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.
Clear It With Sidney
Sarah Maslin Nir has won the June Sidney Award for exposing rampant abuses in the nail salon industry in New York City. The 13-month investigation included interiews with well over a hundred nail workers from around the city. Only one in four reported being paid minimum wage. Some earned day rates of just $10, and trainee manicurists not only didn't get paid, they had to pay their bosses to learn the trade.
Read more about the winning series and its impact in The Backstory.
Survivors of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, the deadliest industrial accident in history, will be fully compensated, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Clean Clothes Campaign and its allies. A fundraising breakthrough from an anonymous donor has pushed the Rana Plaza Donor's trust to its $30 million goal:
The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) is delighted to announce a major campaign victory with the confirmation that the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund has finally met its target of $30 million, following a large anonymous donation.
The CCC has been campaigning since the disaster in April 2013 to demand that brands and retailers provided compensation to its victims.
Since then over one million consumers from across Europe and around the world have joined actions against many of the major high street companies whose products were being made in one of the five factories housed in the structurally compromised building. These actions forced many brands to finally pay donations and by the second anniversary the Fund was still $2.4 million dollars short of its $30million target. A large donation received by the Fund in the last few days has now led to the Fund meeting its target. [CC.org]
Read more at CleanClothes.org.
The Best of the Week's News
- Gawker Media employees vote to unionize!
- Life and death in Sam Brownback’s Kansas
- Nebraska abolished the death penalty, but Gov. Pete Ricketts is threatening to execute the 11 inmates currently on death row.
- Five ways birth control has changed America.
Rosa Goldensohn, the latest winner of Hillman's award for social justice reporting at CUNY J-school, has a new longform piece in 219 Magazine called, "John and Ken," it's the story of twin brothers. One became a prison guard at Rikers' Island, and the other became an inmate.
The best of the week's news
- Don't look now, but...a bunch of conservatives just abolished the death penalty in Nebraska.
- The other FIFA scandal: Slave labor.
- Police in Kentucky ship a mentally ill man to Florida, illegally. The latest from Sidney-winner R.J. Dunlop.
- How the participatory defense movement is empowering communities to navigate the criminal justice system.
Millions of people will now have to wait longer for deportation relief. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court refused to lift an injunction blocking the Obama administration's immigration reforms.
Twenty-six states are suing to stop the president from putting his proposed reforms into action. They say he is overstepping the powers of his office by changing immigration policy without the approval of Congress. The administration says that the president doesn't need a vote from Congress because he's simply exercising his discretion over how to enforce existing immigration laws.
The injunction was originally granted by Judge Andrew Hanen, a Brownsville jurist who makes a cameo appearance in Sarah Stillman's Sidney Award-winning story, "Kidnapped at the Border." In 2013, Hanen notoriously urged the Department of Homeland Security to deport undocumented parents living in the United States for trying smuggle their children into the country.
The Best of the Week's News
- The Los Angeles City Council voted 14-1 for preliminary measure that would raise the city minimum wage to $15/hr by 2020.
- The New York Times Editorial Board supports Los Angeles's proposed $15/hr minimum wage.
- This op/ed by Tahmima Anam addresses sexism, religion, language, and nationalism in 750 words about public urination. It's masterful.
- The former president of Trader Joe's is opening a non-profit grocery store in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
- The execution of Clayton Lockett.
Great news out of Los Angeles in the Fight for Fifteen:
The Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday to increase the minimum wage in the nation's second-largest city to $15 an hour by 2020 from the current $9, in a victory for labor and community groups that have pushed for similar pay hikes in several U.S. municipalities.
The council's 14-1 vote on the measure, which must come back before the panel for final approval, would require businesses with more than 25 employees to meet the $15 pay level by 2020, while smaller businesses would have an extra year to comply. [LAT]
If the measure becomes law, larger firms would have to start paying $10.25/hr by 2016, and the minimum wage would rise in increments from there.
As this year's graduates are celebrating their hard-earned degrees, the New York Times has exposed a massive faux diploma scam shipping pseudo-sheepskins to slackers worldwide.
"Newford University" presents itself to the internet as an institution of higher learning, but closer examination reveals it to be an educational Potemkin Village, a front for academic fraud:
Yet on closer examination, this picture shimmers like a mirage. The news reports are fabricated. The professors are paid actors. The university campuses exist only as stock photos on computer servers. The degrees have no true accreditation. [NYT]
A Pakistani software firm called Axact is raking in tens of millions of dollars for bogus degrees. For a price, the customer can even get a degree "authenticated" by a fake U.S. official, even an ersatz Secretary of State.
The Best of the Week's News
- In a breakthrough agreement, Mexico agrees to subsidize farmworkers' wages.
- When pioneering feminist psychologist Sandy Bem developed Alzheimer's Disease, she decided to end her life on her own terms.
- When Matthew Teague's wife was dying of cancer, his best friend moved in to help out, and became part of the family.
- Why New York City billionaires don't pay property taxes.
- Hammer attacks spark false memories in real time.