By Doug Porter
The executive council of the AFL-CIO, a federation of 56 unions representing 12.5 million members, has been meeting in San Diego this week. The agenda for the gathering suggests a growing enthusiasm for broad political actions, going beyond the specific needs of organized labor.
The Big Story, according to mainstream media outlets, has been the decision not to make a presidential endorsement. The reasoning behind that decision, and just about everything else happening at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel is no secret though it would be easy to think it was from the lack of local coverage.
Here’s a snip from the no endorsement announcement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
The AFL-CIO is committed to a Raising Wages agenda, and to using that agenda to drive our politics.
Our Executive Council will discuss the 2016 election cycle during its Winter Meeting, but no presidential endorsement will be made. From the very start of the presidential contest, we have been clear that we have an endorsement process in place, and that we will continue to follow that process in accordance with our Constitution.
Most importantly, we will further elevate the Raising Wages agenda and hold all politicians accountable to it.
The Huffington Post obtained a copy of the email sent by Trumka to member unions:
“Following recent discussion at the AFL-CIO’s Executive Committee meeting and subsequent conversations with many of you, I have concluded that there is broad consensus for the AFL-CIO to remain neutral in the presidential primaries for the time being and refrain from endorsing any candidate at this moment,” Trumka said.
The decision is a coup for Sanders’ backers within organized labor. Clinton has managed to lock down endorsements from unions representing a majority of unionized workers in this country. But the AFL-CIO endorsement is the most potent of all, and it won’t be going to Clinton — at least, not yet.
Under AFL-CIO procedures, an endorsement by the executive council needs to be ratified by leaders of the federation’s member unions. It’s likely that Clinton doesn’t yet have the required votes for an endorsement to be ratified.
On Sunday local activists supportive of the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders stood along the embarcadero forming a light brigade, holding up lit signage supportive of their candidate.
It’s the (Gig) Economy, Stupid
In addition to support for legislation seeking to increase minimum wages, a prime topic of discussion, according to Politico, unions are expected to urge policymakers to address gig-economy job misclassification.
From Morning Shift:
“This time we’re taking on the gig economy,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten told Morning Shift, “and what workers who are in contingent work or non traditional work [need]. They need voice, they need an ability to raise their wages. I know there’s been lots and lots of discussion about what we do in the political arena, but these things are very important.”
Opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be a topic of discussion, fueled by a new AFL-CIO report on its lack of adequate labor rights provisions.
Strategies to pressure the GOP Senate into taking up President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court along with approaches towards a unified energy policy were to be considered, along with resolutions urging Congress to end special tax breaks and regulatory forbearance for hedge funds.
Springtime in America
The AFL-CIO is expected to participate in a progressive coalition for a series of actions supportive of reigning in campaign corruption and expanding voting rights called “Democracy Spring.”
From the draft text of the resolution presented:
The institutions of our government need to function on behalf of the people regardless of who has power – it is bigger than parties, politics or profits. That is why this spring, when thousands of American stand in solidarity to demand reform, the labor movement will call for the Senate and the House, the nation’s highest deliberative bodies, to act as the founders intended and ensure democracy for all.
The campaign will begin on April 2nd with a march from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., starting off a week-long sit-in at the US Capitol. Over 2,000 people have already pledged to risk arrest between April 11th-16th in what organizers say will be one of the largest civil disobedience actions in a generation.
From the Democracy Spring site:
Every American deserves an equal voice in government. That is our birthright of freedom, won through generations of struggle. But today our democracy is in crisis. In this post-Citizens United era, American elections are dominated by billionaires and big money interests who can spend unlimited sums of campaign money to protect their special interests at the general expense. Meanwhile, as the super-rich dominate the “money primary” that decides who can run for office, almost half of the states in the union have passed new laws that disenfranchise everyday voters, especially people of color and the poor.
This corruption violates the core principle of American democracy — “one person, one vote” citizen equality. And it is blocking reform on virtually every critical issue facing our country: from addressing historic economic inequality, to tackling climate change and ending mass incarceration. We simply cannot solve the urgent crises that face our nation if we don’t save democracy first.
But if the status quo goes unchallenged, the 2016 election — already set to be the most billionaire-dominated, secret money-drenched, voter suppression-marred contest in modern American history — will likely yield a President and a Congress more bound to the masters of big money than ever before. And our planet and people just can’t afford that. But there is another possibility.
Organizers for Democracy Spring have identified at least four reform bills that are already pending before Congress. These include proposed legislation that would implement robust small-dollar citizen-funded elections, combat voter suppression, and empower citizens with universal suffrage; it will also introduce a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United.
The Government vs Apple
The FBI’s claim that it was seeking access to a single phone used by terrorists on the San Bernadino shootings fell apart overnight as the Wall Street Journal and other outlets revealed a dozen other cases where prosecutors are in court battles seeking data from iPhones.
Once again, for those of you who think it’s just a matter of hacking one phone, the government is asking Apple to create new software and install it on phone(s) in their possession.
Unfortunately, I can’t think of another instance where law enforcement/government has lived up to privacy promises. Once the genie is out of the bottle. it’s out, and it will be misused.
The other phones are at issue in cases where prosecutors have sought, as in the San Bernardino, Calif., terror case, to use an 18th-century law called the All Writs Act to compel the company to help them bypass the passcode security feature of phones that may hold evidence, these people said.
The specifics of the roughly dozen cases haven’t been disclosed publicly, but they don’t involve terrorism charges, these people said. The 12 cases remain in a kind of limbo amid the bigger, more confrontational legal duel between the government and the company over an iPhone seized in the terror case in California, these people said.
“The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true,’’ Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote last week in a letter to customers. “Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices… The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements.’’
GOP BS Du Jour: Obama Was Raised White
From the people who brought you climate change denial and trickle down economics, comes the latest pile of baloney. And Congressman Darrell Issa is out there defending it. Sort of.
From Raw Story:
U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) told CNN on Tuesday that Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson was “technically correct” when he said that President Barack Obama was not the first black president because he was “raised white.”
During an interview with Politico, Carson argued that he would be the first truly black president because he said that it was a “stretch” to claim President Obama “identifies with the experience of black of Americans.”
“He’s an ‘African’ American. He was, you know, raised white,” Carson insisted.
Issa went on to say he felt Carson wasn’t ready to be president, however. The Congressman is supporting Senator Marco Rubio.
On This Day: 1904 – William Randolph Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner began publishing articles on the menace of Japanese laborers, leading to a resolution in the California legislature that action be taken against their immigration. 1940 – Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land Is Your Land” following a frigid trip—partially by hitchhiking, partially by rail—from California to Manhattan. The Great Depression was still raging. Guthrie had heard Kate Smith’s recording of “God Bless America” and resolved to himself: “We can’t just bless America, we’ve got to change it.” 1999 – White supremacist John William King was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering James Byrd Jr. Byrd was dragged behind a truck for two miles on a country road in Texas.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.