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.

FAA rejects airline’s bid to cut pilot training hours in half

A major regional airline’s push to have less training for pilots is rejected by the FAA.

Aviation-safety regulators rejected a proposal by a regional airline seeking to reduce the number of hours that some co-pilots need to begin flying passengers.

Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings Inc. had asked the Federal Aviation Administration to allow pilots who go through a special program at the airline’s training academy to begin flying on a restricted license after 750 hours of training—half what is generally required.

The request came as regional airlines such as Republic say they are facing a shortage of pilots that has strained their ability to fly to small cities around the country. Republic operates flights for United Airlines Holdings Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc.

The FAA said in a letter to Republic on Monday that it didn’t agree that Republic’s plan served the public interest and doesn’t believe the airline’s plan would help address a “perceived pilot shortage.” The agency said granting an exemption to Republic could open the door to similar requests from other airlines.

The decision underscores the dilemma facing regional airlines, which are generally smaller carriers that play an outsize role in U.S. air travel, operating over 40% of U.S. passenger flights.

Republic’s request reignited an industry debate about a federal rule that requires aspiring U.S. airline pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of flying experience to qualify to be a first officer at an airline, unless they are former military pilots or graduates of colleges and universities with professional aviation programs.

That requirement, dubbed the 1,500-hour rule, was put in place in 2013 after a fatal plane crash in 2009 near Buffalo, N.Y., which investigators blamed on a tired crew that didn’t properly react to stall warnings. The Air Line Pilots Association (APLA), a pilots union, opposed Republic’s request and disputes that there is a pilots shortage.

If I believed anyone, I’d believe the APLA. And I’ll be avoiding any flights on Republic henceforth. If they’re trying to jeopardize passenger and pilot safety just to increase their bottom line by hiring less-experienced pilots, who knows what other ways they are cutting corners?

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.