fresh voices from the front lines of change








Tom Conway

Corporate Spies Keep An Eye On Organized Labor

Google’s computers are spying on its workers. Anytime a Google employee uses an online calendar to schedule a meeting involving more than 100 co-workers, management gets an alert—a great way for the anti-union corporation to sniff out union organizing efforts. Lots of other employers also would like to put union organizing campaigns under surveillance. And they’ll have their chance if the National Labor Relations Board gives corporations a free hand to snoop on employees, as two of the board’s right-wing members, John Ring and Marvin Kaplan, evidently want to do. Ring and Kaplan want to reconsider the longtime ban on labor spying. It’s a sleazy idea, but typical for these two. They’re part of a three-member Republican cabal that’s taken over the board and issued a string of decisions eviscerating workers’ rights and giving ever more power to corporations. Federal law prohibits employers from interfering in workers’ organizing rights. Right now, that means it’s illegal for corporations to surveil union activists or even give the impression that they’re snooping. But some companies spy anyway and invent all sorts of excuses when they get caught doing it. The NLRB’s job is to protect workers, not let employers think that it’s OK to engage in underhanded behavior as long as they don’t get caught. Ring, Kaplan and the rest of the board have a responsibility to set higher standards, not help employers climb down into the gutter.

</a href="">Tom Conway is president of USW, the United Steelworkers.

WATCH: EU Ambassador Sondland Testifies In Impeachment

WATCH LIVE: Sondland: Ukraine aid link reflected Trump's 'desires and requirements.' NPR: "Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the EU, tied President Trump directly to the push for conditioning military aid to Ukraine and a meeting with the Ukrainian president with "a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election.' 'Mr. Giuliani expressed those requests directly to the Ukrainians,' Sondland said in his opening statement at the public impeachment hearings on Wednesday. 'Mr. Giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us. We all understood that these prerequisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump's desires and requirements.' Sondland also provided the most explicit link yet of the secretary of state's role in the Ukraine affair, saying he kept Mike Pompeo and other senior State Department officials abreast of his contacts with Giuliani who 'specifically mentioned the 2016 election (including the DNC server) and Burisma as two topics of importance to the president.' 'They knew what we were doing and why,' Sondland said of Pompeo and the others in his opening statement at the public impeachment hearings on Wednesday."

Presidential Hopefuls Debate In Atlanta

Five things to watch in tonight's Dem debate. The Hill: "Ten Democratic presidential hopefuls will take the debate stage in Atlanta on Wednesday night, as the candidates look for a breakout moment to either cement their place in the race’s top tier or elevate their campaigns from the lower rungs of the primary field. The field’s four leading candidates — former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — are all jockeying to deliver a strong performance at the debate, hoping to give their campaigns a burst of momentum heading into 2020 and the Iowa caucuses. Warren’s months-long rise to the top of the polls has seen its share of setbacks in recent weeks: Her rivals have repeatedly raised questions about how she plans to finance her proposed 'Medicare for All,' and Biden has attacked the Massachusetts senator as an “elitist” with a “my way or the highway” approach to politics. Buttigieg has gained momentum in recent weeks as he’s pitched himself to moderate voters as a younger alternative to Biden while drawing sharp contrasts with his leading progressive rivals. That message appears to be translating to support in Iowa, in particular. A Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll released over the weekend showed him taking a broad lead among likely Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa. But that recent success is likely to make him a prime target for his opponents when he takes the debate stage on Wednesday night."

Mayor Pete's Record On Minority Jobs

As president, Buttegieg wants to give 25 percent of federal contracts to minorities. As mayor, he gave 3 percent. The Intercept: "main tenets of Pete Buttigieg’s plan to address racial inequality if he becomes president is a proposal to increase the number of federal contracting dollars going to women- and minority-owned businesses to 25 percent. But in South Bend, Indiana, where he has been mayor since 2012, less than 3 percent of city business has gone to minority- and women-owned businesses in recent years, according to annual audits conducted by the city. In July, Buttigieg released “The Douglass Plan: A Comprehensive Investment in the Empowerment of Black America,” which he called “the most comprehensive vision put forward by a 2020 candidate on the question of how we’re going to tackle systemic racism in this country.” On Friday, The Intercept reported that the Buttigieg campaign had publicized support for the plan from prominent black leaders who actually weren’t endorsing it. South Bend’s population is 26.4 percent black, compared to 13.4 percent nationally. According to a 2015 report released by the mayor’s office, 1.2 percent of the city’s purchases went to contracts with minority- and women-owned businesses that year. In 2016, the number was 1.7 percent; in 2017, it was 1.9 percent; in 2018, it was 2.8 percent. South Bend already had a reputation for a lack of diversity among its business partners. As mayor, Buttigieg made it a priority to address those issues. He put in place several initiatives to address the problem, using his first executive order in 2016 to create the city’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. According to a study he commissioned, South Bend had done business with 12 percent of the city’s minority- or women-owned businesses, out of the 15 percent of eligible contractors in those categories. The city this month changed an existing ordinance to include quotas to improve those numbers and close the 3 percent gap."

