Many in organized labor lamented the announcement last week that union champion Ed Schultz—who in 2011 transplanted his show to Wisconsin to cover labor protests—is leaving his 8 p.m. weeknight timeslot on MSNBC for a 5 p.m.-to-7 p.m. timeslot on the weekends. In one signal of the labor and progressive support for Schultz, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has launched a thank-you card campaign.
But progressives also cheered the news that In These Times alumnus Chris Hayes will be moving into Schultz’s 8 p.m. weeknight spot. We at In These Times would like to congratulate Chris, who has proven dedicated to representing the voices of workers, both in his career at ITT and beyond. (The only question we have is what Bhaskar Sunkara will call his MSNBC show when it’s inevitably offered.)
Today, President Barack Obama officially nominated Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez for Secretary of Labor. The pick was widely expected, and many in organized labor have already expressed excitement. From Mother Jones:
“If he were to be picked, I think he would be an excellent labor secretary,” says Eliseo Medina, treasurer of the Service Employees International Union. “This is a guy who has been dealing with issues that really matter to working people in this country.”
When Perez was nominated to head the Department of Justice’s civil rights division, some congressional Republicans sought to block his confirmation over since discredited allegations regarding a voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party and Perez’s advocacy on behalf of undocumented immigrants. During the Bush years, the division had been marred by partisan politics and declining civil rights enforcement. But since Perez took the helm, the division has blocked partisan voting schemes, cracked down on police brutality, protected gay and lesbian students from harassment, sued anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio for racial profiling, stood up against Islamophobia, and forced the two largest fair-housing settlements in history from banks that discriminated against minority homeowners.
But Perez is likely to have trouble winning over Senate Republicans. The House GOP voted unanimously on Friday against raising the minimum wage. From the website of the House Committee on Education and Workforce Democrats:
Today, House Republicans voted unanimously against raising the nation’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2015. The vote came as part of a final amendment to a bill that would harm access to job training and education programs for low-income Americans. The minimum wage amendment failed on a 184 to 233 vote, with all 227 Republican members voting ‘no’.
“Even while corporate profits soar and the stock market reaches new highs, the working poor continue to fall further and further behind,” said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the author of the amendment and the bill to raise the minimum wage. “If the Republicans want to take away a priority of service for low income Americans who want to learn new skills for a better job and a better life, the least we can do is make sure these workers get a decent wage.”
A must-read feature in the Huffington Post Canada sheds light on why so many millennials are willing to quit their jobs, even in a tough economy. From the Huffington Post Canada:
Millennials, loosely defined as those born after 1980, aren’t afraid of quitting their jobs (full disclosure: I am one). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Generation Y is expected to stay in jobs for just over two years, about half the amount of time spent by the current average worker. Seventy per cent of recent graduates reported leaving their first jobs within two years, according to Experience.com’s recent “Life After College” survey. While this tendency to flee may seem baffling – considering that young people graduated into a job market devastated by the 2007-2008 financial downturn and are increasingly taking on more student debt – economic turmoil actually helped spawn a generation of quitters. Many Millennials are forced to take jobs outside their field of study with which they quickly grow impatient and leave at the next best opportunity. Remember, this is a generation that has no company loyalty and was raised by boomer parents who told them “you can be whatever you want to be.” Financial turmoil is just a bump on the road to the dream job they deserve.
Speaking of new jobs, the maker of the infamous “47 percent” video Scott Prouty said he is likely to take a job with the United Steelworkers Union. From the Huffington Post:
Steelworkers President Leo Gerard said the union met Prouty through Charles Kernaghan, a labor rights activist who heads the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, headquartered in Pittsburgh. Prouty had gotten in touch with Kernaghan, who’d been researching Bain Capital and outsourcing as Prouty anonymously disseminated his video last year. Gerard said that union officials met with Prouty at the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., in January, before the videographer was willing to go public.
Gerard explained his respect for Prouty, paraphrasing a quote from President Barack Obama that one voice can change a room, that room a city, that city a state, and so on. “I think Scott Prouty is one voice that changed the country,” Gerard said.
“He’s going to come work for us,” Gerard went on. “We’re going to sit down and talk. He has lots of skills, and we’ll try to put him in a place where he can use the skills he’s got.”
In this new book, longtime organizers and movement educators Mariame Kaba and Kelly Hayes examine the political lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath, including the convergence of mass protest and mass formations of mutual aid. Let This Radicalize You answers the urgent question: What fuels and sustains activism and organizing when it feels like our worlds are collapsing?
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