FRIDAY FIVE O'CLOCK...

FRIDAY FIVE O'CLOCK FOLKWAYS. The entire American labor movement has been atremble today, waiting for the National Labor Relations Board to deliver its decisions in the Kentucky River cases -- decisions in which the Board is widely expected to reclassify as many as 8 million workers as management, and hence ineligible to join or belong to unions. The ruling would apply to nurses who schedule shifts or offer training on some new devices, say, to other nurses, perhaps to carpenters who help train apprentices -- you get the picture. The whole point of the ruling, labor fears, is to further cripple its ability to organize and represent workers -- and crippling unions and afflicting workers, after all, is the very the raison d�etre of the Republican and management hacks who constitute the majority of the board.

It turns out labor must tremble a little longer. With the board's current deliberative term at an end as the month ends, the word, as of 5:00 PM Eastern time today, Friday, is that it will make no public announcement of its rulings, but rather will Fed-Ex them to the parties in the cases either by Fed-Ex�s last pick-up time tonight, or some time tomorrow. The recipients will learn of the decisions, then, either tomorrow (Saturday) or Monday.

Hands-down, this wins the �They Did What?!�-Ruling-in-the-Dead-of-Night Award for this year, perhaps for the entire decade. Issuing controversial decisions late on Friday afternoons is a time-honored way to ensure that publicity will be minimal, but the Kentucky River non-announcement takes that to a whole new level. You�d think at least the NLRB would have the decency to dispense with its communications director, since communications is the last thing the Board wants to have.

And digressing on communications for a moment, I think the Bushies lost control of this news cycle, along with a Florida congressional seat and perhaps a few wayward bowels, with the news of Mark Foley�s resignation this afternoon. First Woodward; then Foley, on the very day that Congress is supposed to adjourn with a strategic display of Republican resolve manfully battling Democratic defeatism. A helpful reminder that the Republicans� biggest problem this November isn�t the Democrats; it�s reality.

--Harold Meyerson

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