Tag Archives: Worker Rights

Farewell, Old Friend

Joshua Javits (left) takes time out from firing teachers to present an award.

Recently I heard a rumor that Joshua Javits is no longer working as an arbitrator at the New York City Department of Education. All I can say to that is: great!

His tenure at the Administrative Trials Unit in the DOE has been marked by extreme prejudice against teachers. A DOE insider I respect has said that he “fires everyone”, regardless of the facts of the case or the charges brought.  Betsy Combier, who has sat in on more 3020a hearings than perhaps anyone, dubbed Javits as being one of those arbitrators who were “hired to fire”.

Very recently, I had the displeasure of reading one of Javits’ last decisions. This was a case of a teacher who I know and respect whose charges were absolutely bogus. I was not prepared for what I read. It was vitriolic, vicious and seemingly personal. He went through great lengths to describe the absolutely horrid nature of the teacher. In fact, the words in his decision were the exact words the DOE lawyer used during the hearing. All he did was paraphrase the DOE lawyer’s argument, while ignoring every counter-argument proffered by the defense.

What was most disturbing was that he gave absolutely zero grounds as to why he bought the DOE argument. He put forth no original reasoning and, most likely, no effort in constructing this decision. It was an incoherent tapestry of contradictions, deductive reasoning (the DOE says that the teacher is bad, therefore everything he did was bad.) and outright lies. It was a carbon copy of the DOE’s position.

His punishment, which I am not at liberty to discuss, was equally arbitrary. He spent pages on spewing venom about the teacher. Then, at the very last sentence, he reveals his punishment. Again, there were absolutely no grounds provided for this punishment. There was no “this teacher is so horrible and this horrible punishment I set forth is just for this reason.” He did not cite any precedents, previous cases or chancellor’s regulations. He merely rewrote the DOE’s argument and said “here is the punishment”, and that was it. It was completely arbitrary.

It is arbitrators like Javits that have caused real courts of law to overturn more DOE arbitrator rulings than ever. The fact that the courts are getting involved at all says all that needs to be said about the integrity of the 3020a procedure.

Joshua Javits has no integrity.

Does it matter to him that so many of his decisions get overturned by real judges with an eye for real evidence? Absolutely not. He just fires, fires, fires and lets the chips fall where they may. If his rulings get overturned, he does not care. He gets paid his $1,800 a day regardless. You would think the DOE would fire him due to all of the legal fees he has caused the DOE from all of his cantankerous rulings.

So where is Javits now?

Today, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order creating a Presidential Emergency Board to help resolve an ongoing dispute between major freight rail carriers and their unions.

That is right freight rail carriers of America, guess who is coming to dinner? The Montgomery Burns of arbitrators will have a hand in determining the future of your career. Just hope that he does not hate you as much as he hates educators. If he does, just hope that the other arbitrators on the board will outweigh whatever invective he throws your way.

Just remember:  Joshua Javits has no integrity.

I noticed something interesting about the Javits bio the White House put up:

Joshua M. Javitsis a neutral mediator and arbitrator and serves on numerous permanent arbitration panels.  He served on a Presidential Emergency Board in 2007. From 1993 to 2001, Mr. Javits was a Partner at Ford & Harrison LLP where he also served as executive director of the Labor Relations Association of Passenger Railroads. He was also an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center where he taught courses in labor arbitration, transportation labor law, and alternative dispute resolution. He was Chairman and Member of the National Mediation Board from 1988 to 1993.  He began his career as a trial attorney with the National Labor Relations Board. Mr. Javits has represented both labor unions and management, at different times, and is on the rosters of the American Arbitration Association, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and the National Mediation Board.  He has been rated “AV” – the highest rating – by Martindale Hubbell’s Best Lawyers in America since 2001.  Mr. Javits is a graduate of Yale College and Georgetown University Law Center.

It does not mention his time at the DOE. I mean, this was the job he left in order to be on this board. I suppose he is not too proud of his tenure there.

It is easy to have all of these accolades when you are the son of one of the most well-known New York Senators in history. One wonders why he never soared to the heights his father did. Could it be a lack of integrity that follows him like a foul odor throughout everything he does?

Joshua Javits has “represented labor” and served with the NLRB. He is a perfect fit for the era, since the American worker has steadily been losing ground over the past 35 years. We can see why if all NLRB attorneys have the same values and methodology of Joshua Javits.

