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
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."
It's an important conversation and one that's long overdue. We at Hillman are biased, but we can't think of a better person to put forward the moral and historical case for reparations than Mr. Coates.
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.
Read Lindsay Beyerstein's Backstory interview with Hayes to learn more about the stakes of this debate and the innovative tactics that could bring the likes of Exxon Mobil to heel.
When NYU announced a plan to build a campus in Abu Dhabi, a city in the UAE with notoriously lax labor laws, the university pledged to respect the rights of workers. But former workers on the site said their jobs broke virtually every promise NYU made about wages, hours, working conditions, and living standards.
Amongst other complaints, former workers on the site of NYU's future Abu Dhabi campus say they were beaten by police and deported for striking and that they were forced to live in squalor, work involuntary overtime, and pay huge recruiting fees to get their jobs.
[Photo credit: Yuwen Memon, Creative Commons.]
The Best of the Week's News:
- Thousands of Ukrainian steelworkers oust pro-Kremlin separatists from their city.
- A kickstarter campaign is underway to fund "Can't Take It No More!," a documentary about workers resisting WalMart.
- Super-size it: The battle for fast food fairness goes global, sparking demonstrations as far away as Brazil and Japan.
- Samsung to workers: Sorry about the leukemia. Our bad.
[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]
- The fight for a $15/hr living wage for the fast food industry has gone global. On Thursday, fast food activists are holding protests in 80 cities across 30 countries, plus 150 strikes in the United States.
- Ron Oswald, General Secretary of the IUF, explains why fast food workers deserve a raise.
- New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman explains his administration is doing to combat wage theft in fast food.
[Photo credit: Light Brigading, Creative Commons.]
As promised, all the videos from last week's Hillman Prize ceremony at the Times Center are now available on YouTube. Check them out.
Nothing better than the real thing? Well...
Coca-Cola funded Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Public but gave privately to an industry group that campaigned to weaken drunk driving laws, according to private documents obtained by Ryan Grim and Amanda Terkel of Huffington Post.
[Photo credit: Deus X Florida, Creative Commons.]
The Best of the Week's News
- A moving tribute to Heather "Digby" Parton on the occasion of her Hillman Prize win by Kathleen Geier of the Washington Monthly. Hillman judge Katrina vanden Heuvel thought the post was so apt she quoted it when she presented Digby's award at Tuesday's Hillman Prize ceremony.
- Fast food organizers are planning an international wave of protests next week to push for a living wage in the industry.
- Kidnapped Nigerian school girls are more than just a hashtag.
[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]
Tonight, the Sidney Hillman Foundation will honor Heather "Digby" Parton with the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism. Digby's blog Hullabaloo has been a fixture in the progressive blogosphere for over a decade. Digby has eloquently opposed injustice and incompetence on issues ranging from the invasion of Iraq to the widening chasm between rich and poor in America. Whatever the topic, Digby approaches her work with a level head and a big heart.
I will give the last word to Kathleen Geier of the Washington Monthly, "Since she’s the best daily political writer in America, an honor of this sort is the least we can do for her. Congrats to Digby and to the Hillman people for making such an awesome choice. Now and forever: What. Digby. Said!"
[This is the final installment in a series of profiles of the 2014 Hillman Prize winners. The winners will be honored tonight at a ceremony at the Times Center in Manhattan. Doors open at 6pm. The twitter hashtag for the event is #Hillman2014.]
Congratulations to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Bud Bultman, Roni Selig, Melissa Dunst Lipman, Carl Graf, and Saundra Young on their Hillman 2014 win for the groundbreaking documentary, "Weed: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports." Watch it in full online.
Gupta is the chief medical correspondent for CNN and host of the cable network’s weekend medical affairs program “Sanjay Gupta, M.D.” A practicing neurosurgeon, he reports on health and medical news on various CNN programs and documentaries.
For more than a year, Dr. Gupta and his team travelled the world taking a critical look at the science and research surrounding the use of cannabis. Obtaining numerous exclusive television interviews with experts and families, “Weed” changed the national dialogue on this subject and fostered an unprecedented intersection between world-class science, tremendously needy patients and the ethics surrounding the use of this plant as a medicine.
This is another in a series of profiles of the winners of the 2014 Hillman Prizes. These prizes honor journalism in service of the common good. Follow us on twitter at @sidneyhillman. Use the twitter hashtag #Hillman2014 to find out the latest buzz on the Hillman Prizes, including our upcoming awards ceremony on May 6 at the New York Times Center. Use #Hillman2014 to tag your tweets about the Hillman Prizes. We want to hear from you!