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Member since: Sat Jun 4, 2005, 09:56 AM
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U.S. Supreme Court Accepts Case to Give 'Right-to-Work' to All Public Employees


On the final day of its most recent session, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will consider a labor law case that experts say could dramatically limit the power of government employee unions.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association was brought on behalf of 10 California public school teachers who sued for the right to leave their union and not still pay "agency fees." If the Supreme Court rules in their favor, it could have the same effect as extending right-to-work law protections to all public employees by invalidating the involuntary extraction of agency fees from worker paychecks. Previous decisions have recognized workers' right to not have union dues extracted, but agency fees are still allowed. These fees are typically 80 percent of the full dues payments. ....

Also more here:
SCOTUS Case Could Bring "Right to Work" to All 50 States

Now joining us to discuss all of this is Samantha Winslow. Samantha is joining us from New York. She is a staff writer for Labor Notes. And before that she was an organizer for SEIU United Healthcare Workers, west in California.
Thank you for joining us, Samantha.


DESVARIEUX: So we should note that the court will begin hearing the case in its next session, so that's not until the fall. But this is a very important case because the court has even decided to take it on. Supporters of right to work legislation say that public sector workers should be able to exercise their First Amendment rights to not pay if they don't want to be in a union.
So for you, Samantha, considering that argument, shouldn't we sort of take a listen to what they have to say? That if in order for them, that they shouldn't be paying these union dues if they're not a part of the union.

WINSLOW: Well, they have the right to not be in a union right now. And so what the compromise is is that they have to pay a fair share of the dues that full members pay. And the thinking behind that is that they enjoy the benefits of the union contract. They enjoy the wage increases that the union negotiates, and they enjoy the job security. And they can even be represented if they face discipline or some kind of attack from their employer.
So that was what the Supreme Court decided three years ago to compromise, to say that yes, you have the right to be a member or not be a member. But you do have to pay a fair share of dues to cover the representation that is required by law.


(Apologies if this is already posted. I saw it and thought it too important not to post, and didn't see it here.)

I always think of "right to work" as "right to work for less". I am in a non-union job in the IT industry and see very well what we lose by not having a union.

Do we have amnesia, or just didn't really care in the first place? (Domestic Violence / Cavs)

All around me I hear people rooting for the Cavaliers, and I want to puke. Is it just me?

I put into the Google News search box, "cavaliers domestic violence video" and this is the top hit, from May 11, 2015:


Then there's this, also from May 11:


The video aired on the jumbotron during a Bulls-Cavs game on May 6, 2015.

FIVE DAYS. Based on Google News, that's about all we (the larger "we") even gave a damn about this.

To its credit, RH Reality Check (not exactly MSM) contributed this excellent piece on May 14:


And that video, unmistakably, portrayed abuse: The woman acquiesces to her partner’s demands because he beat her up and intimidated her into it. The final image is the abuser smiling over his win.

After it was roundly condemned on Twitter and across the web, the Cavaliers released a statement the next day that read in part:

While the video was not intended to be offensive, it was a mistake to include content that made light of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a very serious matter and has no place in a parody video that plays in an entertainment venue. We sincerely apologize to those who have been affected by domestic violence for the obvious negative feelings caused by being exposed to this insensitive video.

But in order for this video to get made, someone had to think of the concept. The set had to be created, actors cast, parts learned. Visual had to be filmed, the entire thing had to be edited down, and graphics and voiceover had to be added. To say that it was simply a “mistake” is to downplay and nearly erase the amount of approval that had to happen for that video to get made. It did not “whoops!” into existence.


The night the Cavs showed the video in the arena, statistics tell us that the odds were high that a woman was sitting next to her abuser, their shoulders or knees probably touching. We can imagine her turning her eyes to the Humongotron upon hearing the first bars of “I’ve Had The Time of My Life.” Then she would have seen a scene unfold onscreen that probably would have caused her back to stiffen, shifting away from her partner as she recognized too well the dynamic she was seeing. And then she would have had to watch and listen to the people around her laugh and perhaps even cheer the satisfied smirk of the man at the end of the video as he said, “Go Cavs.”

Then she might have looked over at her partner, her abuser, and seen him, a dedicated Cavaliers fan, enjoying that video. He, too would have recognized the dynamic—but for him, the message he received would have been “Yeah boy!,” with a double thumbs-up from the Cavs. Neither one would have thought they were looking at a “mistake.”

Maybe the Cavs win the NBA title. To be fair, it wasn't the players that conceived, produced, approved, and aired that video. But they belong to an organization that did.

And I don't know how anyone who cares about domestic violence can root for that organization to win anything.

Is it just me?

On Pivot TV now - Vanishing of the Bees


Really informative.

It airs again at 5 pm Eastern time tomorrow.


(I realize this is group is the choir ... )

Hey world, what you say?

I think the lounge could use more Michael Franti ...

