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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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Obama Speaks Out Against Anti-Union Bill in Michigan

Michigan is poised to enact sweeping anti-union legislation, a bill that would transform the state from a historical stronghold of American labor to a so-called "right-to-work state" where union membership is optional even in unionized workplaces. President Obama spoke out against the proposed legislation today:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — President Barack Obama has repeated his opposition to right-to-work laws as the Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature moved toward adopting the union-curbing measure.

The Michigan House voted Thursday to approve a bill barring unions from collecting mandatory fees from non-members. The Senate also took up the bill, and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder endorsed it Thursday.

White House spokesman Matt Lehrich says Obama has long opposed right to work laws, "and he continues to oppose them now.

Marcy Wheeler, a native Michigander and political blogger, has more on the battle for union rights in her home state.

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