Law

Labor at a Crossroads: In Defense of Members-Only Unionism

Allowing members-only unions would protect the rights of those who wish to bargain collectively even if they fail to surmount all the legal hurdles necessary to establish the union as the representative of all employees in the workplace.

(AP Photo/Times Free Press, Danielle Moore)
(AP Photo/Times Free Press, Danielle Moore) In a March 31, 2010, photo, Christian Iosif, an equipment installer with Leoni, programs a welding robot on the underbody dash panel line at Volkswagon of Chattanooga, Tennessee. This article is published as part of " American Labor at a Crossroads: New Thinking, New Organizing, New Strategies ," a conference presented on January 15, co-sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute, The Sidney Hillman Foundation, and The American Prospect . (View agenda here .) Find our Labor at a Crossroads series here . S urveys of employee support for unions show a majority want collective representation. Yet, as illustrated by the close vote on union representation at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, union organizing efforts often fail—either before employees have a chance to vote, or at the ballot box, or in subsequent litigation. For decades, scholars and union-side lawyers explained the gap between employee desire for unionization and...

Remedy for an Ailing Civil Justice System: Preventive Legal Care

The proper and efficient administration of justice is in jeopardy when we leave so many people to their own devices in our courts.

(iStockPhoto/© bbbrrn)
(iStockPhoto/© bbbrrn) W e’ve come to recognize the value of preventive medicine as a society. We know that patients do better and our government saves money when people get annual check-ups and screenings, diabetics have access to regular treatment and women receive proper prenatal care, so that we are able to avoid the costly and sometimes deadly issues that arise if we wait until they arrive in the emergency room. What would it look like if we took the same approach for legal help? What if we recognized that people are more likely to be able to stay in their homes if they have access to adequate legal assistance for wrongful evictions or foreclosures, rather than spending millions of taxpayer dollars on shelters once people have lost their homes and have nowhere else to turn? In Massachusetts, the Boston Bar Association (BBA), which I currently lead, recently released a Task Force report that shows that taking a preventive approach to legal issues, in the same way we do for public...

Labor at a Crossroads: Can Broadened Civil Rights Law Offer Workers a True Right to Organize?

It's one way to allow victims of anti-union discrimination to sue in federal court for compensatory and punitive damages.

(AP Photo/Alex Sanz)
(AP Photo/Alex Sanz) U.S. Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, is co-sponsoring, with Rep. Keith Elison of Minnesota, legislation that would broaden the Civil Rights Act to include workers who are discriminated against for wanting to join a union. Lewis, shown here on December 22, 2014, discusses the historical film Selma and civil rights in the United States during an interview in Atlanta. Forty-nine years after Lewis and other marchers tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, memories of "Bloody Sunday" are still vivid in his mind. It was one of the defining moments of the civil rights era. This article is published as part of " American Labor at a Crossroads: New Thinking, New Organizing, New Strategies ," a conference presented on January 15, co-sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute, The Sidney Hillman Foundation, and The American Prospect . (View agenda here .) Find our Labor at a Crossroads series here . O rganized labor, which represents only 1...

Has the GOP Become the Pro-Torture Party?

If you'll permit me a momentary bit of crowing, I'd like to take some credit for what we learned from Dick Cheney's appearance on Meet the Press last Sunday. Not that we didn't already know about Cheney's enthusiasm for torture, but we now understand better just how morally infantile his thinking is—and this man, don't forget, was more responsible than anyone for the policies instituted under the Bush administration. Because the blithe refusal of people like Cheney to define torture has been bothering me for so long (combined with the fact that they get away with simply saying things like "waterboarding isn't torture" without having to answer what torture is), I suggested to Chuck Todd last week that he might ask Cheney explicitly for his definition. Todd apparently thought it wasn't a bad idea, because this was how the interview began: You can read more of my thoughts here , but it seems that Cheney believes that there is literally nothing the United States can do to prisoners that...

The War On Terror Encapsulated In One Case

U.S. Navy photo showing Jose Padilla in sensory deprivation.
As we continue to debate the question of whether torture is an abomination or actually a great idea that worked well and should be used whenever we're feeling afraid, I want to point to one case in particular, that of Jose Padilla. The entire deranged history of the Bush administration's War on Terror can be seen in Padilla's story, and now we know even more about it. In case you don't remember, on June 10, Attorney General John Ashcroft interrupted a trip to Russia to hold a press conference announcing that a month prior, the United States had thwarted a major terrorist threat by arresting Padilla, a Chicago man who had travelled to the Pakistan and joined up with al Qaeda. Padilla, Ashcroft said, was plotting to detonate a "dirty bomb" that would release radioactive material over Washington, potentially killing thousands. But we got him before he could carry out his horrific plan. By the time of Ashcroft's dramatic press conference, Bush administration officials had already decided...