I was going to put this on the saddest songs thread, but I think it deserves its own.

What do you say?

(I can't hang around tonight, just leaving this here. Hope someone likes it. )

Don't Worry, Be Happy :)

From Playing for Change ... some of these kids can sing. And they're darn cute.

This new Song Around The World episode features children performing alongside PFC musicians on the Bobby McFerrin classic, “Don’t Worry Be Happy”. Perfect message and a great song.

This video is part of PFC partnership with Okaïdi, a children’s clothing line based in France. Playing For Change Foundation is working with Okaidi to launch a music program across 10 primary schools in the Mirpur District of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Okaidi Foundation recently created these schools and is now partnering with the PFC Foundation to introduce music as part of their curriculum. Through this new initiative, over 500 underprivileged children between the ages of 6 and 12 will receive free music education as part of their weekly activities at school. Music is the Key!

Get ready to smile from ear to ear and move your dancing feet. Share this with your family, friends, and community, and together we can continue to make this world a better place!


HIPAA and celebrities (e.g. Whitney Houston's daughter)

So I'm watching CNN and they start talking about Bobbi Kristina Brown, Whitney Houston's daughter, who as you probably know, was taken to the hospital after being found unresponsive.

The announcer (sorry I'm not awake enough and I don't know CNN well enough to know who it was) makes a comment along the lines of "we don't know yet if there were drugs or alcohol involved".

That kind of pissed me off. WHY SHOULD WE EVER KNOW? Yes, realistically, we probably will at some point hear exactly what caused this young person's medical condition. But is it really any of our business?

And I thought of HIPAA, and how the whole point is that a person's medical details should not be revealed except to authorized persons. So who is the person who isn't just telling the media to go the f*ck away?

Okay, I'm fairly cranky this weekend for a whole bunch of reasons totally unrelated to this, except for the common thread that Mean People Suck. I think it's mean to slice and dice this person's psyche and situation in the media. I am not aware of anything that she has done to deserve it.

Is it just me? What do you all think?

Spraying wheat with RoundUp prior to harvest? Is this true?

The article here claims there is a common practice when harvesting non-organic wheat, to spray it with Round-up prior to harvest so that it withers and releases the seed more easily.

Does anyone here know if this article is remotely accurate? I generally buy organic for several things, but have not been religious about it when it comes to products containing wheat. If this article is true, that must change.


Pre-harvest application of the herbicide Roundup or other herbicides containing the deadly active ingredient glyphosate to wheat and barley as a desiccant was suggested as early as 1980. It has since become routine over the past 15 years and is used as a drying agent 7-10 days before harvest within the conventional farming community.

According to Dr. Stephanie Seneff of MIT who has studied the issue in depth and who I recently saw present on the subject at a nutritional Conference in Indianapolis, desiccating non-organic wheat crops with glyphosate just before harvest came into vogue late in the 1990′s with the result that most of the non-organic wheat in the United States is now contaminated with it. Seneff explains that when you expose wheat to a toxic chemical like glyphosate, it actually releases more seeds resulting in a slightly greater yield: “It ‘goes to seed’ as it dies. At its last gasp, it releases the seed” says Dr. Seneff.


In synergy with disruption of the biosynthesis of important amino acids via the shikimate pathway, glyphosate inhibits the cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes produced by the gut microbiome. CYP enzymes are critical to human biology because they detoxify the multitude of foreign chemical compounds, xenobiotics, that we are exposed to in our modern environment today. As a result, humans exposed to glyphosate through use of Roundup in their community or through ingestion of its residues on industrialized food products become even more vulnerable to the damaging effects of other chemicals and environmental toxins they encounter! - See more at: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/real-reason-for-toxic-wheat-its-not-gluten/#sthash.wUzF7tyz.dpuf

This website is unfamiliar to me. Can anyone here give any insight into the accuracy of this claim, and/or the credibility of the website?

Support EPA’s waters of the United States clarification. Open for public comment until Oct. 20.

Bay Journal: Science, not politics, should guide Clean Water Act clarification


On Aug. 2, nearly a half-million people in Toledo, OH, woke up to learn their tap water was contaminated with microcystin, a neurotoxin produced by a massive bloom of the algae Cyanobacteria in Lake Erie. It’s thought that nutrient overload, from farm runoff and sewage treatment effluent, contributed to the algae bloom.

In January, the drinking water for more than 300,000 West Virginians was poisoned when a Freedom Industries storage tank leaked, spewing 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane into the Elk River, just upstream from a water treatment plant.


Why has the public not demanded that the federal agency be given the necessary authority to enforce appropriate safeguards, so that our fresh water resources will not be subject to the vagaries of state and local authorities, nor to the whims of private landowners?

Instead, the EPA is being barraged by an army of opponents. Developers, property rights groups, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the fertilizer industry and a number of politicians are attacking its proposed clarification—not an expansion—of which “waters of the United States” are covered by the Clean Water Act.

