Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Make America Vote

Make America Vote
Art by WeArt on Getty Images

The voter turnout last Tuesday was historic – the highest in half a century, nearly half of the eligible electorate participated, an amazing number for a midterm.

The United States Election Project estimates turnout at 49.2 percent. How high would it have risen sans voter suppression – 55 percent, 60 percent?

Who might have won without the strangulation of some voters’ voices? Would Democrat Stacey Abrams have trounced Georgia Republican Brian Kemp, who acted both as candidate for governor and militant for suppression?

Like all disenfranchisers, Kemp did everything he could to choose his voters, making sure to disqualify electors likely to support his opponent’s effort to become the state’s first African American woman governor. That’s right. He targeted Black voters.

Kemp and his vote-stifling cohorts are upending the goal of a representative democracy. In a democratic republic, voters choose their representatives – not the other way around. Republicans are defiling America’s promise of self-governance by erecting obstacles to the ballot. To be great, America must clear the path to the polls, perhaps even mandating voting like Australia. There, turnout is more than 90 percent. 

The founding fathers created a country on the premise of self-governance, that each American was a citizen endowed with the right to self-determination. Those revolutionaries fought a war over their declaration that Americans were not subjects bound by whims of a monarch. Still, it took nearly another century and another war for Black Americans to gain freedom from enslavement. Even then, African American men only nominally gained the right to vote. And American women wouldn’t get the franchise for another half a century.

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Supreme Court to hear a subtle but terrifying threat to Obamacare

Ian Millhiser

Ian Millhiser Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst, Think Progress

In a sensible world, Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill would have nothing whatsoever to do with the Affordable Care Act. On its surface, Bethune-Hill is a racial gerrymandering case which, the Supreme Court announced on Tuesday, will be heard by the Court for the second time.

Yet Bethune-Hill also presents a difficult issue regarding when non-parties to a federal lawsuit may appeal lower court decisions to a higher authority. And this technical question could have tremendous implications for Obamacare. Depending on how the Supreme Court rules in Bethune-Hill, this seemingly irrelevant gerrymandering dispute could enable the Trump administration to collude with a highly partisan judge to shut down the Affordable Care Act in a bevy of red states.

Who can file an appeal?

Bethune-Hill challenges 12 of Virginia’s state legislative districts, alleging they are unlawful racial gerrymanders. This case was originally filed in 2014, and it’s been through several twists and turns since then. Before Tuesday, the most significant recent development was a lower court decision holding that 11 of these 12 districts are, indeed, unlawful. The lower court ordered Virginia’s legislature to draw new maps by October 30.

Significantly, Virginia’s Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring chose not to appeal that lower court order. Instead, it was the state’s Republican-controlled House of Delegates that sought to overturn the lower court’s decision. The House of Delegates are not a party to this suit, but they were granted “intervenor” status by the lower court — status that allowed them to defend the gerrymandered maps in that court.

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GOP-dominated Labor Board majority uses ‘joint employer’ rule to restrict picketing

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The Trump-named Republican majority of the National Labor Relations Board has apparently used its rewritten “joint employer” rule to restrict union picketing, an analyst and attorney for the non-partisan Century Foundation says.

If their decision stands, the “result would be far-reaching restrictions on picketing that limit the ability of unions to put public pressure on management,” notes Foundation fellow Moshe Marvit.

The union hurt in the 4-year-old picketing case, Service Employees Local 87 of San Francisco, isn’t taking it lying down. The NLRB panel that ruled for the two joint employers and against the workers, the union and the community organization that aided them had only the board’s three GOP members.

So SEIU General Counsel Nicole Berner and Local 87’s lawyers appealed the panel’s August 28 decision to the full board in late October.

The board’s administrative law judge ruled in 2015 that Rafael Ortiz, owner of OJS, one of the two joint employers of janitors at 55 Hawthorne Street in downtown San Francisco, illegally fired four janitors for participating in informational picketing there.

The picket signs said “this is not a strike” but asked prime tenants of the building, including KGO Radio, to intervene and demand building owners deal with sexual harassment by Ortiz. Preferred Building Services manages 55 Hawthorne for its owners, but contracted the janitorial services to Ortiz’s company. The two were joint employers of the janitors.

After a second round of picketing – and after Ortiz used pretexts to fire the four janitors – Preferred “terminated its contract” with OJS and all the janitors were let go. Local 87, the janitors and a pro-Latino community group all complained to the board’s regional office.

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Midterm Results Are In, But 3 Big Manufacturing Questions Remain

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher and Writer, Alliance for American Manufacturing

President Donald Trump, the professed master of “the art of the deal,” certainly has some bargaining ahead of him when the newly-elected Congress convenes in January. However, with broad bipartisan support from voters, manufacturing promises to be the perfect opportunity for a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and Republican-controlled Senate to find common ground and help the American worker.

We’ve outlined three major questions for the 116th Congress to consider as it tackles manufacturing issues.

1. What’s next for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)?

The greatest question when it comes to passage of the USMCA is whether the U.S. will replace tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel with quotas – though Canadian President Justin Trudeau has affirmed that Canada’s agreement to the deal is not dependent on this. When the deal comes to Congress, labor standards implementation questions could delay passage.  

As for other trade fronts, U.S. strategy in addressing China trade cheating looks likely to stay on the course Trump set – an approach that the public is willing to see through as well.   

2. Will infrastructure get its due attention and action?

Infrastructure may finally -- FINALLY! -- come to the forefront of Congressional objectives.

Trump has long promised an infrastructure plan, but efforts to solidify these promises and bring them to fruition have left much to be desired. With House Democrats putting infrastructure investment at the top of their to-do lists, hope is mounting that the combined effort of the White House and Congress can build momentum into action.

Though Democrats’ plans for funding are likely to differ from what Trump envisions, long overdue infrastructure investment would be a win for the president, Congress, and, most importantly, the economy and workers. (Every $1 billion in transportation infrastructure investment would create over 21,000 jobs, according to a 2014 report.)

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Union Matters

3.4 Million American Jobs Wiped Out by U.S.-China Trade

Scott Paul and Robert E. Scott join Leslie Marshall to discuss a new EPI report entitled, "The China toll deepens: Growth in the bilateral trade deficit between 2001 and 2017 cost 3.4 million U.S. jobs, with losses in every state and congressional district."

Scott Paul is President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), a partnership established by some of America’s leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers union.

Robert E. Scott is Senior Economist and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Research at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
EPI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank created in 1986 to include the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions.


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Who Really Pays for Tax Cuts?

Who Really Pays for Tax Cuts?