Harrowing Tales of the Wrongly Deported: U.S. Border Patrol Flouts the Law and Destroys Lives

There are more than 40,000 CBP officers authorized to act like judges but without legal training. The new executive order does not change this.

(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) In this July 12, 2014, photo, Central American migrants ride a freight train during their journey toward the U.S.-Mexico border in Ixtepec, Mexico. The number of family units and unaccompanied children arrested by Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley has doubled in the first nine months of this fiscal year compared to the same period last year. In 2008, Nydia, a transgender woman, fled physical and sexual attacks in Mexico and was granted asylum in the United States. She was saving money to apply for lawful permanent residence (a “green card”) when, in 2010, her mother died. Nydia returned to Mexico for the funeral. “I was afraid [to go back], but in the moment, I just blocked out everything that had happened to me,” she said. “When I got there, I thought ‘Oh my God, why am I here?’” When her family in Mexico rejected her, Nydia found herself alone, attacked by a gang who tried to rip out her breast implants, beat, robbed, and raped her. Nydia returned to...

Do Republicans Want to Bring Torture Back?

A medieval use of stress positions, an oldie but a goodie. (Flickr/Curious Expeditions)
I'd like to follow up on a question I've raised yesterday and today over at the Post (see here and here ) regarding the torture program. It's pretty simple: what do the program's defenders think we should do now? Or more particularly, since Barack Obama isn't going to change his policy toward torture in the last two years of his presidency, what should the next president do? I've seen almost no one talk about the torture question as though it related in any way to the future. Even the most ardent torture advocates are talking only about the past. But if they're right that the program was perfectly legal and produced vital intelligence that could be obtained no other way, then one would assume they'd like to renew the waterboarding sessions as soon as they have the opportunity, i.e. as soon as there's a Republican president. Which makes it particularly important to get the people who want to be that president on record now about whether they have any plans to do so. When I wrote this...

What You Really Need to Know About the Torture Report

The two contractors who designed the program were paid $81 million. And that's just one thing.

CIA.gov
This article was originally published by BillMoyers.com . O n Tuesday, amid much controversy and after a year of political combat between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA, a long-anticipated summary of the committee’s report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program was released. Here’s what you need to know… What are the key points? You can read a quick roundup of the report’s main findings here . New York Times reporters Matt Apuzzo, Haeyoun Park and Larry Buchanan looked at what the report says about the efficacy of torture techniques in a series of specific cases. For those with strong stomachs, The Daily Beast’ s Shane Harris and Tim Mak sifted through the report to unearth “ the most gruesome details ,” which we chose to omit below. It was torture… According to the report, after being authorized by the Bush White House to detain people with suspected ties to terrorist groups, the agency’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” were far more brutal than the...

Movements for Racial Justice and Economic Justice Could Converge to Form a Powerhouse for Change

(Photo by Rachel M. Cohen for The American Prospect)
What happens to a dream deferred? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? T hat was the poet Langston Hughes, in 1951. In that year, more than half a century ago, the most basic dreams of African Americans were deferred. Segregation was mandatory in the old South. Discrimination was legal everywhere in America, whether in housing, education, or employment. Blacks were not just separated, but isolated, marginalized, restricted to the worst jobs and most dilapidated neighborhoods, the most dismal schools. For many, the racism just sagged, like a heavy load. It destroyed hope that hard work would be rewarded. The deferred dreams of that era seldom produced explosions, because the state had a very efficient system of terror. Blacks who resisted were likely to be lynched, jailed, or otherwise destroyed. It is a testament to sheer grit, tenacity and courage that large numbers of blacks managed to get educations, raise families, start businesses, and enter professions at...

We Can't Forget: Black Women Are Targeted, Too

"It’s not just the brothers dying; I’m at risk too," Joanne says. "I could be the next person.”

(Photo/Kristen Doerer)
(Photo/Kristen Doerer) After talking with a protester who came to commemorate the lives of black women killed and beaten by police and the justice system, the author ponders a new hashtag: #BlackWomensLivesMatter. Here, a scene from the Washington, D.C., protests set off by a Staten Island jury's failure to indict white New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man. We’ve been walking for about two hours now. We’re following the protests, Nathalie Baptiste and I, and we’ve finally made it to 14 th Street Bridge—Well not quite, we’re right before the bridge, at one of the busiest intersections. A black man has been leading the way, microphone in hand, shouting chants like “No justice, no peace! No racist police!” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, these killer cops have got to go.” We circle around the intersection. Protesters raise their hands, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” they yell. Police cars surround us, their lights flashing. Horns blare as...

