Labor Money Fuels Clinton Super Pacs

Super PACs Fueled By Labor Money
Hillary-Quote_FB_A-1BY ANDREW PEREZ AND DAVID SIROTA ON 02/01/16 AT 4:15 PM

In recent years, Hillary Clinton has staked out high-profile positions against some of organized labor’s top priorities — but that has not stopped powerful forces in the labor movement from backing her campaign against an opponent who is one of Congress’ staunchest union supporters. In fact, even as Clinton has lately derided one of labor’s major healthcare priorities, unions have delivered millions of dollars to the groups supporting her White House bid, according to newly released campaign finance reports.

In all, major unions have given more than $6.3 million to an array of Clinton-aligned organizations, including $5.5 million to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC that backed President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign before it was repurposed as a pro-Clinton vehicle. While the group struggled to raise money early this election cycle, it disclosed on Sunday that it brought in more than $41 million last year, and had nearly $36 million on hand at the end of December.

Unions have also contributed more than $800,000 to two outside groups — American Bridge 21st Century and Correct the Record — affiliated with longtime Clinton surrogate David Brock. Correct the Record has argued that it’s permitted to work openly with Clinton’s campaign, despite federal election rules intended to prohibit coordination between candidates and outside groups. While Brock formally resigned from American Bridge in February, the groupcontinued paying him, according to its most recent report. Together, American Bridge 21st Century and Correct the Record raised almost $14 million in 2015. Continue reading

On Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association: The inextricable links between exclusive representation, agency fees, and the duty of fair representation

Agency clauses, which allow unions to collect fair-share fees from employees who are not union members but whom the union is legally required to represent are needed. Without them, ‘free-ridership’ grows, depleting union resources and undermining the ability of a union to serve all workers in the bargaining unit.

Source: On Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association: The inextricable links between exclusive representation, agency fees, and the duty of fair representation

Friedrichs: Son of Bush v. Gore

For Supreme Court conservatives, the Friedrichs case, which they heard yesterday, presents them with a twofer: They can both smash unions and defeat Democrats.

Source: Friedrichs: Son of Bush v. Gore

U.S. Labor Activist Reports on China Crackdown

Interview with Ellen David Friedman

Ellen Friedman articleEllen David Friedman, a long-time organizer with the National Education Association in Vermont, founding member of the state’s Progressive Party and member of the Labor Notes Policy Committee, has been working for the last decade with labor and union activists in Hong Kong and the mainland. When she was in China recently, she was briefly detained and interrogated by the government. She spoke with Ashley Smith of Socialist Worker about the crackdown, its causes and what activists can do to help the Chinese activists win freedom and justice.

During your recent trip, you were detained amid the crackdown on labor NGOs. Can you tell us what happened?

I’ve been working in China for about 10 years, teaching labor studies and participating in various parts of the labor movement. I’d received many warnings before, but they had always been indirect, and passed along through colleagues. This was the first time that police came to question me directly.

They came to my hotel and interrogated me for about two hours–quite politely–but warned me to stop “meeting people” or risk legal consequences. They said I was violating the terms of my visa.

It’s hard to know if I was detained as part of the crackdown on activists. It happened in the same period of time, but one never knows the reason that things happen in China. Certainly when I was detained, they didn’t give me any explanation for it. So I think at best we can guess.

The context for this is that, since the start of the Xi Jinping administration in China three years ago, the state has taken a very definitive turn away from tolerance of any kind of activism and organizing in civil society. In the previous administration of Hu Jintao, there seemed to be a good deal more space for the development of NGOs and critical discourse and research. All of this under the Xi Jinping government has been very severely curtailed.

Since Xi came to power, the state has harassed labor NGOs, criminalized labor resistance, and detained and charged worker activists. The government has also conducted an “anti-foreign influence” campaign. And so, since I’ve been active in the labor movement in China during this period of time, and since I’m a foreigner, we can only say it’s consistent with their policy.

What’s the scale of the crackdown? Who is being targeted?

The most recent event was a high-profile detention of about 20 activists on December 3, all in Guangzhou, which is one of the largest cities in China. It’s on the southeast coast across from Hong Kong. It’s the capital city of Guangdong province, which was the birthplace of capital and labor markets beginning in the 1980s.

