The Constitution as a First Amendment: Franklin Roosevelt’s Signal to the Founding Fathers of the State and the Court of the First Amendment
To confront a hostile Supreme Court, the people and their elected leaders need to be confident that they too have the power and the obligation to interpret the Constitution, as Franklin Roosevelt forthrightly argued during the Great Depression. Facing a court hellbent on striking down New Deal reforms, Roosevelt declared that the Constitution is “a layman’s document, not a lawyer’s contract.” Franklin Roosevelt built upon the argument of Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt to call for the “lay rank and file” to interpret the Constitution for themselves and establish their own vision against the judiciary.
The direction of the political economy was the focus of the central constitutional fights of a century ago. Major redistributive reforms were underway in the federal government to provide more decent jobs, social insurance, and more protection for labor and the middle class.
The court will determine how far to go in shutting down affirmative action and race-conscious protections for equal opportunity in the voting arena. The Reconstruction Republicans understood race-conscious efforts like these as indispensable to dismantling the South’s slaveholding oligarchy. They wrote the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to redistribute economic and political power to Black Americans, and they read those amendments as requiring Congress to provide them land and education, the franchise and equal rights.
Today that argument has very little chance in court. To check and balance the Supreme Court, it is up to the political branches.
The University of California’s Most Critical Strike: The Impact of Unions on the Academic Work at a California High Schools, Universities, and Universities
A strike at the University of California could be brought to an end after the school reached an agreement in principle with thousands of graduate student teaching assistants and other academic workers.
The university system’s 10 campuses were disrupted by the strike. The agreement still needs to be ratified before the strike officially ends.
Expansion of benefits and protections for parent workers, improvements to accessibility, workplace protection, and sustainable transit benefits were included in the tentative agreements, says Tarini Hardikar, a union bargaining team member at UC Berkeley.
The pay hikes and boost in benefits could have an impact beyond California. For several decades, colleges and universities have increasingly relied on graduate student employees to teach and do research that used to be done by tenured track faculty without the same pay and benefits.
“These agreements will place our graduate student employees among the best supported in public higher education,” Michael V. Drake, president of the University of California, said in a news release Friday. “If approved, these contracts will honor their critical work and allow us to continue attracting the top academic talent from across California and around the world.”
The strike of academic workers at the UC was being closely watched around the nation because it was the largest strike of its kind, according to William A. Herbert, an executive director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions.
The housing costs in cities like Los Angeles, San Diego and Berkeley are so high that the academic workers cannot afford to live there.
Several graduate student employees at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Clark University, and New Mexico State University voted in favor of unionization this year.
There’s a fundamental shift in the way academic work is done in higher education. He said graduate students face tough competition for faculty jobs and that wages haven’t kept up over time.
A new generation of workers have joined the labor movement as a result of union campaigns at coffeehouses, universities and companies that have positioned themselves as progressive. Whether they stay will likely depend on their career prospects in other fields and how they fare in collective bargaining.
There are some factors that help explain it. More on that below, but you’ll find that support for unions is at a 60-year high. And Starbucks played an outsized role in driving up that number. Starbucks accounted for roughly a quarter of all union elections this year, and the union was victorious in four out of every five elections.
Other notable union campaigns this year involved graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, health care workers at Kaiser Permanente and elsewhere, and auto workers at Ultium Cells, a GM-owned electric vehicle battery cell plant in Warren, Ohio.
The economy is a factor. Economists don’t think that a recession would stop union enthusiasm. Sometimes, when things look down workers may feel like they need a union to represent their interests. Historically, though, an economic downturn is a difficult moment for labor organizing and campaigns for better pay and benefits.
It takes a long time to negotiate a collective-bargaining contract with the unionized workers to get changes they want.
At the Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, the process hasn’t even begun – as Amazon Labor Union’s win remains contested, even after a monthslong hearing.
Wages and Benefits of Workers in a Great Job Market: The Case of Work-Skill Increases in the 50s and 60s
Overall, wages this year increased 5.1% over last year. Wages grew faster at the lowest-paying jobs when there were more openings than available workers. But adjusting for 7% inflation, overall wages actually declined, and many workers felt like they were losing ground.
The rail workers got a 7% raise in 2022, along with another 8.8% over the next two years, and bonuses every year, even though they didn’t get everything they wanted.
Food service workers at San Francisco International Airport won a 30% wage increase over two years after striking for three days in September. They will see wages go up from $17 an hour to $22 an hour. A one time bonus was also included in the deal.
Almost 10% of U.S workers belong to a union, but many Americans approve of them, according to Gallup. It’s not seen since 1965, at this level of support.
The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy: An Outburst from Temple University Labor Rights and the Work Rights Rights of the American Workers
Editor’s Note: Heather Ann Thompson is a historian at the University of Michigan. She is the author of “Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy,” which won the Pulitzer Prize and Bancroft Prize. Her own opinions are expressed here. CNN has an opinion on it.
It’s not 1913 and 1914, when John D. Rockefeller worked to ensure that all of employees daring to ask for better wages and safe working conditions in the coal mines of Ludlow, Colorado were evicted and ultimately looked on as scores of them, including 11 children and two women, were killed by private guards and the National Guard.
The graduate students at Temple are on strike. In response, the university stopped paying the strikers, deactivated their health care accounts and on February 8, notified them that they no longer were “entitled to tuition remission,” and had until March 9 to pay.
It’s also serves as a most unsettling reminder that not remembering, or worse, never knowing, our nation’s labor history has had dire costs for ordinary people who go to work each day in this country.
Some of the best aspects of being an employee are taken for granted, from New York to California to North Dakota. From the ability to get health care for one’s family when getting hired, to the right to go home from work after an eight-hour shift or be paid overtime, to the right to refuse to work with dangerous or faulty equipment, to the right to stay home when ill, this is what it means to work a job in America. Not only are those very same rights won, and even harder to implement, but a most ugly attempt to undermine them has gained traction because so few working people have been paying attention.
In fact, many companies across the nation have been slowly, quietly and most determinedly chipping away at the very organizations and laws that have allowed people to pay their rents and feed their families. To increase their own profit margins, a number of businesses today even seek to take us back to the days when child labor was perfectly legal.
Why Does My Student Strike? It’s Sinister to Think that Tuition Repayment is an Opportunity to Make Sense of a Traged Labor Law
Why do you think it’s sinister? Consider the ramifications of this move only for Temple and the city of Philadelphia. Temple graduate students are on strike because they want higher wages that will allow them to make ends meet. Students who dare to take this collective stand must pay thousands of dollars in tuition because they are unable to put their children on their health care plan as dependents. Those students who continue to strike now face the possibility of having to forego the degree they have already put time toward earning, to seek another non-union and thus low wage jobs, or even to land fully on public assistance.
According to Temple, state law stops the public school from paying those who refuse to work. In a recent statement, the school said, “Because striking workers are not entitled to tuition remission, they have been notified of their obligation to make arrangements to pay their tuition, consistent with how the university treats other students who have unpaid tuition obligations.”
Do say, the many hundreds of graduate students currently negotiating with the University of Michigan, or the more than 30,000 custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, special education assistants and other support staff who are voting whether to strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District, have to fear a similarly draconian response from these employers? Maybe.
Rich people get richer and poor people get poorer in America. The story is familiar, it is an old one, and we can not afford not to know it.
Then and only then will this nation fully grasp, and all fully benefit from, the fundamental truth of the historic labor saying: “An injury to one, is an injury to all.”