The National Labor Relations Board has changed in size and composition several times during the Obama administration, but one thing has remained constant: its pro-union majority. Labor officials lately are feeling pretty glad about that. On December 11, the NLRB ruled 3-2 that employees with access to an employer e-mail system can use that system for union organizing during "nonworking time." The ruling, Purple Communications Inc., overturns a 2007 NLRB decision, Register Guard, which held that a company has the discretion to ban non-business-related e-mail interactions among workers, including union-related ones. The board insists the impact of its newest ruling is "limited." Yet unions, especially the Communications Workers of America, see a clear victory along with an expansion of organizing opportunities. And they're probably right.
The New York Times reports in a front-page story today that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) successfully pressed Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton's chief of staff at the State Department, to grant a visa to an Ecuadoran woman whose family made significant donations to his campaign and other Democratic campaign groups, including the Obama Victory Fund.
The woman, Estefania Isaias, is the daughter of Roberto Isaias, a wealthy Ecuadoran who is wanted along with his brother, William Isaias, for allegedly looting a bank in their home country. Estefania was barred from entering the United State because she previously had illegally brought her maids into this country.
The death toll for General Motors' faulty ignition switch victims continues to rise with the last reported number being 42. There has been speculation that the death count is significantly higher, as safety advocate Clarence Ditlow has written to GM to request an expansion of efforts to uncover victims of accidents resulting from defective GM vehicles.
Intimidation is more than simply the use of physical force. It also is about the instilling of fear and shame in one's intended targets. Among labor leaders, one of the best tactics for getting the job done is the 'scab list.' The term refers to a longstanding union practice of compiling a list of employees at a given worksite who choose not to join a union or participate in a strike. The United Auto Workers in particular lately has been stepping up this practice as part of organizing drives in Right to Work states. Whether or not this tactic is legal, one thing is for certain: It amounts to bullying. By divulging the identities of workers who don't toe the union line, the scab list, like its close cousin, the card check, serves as a brake on a worker's right to say no. It is a reminder that "voluntary unionism" isn't quite voluntary in practice.
Today, we requested that the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform undertake an "independent" investigation of the General Motors ignition switch recall delay, in light of newly obtained emails by lawyers suing GM.
Those emails suggest that the Treasury may have timed its final sale of GM shares to precede public knowledge of the ignition switch fiasco. They also cast doubt on GM CEO Mary Barra's previous account of what she knew and when she knew it.
Here is the text of a letter I sent today to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), in photo, the incoming Chairman of the Oversight & Government Reform Committee:
That doesn’t mean the fear-mongers have given up, of course, as the latest effort by environmental pressure group Ceres illustrates. The activist group – which exerts its influence via shareholder activism (claiming $10 trillion in assets) in pursuit of their definition of a “sustainable” global economy – last week sent a letter endorsed by 223 companies to President Obama, in support of EPA’s controversial proposed standard for existing power plants to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Some of the largest and most recognized corporations signed on, including Adidas, IKEA, Kellogg Company, Levi Strauss & Co., Mars Inc., Nestle, Nike, Starbucks, and Symantec – as well as numerous “green”-minded and renewable energy businesses.
Loretta Lynch, who has been nominated by President Obama to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General, took part in a 2007 panel discussion at Duke Law School prompted by the Duke lacrosse rape case. Lynch's comments provide insight into her mindset and raise unsettling questions about her commitment to equal justice and the rights of the accused.
The event took place on September 28, 2007. The wounds were still raw for members of the Duke lacrosse team, their families, and in a sense, the entire nation. That same month, Michael Nifong, the former District Attorney who had knowingly pursued false rape and hate crime accusations against three teammates, had been found guilty of criminal contempt of court.
The company’s Green Energy Czar Bill Weihl in 2009 had boasted to Reuters that he expected “within a few years” that his people would be able to demonstrate technology that produced renewable energy cheaper than coal.
When it comes to organizing German-owned facilities in the U.S., the United Auto Workers can't be accused of shyness - or it would seem, transparency. For the past several months, the union, led since early June by its new president, Dennis Williams, has been stepping up its campaign to represent Mercedes-Benz workers in central Alabama. The UAW, still smarting from its election defeat this February at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., is aware that victory is unlikely. To overcome disadvantage, organizers apparently have been resorting to misinformation. They've been telling workers that federal law bars them from discussing pay and working conditions unless they belong to a union.
As the nation awaits a decision from a grand jury Ferguson, Mo. about whether they will charge a police officer for shooting and killing black teenager Michael Brown, the new leader of the Congressional Black Caucus has already publicly stated that anything but indictment will not represent justice.
The comments (audio) came as Congressman G.K. Butterfield, a North Carolina Democrat, assumed the chairmanship of the CBC last week. He expressed his concern in an interview with WUNC in Chapel Hill, a NPR affiliate, when asked about the problem of civil unrest in “places like Ferguson” and what he thought his role was in “moving conversations forward” with regard to race relations.