Inducing Labor

Inducing Labor

Inducing Labor

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
July 25 2005 6:16 PM

Inducing Labor

Bloggers are contemplating what the breakup of the AFL-CIO will mean to America's weakening labor movement. The flap over John Roberts' reported membership in the Federalist Society is getting attention, as is tomorrow's planned launch (finally!) of the space shuttle.

Inducing labor: The Teamsters and a major service-employees union bolted  from the AFL-CIO. Citing the need to reverse the decline in union membership, the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union are boycotting this week's AFL-CIO convention in Chicago and forming a competing labor coalition. So much for this year's 50th anniversary celebration of the AFL-CIO merger.

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Food workers and the restaurant and hotel workers have joined the boycott. "Am I the only one who notices something those four have in common?" New Hampshire blogger Minipundit writes. "None of them have exportable jobs; they're not at all threatened by globalization or free trade. ... Maybe they care more about actually helping their members than postponing the inevitable. If so, count me as supporting the unions breaking off."

It's difficult to find bloggers who think the change is a bad idea. "(G)ood riddance to an organization that lost its direction and purpose," says Peter Byrnes, an attorney, at Liberty Files. Chris Kromm at Facing South, the blog of the Institute for Southern Studies, writes: "Perhaps more than any region, there's a desperate need for a new vision for labor in the South, one that grapples with a host of difficult challenges: the decimation of textiles and other staples of the old manufacturing economy, a hostile anti-union climate, the rise of new immigrant populations, persistent poverty and underdevelopment in the African-American 'black belt,' and so on."

There is, of course, the inevitable political angle. "Many in the Democratic Party are worried about the potential impact this may have on funds from organized labor," Left of Dixie writes. "This may, however, have been the best move for the member unions. … [I]f nothing else it will at least save member unions the hassle and costs of belonging to an overarching organization that has done next to nothing but fund a Democratic party that has left them behind."

Read more about the AFL-CIO split.

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The Federalist furor: Supreme Court nominee John Roberts has said that he doesn't recall belonging to the Federalist Society, but the Washington Post apparently has dug up a document that might jog his memory. The Post reported today that the Supreme Court nominee's name appears in the conservative legal organization's 1997-98 leadership directory.

For many bloggers, the question isn't whether Roberts was a member; it's, "What's the point?" Even the left-leaning Political Animal is uninterested. "Look, I'm always up for a spirited round of conservative scandal-mongering, but this is about the lamest excuse for a nano-scandal that I've seen in a long time," Kevin Drum writes. "Why is the Washington Post wasting its time with this?"

Predictably, some lefties are outraged. "I wonder what else he has forgotten," Chris Bowers writes on popular group blog MyDD. "Perhaps he has forgotten that he served a purely political position in the solicitor's general's office. Perhaps he has forgotten that he helped develop the strategy to circumvent the 2000 recount and allow the Florida legislature to give its electoral votes to Bush no matter what the recount found."

On the right, bloggers are incredulous that this is even an issue. "Some liberals would like to exclude from consideration for the Supreme Court anyone who belongs to, or has 'hung out with,' the main organization for conservative lawyers in the U.S.," says Scott Johnson at Power Line. "I would note that two of the four founders of the Federalist Society are Spencer Abraham, who went on to become a Senator from Michigan, and David McIntosh, who became a Congressman from Indiana. In what sense is the Federalist Society outside the political mainstream?"

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Dagny's Law Blog asks the obvious: Do people "need (Roberts') name to appear on the Federalist Society membership list to know that Mr. Roberts is a conservative?"

Read more about the would-be scandal.

The countdown continues: NASA remains set to launch its first shuttle since the Columbia disaster, even if a persistent problem reoccurs. The launch of Discovery, delayed since June 13 because a hydrogen fuel sensor malfunctioned, is set for 10:39 a.m. Tuesday. Ironically, the mission is partly intended to test safety upgrades since Columbia disintegrated Feb. 1, 2003, during re-entry.

Caffeinated Raptor, a blogger and a space buff, compares the problems presently plaguing NASA to the early days of the space program: "I've been waiting for the Return to Flight launch for months now. The current delays make me look back to the first Mercury flight and laugh."

Techdirt, the blog of a corporate intelligence consulting firm, notes that "(i)n the wake of the latest delays, however, the folks at NASA have been working hard to drive home just how old the space shuttle is." The blog references comments by NASA administrator Michael Griffin after the July 13 postponement, when he wondered "whether I could find a single electronics box in my house that's 25 years old and still works, and I don't think I can." Says Techdirt: "Is that supposed to be encouraging?"

Read more about the shuttle launch. If you want to get technical about the sensor problem, there's a detailed explanation here.