Today’s News & Commentary — June 21, 2018
This morning the White House plans to announce a proposal to merge the Departments of Labor and Education. The idea is just the latest iteration of a decades-long conservative effort to downsize the federal government, but an early step in a broader restructuring planned under the current administration. Any merger would require congressional approval, however, and previous proposals to eliminate or consolidate executive branch agencies have not passed muster. The plan echoes the White House’s prioritization of an education system focused on workforce development.
On Tuesday U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted the largest workplace raid in over a decade. Around one hundred ICE agents stormed Fresh Mark meat supplier facilities in the Ohio towns of Canton, Massillon, and Salem, detaining over 140 people. The workers are members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which condemned the action as an “egregious show of force.” The raid reflects a strategy of heightened worksite enforcement of immigration law under the current administration. In October 2017, acting ICE director Thomas Homan set a goal of increasing workplace enforcement actions by fivefold.
This week the D.C. Circuit reversed a determination by the NLRB that Verizon Wireless terminated a worker, Bianca Cunningham, for her involvement in union activity in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. Cunningham was a leader in the successful effort by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) to unionize six Verizon stores in Brooklyn, New York. In 2016, an administrative law judge found that Cunningham was fired because of her union involvement, a decision the NLRB upheld in 2017. The D.C. Circuit disagreed, claiming that the NLRB relied on “woefully inadequate” evidence. The panel pointed to an instance when Cunningham allegedly lied to management during an investigation, calling Verizon’s decision to terminate Cunningham in response “a legitimate business judgment.”
Employees at Microsoft sent a letter to the company’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, calling on the company to “put children and families above profits” and end its $19.4 million contract with ICE for data processing and artificial intelligence. The letter, signed by over one hundred employees, appeared on the company’s internal message board this week. The employees situated themselves within a growing wave of tech industry workers organizing not only against the Trump administration, but also against their employers’ collaboration with the White House.