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
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire broke out 114 years ago today, on March 25, 1911. One hundred and forty-six garment workers, mostly immigrant women, died in the blaze. The fire became a catalyst for the nascent labor movement.
Today, Workers United/SEIU, the New York City Fire Department, and city school children, mark the anniversary at the official commemoration ceremony at the cite of the fire.
11:30am-1:00pm, at Washington Place & Greene Street.
The Best of the Week's News
- How an outdated 1950s knife law sends union workers to jail for their tools.
- Target pledges to raise its minimum wage to $9 an hour.
- The Tsarnaev trial reopens old wounds in Boston.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution won a 2012 Hillman Prize for exposing a massive teacher cheating ring in Atlanta's schools. The scam has been called the largest academic fraud in U.S. history.
Closing arguments began Monday in the trial of 12 teachers accused of changing answers on standardized test papers to give their students higher scores. Twenty-one of the original 35 defendents struck plea bargains, and 2 others have died.
The fifth annual Canadian Hillman Prize ceremony was a night to remember. See all our photos from Thursday night's event at the Drake Hotel in Toronto.
These awards honor excellence in socially conscious Canadian journalism, with a special emphasis on reporting that brings about change for the common good.
Daniel Zwerdling of National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” wins the March Sidney Award for “Injured Nurses,” a four-part series that reveals the shockingly high rate of crippling back injuries among nurses in the face of widespread indifference by hospitals.
Nurses, nursing assistants, and orderlies suffer more disabling back injuries on the job than any other class of workers, including police officers and construction workers. Over 35,000 nursing staffers hurt their backs badly enough to miss work every year, with many sustaining permanent, disabling injuries.
Read about the making of "Injured Nurses," in our Backstory interview.
The Best of the Week's News
- Embattled Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel snaps at mental health advocates, yelling, "You are going to respect me!"
- Ferguson doesn't have a police problem, argues Hillman judge Ta-Nehisi Coates, it has a blue-clad gang problem.
- How to cut the prison population by 50 percent.
- Not just license plates: Prisoners are making everything from stuffed toys to tilapia.
- Meet the men saving Syrian archeological treasures from ISIS.
The Sidney Hillman Foundation announced the winners of the 2015 Canadian Hillman Prize, Wednesday. The 2015 Canadian Hillman goes to Kevin Donovan, Jesse Brown, Jayme Poisson, Emily Mathieu, and Randy Risling for "Sexual Assault and Harassment in Canada — from Jian Ghomeshi to College Campuses," which appeared in the Toronto Star. This coverage exposed Canadian media superstar Ghomeshi as a serial abuser of women and delved into the pervasive problem of sexual violence on university campuses.
An honorable mention goes to Kevin Rollason of the Winnipeg Free Press for telling the story of Brian Sinclair, an aboriginal man who died of a treatable infection in a hospital emergency room because the staff ignored him for hours.
An second honorable mention goes to Kathy Tomlinson and Raj Ahluwalia of CBC News "The National" for exposing employer abuses of Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
Learn more about all the Canadian Hillman honorees and their outstanding work.
The best of the week's news
- Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker compares union workers to ISIS.
- Bangladeshi-American atheist scholar murdered in Bangladesh after threats from radical Islamists.
- Workers' Centers: Organizing the "unorganizable."
- Brooklyn cherry company owner shoots himself to death during a pot & pollution raid on his factory.
- What kind of man joins the "Men's Rights" movement? Admit it, you're curious.
The Chicago Police Department operates a "black site" on the West Side of Chicago, Spencer Ackerman reports:
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.
The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights. [Guardian]
Ackerman learned that at least one man has been found unresponsive in a Homan Square interview room and later declared dead.
The Best of the Week's News
- What Rudy Giuliani knows about love.
- One of the worst torturers at Guantanamo perfected his methods on suspects in Chicago.
- Nurses take care of us, but no one takes care of them when they get hurt on the job.
- The Catwalk Sweatshop: Models are workers, too.