On December 24th, the California Supreme Court gave a major Christmas
present for labor rights, affirming that under California law, union
members in a mall could distribute handbills calling for a consumer
boycott of one of the mall's tenants. The decision, Fashion Valley Mall v. NLRB, built
on an earlier state high court decision in 1980 that deemed malls to be
a "public forum" where the public had free speech rights. The recent
decision extended that principle to active labor boycotts -- a critical
tool for labor to get its message out to consumers.
Not surprisingly, the Bush Administration's proposal for fixing the subprime lending crisis is an industry-led deal that involves completely voluntary actions to fix the current crisis and will ultimately help only a few of the millions of people who have either lost or are in danger of losing their homes. With absolute failure at the federal level, it is again up to states to step in. In two recent editorialpieces, the executive directors of the Progressive States Network and the Drum Major Institute called on New York Governor Spitzer to impose a six-month moratorium on foreclosures to stop the rapidly increasing rate of home loss, a policy all governors should enact. A moratorium would give lenders incentive to restructure loans on fair terms and fight back against the Wall-street backed predatory lenders.
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared this
year's Nobel Peace Prize with Al
Gore, recently released a
report detailing the negative environmental changes that will result from
climate change, including higher temperatures leading to increased deaths
from more severe heat waves, increased incidence of infectious
diseases, and severe damage to ecosystems. The IPCC report
warned that there were only eight years left to act to prevent the
worst effects of global warming.
The effects of the sub-prime lending disaster are
being felt as the stock market has been rocked in
recent weeks and many families find themselves locked out of the
mortgage market. As we
in the past, the subprime mortgage market was largely aimed at
economically-strapped families trying to find some way to afford
homes. For low-income renters who never had the money to
even be in the game, rising rents have increasingly priced them
out of their homes.
Governor, Deval Patrick, has announced a
education reform, including free community college and universal pre-K.
Although many details have yet to be worked out, the proposed 10-year
Project, would dramatically increase access to public education and aims
to put Massachusetts at the forefront of education policy by making sure high
school graduates have the option of either free community college or
vocational options to strengthen workforce development for all students.
Despite real progress over the last generation in overcoming discrimination in our society, the reality is that Americans are still regularly refused employment, housing or equal treatment under the law because of their nationality or the color of their skin. The numbers highlighting this racial discrimination are stark:
We spend more than twice on health care than any other industrialized nation in the world, yet we don't have universal access and our outcomes are worse. The reason we don't have universal access to quality health care is that too much of our health care spending -- our premiums, co-pays, prescriptions -- is wasted on profits, CEO bonuses and inefficient health care.