fresh voices from the front lines of change








Tom Lewandowski

Don’t Subsidize Companies That Silence Workers

Will America finally grant its workers First Amendment rights? The Constitution guarantees “freedom of speech,” the right to “peaceably assemble,” and the right to petition for “a redress of grievances.” Yet these civil rights are commonly denied to workers. Sure, we can say what we want, but we pay a high price to speak — often losing our jobs, health care, and benefits for our families. But we pay an even higher price for not speaking. In 2016, Kyaw Kyaw, 50, died on the job at Nishikawa Cooper, a manufacturer of auto parts in Fort Wayne, Indiana, leaving a grieving wife and family. More than 100 of his coworkers — refugees and freedom fighters who fled Myanmar’s oppression — subsequently petitioned corporate headquarters over issues of discrimination, health, and safety. Saw Eh Dah circulated the petition — and was then fired. Deaths like these often go ignored unless family members and fellow workers fight back. Still, the best they often receive is a modest legal settlement — and a demand to sign a non-disclosure agreement to silence them. This leaves other workers — and all of us — vulnerable.

Candidates Present Climate Plans

What happened during CNN's climate town hall and what it means for 2020. CNN: "CNN's marathon town hall Wednesday night put the climate crisis closer to the center of a presidential election than ever before. Ten Democratic candidates took to the stage as Hurricane Dorian menaced the East Coast and at a time when the impact of a warming Earth is no longer just a vision of a catastrophic future but is increasingly visible. At times, candidates waged a bidding war to show liberal activists their plan was the most audacious -- and even expensive. But with an eye on November 2020, others warned against throwing the economy out of the window. The contenders, who all embrace the science of climate change, offered voters an alternative to a President who views climate change as a 'hoax' and slams their 'dreams and windmills.' But Donald Trump's mocking tweets and GOP rapid response attacks during the event reflected the risks Democrats run: While going big on climate is the price of entry in their presidential race, it's yet to be proven as a shrewd general election strategy."

Biden Attends Fossil-Fuel Fundraiser

Biden urged to cancel fundraiser with fossil fuel executive day after climate crisis forum. Common Dreams: "Just before Joe Biden took the stage at CNN's 2020 presidential forum on the climate crisis in New York Wednesday night, The Intercept reported the former vice president on Thursday is planning to attend a big-money fundraiser co-hosted by a fossil fuel executive—news that sparked immediate fury and calls for him to cancel the event. 'Holding this fundraiser clearly violates the spirit of the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge that Biden signed,' Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, said in a statement. 'If Biden is serious about taking on the power of the fossil fuel lobby, why is he going to a fundraiser hosted by the co-founder of a natural gas company?' During the CNN town hall, Issac Larkin, a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University and a volunteer with Sunrise Chicago, directly confronted Biden over the planned $2,800-per-ticket fundraiser, which is set to take place at the New York home of investment banker David Solomon. 'How can we trust you to hold these corporations and executives accountable for their crimes against humanity when we know that, tomorrow, you are holding a high-dollar fundraiser hosted by Andrew Goldman, a fossil fuel executive?' Larkin asked. Biden initially responded by denying that Goldman, co-founder of the Houston-based natural gas company Western LNG, is a fossil fuel executive."

NC Throws Out Gerrymandered Voting Maps

North Carolina’s legislative maps are thrown out by state court panel. NYT: "In a major blow to Republicans who control the Legislature in one of the nation’s most bitterly divided states, a state court panel threw out North Carolina’s state legislative maps as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and ordered lawmakers to draw up new ones in two weeks. The ruling on Tuesday by a three-judge panel in Raleigh had the potential to bring to a decisive end a yearslong battle over gerrymandering in a critical swing state and indicated that state courts could act to rein in patently partisan electoral maps after the United States Supreme Court ruled in June, by a 5-to-4 margin, that federal courts could not. The Republican leader of the State Senate, Phil Berger, cast the decision as part of a national Democratic strategy to overturn Republican rule via the courts, but said the Legislature would not appeal the ruling. The North Carolina Supreme Court, which would hear any appeal, has six Democratic justices and one Republican."

Redistricting May Tip Towards Dems

Republicans fear drubbing in next round of redistricting. Politico: "Democrats were caught napping in the 2010 election ahead of the last round of redistricting — and it cost them control of Congress for nearly a decade. Now Republicans are warning the same thing could happen to them. Senior Republicans concede they’re at risk of losing dozens of state-level elections that will determine who wields power over the post-2020 congressional map — and potentially which party controls the chamber for the following 10 years. While Republicans are establishing a massive national infrastructure devoted to reelecting President Donald Trump and winning congressional majorities, party officials say the state legislative races are being overlooked. The trepidation comes as an array of well-funded Democratic groups — including one with the backing of former President Barack Obama and ex-Attorney General Eric Holder — are flooding cash into Virginia, a key redistricting battleground that's holding state legislative elections this fall. Democrats are expected to plow tens of millions into races next year."

Electoral College Heads To SCOTUS

The coming reckoning over the Electoral College. Slate: "Since the 2016 election, some Democrats have raged against the Electoral College as an anti-democratic institution that does not reflect the will of the people. Some Republicans have defended the institution as protecting the power of small states and preserving the federal system. But whether you like the Electoral College in theory or not, it turns out that the actual rules used to implement its use are creaky and dangerous. Indeed, thanks to new conflicting rulings, the institution could generate chaos and confusion in 2020 or in a future presidential election. Now, Harvard Law professor Larry Lessig is planning to bring a Washington State case to the United States Supreme Court—and in doing so, hopes to blow up the current Electoral College system."

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