At least he is gone from the DOE. Now they will have to find the next overpaid shill to fire teachers indiscriminately regardless of the facts. Javits sure got the job done for them, however.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

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The Human Cost of Teacher Bashing: The Christine Rubino Case

Readers of this blog are familiar with the story of Christine Rubino.

Rubino is a veteran teacher with 15 years’ experience in the Department of Education. In June of 2010, she was teaching at P.S. 203 in Brooklyn when she made the following comment on her Facebook page:

“After today, I’m thinking the beach is a good trip for my class. I hate their guts,”

The comment was made the day after a 12-year-old girl drowned at the beach on a class trip. A few days after making the comment, Rubino took it down from her page. Yet, the damage had already been done. A coworker of hers printed up the comment and showed it to the principal, who then called the DOE.

Since the comment came to light in June, it was not until the following September, after the new school year had begun, that an investigation was launched. Rubino was not pulled out of her classroom during the investigation and had no idea the DOE was conducting one.

It was not until after the DOE had completed their investigation that she was pulled out of her classroom to await a 3020a hearing. The DOE’s recommended penalty? Termination.

Rubino’s original, union-appointed (NYSUT) lawyer had advised her to resign at the outset of the hearing. Believing that this was not an incident that warranted termination, Rubino fired her union attorney and called in outside representation in the form of former NYSUT lawyer Brian Glass.

Sue Edelman of the New York Post had showed up to the hearing. It was her right, since Rubino requested to make the hearing open to the public, a right many NYSUT lawyers try to dissuade their clients from exercising. This raised the ire of the DOE, including the arbitrator assigned to the case, Ms. Randi Lowitt.

This is when the DOE decided to play hardball. Theresa Europe, head of the DOE’s Administrative Trials Unit, sat in on the hearing to stare daggers at the arbitrator. This is not the usual practice, Europe ostensibly having better things to do with her time than to concentrate on any single case.

Throughout Rubino’s ordeal, the DOE kept throwing on charges that had nothing to do with the original Facebook post. They tried to bring up an instance in 2008 when a student had assaulted Rubino, trying to twist it into a corporal punishment charge. Students who had been coached to testify in the most damning possible way for the DOE were tripped up during cross-examination. At least one of them was forced to admit “that’s what they told me to say”. The principal testified that Rubino was a wonderful teacher who never had a problem.

Most importantly, Rubino herself had expressed genuine remorse throughout the process. The fact that she had taken her Facebook post down a few days after writing it shows that she had felt bad for writing it. She testified that she regretted writing it. At no point did she stand by her words. She acknowledged that it was a statement made out of frustration, a place every teacher finds themselves every now and then.

After all of this, what punishment did Randi Lowitt decide upon? Termination.

We should stop here for some commentary.

It was about a year between the Facebook post and the notice of termination. That means a year of investigations, lawyers and substitutes to cover Rubinio’s class. All of this for a Facebook post that was taken down after a few days. Needless to say, it was a tremendous squandering of resources.

And who is this coworker who informed on Christine Rubino? A man who is currently awaiting his own 3020a hearing for abuse charges that could wind him up in prison. This is one of the seedy underbellies of school politics. There are informants in every building. Usually, the informants are those with lots to hide: either they are creeps or incompetent. They play the role of informant because that is what gets them through another year. It is the only role that they are able to play, one that shines the spotlight on others in order to take it off themselves. It is a system conducive to destroying good teachers while protecting the worst our profession has to offer.

Of course, these informants would not have any power if not for a principal who feeds into their informing. In my experience, most administrators are happy to have a few glad-handers and back-slappers on their staffs, ones who share gossip in hushed tones in the principal’s office.

And then there is the matter of what the principal did with this information. Despite the lines that principals run that they do not have a choice but to call in complaints to the DOE, there is always a choice. A human being with people skills might have called Rubino into her office, asked about the post and gave her a reminder of professional conduct outside of school hours. At the very worst, the principal could have given her a letter in the file. The transgression did not warrant anything more than some sort of in-house disciplinary action.

