Two major stories today seem to bring together both the past and the future of the country to chart a way forward. The first involves a historic workers’ strike. A week ago, on Friday, September 15, after workers’ four-year contracts expired, the United Auto Workers union declared a limited and targeted work stoppage in which about 13,000 workers walked off the job at three Midwestern auto plants. For the first time in history, those walkouts included all three major automakers: workers left a General Motors plant in Missouri, a Stellantis (which includes Chrysler) plant in Ohio, and a Ford plant in Michigan.
Thank you for getting us the quotes and information on Shawn Fain. I’m so glad that he’s seeing through Donald Trump’s claim to be pro-union after Trump worked so hard to gut the power of unions.
Another person who has tried to hide his true feelings is Clarence Thomas. I can hardly wait until there is a law stating that the Supreme Court justices have to obey the same recusal rules that every other judge follows. Obviously, leaving it up to their policing themselves to practice judicial neutrality hasn’t worked. The damage that Alito and Thomas have done to the reputation of the court will take years, if not decades, to heal.
I am so happy to see that Biden is going to stand with the UAW! I hope Trump gets booed off the stage.
Lots and lots of news for today! I watched Biden and Harris speak about the new gun commission and I am extremely happy about its creation. We have to have an impetus in place in which to fight the NRA and the MAGAs. Harris is very experienced in this department as she was a prosecutor, our Attorney General and our CA Senator. Thank you, Heather, for highlighting her accomplishments because there are so many people I know who tell me they don’t see her as being “presidential”. Totally angers me because they haven’t taken the time to educate themselves about her. it’s Maxwell Frost who I am impressed with. He is the youngest Congress member but he shines a bright light for us all. I look forward to seeing what he brings to the table.
2007 is the critical point in the UAW strike. Not only did the UAW give up a lot to help save the backward thinking industry that refused to see the relavance of the foreign competition, the Federal funding that bailed out the industry was the TAX DOLLARS THAT THE WORKERS PAID.
Thank you Heather for laying it all out so clearly, as always.
Executive pay that is orders of magnitude greater than the average worker pay is immoral, unfair, and ultimately bad for business. Strikers wanting to hold on to production of more labor intensive combustion engine vehicles need to let that go… it’s not sustainable. The best way to sort this out IS a strike it seems. I support the unions, and union workers please realize that anti-union Republicans are on the fat cat executives side in practice and principle.
Coming through the pandemic, with 25% of the healthcare workforce having left already, and CEOs of health insurance companies making 100’s of millions of 💰, and hospital system executives rewarding themselves for their contributions from safe and tidy offices far removed from patient care - you’re next I hope.
Thank you, Heather! The UAW’s clear message is very uplifting. I am happy Biden will walk the picket line in Michigan. This is a critical moment in US labor history. May the workers win all their demands....especially being paid fairly, with no “tier” system. How the CEOS can sleep at night, they who are paid obscene amounts by the sweat of the workers’ brows, is beyond me. I really hope the union movement to help ALL workers is reignited and strengthened by this strike, as you have pointed out. I hope Menendez will face the music with his wife, of their corruption. The judicial system IS working. However, as the Thomas and Alito deep corruption continues to be exposed, the urgency to change the SCOTUS was never greater! Great that Kamala Harris is leading the fight against gun violence and for women’s rights. So much to think about! Happy Fall and happy weekend to you and Buddy.
Clarence Thomas has committed so many unsavory acts that it's almost impossible to stay current. Tax avoidance. Not declaring his wife's sizeable income on their taxes. Abusing Anita Hill by coercing or forcing her to watch, "Long Dong Silver." Not declaring gifts on his taxes. Catering to the billionaires for assorted rulings benefitting them. Et al. Clarence doesn't care. He knows he will be protected by the billionaires. It's all so blatant.
Ending is so great. Nice to have a bit of comic relief.
Thank you Heather! In every election there is a fork in the American road. One toward a vibrant middle class, valuing labor, embracing and expanding rights. The other path is more incompetence, corruption, and concentration of wealth.
It is always interesting to read your summary of some of the events of the day and how you so often connect them to other current events and/or history. I think that you would like to know that one of the statements you made in your September 22, 2023 column is some combination of being inaccurate and misleading - though I am sure that was not your intent. I am referring to your assertion that last year's compensation for Ms. Mary Barra (Chairman of the General Motors Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer) was almost $29 million .
The following information is per her 2022 proxy statement. Ms. Barra was awarded:
$2,100,000 salary, $6,258,000 bonus, $4,875,010 in stock options, $14,625,000 in stock and $1,121,560 in other compensation. When extra earnings derived from cash bonus payouts, gains from stock awards, benefits and perquisites are cashed out or otherwise accounted for at some future date, there is a distinct possibility that the total amount of her 2022 compensation could be much, much more than "just" $29 million dollars. No one will know what her exact compensation is until some indeterminate future date. The awarding of "stock options" as a form of executive compensation is an insidious practice. (A simple example: John Smith is doing a great job as CEO at XYZ Corporation. But the Board of Directors either can't or won't pay him the "fair" cash money equivalent of his actual value to the company. Instead, they will award him an option on 100,000 shares of XYZ Corporation stock, exercisable at some specific date in the future, for $5.00 per share. If Mr. Smith does a great job and on that redemption date in the future the stock is worth $100 per share, he could exercise that option, sell the stock, and pocket a cool $9,500,000 (less capital gains taxes.) Of course, he doesn't have to exercise the option. If he thinks the price will increase, he can do nothing, and sell the stock at a later time when it is valued even higher. Meanwhile, Mr. Smith can obtain loans secured by the value of his options to invest, go on vacation, or whatever. As, the money is a loan, no taxes are paid on it. It should be noted that if options are exercised, the per share value of the company is diluted by the number of optioned shares . It should also be noted that the wealth of many if not most of today's billionaires wealth is tied up in options. As an example, in one sense, Elon Musk's status as a billionaire is illusory in that it is not backed up by "real money". He will turn some or all of his options into cash when it is most advantageous or necessary for him to do so. In a way, stock options, are like owning a printing press that spits out legitimate dollar bills. Of course, with the aid of "Wealth Managers" numerous methods have been devised to ensure that when the options are sold the tax consequences will have been minimized if eliminated. Who do we think actually "runs" the country/economy and sets up its parameters? That's a rhetorical question!
