On December 24th, the California Supreme Court gave a major Christmas
present for labor rights, affirming that under California law, union
members in a mall could distribute handbills calling for a consumer
boycott of one of the mall's tenants. The decision, Fashion Valley Mall v. NLRB, built
on an earlier state high court decision in 1980 that deemed malls to be
a "public forum" where the public had free speech rights. The recent
decision extended that principle to active labor boycotts -- a critical
tool for labor to get its message out to consumers.
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared this
year's Nobel Peace Prize with Al
Gore, recently released a
report detailing the negative environmental changes that will result from
climate change, including higher temperatures leading to increased deaths
from more severe heat waves, increased incidence of infectious
diseases, and severe damage to ecosystems. The IPCC report
warned that there were only eight years left to act to prevent the
worst effects of global warming.
California's attorney general is planning to file suit in
federal court against the EPA for stalling on a decision about whether
California and 11 other states can implement rules requiring car makers
to produce cleaner cars. Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Washington also
plan to join the suit against the EPA. The suit was to be filed this week, but has been postponed due to the wildfires raging in Southern California.
Despite over two and a half weeks of rescue efforts, six coal miners
remain trapped in Utah in a tragedy
that has also claimed the lives of three rescuers. The
conditions apparent at the mine, as well as the treacherous rescue
into question the quality of federal Mine Safety and Health Administration
(MSHA) procedures. MSHA approved the mine operation plan in June, just months
after serious structural problems forced the operators to abandon work in an
area that was only 900 feet from where the miners are trapped.
A new ballot measure in California
change the way that California's 55 presidential electoral votes would be
allocated; not to make sure that every vote counted, but to make sure that any
right-wing candidate for President could lop off a significant number of that
state's electoral votes.
We may say as a country that we value families and mothers, but a rise in job
discrimination complaints by moms highlights how far most workplaces are from
that ideal. Yesterday, to help clarify the responsibilities of
employers, the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) issued
guidelines on what kinds of discrimination against parents is
We spend more than twice on health care than any other industrialized nation in the world, yet we don't have universal access and our outcomes are worse. The reason we don't have universal access to quality health care is that too much of our health care spending -- our premiums, co-pays, prescriptions -- is wasted on profits, CEO bonuses and inefficient health care.
Illinois gained headlines in 2005 for its first-in-the-nation plan to
provide health care for all children in the state, called AllKids. Pennsylvania followed suit in 2006 with its own Cover All Kids plan.
Now the Governors of each state have proposed comprehensive health care
reform packages with the goal of universal access to health care. The
plans build on reforms in Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, but
go further in key areas of affordability and system reform.
At the beginning of February, we reported
on an expose of special loopholes used by Wal-Mart to slash its state
taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars per year. The scam involves
Wal-Mart and other companies dividing themselves into separate
subsidiaries, buying land and buildings, then deducting the rent paid
to itself as a business expense. But states are moving to eliminate
the loophole and reclaim the lost revenue: