Weekend News & Commentary — March 17-18, 2018

Published March 18th, 2018 -  - 03.18.1812


Late Friday evening, Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. Sessions alleged that McCabe had made unauthorized disclosures to the media and “lacked candor” in speaking to an internal watchdog group – a fireable offense. McCabe was set to retire today, Sunday, with full pension benefits. President Trump tweeted that McCabe being fired marked “a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy.” In response, McCabe stated,“I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey.”  Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare analyze what we know and do not know at this point about McCabe’s firing, concluding that “even if McCabe’s firing proves to be justified on the merits,” the timing of the firing – “breaking it off from the larger probe and rushing it to completion and adjudication in time to beat the deadline of McCabe’s retirement” – taints the merits of the action.

In the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting, Gallup released a poll on Friday showing that nearly 3 in 4 teachers oppose arming school staff. President Trump proposed the National-Rifle-Association-endorsed policy of arming teachers after reversing course on an original proposal for comprehensive gun control. The New York Times reports that the “poll shows that not only do teachers broadly oppose being armed, but few believe it would make schools safer and even fewer would take advantage of such a policy.” Teachers are educators, not security guards; and just this week three California students were hit by shrapnel and debris when their teacher’s gun went off during a safety demonstration.

At Bloomberg, Josh Eidelson details how the NLRB is “ignoring its own guidelines and rushing to settle a major workplace action involving McDonald’s Corp.” after the Board voted to throw out the decision in Hy-Brand. NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb had cited Hy-Brand as the reason he suspended an ongoing, potentially precedent-setting trial with McDonald’s Corp. in January. He allegedly was pursuing a settlement with the company in the wake of Hy-Brand. Now, “[w]ith trial in the case set to resume as early as Monday, lawyers for the McDonald’s employees claim Robb and his staff are offering settlements to avoid completion of the litigation.”

 

Joe Davidson at The Washington Post argues that the Trump Administration’s decision to impose a one-sided collective bargaining agreement (CBA) on Education Department employees is just a further escalation of the Administration’s attack on federal unions and an attempt by Secretary Betsy DeVos at union busting. On March 9th, Samantha Cutler, the department’s director of workforce relations, wrote a memo to the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union “evict[ing] union officials from agency office space as of April 11, demand[ing] union leaders turn in agency equipment including computers, printers and cellphones by March 26, and sharply restrict[ing] the amount of ‘official time’ union leaders can spend on labor relations.” AFGE filed a complaint on March 12th with the Federal Labor Relations Authority that the Education Department had “failed to negotiate and bargain in good faith” with the union and therefore the union should not be forced to accept the CBA.

On Wednesday Toys “R” Us CEODave Brandon announced that the company, which had been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy since September, was closing all remaining 791 U.S. locations. The announcement left 31,000 U.S. workers without jobs and, according to CNN, without severance pay due to the company’s bankruptcy status. Workers will get 60 days pay as required under federal law.

The UpShot at the New York Times argues that most Americans produce services, not stuff, which President Trump ignores when talking about trade and deficits. That may indeed be true – but that’s a tough pill for stuff-producing workers to swallow. See e.g., Caterpillar potentially laying off more workers in Texas and Illinois. “Caterpillar has been shrinking its roster of factories since 2015, when executives said they would eliminate 10,000 jobs and reduce manufacturing capacity by 10% by 2018.”

Sheryl Sandberg’s book and cultural phenomenon Lean In is five years old. Was it the wake-up call women needed, or overly naive in its assumptions and advice? Women reflect on what the book has meant to them. 

And picture a leader. Is she a woman? For most the answer is still ‘no.’ How to fix it? More women leaders.

 

 

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