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by Graham Shelby

Indiana’s Deputy Attorney General Jeff Cox has been fired for using incendiary language on his personal Twitter account.

Cox—who tweeted under the name JCCentCom—got into an exchange on Twitter over pro-union protesters in Wisconsin. Upon hearing a report that police might clear demonstrators from the Wisconsin capitol building, Cox responded that police should, “Use live ammunition.”

The Indiana Attorney General’s office issued a statement Wednesday that after a “thorough and expeditious review” of the situation, Cox would no longer employed by the state and that public servants should strive for civility.


Union membership has declined in the private sector. The Economist wonders whether it’s time for public-sector unions (city employees, etc)  to suffer the same fate.

Sociological Images says this about the shift in union makeup.

Such a change, from primarily private-sector and often blue-collar workers to government employees, many of whom will be white-collar, middle-class, and relatively highly educated, has significant consequences for employers, governments, employees, and the issues likely to be of primary concern to the labor movement more broadly.

But before you decide how you feel about unions, think about your bankbook. Chances are, the two are linked. FiveThirtyEight says public support for unions (and support for many things) corresponds with the economy.

The regression line finds that, for every point’s worth of increase in the unemployment rate, approval of labor unions goes down by 2.6 points. Alternatively, we can add a time trend to the regression model, to account for the fact that participation in labor unions has been declining over time. This softens the relationship slightly, but still implies a decrease in approval of 2.1 points for unions for every point increase in unemployment. Both relationships are highly statistically significant.

But unionization rose during The Great Depression. How can something that thrived in poor economic times suffer in the recession? James Surowiecki answers this in The New Yorker. Heexplores the historical attitude toward (and benefits of) unionization.

Still, the advantages that union workers enjoy when it comes to pay and benefits are nothing new, while the resentment about these things is. There are a couple of reasons for this. In the past, a sizable percentage of American workers belonged to unions, or had family members who did. Then, too, even people who didn’t belong to unions often reaped some benefit from them, because of what economists call the “threat effect”: in heavily unionized industries, non-union employers had to pay their workers better in order to fend off unionization. Finally, benefits that union members won for themselves—like the eight-hour day, or weekends off—often ended up percolating down to other workers.

The AFL-CIO recently protested outside of a Rand Paul fundraiser. Now, the union has unveiled three direct mail pieces supporting Democratic candidate Jack Conway and hitting Paul on safety regulations.

You can see them here.

As reported on WFPL today, Democratic mayoral candidate Greg Fischer received 29 union endorsements. At the event celebrating the endorsements, I talked with the vice president of the local Teamsters who says he supports Fischer’s stance against privatizing city services.

While no laborers said Fischer promised them he wouldn’t privatize services, Republican Hal Heiner‘s campaign says Fischer isn’t being honest about the issue with unions. Heiner’s campaign spokesperson Joe Burgan pointed to Fischer’s statement at a debate in July that the mayor must consider all options, including privatization.

John David Dyche mentioned that statement in a write-up of the debate, and said the shift in position was relatively minor.

Fischer retreated a few millimeters from the absolute opposition to privatizing government services he expressed as a 2008 U. S. Senate candidate. Heiner emphasized the need for better data about the costs of Metro services, but surprisingly played down privatization almost as much as Fischer did. In future encounters, Heiner should emphasize the radically pro-labor positions Fischer took as a Senate candidate.

So what exactly was said about privatization in that debate? Listen to the mp3 for yourself. The file starts with Dyche, then has answers from Fischer, independent Jackie Green and then Heiner.

I talked with Kentucky May Day Coalition co-convener Stephen Bartlett today about the protest outside of Derby. Here’s the WFPL story:

Drivers and pedestrians heading to the Kentucky Derby may see demonstrators protesting the new immigration law in Arizona.

Among other things, the Arizona legislation allows law enforcement officers to ask anyone for proof of citizenship. The Kentucky May Day Coalition will pass out fliers denouncing the law at intersections around Churchill Downs.

Coalition co-convener Stephen Bartlett says the fliers highlight the role immigrants play in the horse industry.

“The whole Kentucky Derby could not take place without the immigrant workers who work in the horse industry at all levels, including even the jockeys,” he says.

Bartlett says the fliers will encourage people to call Senator Mitch McConnell and ask him to support federal immigration reform that’s friendly to immigrants.

“The system is broken,” he says. “Basically, the Arizona law is a terrible omen on what could happen to tear our society apart. A new Jim Crow Law, in effect, that’s going to take effect in three months in Arizona.”

The fliers will be distributed from 10 am to 1 pm.

State Representative Joni Jenkins is endorsing Democratic candidate Jim King for mayor. The support comes as King promises that, if elected, he will sign an executive order giving female Metro Government employees the same compensation as male employees. Jenkins has fought for pay equity in Kentucky, where women earn about 74 cents on the dollar compared to men.

In other King news, the candidate unveiled his economic plan today.

After this week’s mining disaster, we’ll see a new focus on mine safety. PBS produced a story on it, and it’s worth watching.

Many reports point out that the safety of a mine is the result of a complex web of circumstances. There’s the desire of the company to keep a mine in operation; pressure on state inspectors; disconnects between state and federal inspectors; funding shortages for state and federal inspectors; changing regulation for inspectors; and the desire of workers to keep a mine open. Today’s Diane Rehm show explores those factors and asks how the culture of mining can or should be changed to improve safety. They explore changes to attitudes in government, mine operation and mining itself.

Louisville’s AFSCME union has endorsed Democrat Jim King for mayor. AFSCME and the Teamsters have had disputes with the current administration, so this seems a little more timely than some of the endorsements we’ve seen in the race so far, though King and Democratic opponent Greg Fischer are still racing to have the most labor support.

From LEO:

“Our union members have long been impressed with Councilman King’s efforts to provide a quality workplace and a fair and equitable wage for Metro employees,” says Greg Frazier, president of AFSCME Local 2629. “Jim’s willingness to provide an environment where all employees have an equal voice will go far toward ensuring a better work environment.”

In the crowded Democratic field, support from labor unions is considered critical and nabbing AFSCME local certainly boosts King among area workers. The fight over which of the eight Democratic candidates has a better labor record and key endorsements has thus far been between King and primary opponent, Louisville businessman Greg Fischer, who has led the pack among union endorsements.

From a press release.

The Louisville Professional Firefighters Local 345 and the Louisville Federation of Retired Firefighters announced today that they have voted unanimously to endorse Greg Fischer, Democratic candidate for Mayor of Louisville. LPFF Local 345 President Craig Willman commented, “the endorsement was unanimous among our committee; and, Greg Fischer as our next Mayor of Louisville Metro will shine a bright light on the working men and women in city government.”


Local 345 represents over 500 active members and the retired firefighters over 500 members, bringing the total number of labor endorsements received by Fischer to date to eight…

Fischer‘s Democratic opponent Jim King recently received the Jefferson County Teachers Association’s endorsement.

The Jefferson County Teachers Association is endorsing Democrat Jim King for mayor. The JCTA represents over 6,000 members, including teachers, librarians and clinicians  in Jefferson County schools.

This is King’s fifth union endorsement. He’s trailing fellow Democrat Greg Fischer in labor endorsements. Fischer has seven.

A spokesperson for Fischer’s campaign tells LEO the campaign is looking to represent more active and retired workers than King.

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