Interesting to see the Koch family pop up again.
They should be more famous. Where are all the documentaries? Perhaps they should be included in school curricula. Such interesting business strategies.
How about dedicating a special day when there's a festival and effigies of them are burnt on bonfires - like we do, all over England, every year on the 5th of November with Guy Fawkes .
"Fain has withheld an endorsement for President Biden out of concern that the transition to electric vehicles, which are easier to build than gas-powered vehicles, will hurt union jobs, and out of anger that the administration has offered incentives to non-union plants"
I believe that all middle class workers owe a debt to the union movement for helping to establish rights and protections for workers that Republicans now conspire to take away. Unions a check and balance (and there are more) on the anti-democratic power of highly concentrated money. Much of the 20th century was built in battles to curb abuses of that power, such as manipulative and abusive power, such as "trusts" that controlled markets. Thus the establishment of anti-trust legislation, and other reforms that have been withdrawn or sidelined since the "Reagan Revolution". And what has become of the lot of American workers since?
I think unions, that have suffered a steep decline in the last half century, have often missed the larger picture. They too owe their first allegiance to their country as a whole, as well as the advocacy of their members interests. I think they have missed opportunities to forge alliances with the public at large, including non-union workers, to defend economic justice. United we stand, divided we fall, and clearly self-contained solidarity within the union alone has not been enough. Plutocracy threatens union and non-union workers alike, and gets it away with it with divide and conquer.
As for electric cars, if they help protect our children and our children's children, and our quality of life as a whole, the short term adjustments of workers to existential realities of the present seems a strategically wise move for union leadership, and indeed a truly patriotic one. Such a stance contrasts starkly and favorably with the self-obsessed greed of certain billionaires.
Clarence Thomas has been groomed by his wife, Leonard Leo and a series of billionaires to see himself as not only one of them but also their protector. He internalized a belief that he was a victim of progressives that fought his nomination to the highest court in the country.
With the exception of his wife, these were not life-long friends. For them, the association was transactional with an individual willing to sell out average Americans. They treated him as a club member with all the trappings, buying his loyalty with gifts so extreme as to shock common sense. He returned the favor with steadfast support and protection of their privilege.
A man who is dogmatic in his unwillingness to change has signaled that he will flip on maintaining the Chevron Decision that preserves regulatory control over commerce. He’s also likely to protect ultra wealth from taxation that would rollback the ever increasing wealth gap that has steadily climbed since Nixon and Reagan.
Thomas and Alito see themselves as unaccountable to anyone, misconstruing lifetime appointments to mean duty and care is whatever they personally decide it is.
Trump stained the Executive Branch with narcissistic authoritarianism and by reaching out to extremists.
Gingrich, the Freedom Caucus and gerrymandering has made a mockery of legislative democracy.
Thomas, Alito and McConnell’s capitulation to billionaires (acting through The Federalist Society) has perverted the Supreme Court.
Constitutional democracy is in peril.
L'Affair Menendez, a Democratic senator, and spouse, investigated and then indicted by the DOJ of a Democratic administration, does indeed evaporate the GOP complaint of a weaponized government agency aimed at Republicans.
"We go after law-breakers. Period." to paraphrase Merrick Garland. It's just that there are so many more Republican law-breakers these days. Many of them lawyers!
Senator Menedez and his new wife are crooks and deserve to be indicted, but as with every last one of the indicted Republicans, they are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
What I don't understand is how the "gifts" (disclosed and undisclosed) Clarence Thomas and his wife received over the past 20 years are not crimes. They are clearly bribes.
And why did the DOJ choose not to indict Senator Ron Johnson for conspiracy to obstruct justice when he was caught handing off a list of alternates. And Lindsay, for obstruction and racketeering and also Matt Gaetz for pedophilia.
It is no secret Senator Rick Scott defrauded Medicare and Medicaid and paid a relatively small fine in comparison to the money he stole. But he was tried and cut a deal. And ever since then he has used his dirty money to buy the governorship of FL and the US Senate seat.
Something is rotten in Denmark......
OVERLORDS VS UNIONS & WORKING STIFFS
I have had a half-century working life from joining the Air Force in 1963 to retiring from my last job in 2015, which was my longest lasting job of 15 years. All the others were disparate and lasted five years at most with some of only a year or two. In my mid 60s Social Security sent me lists of my taxable income for a lifetime and at the end in 2015, the total was a mere $665K. Not even a notable bonus for wealthy executive overlords.
However, I've had a good life, supported myself & sometimes others in my meager lifestyle, traveled a lot in the U.S., Centro America, Europe & Middle East as far as India. I could only retire when my sister & I split a half-million dollar inheritance due to our father dabbling in the stock market in the 1960s. I'm still nursing that and hope it lasts longer than me, as my monthly rent is now my entire Social Security check.
Just a reflection that after a couple thousand years of Western Civilization, with illusions of Democracy and Equality, we still have a Royalty Class that lives above the law and hoards the Wealth, while most are Serfs who toil for a pittance.
And, I still can't understand how my dad, an electrician, blue-collar worker, Union Man all his life idolized Ronald Reagan to the point that it was the only time I yelled at him while traveling together in his pickup truck in the late 1980s.