing on the topic of climate change when he accused Mann of falsifying data and perpetuating intellectual fraud through his research.

Steyn went on to quote paid anti-climate science operative Rand Simberg — an employee of the right-wing think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute — who compared Mann to Penn State’s convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.

Mann, Simberg said, is “the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data.”

Mann sued for defamation. Steyn and the Review vowed to fight the suit, given that defamation is notoriously difficult to prove in court.

“My advice to poor Michael is to go away and bother someone else,” said Review editor Rich Lowry. “If he doesn’t have the good sense to do that, we look forward to teaching him a thing or two about the law and about how free debate works in a free country.”

As the case has played out, however, Lowry’s hubris has proven to be unwarranted.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/30/climate-scientists-lawsuit-could-wipe-out-conservative-national-review-magazine/

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Why the GOP’s civil war is only going to get uglier

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/30/the_gop_unrest_will_continue_as_long_as_its_bankrolled_by_the_libertarian_koch_brothers_partner/

Again, they misunderstand Econ 101 — and the ride they’re being taken on by the Tea Party and religious right


Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

When it comes to explaining complex political dynamics, the media tends to adopt simple narratives rather than sophisticated commentary. This has been particularly evident when examining coverage of the Republican Party’s ongoing civil war.

The battle for the heart and soul of the GOP is more than social conservatives parrying with establishment Republicans. It is a pantomime that has many actors performing on a number of stages, but with only one clown: libertarians.

Libertarians are a funny bunch. By funny I mean ignorant not only of basic economics but also the ride they’ve been taken on by the Christian Right and the neo-Confederates within the Republican Party.

Nullification is the common cause that drives this anti-establishment triumvirate. Nullification of the federal government is now the weapon of choice for theocrats, libertarians and white supremacists. Since 2010, state legislatures have put forward nearly 200 bills challenging federal laws its sponsors deem unconstitutional. Typically, laws the nullifiers believe challenge “religious liberty,” the Affordable Care Act and gun control.

Recently, Kansas signed into law the Second Amendment Protection Act, which prohibits the enforcement of federal laws regulating guns manufactured and used within the state. Missouri put forward a bill that would have allowed for the arrest of federal agents enforcing gun laws. Similar bills have been introduced in 37 other states.

Of course, the ACA has been a high-priority target for the nullification movement with more than 20 bills introduced in state legislatures to nullify the president’s healthcare law. The Hobby Lobby, with the backing of the right, is attempting to nullify the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate in the Supreme Court. A favorable ruling will mean privately owned businesses are free to discriminate against gays, women and anyone else on the basis of religious liberty.

A report published by Political Research Associates says, “The nullification movement’s ideology is rooted in reverence for states’ rights and a theocratic and neo-Confederate interpretation of U.S. history. And Ron Paul, who is often portrayed as a libertarian, is the engine behind the movement.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/30/the_gop_unrest_will_continue_as_long_as_its_bankrolled_by_the_libertarian_koch_brothers_partner/

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