Is Biden the best president for unions ever?

As this very good article on Wonkette by Erik Loomis (nee Lawyers, Guns and Money) notes, the answer to that question looks likely to be yes. But it’s also too early to tell:

As the nation faced a rail strike last week, the Biden administration sprang into action. It had many reasons to do so. First, a rail strike could break already stressed supply chains. The economic impact might lead to much higher prices at a moment when the media desperately wants to report on inflation in a way that compares Joe Biden to Jimmy Carter, which for a certain generation of reporter and Beltway hack is what a Democrat always is. Second, a rail strike could make the administration look weak, flailing in the face of a few workers holding the nation’s economy hostage. That they have legitimate complaints would likely disappear in media coverage of the strike, which would again just blame it on the White House.

But Biden also engaged with this labor situation because he really believes in labor unions. Biden’s political career has shifted significantly over the years. He’s always been a middle-of-the-party kind of guy. When the party has moved right, he’s moved right, and now that the party has moved back to the left, he’s moved left too. That’s fine, I guess; it’s a politician for you.

However, Biden does have deep-seated values and they include the value of a labor union. Despite governing over a deeply divided nation and, on issues like unions, no small amount of division within his party, Biden has used a significant amount of political capital supporting unions. This is remarkable. No other president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has ever used that much capital in supporting organized labor. Moreover, the only reason FDR could do this is because he had enormous majorities in both the House and Senate that allowed for legislation to get through the usual alliance of Republicans and Dixiecrats that would forestall anything to help working Americans. Biden doesn’t have that, and yet he is doing whatever he can to help unions.

There is absolutely incontrovertible proof in verifiable statistics that in states and cities where unions are strong, wages and benefits far surpass those of states that are actively anti-union. Not only that, but even non-union people benefit from unions because even non-union wages and benefits average out higher in heavily unionized areas because non-union companies have to offer better deals to the employees to keep up.

No, there is no conflict between younger and older union activists over fashion choices

Leave it to the Wall Street Journal to manufacture tensions between old-line union activists and their younger counterparts.

The headline over this WSJ article is “Labor Activists Get Fashionable—to the Chagrin of Old-Line Unionists.”

Except very little of the article is about these alleged tensions.

John Elward, a truck driver for United Parcel Service Inc. near San Francisco, collects labor union memorabilia. He owns at least 12 Teamsters jackets, his favorite being a green one labeled “Irish American.” Then there are his dozens of union pins and patches.

So when organizers in April became the first to unionize an Inc. facility, the 42-year-old Mr. Elward grew excited. Several of the leaders seemed to have a flair for fashion—not something typically associated with labor activism.

Chris Smalls, the activist who led the organizing drive at Amazon, wore a red baseball cap, red sweats and hoodie and a red “Amazon Labor Union” shirt on top that day, all finished with a pair of oversize sunglasses. Pictures of his outfit went viral.

At the Time 100 gala two months later, Mr. Smalls went with black overalls and a black blazer, along with a bandanna and huge black shades. For an appearance on “The Daily Show,” he donned a bubble gum-pink Amazon Labor Union shirt and a printed baby blue bomber jacket.

Mr. Elward, whose grandfather once headed a local branch of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, had already noticed more style creeping into labor activism. He launched the Twitter account “Dripped Out Trade Unionists”—using hip-hop slang for ultrafashionable—to chronicle the sartorial leanings of retail employees, machine operators, engineers and other workers.

He now has about 30,000 followers and regularly gets messages from workers sending him snapshots of their outfits or asking things such as, “Where can I get that jacket?”

The article does quote two old-line union organizers who aren’t so much into fashion, but the main criticism from them seems to not be about being too fashionable, but rather they caution against wearing clothes so ostentatiously expensive that you give the impression to management that you make “too much” money.

But that is a far cry from there being tensions in union ranks over something as stupid as clothing.

You can read the rest of the WSJ article here.

Amazon union organizer Chris Smalls, shown above left at Netroots Nation, brings a younger sartorial style than you might usually find in a union office.

Jobs starting to move back to U.S. from overseas

A report from the Reshoring Initiative, a U.S. organization dedicated to encouraging and tracking the number of overseas jobs that move back to the U.S., says the country is on track to return nearly 350,000 jobs this year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

COVID and its related supply chain problems are big factors. But the Biden administration has also been successfully pushing laws that will increase the pace of job returns:

To be sure, globalization has been a tailwind for investors and large companies for much of the past 30 years, particularly U.S. firms. Increased trade across borders boosted profits and productivity and allowed countries to focus on the goods and services they were best equipped to produce. Globalization has also provided multinational companies with new customers and new pools of low-cost labor.

But the Covid-19 pandemic, which snarled supply chains worldwide, pushed many executives to think about bringing their business closer to home. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which upended commodities markets, is another motivator. So is the possibility of a conflict between China and Taiwan, which produces the chips used in smartphones, personal computers and cars.

The U.S. government is also luring companies back. The Chips and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, both passed this month, provide tax breaks and other incentives for building and investing in manufacturing centers for goods such as semiconductors, electric vehicles and pharmaceuticals.

Investors’ increased focus on carbon emissions also has bolstered the need for closer-to-home supply chains. Carbon pricing mechanisms and taxes recently implemented in the European Union and elsewhere will further reduce the appeal of extensive cross-border supply chains, Barclays economists wrote in a recent note to clients.

Barclays found that large S&P 500 companies are recruiting more in their home countries and slowing cross-border M&A activity.

“Globalization is in retreat,” the firm’s U.K.-based economists Christian Keller and Akash Utsav wrote.

I love how the WSJ only mentions “pools of low-cost labor” as a reason for jobs going overseas originally. If you’re spending all that money to ship your goods all the way from China and Indonesia to America, where do you think the biggest source of savings is going to be? It’s been the use of low-paid workers in countries where labor, safety and environmental laws are weak.

Anyway, thanks Biden for delivering on your jobs incentives promises!

You can read the rest of the WSJ article at this link.

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In-office work on Fridays is increasingly becoming optional for lucky white collar workers

As long as people still get their work done in the time allotted — in-office or not — who cares whether they work on Fridays?

Haley LaFloure picked up a couple dozen doughnuts on the way to work.

She forgot it was Friday.

The surprise she’d planned for her colleagues turned out to be on her: The office was empty. Everyone else at the St. Louis investment firm where she works had decided to close out the week from home, which meant LaFloure was stuck at her desk with enough sugary fried dough to last her a month.

“I don’t even like doughnuts,” the 25-year-old said. “I sat down and was like, ‘What am I going to do with these?’ ”

As white-collar workers across the country settle into hybrid work routines, one thing is becoming clear: Nobody wants to be in the office on Fridays.

The last day of the workweek, once synonymous with long lunches and early departures, has increasingly become a day to skip the office altogether. The trend, which was already brewing before the pandemic, has become widely adopted, even codified, in recent months and is creating new challenges for employers.

You can read the rest here.