fresh voices from the front lines of change








Tom Conway

Google’s Chance To Do Good For Gig Workers

Google is famous for workplaces called “campuses” where employees get enormous paychecks and enjoy all the perks of fancy private college campuses, including pingpong tables and other entertainment. ­ But other workers who produce for Google across the country are not so pampered. They are Google’s underclass. In this two-tier system, these workers get less money, less respect, and fewer perks. It’s no wonder that these workers, like those at HCL, a contracting company that helps staff Google’s offices, have turned to labor unions to help fight for better conditions. Employees of HCL in Pittsburgh filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board late last month requesting a vote on representation by the Pittsburgh Association of Technical Professionals, a project of the United Steelworkers (USW) union, the union I lead. And a union will help these workers. But Google also has a golden opportunity to change this system, to go to bat for contract workers. It wields clout over its contractors and should encourage them to do right by their employees, like those at HCL. Because sure, pingpong tables are nice, but what these workers want is what all workers deserve: fair pay, decent benefits, a voice in their workplace and the job security that comes from a bargained labor contract. Google should encourage HCL to recognize the union and give its employees a fair contract. By doing this, Google would set a significant example for the tech industry.

Congress Returns, Days Before Shutdown

Congress' Fall to-do list: guns, spending, drug prices, trade, investigations. NPR: "Lawmakers are back on Capitol Hill on Monday after an extended summer recess with a short window to tackle major legislative priorities before the 2020 presidential campaign takes center stage. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and House need to approve spending bills to avoid another government shutdown. They also hope to make progress on policy debates that have been languishing for months: the White House is pushing Congress to ratify a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, and leaders want to show voters they are serious about proposals to lower health care costs. A string of mass shootings in August that left more than 50 dead also added a contentious debate about gun control measures to the fall agenda. But the ongoing battle royal between President Trump and House Democrats about investigations into his administration and increasing calls for his impeachment make bipartisan cooperation a tall order in a divided Congress."

Student Loan Servicers Reject Those Qualified For Forgiveness

Student-loan behemoth tightens its ties to Trump and DeVos. Politico: "The company that rejected all but 1 percent of applicants for a popular federal student-loan forgiveness plan — and that manages nearly a third of the nation’s $1.6 trillion of student loan debt — is beefing up its already close ties to President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as it competes for a new contract. The company, FedLoan Servicing, an arm of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, has been at the center of the growing dispute over why tens of thousands of teachers, public-sector employees and nonprofit charity workers who expected to have their loans wiped out are being denied the benefit. The company has drawn the ire of government watchdogs, state attorneys general and congressional Democrats. And a trove of documents obtained by POLITICO show that Education Department officials, too, have raised serious questions about its performance over the years. Nonetheless, as its $1.3 billion, 10-year contract expires in December, the loan servicing behemoth will be able to draw on unusually close ties to the administration as it seeks more government business — a fact that has its critics crying foul and citing it as a symbol of revolving-door abuses in the federal government."

OH Set To Purge Qualified Voters From Rolls

Ohio will purge more than 200,000 voters — from a list riddled with errors. Salon: "Ohio is set to purge nearly a quarter-million people from its voter rolls Friday despite journalists and voting rights groups finding repeated mistakes on the state’s list. Republican Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose published a list in August targeting 235,000 voters the state says are inactive, meaning voters who have not voted for the past six years that the state was unable to contact. The list of voters was fraught with errors. The secretary of state’s office announced hundreds of changes to the list almost immediately. Two weeks later, voting rights groups discovered that 4,000 people had been erroneously added to the list, the Columbus Dispatch reported. The paper reported days later that another 1,600 people had been incorrectly added to the list because of an error by a software vendor. The list also included thousands of people who were apparently unaware they had bee targeted for removal, even though the state is required to attempt to contact them. More than 11,800 people included on the list have updated their voter registrations so they won’t be canceled, HuffPost reported. Ohio removes people from the rolls if the state suspects they have moved or died. The list includes people who have not responded to an address confirmation mailing and people who have not voted or participated in any board of elections activity for six years. But voting rights groups say the purge lists are filled with errors that could disenfranchise thousands of legitimate voters. Ohio has already purged 265,000 voter registrations this year, and at least 17 million people have been purged from voter rolls around the country since the 2016 election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice."

NC Tuesday Special Election Previews 2020 Strategy

In NC do-over vote, a reliable Republican district is up for grabs. NYT: "The odd-year election in the Ninth Congressional District, which stretches from the suburbs of Charlotte to rural and exurban areas farther east, is in many ways the first test of the political terrain heading into 2020, and of the two parties’ dueling strategies for winning over voters. With public and private polls showing the race nearly tied, Democrats and Republicans are pouring millions of dollars and their most powerful resources into the contest, blanketing the airwaves with negative television advertising. President Trump plans to rally voters in Fayetteville on Monday, while Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to appear on the other end of the district in Wingate — a one-two punch that observers said reflected Republicans’ deep concern about losing the race. This section of the state has been a reliable Republican stronghold. A Democrat has not represented the district since the early 1960s, and Mr. Trump won it by 12 points in 2016. But Republicans have seen their grip on areas like these loosen as Mr. Trump’s brand of divisive politics has turned off independents and suburban voters, especially women and those with college educations."

ABC Draws Fire For Diatribes Against Medicare For All

Progressives explode after ABC panel featuring Chris Christie and Rahm Emanuel launches attack on Medicare For All. Common Dreams: "The ABC political show 'This Week' on Sunday devoted a chunk of time to attacking Medicare for All, drawing fire for the segment's panel makeup and language. Of particular gall to critics was the fact that the panel's nominal liberal was former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a fiercely right-wing Democrat whose decades-long career in Washington, as Intercept editor Ryan Grim recently detailed in his book "We've Got People," has been devoted to stifling the party's progressive wing. Sunday was no different as Emanuel, now an investment banker with the firm Center View Partners, took aim at Medicare for All by framing the broadly popular policy proposal as a danger to Democratic electoral hopes in 2020. During the discussion, Emanuel attacked progressive calls for Medicare for All. Both men claimed that voters would viscerally reject any attempt to change the nation's healthcare system, both by getting rid of private insurance and offering care to non-citizens. 'As Democrats increasingly unite around solutions as big as the problems we face, the media still puts up panels featuring politicians with little relevance like Rahm Emanuel and Chris Christie solely to attack the progressive energy in our party,' tweeted progressive group Justice Democrats."

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