Archive | November, 2017

Confronting Zero Tolerance in the Workplace

Bosses are in love with zero tolerance policies. One arbitrator calls them “the last refuge of weak managers.”

Zero tolerance policies authorize employers to discharge workers who commit specified infractions without consideration of the surrounding circumstances, length of service, or the employee’s lack of prior discipline.

Unfair Punishment

Zero tolerance policies often lead to grossly unfair punishments.

  • An employee is dismissed for fighting because she grabs the hand of a co-worker who strikes her without reason.
  • A worker with an unblemished record is fired because he tests positive on a random marijuana screening.
  • A driver with an outstanding safety history is terminated because she scratches her truck in a narrow enclosure.

When a union challenges a zero tolerance policy, the employer often refers to contractual language giving it the right to issue “reasonable” rules and regulations.

Zero tolerance violates the contract’s “reasonableness” requirement. When an employee whose conduct would ordinarily justify no more than a warning or suspension is discharged because of a rigid zero tolerance policy, the union should assert that the policy violates the common contractual requirement that rules must be “reasonable.” See the arbitration award cited in the box.

Zero tolerance violates the just-cause clause. Many union contracts say that rules must “not conflict with” any part of the agreement. A rule that permits or mandates discharge without consideration of the surrounding circumstances conflicts with the contract’s just-cause clause.

The just-cause concept, as interpreted by veteran labor arbitrators, compels an employer to weigh the gravity of the offense, consider mitigating and extenuating circumstances, and apply progressive discipline. Zero tolerance policies snuff out these bargained-for protections.

Take, for example, a policy that calls for the termination of any employee involved in a fight. …read more

Via:: Truthout



Bayou Bridge Pipeline Opponents File to Intervene in Hearing for Private Security Firm in Louisiana

Press Conference on November 9, 2017 at State Capitol (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

Press conference on November 9, 2017, at the Louisiana State Capitol. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

A broad base of advocacy groups opposed to Energy Transfer Partners’ (ETP) proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline continue to pressure officials in Louisiana to deny the remaining permissions the company needs to build the pipeline.

The groups are also trying to stop TigerSwan LLC, one of the security firms that ETP worked with in North Dakota, from obtaining a permit to operate in Louisiana.

ETP, the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline, intends to build a 162-mile pipeline across southern Louisiana. If built, the Bayou Bridge will be the last leg, carrying oil fracked in North Dakota to Louisiana.

Before the pipeline can be built, ETP needs a water quality certificate from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The company already obtained another required permit to operate from Louisiana Department of Natural Resources under the state’s Coastal Zone program, but that permit is being challenged by a lawsuit spearheaded by the St. James community, where the pipeline will end, roughly 50 miles west of New Orleans.

TigerSwan in Louisiana?

Meanwhile, TigerSwan is trying to obtain a permit from the Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners to operate in the state.

The Board rejected TigerSwan’s permit application in June. In part, the denial was based on the ongoing litigation filed against the company by the North Dakota Private Investigative and Security …read more

Via:: Truthout



Is the Trump Administration Planning a First Strike on North Korea?

Protesters gather to ask President Donald Trump to stop his drive to war against North Korea on August 14, 2017 in Miami, Florida. The protesters feel that President Trump's rhetoric has created the threat of a devastating nuclear war for the first time since the Cuban missle crisis. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Protesters gather to ask President Donald Trump to stop his drive to war against North Korea on August 14, 2017, in Miami, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

While the Trump administration’s threats of a preemptive strike against North Korea may be viewed as an elaborate, albeit crude, attempt at psychological warfare, some fear that a desperate desire to coerce Pyongyang may give rise to wishful thinking about deterring that regime’s response to a US first strike. Such delusions, as recent history proves, could lead to yet another unnecessary and terrible war.

Protesters gather to ask President Donald Trump to stop his drive to war against North Korea on August 14, 2017 in Miami, Florida. The protesters feel that President Trump's rhetoric has created the threat of a devastating nuclear war for the first time since the Cuban missle crisis. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)Protesters gather to ask President Donald Trump to stop his drive to war against North Korea on August 14, 2017, in Miami, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Ever since the Trump administration began a few months ago to threaten a first strike against North Korea over its continued missile tests, the question of whether it is seriously ready to wage war has loomed over other crises in US foreign policy.

The news media have avoided any serious effort to answer that question, for an obvious reason: The administration has an overriding interest in convincing the North Korean regime of …read more

Via:: Truthout



Fund Local News to Fight Inequality

The writers at the New York branches of news outlets DNAinfo and Gothamist decided to unionize in late October. Rather than bargain with them, their billionaire owner shut down the newsrooms altogether.

Every page from the DNAinfo and Gothamist websites now redirects to a letter from owner Joe Ricketts, announcing that the websites had not been profitable enough “to support the tremendous effort and expense needed to produce the type of journalism on which the company was founded.”