But the rumor mill reveals that principals are under strict orders from Tweed to call in any Facebook incidents that come to their attention. Of course, this still does not mean that the principal has to follow this directive. The DOE refuses to set a clear social media policy for teachers. They want to formulate policy through precedent and they want to set the strictest precedent possible. Bloomberg’s DOE, at the end of the day, is an entity that aspires to be corporate. They want to set a strict precedent for teachers in NYC because they know it will set a strict precedent for the teaching workforce throughout the country, not to mention the workforce in general. It is Bloomberg’s gift to corporations. He wishes to give employers nationwide more and more control over the lives of their workers.

This is why the DOE had Rubino’s verdict determined before she sat in front of a hearing officer. Even on the best of days, the 3020a process is skewed against the teacher. In those instances where the DOE already has their minds made up, the teacher’s fate is sealed. This explains Theresa Europe’s glowering presence and the final verdict that is just too ridiculous to be called anything close to fair.

Termination left Rubino without a livelihood. A career and a school that had defined her for 15 years, in which she had an unblemished record, were completely cut off. Rubino had to find a way to support her two children without any sort of financial support. She took to tutoring students in her neighborhood. She took to doing odd jobs here and there like focus groups. Still, it could not replace the salary she had achieved as a teacher of 15 years. She started falling behind on her mortgage. Eventually, she had to sell the house in which she lived with her two children. Before she had been terminated, she took out a massive loan against her retirement account. It was one of the only means she had to sustain herself and her children.

While all of this is going on, she was the subject of countless news columns, including Susan Edelman’s at the New York Post. Edelman brought a photographer with a telescopic lens to stalk 51 Chambers Street in order to catch a candid photograph of Christine Rubino. What is worse, in my opinion, than the half-baked and half-digested stories spit up by New York’s newspapers about teachers who face termination are all of the comments left by readers who say things like “fire her, she’s not fit to be around children”. It would be hard for me not to stalk the internet and correct every judgmental dimwit who thoughtlessly called for my head on a platter. I guess none of these people ever made a mistake or had a candid moment that, if discovered, might also lead them to lose their jobs.

But there was a lot of fight left in Christine Rubino. Knowing that the verdict she received was unfair, she did what more and more teachers are doing with the independent arbitrator’s ruling: she took it to court. By this point, most teachers are so beaten down that they cut their losses and find someplace to lick their wounds. Plus, traditionally, courts of law have been hesitant to overturn rulings by labor arbitrators for fear of weakening the integrity of the arbitration process.

Rubino hunkered down for another round of battle with the DOE, this time in front of the State Supreme Court and Justice Barbara Jaffe. Jaffe reviewed the details of the case, the hearing and of Rubino’s career. She deemed that the Randi Lowitt’s decision was “shocking to the conscience” of the court and vacated her decision. This type of thing is becoming more and more common in New York City. Rubino’s attorney, Brian Glass, wrote the following letter about this issue:

“This is the fourth 3020-a decision in which I have had the penalty vacated by judges in the last approximately two years. I also have had at least 3 Unsatisfactory annual ratings of teachers overturned in the same time period. Each decision has been by a different judge. I frankly was not optimistic about winning any of these cases. There appears to be a recognition by the courts that the 3020-a process as well as the U rating appeal process have become wrongly exploited as a weapon of the DOE gestapo that has sought to demonize teachers over relatively minor incidents. There also appears to be a recognition that these so-called “neutral due process” procedures for teachers are in reality not neutral at all, given the powerful financial incentives of the hearing officers to not risk their own livelihoods in such cases. Hearing officers who dare not to do the DOE’s bidding risk their livelihoods by not imposing overly harsh penalties that assuage the DOE bully prosecutors. Fortunately, there are judges in this country who are wholly independent of the DOE and are compassionate enough to understand the importance of due process in this democratic society as well as allowing individuals to learn and move on from their mistakes.

The DOE almost certainly will appeal this judge’s decision, invoke its automatic stay for 9 months, and tie up this case in litigation for the next year. Even if Ms. Rubino is successful on appeal, the DOE will seek to further delay her reinstatement by insisting on additional costly hearings and arguing that only the most severest of penalties must be imposed. The DOE and media outlets favorable to its present policies will also likely criticize the courts rather than the DOE prosecutors, claiming how outrageous it is that Ms. Rubino should get a second chance at restoring her career. Unfortunately she has a long road ahead in her quest to restore her livelihood and reputation.

