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.
Stone Cold: The Mobbed Up World of Snow Removal
Selena Ross digs deep to expose the sordid subculture of Montreal snow removal for Maisonneuve magazine. A handful of established snow removal companies divide the borough contracts between them. Bid-rigging is the norm and upstart competitors are kept in check by sabotage and even violence:
Over the course of a year-long investigation, Maisonneuve analyzed about 250 snow-removal contracts and interviewed more than a dozen private contractors, their employees and the municipal bureaucrats who administer their work. (All sources requested anonymity for their own safety; identifying details have also been omitted.) These sources described bid-rigging as a fact of life in the industry. More crucially, they said, Montrealers don’t understand how fiercely the system is maintained through violence and coercion. Those who obey are rewarded with extra, ill-gotten profits. Those who don’t play along are punished. A former employee of one of Montreal’s snowplow giants put it succinctly. “Snow removal,” he said, “is one of the biggest rackets there is.”
[Photo credit: Robbie1, Creative Commons.]