Tag Archives: unions

‘Automation anxiety’ in the information age

Over the weekend, Mike Allen at Axios.com had a Special report: How the robot revolution is changing our lives:

We’re entering a new, robot-fueled tech boom that is already disrupting the world’s balance of power, and is changing how we fight wars, stay alive, drive, work, shop and do chores.

The future is now: We keep talking about what’s coming, but we’re already on the leading edge of a profound global change that will create tremendous opportunity for new power and wealth.

In this new age of automation, businesses are frantically installing machines and algorithms that eventually will make them far more efficient — and wipe out jobs and sectors at blinding speed.

  • This has touched off a tech race between the U.S. and China. And the other major economies — the U.K., France and South Korea in particular — are also spending big to own a piece of this future.

The upsides:

  • Manual, back-breaking jobs will go away (this is good only if replaced by better gigs). Far less time will be spent doing menial tasks like driving or cleaning. And your ability to get more of what you want, when you want it, will be greatly enhanced.
  • Health care will be more precise and sophisticated: Medical robots could make surgery more precise, and micro-bots will target the delivery of drugs within the body. Empathetic ones could help care for us as we age. Soft, flexible ones could aid in search and rescue operations.
  • Robots and other autonomous devices will power apps on your phone that advocate for you with doctors; and could cut through government bureaucracy.
  • The next big wow to your house will be smart appliances, especially in your kitchen: Your refrigerator will know its contents and order refills, and will communicate with your oven and dishwasher — to make us even lazier and less essential than we already are.
  • Manuela Veloso of Carnegie Mellon University told Axios that ultimately humans will be in control of how robots operate and the role they play: “These robots did not come from Mars and fall on Earth. They were invented by us and they will continue to be invented by us.”

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Plutocrats, free-riders, and the GOP war on organized labor (and the Democratic Party) in the Supreme Court today

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument today in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, the third attempt by wealthy anti-labor interests to overrule Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), and public-sector “agency shop” arrangements under the First Amendment.

Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog has the history and legal posture of this case in Argument preview: For the third time, justices take on union-fee issue:

In 1977, in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that government employees like Janus who do not belong to a union can be required to pay a fee – often known as a “fair share” or “agency” fee – to cover the union’s costs to negotiate a contract that applies to all public employees, including those who are not union members. The justices reasoned then that allowing the fees would help to avoid both labor strife and the prospect that nonmembers could be “free-riders” who benefit from the union’s collective bargaining efforts without having to pay for them.

But in recent years, conservative think tanks proposing expansive (novel) interpretations of the First Amendment well beyond the original meaning and purpose intended by the Founding Fathers, financed by conservative billionaires, are using the First Amendment in much the same way they used “substantive due process” during the Lochner era (circa 1897–1937) to strike down minimum wage and labor laws to protect “freedom of contract.” While the Lochner era approach has long since been discredited and abandoned by the court, the right-wing keeps trying to bring it back and to revive it. See George Will, Why liberals fear the ‘Lochner’ decision (2011).

An example of this is the Illinois Policy Institute, one prong of a broader campaign against public-sector unions, backed by some of the biggest donors on the right. Behind a Key Anti-Labor Case, a Web of Conservative Donors:

It is an effort that will reach its apex on Monday, when the Supreme Court hears a case that could cripple public-sector unions by allowing the workers they represent to avoid paying fees.

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First Monday in October: A preview of the Supreme Court term

The U.S. Supreme Court term begins on the first Monday in October. The Court is now at full strength with nine justices, with Neil Gorsuch having been installed by Tea-Publicans after an unconstitutional judicial blockade of over a year of President Obama’s nominee to the high court. This does not bode well for what to expect from Justice Gorsuch,who accepted the nomination under such tainted circumstances,  or from the five conservatives who now comprise the majority on the court.

Supreme Court

This portends to be another landmark year after a relatively modest term last year. The New York Times’ Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak has a good preview of the current “hot topics” on the court’s calendar. Back at Full Strength, Supreme Court Faces a Momentous Term:

The new term is studded with major cases likely to provoke sharp conflicts. One of them, on political gerrymandering, has the potential to reshape American politics. Another may settle the question of whether businesses can turn away patrons like gay couples in the name of religious freedom.

The court will hear important workers’ rights cases, including one on employers’ power to prevent workers from banding together to sue them. Perhaps the most consequential case involves fundamental principles of privacy in an age when cellphones record our every move.

“There’s only one prediction that’s entirely safe about the upcoming term,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said last month at Georgetown’s law school. “It will be momentous.”

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Why I Support Paid Sick Leave

Local news host Bill Buckmaster noted on Facebook that everyone has the "Tucson Cold." This is a sign that too many people are going to work and/or to school sick.

Local news host Bill Buckmaster noted on Facebook that everyone has the “Tucson Cold.” This is a sign that too many people are going to work and/or to school sick.

Tucson City Councilwoman Regina Romero is leading the charge to require local businesses to provide paid sick leave for employees.

As someone who has been in management for more than 20 years, I fully support paid sick leave and the city’s proposed ordinance. At first glance, paid sick leave appears to be an expense that businesses don’t want or need, but in reality, requiring employees to come in sick is far more costly in the long run because it hurts productivity, diminishes customer services and spreads disease in the community.

Many years ago, I ran a large program at the University of Arizona with 40 employees and a $1.5 million budget, at its peak. At the UA, coming in sick was seen as some sort of martyrdom to be celebrated. “Oh, look, she is so dedicated that she came in sick.” Hogwash. Coming to work sick should be discouraged, not celebrated or required.

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Tucsonans Fight for $15 on April 15 (video)

Fast food worker at a Fight for $15 rally with her baby.

Fast food worker at a Fight for $15 rally with her baby.

Being a low-wage, service worker kind of town, Tucson has been in the Fight for $15 since the beginning in 2013. The Fight for $15 movement is spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). SEIU has been organizing fast food workers in the US and wants to raise the minimum wage to $15, since the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour is not a living wage.

Recently, SEIU also began organizing adjunct faculty to fight for $15,000/class. Currently, some adjunct faculty make only $2000-3000/class; again, even for adjuncts who teach multiple classes, this is not a living wage.

On April 15, 2015, nationwide, there will be Fight for $15 rallies in 200 cities– including here in Tucson and Phoenix. This is the fourth Fight for $15 rally in Tucson.

Below are the specifics for the Tucson and Phoenix events from the organizers and a video of the Burger King walkout in September 2014. 

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Randy Kendrick will have none of your guff on dark money, peons!

Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com

dark moneyPhoto: Arizona Republic

Terry Goddard has made “dark money” the signature issue of his Secretary of State campaign and Arizona news people are raising the alarm over millions of anonymously raised dollars being poured into races from Governor down to the state legislature. Charles and David Koch are the source of much of this money and, boy, do they have a friend in Randy Kendrick, who serves on the board of the Goldwater Institute and is married to Ken Kendrick, co-owner of the AZ Diamondbacks (the Diamondbacks organization has a history of funding Republicans and right wing causes).

Here’s Randy’s letter to the AZ Republic editor on Tuesday (annotated by yours truly): Continue reading