The DOE did not need to elect to invoke the 3020-a process in this case. A simple warning to Ms. Rubino about her mistake would have sufficed, and this would not have been repeated. Perhaps in this time of scarce resources, the substantial time and money on this case could be better allocated by the DOE positively supporting its teachers in the classroom rather than demonizing and punishing its staff.”

Most recently, Peter Principe also got his termination verdict overturned after the same process of a biased hearing, media bashing and a deprived livelihood.

For Christine Rubino and Peter Principe, the war is not yet over. Barbara Jaffe might have overturned Randi Lowitt’s decision, but the DOE is sticking to its anti-teacher guns. Jaffe concluded that Rubino should have another hearing to find a lesser penalty. And the arbitrator for this hearing? Randi Lowitt.

Who knows how bitter Randi Lowitt will be after a judge has already vacated her first decision? She might give a lesser penalty, but it can still be a harsh one. She can exact any type of penalty she wants short of termination. It can be an unpaid suspension for a ridiculous amount of time or it can be a fine meant to drive Christine Rubino into the poor house once and for all. And who knows if she won’t have Theresa Europe in that hearing room glowering at her again to ensure she makes the right decision? If the details of these 3020a hearings prove anything, it is that the DOE cannot be trusted to honor its contract with the UFT with a fair hearing process.

Here is a novel idea for Randi Lowitt, Theresa Europe and the general public who want Christine Rubino’s head to roll: the woman has suffered enough. Her two children have been forced out of their home, she has had her name dragged through the mud and the public has put her under enough scrutiny to last a lifetime. For one human moment, a moment that she immediately regretted, Christine Rubino has been repeatedly pummeled into the ground. Much more than I, she is entitled to the moniker “assailed teacher”.

This is the human cost of the DOE’s war on teachers. These are the facts that they do not include in their notices of termination and press releases. All of us, no matter what we do for a living, are entitled to our mistakes. We are entitled to blow off steam and should have the ability to speak freely in whatever forum we choose. This not only goes for teachers, but for all human beings.

Employers across the country, whether public or private, exercise greater control over the lives of their workers than ever before. Not only do they own the labor of their workers for the time they are on the clock, they are coming to own everything their workers say and do in their personal lives. What used to be protected speech is increasingly being regulated by entities who do not work by any sort of Bill of Rights. In the case of Christine Rubino, they did not work from any sort of written policy at all. The rights of employers more and more are coming to supersede our most cherished democratic values.

This was the original purpose of “tenure” for teachers. They were supposed to be protected from frivolous allegations. Today they can you for letting off steam on Facebook. Tomorrow they can you for having the wrong political views, the wrong sexual orientation or the wrong color hair. There is something much more fundamental behind the war Bloomberg and Walcott have declared on the rights of teachers. It is more than corporate education reform. It is a war on our most fundamental American values, values for which people have fought for over 200 years.

What happens to one teacher happens to us all. What happens to one worker happens to us all.

Teacher Facebooks, Loses Job

A Michigan teacher lost her job when she refused to give her school district her Facebook password. What prompted the school district to ask for her password?

Hester posted a picture of a co-workers’ shoes and pants bunched around her ankles on Facebook in April 2011 with the caption, “Thinking of you.” She posted the picture in jest, but a parent who’s on her Facebook friend list saw the image and reported it to Frank Squires Elementary where Hester was employed, prompting the investigation.

And because of the case of the bunched-up pants, the school district wanted to be able to monitor her every Facebook move. They never got her password and, instead:

Part of the letter read: “… in the absence of you voluntarily granting Lewis Cass ISD administration access to you[r] Facebook page, we will assume the worst and act accordingly.” Lewis Cass wanted to put Hester on a paid administrative leave before they fired her, but she chose to go on an unpaid leave because she believes she did nothing wrong. She plans to use the letter she received to sue the school district.

This would be hilarious if someone’s livelihood was not being jeopardized.

New York City, as well as many other school districts, does not have a written Facebook policy for teachers. This means that whatever the policy is has to be worked out on a case-by-case basis through the setting of precedents.

I was told from a pretty reliable source that principals in NYC are under direction to report any Facebook-related incidents immediately. The DOE conducted a witch hunt against Christine Rubino and, this coming Wednesday, another teacher faces termination for a Facebook status taken the wrong way. The DOE seems to be spending a lot of resources and time on regulating the goings-on of teachers on the internet.