'All I Want For Christmas Is Justice!' A Protester's Dispatch

This is what the new civil rights movement looks like.

(AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
(AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek) Angelica Simmons, center, holds her arms up in the air while participating in a demonstration at a tree lighting ceremony, Wednesday, December 3, 2014, in Philadelphia. The crowd, protesting the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of police, rallied at the train station and marched through downtown before disrupting a tree lighting ceremony at City Hall. A t the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, the president and his family sought a moment of lightness. It was not to be had. The street in front of the White House was filled with demonstrators, who had blocked off highly-trafficked thoroughfares after the justice system once again failed to call police to account for the killing of yet another unarmed black person: Eric Garner, who died when a New York City police officer pushed Garner to the ground, wrapped his hands around the black man’s neck, and held them there while the man gasped for air. As traditional Christmas songs blared from...

Quote of the Day: 'When Cops Are Scared'

(AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Laurie Skrivan)
"Cops can get into a state of mind where they're scared to death. When they're in that really, really frightened place they panic and they act out on that panic. I have known cops who haven't had a racist bone in their bodies and in fact had adopted black children, they went to black churches on the weekend; and these are white cops. They really weren't overtly racist. They weren't consciously racist. But you know what they had in their minds that made them act out and beat a black suspect unwarrantedly? They had fear. They were afraid of black men. I know a lot of white cops who have told me. And I interviewed over 900 police officers in 18 months and they started talking to me, it was almost like a therapy session for them I didn't realize that they needed an outlet to talk. "They would say things like, 'Ms. Rice I'm scared of black men. Black men terrify me. I'm really scared of them. Ms. Rice, you know black men who come out of prison, they've got great hulk strength and I'm...

#Blacklivesmatter Till They Don't: Slavery's Lasting Legacy

The historical value of black life and the casual killing of Eric Garner.

(AP Photo/Public Opinion, Ryan Blackwell)
(AP Photo/Public Opinion, Ryan Blackwell) Shippensburg University student Cory Layton, a junior from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, paints his face with the slogan "Black Lives Matter" at the 'Fight for Human Rights and Social Equity' rally at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, December 4, 2014. I n less than a month, our nation will commemorate the 150 th anniversary of the 13 th Amendment, which abolished slavery. This should be a time of celebratory reflection, yet Wednesday night, after another grand jury failed to see the value of African-American life, protesters took to the streets chanting, “Black lives matter!” As scholars of slavery writing books on the historical value(s) of black life, we are concerned with the long history of how black people are commodified by the state. Although we are saddened by the unprosecuted deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and countless others, we are not surprised. We live a nation that has yet to...

10 Ways the System Is Rigged Against Justice for People Wrongly Killed by Cops

Why is the legal system so biased against holding abusive officers accountable?

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez) A motorist, right, shows support for people marching during a protest after it was announced that the New York City police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner was not indicted, Wednesday, December 3, 2014, in New York. A grand jury cleared the New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, a lawyer for the victim's family said. This article was orginally published by AlterNet . For more great reporting and analysis, subscribe here to AlterNet's newsletters. A s passions and protests flared on the streets of New York City following a Staten Island grand jury’s decision Wednesday not to indict the white NYC police officer whose chokehold and rough arrest killed Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, a key question emerges: Why is the justice system so biased against holding abusive officers accountable? The answer is both simple...

How Obama Boxed In Republicans With His Immigration Order

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) President Barack Obama shakes hands with people in the crowd following his remarks on immigration reform at Chamizal National Memorial Park in El Paso, Texas, May 10, 2011. I f there's an elected Republican who thinks it wasn't a bad idea for President Obama to take executive action on immigration, he or she has yet to make that opinion known. Not surprisingly, the 20 or 30 men (and one woman ) hoping to get the GOP nomination for president in 2016 have been particularly vocal on the topic. But while thunderous denunciations of the Constitution-shredding socialist dictator in the White House may seem to them today like exactly what the situation demands, before long they're going to be asked a simple yet dangerous question: If you become president, what are you going to do about it? Although they haven't actually answered that question yet, their feelings have been unambiguous. Ted Cruz said Obama has "gotten in the job of counterfeiting...

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