News & Commentary

September 15, 2014

The New York Times reports that crowds in the main airports in Paris were thinner than usual on Monday “as thousands of passengers who normally would have boarded flights of the country’s flag carrier, Air France, stayed home or in hotel rooms because of a strike by the airline’s pilots.”  52 percent of Air France’s flights were cancelled due to a dispute with French pilots over the airline’s plans to shift much of its European operations to a low-cost subsidiary Transavia where most crew members would be paid less and would be based in other European countries.  Air France said it expected about 85,000 passengers to face flight cancellations or delays on Monday and that it had already alerted tens of thousands via email or text message of the possibility of disruptions later in the week.

MSNBC reports that Illinois is “labor’s next big battleground.”  After right-to-work and anti-union legislation recently passed in Wisconsin and Michigan, labor unions in Illinois fear they could be next due to a Republican challenger to Democratic Governor Pat Quinn.  “Bruce Rauner, a venture capitalist, has promised to establish “right-to-work” zones in Illinois if elected and dramatically revise the state’s public employee retirement system.  He has launched bromides against “government union bosses” and touted his donations to charter schools.  In other words, he’s everything that labor unions in Illinois fear.  And he’s winning.”  Unions have banded together to oppose Rauner and back Quinn, but Rauner leads in the polls.

The New York Times memorialized Andy Stapp, a man who opposition to the Vietnam War by “joining the Army and proceeding to do a very unmilitary thing — form a union among soldiers that demanded, among other things, the right to elect officers and reject what they viewed as illegal orders.”  In the early 1970s, Mr. Stapp’s American Servicemen’s Union claimed to have tens of thousands of members, issued  issued membership cards, published a newspaper, and helped form chapters at military bases, on ships, and in Vietnam.  “Although the Army never came close to recognizing the union formally, it certainly recognized it as a problem. Mr. Stapp brought colorful idealism to his counterintuitive cause, and the Army did what it could to silence him,” reports the obituary.  The American Servicemen’s Union ended alongside the Vietnam War in the late 1970s.

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