What if

by on Oct.29, 2010, under Politics

For someone who usually gets more excited to go door-knocking on Election Day than on Halloween, I’ve had a fairly detached view of the national political scene in the run-up to Tuesday’s election.

It’s clear that the Democrats will lose the House and keep the Senate, and that the President will spend the next two years doing small-bore politics frustrated by Congressional investigation a la the last six Clinton years. His re-election will depend on the state of the economy (political constraints suggest to me that it will not turn around very fast, which will cost Obama the 2012 election).

The last two years suggest to me that the next two will not cost progressives huge opportunities that were ever real. The utter failure of two years of a Democratic Presidency and a Congress under lopsided Democratic control to get anything done on climate change suggests that prospects for the future of the earth haven’t been very high and though they’re now dimmer, it’s not by much. The structural reform that could make the biggest difference would be the elimination of the filibuster, but too many Democratic Senators are too fond of their privileges to make that a reality, and even in a majority-rule Senate, I think that regional concerns would defeat effective climate change intervention.

It’s tempting to ask what if? I’m inspired by the round of What if Al Gore had taken power in 2000 over at Unfogged to ask this question: what if, for the past two years, the labor movement had been united?

(continue reading…)

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LA Labor Question

by on Oct.03, 2009, under Los Angeles

Thought I might put a question to this blog’s labor-friendly fellow travelers in Los Angeles about this story:

A landmark California hotel is shuttering its doors and laying off 250 union workers as it prepares to undergo two years of renovations. The problem for the union representing those 250 workers? The Hotel Bel-Air is refusing to rehire the workers in 2011 and UNITE-Here says they are using the renovations as a union busting tactic. … A federal mediator will be brought in to oversee further negotiations. Hotel Bel-Air is operated by the Dorchester Company which closed the Beverley Hills Hotel in 1992 for a similar two-year renovation project. When that luxury hotel reopened it replaced 300 union workers with non-union employees.

Is this a commonly-tried tactic? Obviously it worked at least once before, but I’m curious whether it’s something that’s been in the hotel-owner’s playbook for years or a newly emerging thing.

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