The need for clarification arose from two Supreme Court cases, in 2001 and in 2006. The clarification would enable the EPA to better protect our wetlands, small streams and other important watershed features without being dragged into court every time someone wanted to avoid compliance by exploiting an ambiguity.

But this July, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed two bills that could limit the EPA’s authority. One of the bills would give states more authority over water pollution permits, while the other would block the agency’s ability to redefine which waters fall under its jurisdiction. These bills follow measures passed by the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior, Environment and Related Agencies on July 9, which would significantly cut EPA funding and remove the agency’s authority to implement the proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule.


The alarm has sounded. We hit the snooze button at our peril. If you care about having clean, safe fresh water, contact your U.S. congressman and tell him or her to support the EPA’s waters of the United States clarification. The proposed rule is open for public comment until Oct. 20.

Comment period originally ended in July but was extended to 10/20.


(PA-R Gov) Corbett, down in the polls, may now have to face the ...

"Corbett, down in the polls, may now have to face the porn"


A BIG BATCH of porny emails may be the very last thing Gov. Corbett, trailing badly in the polls to Democrat Tom Wolf, needs to hear about right now.

Still, a judge yesterday said the state Attorney General's Office may release emails requested in the last two months by four newspapers, including the Daily News, which may have been sent or received by Corbett's top deputies when he was attorney general.

The newspapers, in requests filed under the state's Right-to-Know law, described the emails as "pornographic" in nature.

They have been described to the Daily News as sexually explicit and, at times, misogynistic.

Soon to be ex-governor Corbett.

Does the First Amendment protect someone's "right" to speak to me in public? To get in my face?

Seriously. I'm reading a Boston Globe article about the SC buffer zone decision.


The high court ruled that the state law, enacted in 2007, imposed “serious burdens” on protesters who wish to speak with arriving patients.

I tend to think of the First Amendment as protecting me from going to jail for saying something like "Dick Cheney is a fraud who profits from death and destruction and the Iraq War was just another profit venture for him". This ain't nothin' - it's actually quite a lot, and a protection not available to citizens in many other countries.

I don't really find myself fretting over whether someone is restricted from blocking the sidewalk in order to sell me something - whether it's the latest crappy brand of gum, or the beliefs of their church, or LaRouchian political nonsense, or even to sign me up for Greenpeace. I accept that some of these people will occasionally hang out in the otherwise pleasant park where I like to walk on my lunch hour, and they may even annoy me at times, but that's okay. It's a small price for living in a free society.

But, aren't there already some sort of laws in most places that prevent people from blocking sidewalks?

And how in the world is "free speech", "freedom of assembly", etc. interpreted to mean someone can walk up to me and get in my face when I don't want to talk to them? I'm not going to call the cops on panhandlers, who I assume do what they do out of being disadvantaged (and normally panhandlers don't insist anyway), but if someone tries to talk to me to sell me something and I indicate "not interested" and they follow me and keep asking, that is harassment and I don't see how it is "protected". ESPECIALLY if they get too close to me - into my personal space, i.e. in my face. And if they touch me, that is assault, in my book, certainly if I have already indicated that I am not interested in interacting with them.

More than that, being frankly not the most "sociable" person on the planet, I do not acknowledge that a random stranger has any "right" to interrupt my thoughts and bother me when I'm walking on a public sidewalk. In other words, they do NOT have a "right" to speak to me, except in an emergency for my safety or the safety of others; that people sometimes do this is merely a generally accepted annoyance, not a "right". In my opinion.

So, I don't get why the First Amendment has anything to do with whether protesters have a "right" to speak with arriving patients. If they want to stand and hold signs somewhere, that's a different issue. But impede someone's path or speak to them? I don't get why that should be a "right" in the first place. But, on the other hand, I don't know why a "buffer zone" should be needed. If this is harassment - and I would consider it harassment - then why can't the harassers be arrested regardless of a buffer zone designation? If the cops know that this is a problem around certain clinics - and they do know, because it is - why not station more cops there?

Does it just come down to funding? Not enough cops to hang around and arrest people for harassment? The buffer zone makes it easier to demarcate a violation and therefore have a clear case and arrest, therefore more likely for protesters to avoid violating it?

Just to be clear, I am not happy with the SC decision. I think clinic buffer zones ARE needed, unfortunately. It's just that I wish that no one had to be subject to harassment on the sidewalk anywhere for any reason, and I wish "buffer zones" just for clinics were not needed for that reason. That might put me at odds with folks who want to accost me with progressive petitions or requests to join progressive groups, but I'm sorry, those groups have other ways to reach me (and they have generally succeeded).

People should just back off and let other people go about their business, whether it be a medical procedure or catching the commuter train on time (and not having to wait a half hour until the next one).

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