fresh voices from the front lines of change








Leo Gerard

NAFTA By Any Name Is Built For The Rich

Mick Mulvaney, the millionaire who is President Trump’s acting chief of staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget, has now awarded himself another job: spokesman for labor. Referring to the proposed new NAFTA, he told the Wall Street Journal, "We know that labor supports it." That's the problem with NAFTA, old and new. One percenters like Mulvaney negotiate the deals, then claim they speak for labor. But they don't give a damn about jobs or wages or workers’ welfare. The ravages NAFTA has inflicted on the non-rich prove that. The proposed new NAFTA is barely different. And Mulvaney, while he wants to usurp labor’s voice, is far from labor’s mouthpiece. Labor speaks for itself. And it is railing against NAFTA, old and new. Ultimately, labor needs trade deals negotiated with workers at the table from the start to ensure human well-being is the priority in trade, not satisfying one-percenters’ greed.

SCOTUS Blocks Census Citizenship Test

SCOTUS blocks census citizen question, for now. CNN: ""The Supreme Court has blocked a citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census for the time being. The bitter controversy centers around whether the Trump administration can ask all recipients a citizenship question on the 2020 census for the first time since 1950. The data obtained from the 2020 census is used for the allocation of congressional seats and the distribution of billions of federal dollars to states and localities over the next decade. The Trump administration claimed the citizenship question on the census questionnaire is necessary to better comply with federal voting rights law. Critics argued it is an attempt to intimidate noncitizens and Hispanic households and will lead to a decline in response rates and underrepresentation of minorities."

SCOTUS Smiles On Partisan Gerrymandering

Supreme Court says federal courts cannot strike down partisan gerrymandering schemes. USA Today: "A deeply divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal courts may not intervene to block even the most partisan election maps drawn by state lawmakers, a decision that allows such gerrymandering to continue unabated. The 5-4 opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by the court's other conservatives said partisan election maps drawn by North Carolina Republicans and Maryland Democrats are constitutional despite their one-sided nature. It was a dramatic withdrawal by the nation's highest court from the political battles that have consumed states for decades, and it was loudly denounced by the court's liberal justices. 'We have no commission to allocate political power and influence in the absence of a constitutional directive or legal standards to guide us in the exercise of such authority,' Roberts said. Associate Justice Elena Kagan decried the ruling on behalf of the court's four liberals. 'Of all the times to abandon the court's duty to declare the law, this was not the one,' she said. 'The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government.'"

Banks Cut Off Private Migrant Detention Centers

Bank of America will no longer do business with companies that run detention centers. CNN: "Bank of America will end its association with companies that provide prisoner and immigrant detention services at both the state and federal levels. The move comes amid growing public concern about the nation's border policies. A spokesperson said Wednesday that Bank of America (BAC) has discussed the issue with its clients that provide those services. While the bank appreciates 'steps they have taken to properly execute their contractual and humanitarian responsibilities,' it ultimately decided to 'exit the relationships.' 'Lacking further legal and policy clarity, and in recognition of the concerns of our employees and stakeholders in the communities we serve, it is our intention to exit these relationships,' the spokesperson said. The Miami Herald previously reported that Bank of America was a financier of Caliburn — which the newspaper said runs a facility called Homestead under a US government contract. The Herald said the bank provided a $380 million loan to the company and a $75 million credit line. The paper indicated Homestead is not a prison, but 'protesters say it functions as one. The minors held inside are not allowed to leave.' Bank of America declined to comment Wednesday regarding the companies with which it had previously worked. Private prisons have been in the spotlight. On Friday, Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren called for private correctional and detention facilities to be banned. Shares of private prison operators dropped following her remarks."

EPA Blocks Collective Bargaining

With New 'Imposed Contract,' Trump's EPA tries to neuter worker rights. Common Dreams: "The Trump administration continued its attacks on federal workers this week with a new 'agreement' that would kneecap the power of unions representing EPA employees. The development, as watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) noted Wednesday, is a new "Master Collective Bargaining Agreement" between the federal agency and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). Far from an agreement, said PEER, the document is really an edict.' It was not the result of negotiations. 'In the Trump world, there is no bargaining, only ultimatums,' said PEER executive director Tim Whitehouse, a former EPA enforcement attorney."

Criminalization Of Immigrants Rooted In White Supremacy

Who’s behind the law making undocumented immigrants criminals? An ‘unrepentant white supremacist.’. WaPo: "The provision of federal law criminalizing unlawful entry into the United States — which some Democratic presidential candidates now want to undo — was crafted by an avowed white supremacist who opposed the education of black Americans and favored lynching, which he justified by saying,'to hell with the Constitution.' The law, referred to as Section 1325, became a flash point in the first of two Democratic presidential debates this week, when Julián Castro, a former secretary of housing and urban development, challenged his rivals to back its repeal. The measure’s little-known history did not arise on Wednesday night in Miami, where the first cohort of Democrats vying to compete against President Trump took the stage. No one mentioned Sen. Coleman Livingston Blease. But the legacy of the criminal lawyer and neo-Confederate politician from South Carolina hangs over the 2020 election. Blease was the architect of Section 1325, the part of Title 8 of the United States Code that makes it a misdemeanor to enter the country without authorization."

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