Weekend News & Commentary — June 16 – 17, 2018

Published June 17th, 2018 -  - 06.17.184


Longtime liberal labor activist Ed “Oil Can” Sadlowski passed away on Sunday, June 10, after a years-long battle with Lewy body dementia.  Mr. Sadlowski was elected president of United Steelworkers Local 65 at a mere 26 years of age, making Sadlowski the country’s youngest president of a steelworkers union local.  Sadlowski, whose heroes included combative labor icons such as John L. Lewis and Victor Reuther, led the rank-and-file “Steelworkers Fightback” movement and rose to national prominence while running (albeit unsuccessfully) in a 1977 campaign to become president of the 1.4-million-member United Steelworkers of America.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), whose 700,000-member union represents almost 20% of all federal-government employees, “filed a motion for a preliminary injunction [last] week in U.S. District Court asking a judge to stop the [Trump] administration from carrying out an executive order intended to limit how much on-the-job time federal employees can spend on labor-union duties,” The Wall Street Journal reports.  The AFGE believes the executive order in question, which was one of three executive orders signed by President Trump on May 25, violates the freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment.

In an in-depth analysis piece, The New York Times examines the continuing discrimination that pregnant women and mothers face in the American workplace.  From hiring to promotions to compensation, pregnant women and mothers continue to be victimized by “motherhood penalt[ies]” and “maternal wall[s].”  Indeed, despite a corporate America that purports to be more mother-friendly, the EEOC received almost 3,200 pregnancy discrimination complaints last year–double the amount that the agency received in 1992 when electronic record-keeping was first implemented.

In an editorial last week, George Melloan, a former Deputy Editor of The Wall Street Journal, explains why the continued financing of Social Security requires continued immigration–and as such, the Trump Administration’s immigration-reform efforts will only hasten the depletion of the country’s Social Security funds.  Melloan writes: “[A] Pew Research report last year showed that working-age immigrants will be vital to the future expansion of the labor force. . . . Without an expanding labor supply, it is hard to achieve economic growth, which is essential to finance a welfare state like ours.”

Sexual misconduct and the #MeToo movement continues to have troubling ramifications in American higher education.  Last week, University of Rochester Professor Celeste Kidd, who was chosen as one of Time Magazine”s 2017 Persons of the Year for reporting a colleague to the EEOC for various instances of sexual misconduct with students, resigned from her position.  In a scathing resignation letter, Kidd, along with her husband Professor Steven Piantadosi, explained their decision to resign by recounting the myriad failings of the University of Rochester in its handling of T. Florian Jaeger’s habitual misconduct (Jaeger is returning to his post this fall after a mere single semester of paid administrative leave).  Kidd and Piantadosi have accepted tenure-track positions at the University of California, Berkeley.  Meanwhile, at Dartmouth, Professor Todd Heatherton resigned after the University investigated three psychology professors for allegedly normalizing sexual harassment and “creating a ‘hostile academic environment’ marked by excessive drinking, favoritism and, at times, inappropriate behavior.”

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