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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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#Sidney's Picks: VT Childcare Workers Win Right to Unionize

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The Great American Chain Gang

There are 870,000 inmates in the United States' prison workforce. These inmates have virtually no rights at work. Prisoners typically earn less than a dollar an hour, and most of them work at keeping their own prisons running. If all the work of running prisons were paid at minimum wage, prison wouldn't be nearly as profitable as it currently is. Continue reading...

Cambodia's Brothel-to-Sweatshop Pipeline

Investigative reporter Anne Elizabeth Moore explains that NGOs that puport to "rescue" women from prostitution in Cambodia actually channel them into garment industry sweatshops, under the smiling approval factory owners and international observers: Continue reading...

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The Sultan of Brunei is phasing in Shariah Law in his Southeast Asian kingdom, prompting boycotts of his U.S. hotels by American consumers hoping to change his mind. 

Young Woman Unfairly Blamed for Crash Caused by GM Ignition Defect

For nearly a decade, Candice Anderson assumed she was to blame for the 2004 crash that killed her boyfriend. She was driving when the accident occurred and, because she had a trace of Xanax in her bloodstream, she even faced a manslaughter charge in connection with the accident.Continue reading...

#Sidney's Picks: Inequality, Religion, and Beer

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Ta-Nehisi Coates Makes the Case for Reparations

Hillman Judge Ta-Nehisi Coates makes the case for reparations in a cover story at the Atlantic. The piece begins: "Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole."Continue reading...

The $10 Trillion "Ask": Chris Hayes Wins May Sidney Award for "The New Abolitionism"

We at the Hillman Foundation are very proud to announce that Chris Hayes has won the May Sidney Award for “The New Abolitionism,” a provocative feature in The Nation in which he argues that fossil fuel companies must forfeit $10 trillion in unburned oil and gas reserves in order to avert civilization-destroying climate change, a demand he says is no less urgent, and no less radical than the abolitionist ultimatum that slaveholders give up the vast wealth they held in human bondage.Continue reading...

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