There has to be a reason for this.

It cannot be that they just want to get rid of veteran teachers who cost too much. There are so many other easier, time-tested ways to go about doing that. The DOE seems to have much more at stake in prosecuting Facebook incidents.

There is no ignoring that our school system is run by Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire media mogul and darling of the corporatist forces. Giving him control over a municipal workforce of millions of workers gives him a type of far-reaching power that few people could ever dream of. The public workforce has always been the baseline for the private workforce. As the rights of public workers have been stripped away over the past 35 years, so have the rights of the private sector workforce. If the largest school district in the country can fire teachers for what they say on Facebook, they send a signal to the rest of the country that it is ok to do the same.

This is why the DOE has no written Facebook policy. They want to forge one by firing teachers for Facebook incidents as they come up. It sets a precedent for other teachers as well as other workers in general. It gives heart to employers everywhere that it is ok for them to do the same to their workers.

So any teacher who gets into trouble for some trivial Facebook nonsense needs to fight like hell. It is not only their own careers that are at stake, but the careers of millions of workers around the country as well.

This is a dark lesson about how far employers are willing to go in order to muzzle the free speech of their workers. It is a lesson in the unfreedom of the American workplace, a nether world where many Constitutional liberties are put on hold in favor of securing the rights of employers.

If you’re a boss and you’re worried about what your employees say on Facebook, perhaps you should not be in charge of people’s livelihoods. You are way too petty and paranoid to have any type of power.

Fun City Revisited: The Lindsay Years

Watch the documentary here.

Fun City Revisited: The Lindsay Years, a new special from WNET.ORG, looks at John Lindsay’s turbulent two terms as New York mayor from 1966 – 1973. It also looks at his unsuccessful bid for President during the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination.

The program explores Mayor Lindsay’s tenure by looking at his campaign as a candidate of change; his contentious relationship with the city’s unions; his advocacy for inner-city neighborhoods and efforts to maintain calm during racially tense times, such as the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; the fiscal consequences of his union contracts and social policies; and his use of urban design and planning as a proactive tool to defend and redefine the value of the city.

The program includes interviews with a wide range of historians, journalists, politicians, and members of Lindsay’s administration. Among those interviewed include: Jimmy Breslin, Mayor David Dinkins, Ronnie Eldridge, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Mayor Ed Koch, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Joyce Purnick, and Congressman Charles Rangel.

“John Lindsay was the mayor of New York City at one of the most turbulent times in U.S. history,” said Neal Shapiro, President and CEO of WNET.ORG. “From race relations to the Vietnam War to the City’s fiscal challenges, Lindsay had to deal with issues that we tend to forget about today. The Lindsay Years will examine his legacy and shine a spotlight on that moment in the City’s history. ”

Tom Casciato, is Executive Producer; Scott Davis is Senior Producer; Rob Issen is Writer/Producer and Rawan Jabaji is Field Producer.

Fun City Revisited: The Lindsay Years is airing as part of a broader partnership with the Museum of the City of New York, which has launched the exhibition, America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York, and Columbia University Press, which has launched a companion book of the same name edited by Sam Roberts.

A nice window into New York City during the 1960s. There is a decent section about the 1968 teacher strike, on which I will have more to write later.

Enjoy the video when you get the time.

Separation of Church and State and the Tyranny of the Private Sector

While religious congregations of poor people get evicted from New York City public schools in the name of throwing up the barriers between church and state, President Obama is bending to forces that want to tear those barriers down. On Friday, he backtracked on his original proposal requiring religiously-affiliated businesses to pay for birth control services as part of their employees’ health insurance package. Instead, he proposed that the insurance companies pay for those services themselves.

This is, of course, a political move on the president’s part. The original proposal stirred up religious conservatives who balked at the idea of businesses being forced to cover services they consider morally wrong. He did this despite the fact that his poll numbers among Catholics were little impacted by the controversy. The vast majority of Catholics that oppose Obama have most likely always done so, while the same can be said for the Catholics that support him. Bending to his opponents in this way will not bring them over to his camp. There is probably little he can do on any front to bring them over. If history is any guide, Christian fundamentalists of all stripes: Catholic, Protestant and Mormon, are the most intractably conservative voters around. Obama once again finds himself pandering to the other party’s base.