Since then, it’s undergone a vast amount of development. Tens of millions of migrant workers have moved there to get jobs. The area has also experienced an explosion of labor resistance. Around a dozen or so labor NGOs have been operating amid this worker activism.

The government targeted the activists associated with four of these labor NGOs. Some of these NGOs are pretty benign service organizations that do things like assisting injured workers to file worker’s compensation claims. Some of them are more actively involved in helping workers to develop skills for leadership and collective bargaining among those who have taken the lead in strikes and so on.

Most of the people were questioned and released within a day, but seven people are still detained and facing criminal charges. The most prominent person who was caught in the sweep is named Zeng Feiyang. He’s the founder and director of the oldest and best-known labor NGO in China, Panyu Workers’ Center.

The government has accused most of the detainees of disrupting public order, which is the usual allegation made against labor activists. They have charged one person with embezzlement. Solidarity activists have arranged for them to have attorneys–in fact, there is a now a 60-member attorney team that has volunteered to represent them–but so far, they haven’t been able to contact the detained activists. So we still don’t know the specific charges against them.

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A New Year Message from China’s Labor Community

A 2016 New Year’s Message from China’s Labor Community

劳工六人图

Dear fellow workers, compatriots, and friends from around the world: Happy New Year!

Toward the end of 2015, the labor community in China experienced an unprecedented attack. A group of activists who have dedicated years to defending the rights and interests of workers were detained, monitored and interrogated by the police. It could have been a moment for fear and paranoia to set in. But those in the labor community and other walks of life responded quickly by drafting a petition to the Communist Party Central Committee, National People’s Congress, and State Council. The petition described in no uncertain terms the severe and widespread violations of workers’ rights and interests over the last few decades, and the inevitable emergence of independent labor NGOs and worker centers and their valuable contribution to the protection of labor rights and social justice, and demanded the release of the detained activists. In less than two weeks, over 490 people added their names to this petition, and over 60 Chinese lawyers joined a legal aid team. This response was followed by petitions, appeals, and demonstrations by over 200 organizations and thousands of individuals from the international labor and academic community in over 40 countries condemning the crackdown and expressing support for the arrested labor activists.

Their calls, however, fell on the deaf ears of the Chinese authorities. The detained activists have to this day still not been allowed to meet with their lawyers. In addition, the Communist Party’s propaganda apparatus—the Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily and China Central Television (CCTV)—launched a smear campaign against these activists, in particular Zeng Feiyang (曾飞洋), essentially sentencing them without a trial in the court of public opinion. Feiyang’s wife and child have been intimidated, and Zhu Xiaomei (朱小梅) has been separated from her baby daughter, whom she was breastfeeding when she was detained. The families of the other detained activists—He Xiaobo (何晓波), Meng Han (孟晗), Peng Jiayong (彭家勇), Deng Xiaoming (邓小明)—are all sick with fear, and the whereabouts of another former worker-turned-collective bargaining specialist, Chen Huihai (陈辉海), is still unclear. Their treatment reflects a cowardly approach to the rule of law, and the criminal proceedings are rife with legal and procedural unfairness.

Fellow workers, compatriots, and friends: If the rights and interests of workers who make up the large majority of China’s population cannot be protected, if workers are increasingly deprived of their economic, political, cultural, and social rights, if the confrontations between officials and citizens, workers and employers, rich and poor, continues to worsen, then what are the prospects for everyone to live in a free, equal, fair, democratic, law-based society where “socialism is the core value”? It is doubtful that even our most basic survival and security can be assured in such a society!

Workers on strike at Lide Shoe Factory in April, 2015, in Guangdong.

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The top charts of 2015

EPI’s top charts of 2015 show that policies that enhance low- and middle-income Americans’ economic leverage can go far toward creating an economy where prosperity is broadly shared.

Source: The top charts of 2015

How the GOP Is Diverting Our Attention Away from the TPP @alternet

Americans’ anger should be directed at the proposed trade deal, not at Muslims or Hispanics.

Source: How the GOP Is Diverting Our Attention Away from the TPP @alternet

Leo Gerard.

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