But money’s not in short supply for Ricketts, the founder of what’s now known as TD Ameritrade and the head of one of the richest families in America. Ricketts is, though, an open opponent of unions. He wrote earlier this year that unions “promote a corrosive us-against-them dynamic that destroys the esprit de corps businesses need to succeed.”

After the reporters in New York decided to unionize, Ricketts took just a week to decide that the entire venture — including the local newsrooms in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC — was no longer worth it for him. The decision to shut down the sites reminded reporters of what they know all too well: there’s a crisis in funding journalism, especially the local kind. And many times, the money that does come in is dictated by whims of the ultra-wealthy.

On November 6, hundreds of people gathered at New York’s City Hall Park to declare that billionaires should not determine whether or not cities receive adequate local coverage. Laid-off journalists at the rally, organized by the Writers Guild of America, encouraged other workers in their field to consider unionizing to wrest some power back from owners like Ricketts.


Revenge Is a Rotten Way to Run a Country

US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin hold a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. (Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin hold a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. (Photo: SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images)

Looking back at the last tumultuous year, to me, one of the saddest aspects of the Trump candidacy and presidency is that both in part were built from one of the basest of human impulses: revenge.

We’re taught that ideally, the desire to run for office should reflect a commitment to public service. And we know that the reality is far too often otherwise, running to slake a thirst for power and money that overpowers the greater good.

Yet to seek elected office for revenge, to use it to get back at someone or inflict harm on them or anyone associated with them seems in some ways even worse; shabby, petty and immoral.

Examine the roots of the Trump campaign and you see two men eager to use position to take revenge, to get even for insults, imagined or sometimes real, and to lash out at perceived conspiracies against them:

Donald Trump himself… and Vladimir Putin.

Whether or not there was active, knowing collusion, the two nonetheless joined forces to tap into decades of American fears and resentments not totally dissimilar from their own.

In Trump’s case, you don’t have to go to Vienna to figure out that much of his egotism and vainglory — and those tweets, God help us — seem aimed at getting back for slights that can go back just hours and minutes or sometimes even years. To …read more

Via:: Truthout



The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: ‘He Will Not Step Down’

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

President Trump blasted Minnesota Senator Al Franken after the lawmaker was accused of forcibly kissing and groping a woman, but did not mention Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has also been accused of sexual misconduct. During a rally in Alabama, Kayla Moore said her husband isn’t letting the allegations get to him: “He will not step down.” Reverend Jesse Jackson, the 76-year-old civil-rights leader, announced that he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority resigned amid questions about the slow rate of repairs to the island’s electrical grid. And in a statement on Facebook, Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill defended “heterosexual males” amid allegations of sexual misconduct, and described his own sexual history.

Today on The Atlantic

  • It ‘Looks Like Hypocrisy’: Marie Griffith, the author of the forthcoming book Moral Combat, explains why American Christians are defending Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. (Emma Green)

  • What She Knew: Liberals seem eager to acknowledge the sexual-misconduct allegations against former President Bill Clinton. But when will they admit that Hillary Clinton likely knew about them? (Caitlin Flanagan)

  • The Specter of Fake News: Republicans’ constant attacks on the mainstream media have come back to haunt them. (Rosie Gray and McKay Coppins)

  • Radio Atlantic: Andrew Anglin achieved notoriety after he founded the Daily Stormer, the world’s biggest website for neo-Nazis. Anglin and his mob of followers have terrorized people around the world, and their influence has been cited by the perpetrators of fatal violence. What lessons should be learned from Anglin’s radicalization? And what is society’s best response to his ideas? In this episode of Radio Atlantic, Luke O’Brien and Rosie Gray join Jeff and Matt to discuss these questions, and how far-right extremism is evolving.

Follow stories …read more

Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: ‘He Will Not Step Down'” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



The Disappearing Right to Earn a Living

By Conor Friedersdorf

In most states, a person who desires to install home-entertainment systems for a living, or as a part-time gig for extra cash, faces relatively few barriers to entry. This is work teenagers routinely do for grandparents after they make a technology purchase. But in Connecticut, a home-entertainment installer is required to obtain a license from the state before serving customers. It costs applicants $185. To qualify, they must have a 12th-grade education, complete a test, and accumulate one year of apprenticeship experience in the field. A typical aspirant can expect the licensing process to delay them 575 days.

These figures are drawn from License to Work, a report released this week by the Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm that has sued state governments on behalf of numerous small-business owners and members of the working class who’ve faced unduly onerous obstacles while trying to earn a living.

Occupational-licensing obstacles are much more common than they once were. “In the 1950s, about one in 20 American workers needed an occupational license before they could work in the occupation of their choice,” the report states. “Today, that figure stands at about one in four.” These requirements are at their most reasonable when regulating occupations such as anesthesiologist or airline pilot, as in those instances, they can mostly affect a privileged class.