The pollsters have made entirely too much of how this issue might impact Obama’s support among Catholics. Within that group of Catholics is a wide swath of Hispanics, America’s largest immigrant group. They support Obama not because of religion, but because Hispanic immigrants (not to mention immigrant groups stretching back to the days of Andrew Jackson) have traditionally supported the Democratic Party. Catholics who oppose Obama on purely religious grounds do so because they have always opposed the Democratic Party. This explains why Obama’s poll numbers in the Catholic community have remained relatively static throughout this entire controversy.

Like abortion, this really should be a non-issue. This is not about religion. It is about women being able to have control over their own bodies. While certain businesses might have religious affiliations, this does not mean all of their employees share those affiliations. Obama’s detractors really want businesses to be able to use their power as employers to make religiously-motivated decisions about the healthcare coverage of the people they employ. Considering many of these institutions are providing healthcare because of “Obamacare” (a federal law that uses federal funds), this really would constitute a violation of church/state separation.

The irony should not be lost on anyone. Poor people in New York City get their congregations evicted from public school buildings and the Catholic Church is nowhere to defend them. Wealthy employers want the right to use federal money to deny birth control to their employees on religious grounds (on what other grounds can you reject someone’s access to birth control?) and the Catholic Church is in their corner. While it is unlikely the religious conservatives will get their way on this issue, the controversy surrounding it points to a larger problem of just how tyrannical the American workplace has become over the past 35 years.

Thanks to the erosion of labor unions and OSHA laws, employers have been accustomed to wielding the type of power over their employees rivaled only by the sweatshop owners of the late 1800s. They can hire and fire at will, institute mandatory overtime and employ illegal immigrants who they use and abuse with little oversight. (Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickle and Dimed is a particularly great book on this matter). The fact that people like Rand Paul can even comfortably broach the issue of repealing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, under the guise that it violates the rights of business owners, proves how high the tide of employer power has risen.

Supporters of these policies are careful to use the language of free markets, tying the freedom of business owners to do as they please to some vague notion of American liberty. In reality, the increasing power of the American employer has been used as the battering ram to destroy all of the gains workers have won during the Progressive Era and the New Deal, not to mention the gains of individual citizens during the Civil Rights Era. This is what the Reagan Revolution was all about. It is a testament to the absolute victory of this Revolution that both Republicans and Democrats have been on board, and remain on board, in the destruction of the American citizen and worker.

And on no single issue are Democrats and Republicans more in agreement than education reform. Despite Obama’s attempts to distance himself from the No Child Left Behind law of his predecessor, his Race to the Top program is merely NCLB on steroids. States can only opt out of NCLB’s requirements if they institute, among other things, more charter schools. As Norm over at Ed Notes reminds us today, charter schools provide the same sort of tyrannical workplace found throughout the rest of the economy. They are privately run (non-profits are a boom industry, despite their benign designation) and require their staff to work long hours for less money than their counterparts in public schools. Just like the rest of the private sector today, there are no unions to prevent any of this from happening. This tyranny reaches down to the ranks of the children, who are counseled out of charter schools if they prove too difficult to educate. It is the trademark of the Reagan Revolution: hand over more power to private entities that have no obligation to respect the rights of workers or their patrons. In this way, all of the democratic gains of the past 100 years vanish.

That is why public sector unions are so important. They are the last rampart against the destruction of all of these hard-won gains. When unions like our own United Federation of Teachers roll over and play dead, they disappoint the entire American workforce, public and private. This demonstrates the need for public sector unions to be militant. Just as the pro-private sector policies of the Reagan Revolution have thrown the country back 100 years, unions also need to reset themselves 100 years. Those were the days when the International Workers of the World (“The Wobblies”) were not afraid to meet the intractable demands of management with the intractable demands of the working class. It was their activism, as well the activism of countless groups like them, that forced government to institute the worker protections of the Progressive Era and the New Deal. What the unions of today need, every single one of them, is a coup d’état that wrests control away from the comfortable functionaries who have made themselves fat from making concessions to the demands of the Reagan Revolution. In their place, we need a cadre of leaders who militantly defend every last right workers today still have while ruthlessly fighting to regain all of the rights we have lost.

The entire birth control controversy in which the president has been mired is about a whole lot more than the separation of church and state. It touches upon issues of workplace tyranny that this country has yet to face honestly.