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Clear it with SidneyHow our blog got its name >

 
Notes on journalism for the common good
by Lindsay Beyerstein

How our blog got its name

Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”

Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.

It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.

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Back to Black: The Battle for Walmart

 

Walmart workers and their allies are making history with their highly assymetrical fight for justice and dignity at work. A nationwide strike planned for Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, may be their most audacious action yet. Kathleen Miles of Huffington Post reports on this highly unorthodox, totally 21st Century campaign:

Labor organizers are working with social action nonprofit Engage Network as well as corporate watchdog nonprofit Corporate Action Network to pull off what they are calling a "viral" -- meaning national and spreading online -- strike.

Walmart workers interested in joining the day of action are directed to this website, either to find a store near them with an organized strike or to "adopt an event" at a store near them.

Brian Young, cofounder of the Corporate Action Network, said on a conference call coordinated by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union Thursday, that organizers cannot cover the roughly 4,000 Walmarts across the country, but enabling self-appointed leaders online has widened and decentralized the campaign. 

The organizers have even set up a web page where supporters can pledge to "sponsor" striking workers. They've already raised over $20,000 to offset the lost wages of Black Friday strikers with grocery gift cards. 

[Photo credit: Black Friday 2009 at Walmart; laurieofindy, Creative Commons.]

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