Donald Trump Just Asked Congress to End the Rule of Law

This should be the biggest headline of the speech.
By Yascha Mounk
Jan 30, 201811:23 PM


Trump is calling for an end to any semblance of independence for federal agencies.
Donald Trump’s first State of the Union was a deeply dangerous speech.
It was deeply dangerous because he finally followed in the footsteps of European leaders like Hungarian President Viktor Orban who have long ago learned to give an attractive look to authoritarian populism.
Like them, Trump eschewed openly racist remarks in his speech, even emphasizing how much he (supposedly) cares about the fate of Latinos and black Americans. Like them, he called for economic policies, like paid family leave, that would actually benefit ordinary people. And like them, he then cast himself as the only man willing to prioritize the interests of his supporters over those of foreigners and political elites.
It was Bannonism without Bannon’s penchant for shock and awe. And it played shockingly well.
But Trump’s speech was also deeply dangerous for an even more important reason: Under the cover of his soothing rhetoric about unity and bipartisanship, Trump called on Congress to give him unprecedented and unquestionably antidemocratic powers: “Tonight,” he said, “I call on the congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers—and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”

By design, it is easy to overlook the true significance of the second half of that phrase. But dwell on it for a moment, and imagine what this would actually look like in practice. Under Trump’s proposal, any Cabinet secretary could decide that, say, a law enforcement official investigating the president had “undermined the public trust” or “failed the American people”—and fire him on the spot. In other words, Trump is calling for an end to any semblance of independence for the IRS, the FBI, the Department of Justice, or any other federal agency.
To be sure, such legislation is unlikely to pass. While the constant standing ovations for Trump from the Republican benches demonstrate the degree to which the GOP has now embraced the president, they are not yet at the point of dismantling the rule of law quite so brazenly; even if they did, the Supreme Court would be very likely to strike such a law down as unconstitutional.
But the fact that Trump’s authoritarian demand is unlikely to be realized anytime soon does not make it unimportant. In his first State of the Union, the 45th president of the United States asked Congress for the authority to end the rule of law. And that—not Trump’s supposedly unifying policy proposals, much less his supposedly presidential ability to read a speech off a teleprompter—should be the headline of every newspaper tomorrow.

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Overall Union Membership Rises in 2017, Union Density Holds Steady

Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute Posted on January 26, 2018
Newly released Bureau of Labor Statistics data on union membership trends show that union membership as a share of overall employment held steady at 10.7 percent in 2017, with essentially stable membership rates in both the private (6.4 or 6.5 percent) and public (34.4 percent) sectors.

Union membership gains among men offset continued losses among women last year. But, it is important to view these different trends by gender within historical context: union membership in 2017 was roughly equivalent among men (11.4 percent) as women (10.0 percent), compared to 1979 when men were more than twice as likely as women to be union members and comprised 69 percent of union members.

It is difficult to use one year changes in union membership trends to assess underlying dynamics. For one, the small samples involved for particular subgroups produce year-to-year volatility that should not be mistaken for a trend. Second, any change in union density can result from many different factors including the pattern of overall employment growth (whether sectors or occupations that are more heavily union grow faster or slower than average), the success or failure of union organizing drives, the scale of union organizing, changes in workers’ desire for union membership (i.e., demand for collective bargaining), and other factors. An understanding of the dynamics of union membership and representation requires a long-term analysis of detailed trends.
Nevertheless, it is worth squeezing out what is plausibly interesting in the most recent data:
Union membership (according to the BLS release) rose by 262,000 in 2017, more than the 173,000 additional workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement (hereafter referred to as “coverage”). See Table 1 (which relies on tabulations of the underlying survey data because BLS does not provide gender breakdowns within sectors). The greater growth in union membership than coverage was driven by developments in the private sector where membership growth was triple (164,000) that of the growth of coverage (53,000), centered in professional and service occupations.

Union membership became more common among men: some 32 percent of the net increase in male employment in 2017 went to men who were union members, leading union membership to rise from 11.2 to 11.4 percent of all male employment. Growth of union membership for men was strong in both the public and private sectors and for Hispanic and for non-Hispanic white men.