Tax Break For Poor Funds GOP Donor's FL Superyacht Marina

Trump tax break for poor went to GOP donor’s superyacht marina. ProPublica: "The Rybovich superyacht marina lies on the West Palm Beach, Florida, waterfront, a short drive north from Mar-a-Lago. Superyachts, floating mansions that can stretch more than 300 feet and cost over $100 million, are serviced at the marina, and their owners enjoy Rybovich’s luxury resort amenities. Its Instagram account offers a glimpse into the rarefied world of the global 0.1% — as one post puts it, 'What’s better than owning a yacht, owning a yacht with a helicopter of course!' Rybovich owner Wayne Huizenga Jr., son of the Waste Management and Blockbuster video billionaire Wayne Huizenga Sr., has long planned to build luxury apartment towers on the site, part of a development dubbed Marina Village. Those planned towers, and the superyacht marina itself, are now in an area designated as an opportunity zone under President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax code overhaul, qualifying them for a tax break program that is supposed to help the poor. Then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott bestowed the tax break on the marina after a direct appeal from Huizenga Jr., according to a 2018 letter Huizenga Jr. wrote that was obtained by ProPublica. Huizenga and his family have been major donors to Scott. Even though the opportunity zone program is supposed to subsidize only new investment, Huizenga cited the already-planned Marina Village in his appeal to Scott. The state of Florida, based on an analysis of unemployment and poverty rates, had not originally intended to pick the census tract containing the superyacht marina for the program. But those plans changed in response to Huizenga’s lobbying, according to documents from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity obtained by ProPublica. A little more than a week after the Huizenga letter, Scott announced his opportunity zone picks, which included the Rybovich marina area. At the same time, Scott rejected other, poorer tracts that the city of West Palm Beach had asked to be named opportunity zones."

CA's Newsom Temporarily Bans Fracking

Climate groups applaud Newsom's temporary fracking ban in California. Common Dreams: "Anti-fracking advocates were cautiously optimistic Tuesday after California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a moratorium on fracking in the state and new steps to mitigate the disastrous public health effects that extractive industries have on communities. Author and co-founder Bill McKibben credited "relentless organizing" with pressuring the Democratic governor to ban—at least temporarily—the high-pressure steam injection central to the fracking process and pledge to reverse the increase in drilling permits that's taken place under Newsom's administration. 'It's not all that activists wanted, but that language is an important signal,' McKibben wrote of the temporary fracking ban. Newsom announced that, along with the fracking lease moratorium, the state would also commission an independent audit of regulators tasked with overseeing the oil and gas industries and would have federal scientists conduct third-party reviews of all drilling lease requests going forward. The state will also strengthen protections for communities near oil and gas wells."

Judge To Rule On McGahn Testimony

Judge intends to rule by Monday on House subpoena to Donald McGahn. WaPo: "A federal judge said she intends to rule no later than the end of the day Monday on whether former White House counsel Donald McGahn must testify under subpoena to Congress, after the House Judiciary Committee asked her to accelerate a decision because it aims to call him after the current round of public impeachment hearings finish in December. U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of Washington entered an order Tuesday about her deadline intent “absent unforeseen circumstances” shortly after a filing from House General Counsel Douglas N. Letter arguing last week’s opening of the hearings before the House Intelligence Committee was grounds for urgency. Those committee hearings are exploring President Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate former vice president Joe Biden — a potential 2020 political rival — and his son Hunter Biden. House Democrats are debating whether articles of impeachment should include obstruction of justice allegations detailed in the special counsel report by Robert S. Mueller III. 'Given that the House’s impeachment inquiry is proceeding rapidly, the Committee has a finite window of time to effectively obtain and consider McGahn’s testimony,' Letter wrote. 'The Judiciary Committee anticipates holding hearings after [the] public hearings have concluded and would aim to obtain Mr. McGahn’s testimony at that time,' Letter wrote."

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