They are at their most pernicious when they are both needless and most burdensome to the middle class, the working class, and recent immigrants to a society. The IJ report focuses its attention on these cases, surveying 102 lower-income occupations across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It concludes that “most of the 102 occupations are practiced in at least one state without state licensing and apparently without widespread harm.” In other words, dropping many of those requirements likely wouldn’t …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Zimbabwe: How to Make and Break a Democracy

By Emily Buder

On Wednesday, Robert Mugabe, the autocratic President of Zimbabwe, was ousted and placed under house arrest by the country’s military. While Mugabe’s fate remains uncertain, the apparent coup may bring about the end of a 37-year dictatorship masquerading as a democracy. But this wresting of power shouldn’t have been necessary—it was supposed to happen ten years ago.

In 2008, international sanctions forced Mugabe to draft a democratic constitution. Danish filmmaker Camilla Nielsson obtained unprecedented access behind the scenes of a democracy-in-the-making. Her documentary Democrats, excerpted above, follows the two top political operatives steering the constitutional process: Paul Mangwana, representing ZANU-PF, Mugabe’s party; and Douglas Mwonzora, a representative of the opposing party, the Movement for Democratic Change. Filmed over the course of three years, Democrats offers a firsthand account of the fraught and sometimes violent process of chartering a constitution—or, as a constituent puts it in the film, “giving my country a new life.”

Of course, that new life never came. Although Mugabe did eventually ratify the constitution, he never implemented democratic laws. Meanwhile, unemployment in Zimbabwe hovers at 90 percent and the economy continues to collapse. The fate of country hangs in the balance.

Democrats is banned by Zimbabwe’s Board of Censors.

…read more

Via:: The Atlantic



How Much Attention Should Extremists Get?

By Caroline Kitchener

This article is edited from a story shared exclusively with members of 34,787 subscribers. Donald Trump’s had 280,012. Today, Trump’s subreddit—“The_Donald”—has swelled to over 520,000 accounts. Its trajectory mirrors the recent growth—in size and impact—of other fringe groups.

  • June 2015: The_Donald is founded. Martin and Phillips both told me that when The_Donald was created, the Reddit community largely wrote it off as a joke. Because The_Donald didn’t have an official-sounding name, the original moderator thought it wouldn’t take off as Trump’s main Reddit community. “I actually figured it would just be a nice place for a small group of supporters to have fun triggering anti-Trump people and, frankly, laughing with Trump at the same time,” an anonymous moderator going by jcm267 told Motherboard.
  • October 2015: Donald Trump tweets a meme from The_Donald (~1,200 subscribers). When Trump tweeted an image of Pepe’s face on the president’s body, along with the text “You Can’t Stop the Trump”a meme that had circulated on The_Donaldthe subreddit erupted. “They were amazed at this accomplishment,” Blackburn said. “They had an explicit example of how they had affected the world.”
  • December 2015: Reddit’s other communities begin a concerted effort to “infiltrate” The_Donald (~2,900 subscribers). When much larger political communities like Reddit’s and 4Chan’s main politics groups became aware of The_Donald, they invaded the subreddit, downvoted all its posts, and harassed its users. Some of them ended up sticking around.
  • April 2016: Mainstream media begins publishing articles about The_Donald (~114,000 subscribers). As Trump won a string of primaries, The_Donald amassed over 100,000 new subscribers. Responding to this growth, The New York Times, Mashable, and Vice covered the community.

Conservatives Reap the Whirlwind of Their War on the Media

By Rosie Gray

All news is “fake news”—at least if you’re a diehard Roy Moore supporter.

With sexual misconduct allegations continuing to mount against the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, Moore has defied calls to drop out of the race by advancing an audacious conspiracy theory—that partisan fabulists in the mainstream media are working with his enemies in the political establishment to wage a nefarious smear campaign against him. Not long ago, such claims likely would have backfired. But in the Trump era, anti-press sentiment has reached a fever pitch on the right—something candidates like Moore are eagerly exploiting.

Moore has not directly denied many of the specific allegations. Instead, he has sought to cast himself as the victim of a witch hunt and sow just enough doubt in the stories to muddy the waters in voters’ minds.

“Their only response to this is really to find other villains in the process to take the heat off of them,” said the Republican strategist John Brabender, a former Rick Santorum campaign adviser. The two villains they have chosen are The Washington Post and other mainstream outlets, to “discredit the messenger,” Brabender said, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment, “to make the point that this is really just elitist establishment figures who never wanted Roy Moore.”

“From a pure strategy standpoint that is logically where you would go,” Brabender said. “That is the only way you could survive this.”

Charlie Sykes, a former conservative talk radio host, said Republican voters have been conditioned over years of right-wing media consumption to reflexively reject any news that challenges their worldview. “These alternative-reality silos—not only do they reinforce an ideological message, but they can be impenetrable,” he said.

Sykes admits that he was once part of the problem. When he hosted his popular Milwaukee-based radio show, he routinely devoted …read more

Via:: The Atlantic