Correspondingly, union membership dipped slightly among women because women’s union membership did not rise in the private sector although employment overall did rise—private sector employment growth for women was concentrated in nonunion sectors. Union membership growth, however, was strong among Hispanic women.

Union membership grew in manufacturing despite an overall decline in manufacturing employment. Union membership was also strong in the wholesale and retail sectors, in the public sector and in information sector (where union membership density rose 1.9 percentage points).

Union membership density was stable or grew in a number of Southern states: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Virginia with especially strong growth in Texas.

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P.O. Déjà Vu is Not a Good Thing (APWU)

(This article first appeared in the January-February 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Western Regional Coordinator Omar Gonzalez
The more postal changes occur, the more they remain the same – a mess! Mismanaged repeated schedule/tour realignments and excessing will continue through 2018.
Bosses use Mail Processing Schedulers/Customer Service Variance Reports from inaccurate data to disrupt service and lives of employees continually abolishing reassignments and excessing.
Why doesn’t the union stop them? Pursuant to law (Postal Reorganization Act/Postal Accountability Enhancement Act) management determines the methods, means and personnel to operate USPS. However, such rights must be exercised in accordance with the contract, applicable laws, regulations and arbitrations.
We have no magic wand to stop realignments/excessing (otherwise we would wave it). What the law permits, under our contract, is to lessen the impact and ensure seniority rights compliance.
Schedule changes are being repeated quarterly by wayward bosses following the dictates of D.C. bosses, and they still can’t get it right. CBA Article 37.3.A.4 (Reposting) spells out when clerical assignments are to be reposted:
When the fixed schedule day(s) in the basic work week are permanently changed.
When the starting time change is more than one hour.
When the cumulative changes in starting time during the life of the CBA (May 2015-Sept. 2018) move the starting time outside a circle having the starting time as the center and the agreed upon time as its radius.
Incumbents have the right to accept the new reporting times, if negotiated at the local level. Far too often local bosses make repeated, stupid mistakes causing sectional excessing (Article 12.5.C.4) unnecessarily. This is policed by the local union with violations grieved and appealed (no extensions).
So-called “Expedited Bidding/Canvassing” deviating from normal processes may be negotiated locally but cannot be imposed unilaterally.
Repeated, stupid schedule changes cause morale issues affecting service. Postal history is latent with managerial projects. But what’s new?
Reports indicate D.C. bosses have targeted 14,496 clerical duty assignments for elimination. Management plans to continue to issue involuntary reassignment notices. There will likely be some excessing in February 2018, followed by more involuntary reassignments in May through November 2018.
Following the Area/Regional Article 12 meeting, locals should be approached by District management to discuss the actual impacts and related issues:
Attrition is effective the date of withholding notice to the region, ALL attrition must be counted to reduce the impact number.
PSE reductions are required IF their hours equate to full time equivalents. (PSEs are not the enemy their conversions will be hard to come by). There is a formula that helps determine FTEs. Reductions take place BEFORE actual excessing.
Non-APWU craft employee on light/limited duty must be returned to their craft.
Seniority is the sole criteria determining who is excessed. Locals must ensure seniority lists are up to date and accurate. Senior clerks must be solicited to volunteer in lieu of junior clerks and take their seniority with them. ALL clerks must be advised of their transfer rights to apply via 21-day eReassign taking their seniority with them. Junior clerks must be advised of retreat rights.
Retreat rights should be explained and employee written submissions allowed and accepted.
Preferencing for available assignments likewise should be explained and awarded based on seniority.
Refer to the CBA (on For clarification, contact your regional office.
Persevere This Year
Fellow Coordinators Sharyn Stone, John Dirzius, Mike Gallagher, Kennith Beasley and I wish you a prosperous year but, we know we’ll face major challenges – contractual and otherwise.
A major event is midterm elections which will have consequences! In the balance is your postal career, benefits and job security. Social/cultural issues must not be your sole focus. DO NOT VOTE AGAINST YOUR INTEREST – otherwise we will be forced to relive postal déjà vu over and over again!
We must persevere as we fight today for a better tomorrow. God bless you and the APWU!

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