You’ve heard the words before, but this time is a big one: Amazon Union. A new effort at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama is sweeping up support and is preparing for an NLRB vote in February.
Meanwhile, remember when hospitals discovered typical Pfizer vaccine vials contained extra doses of the COVID vaccine? Well, Pfizer isn’t content to let that lie, and are now shipping less vials so they can charge for every last dose.
And lastly, the Senate is once again floundering on the filibuster, as Democrats in Name Only Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema announce they won’t be persuaded to end it. Predictable, but still frustrating!
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Remember this city: Bessemer, Alabama.
In a few months, it could take a permanent place in the history of organized labor, as warehouse workers at an Amazon Fulfillment Center there gear up for a full NLRB election to unionize close to 6,000 employees at the location.
The fight for unionization at Amazon’s notoriously brutal warehouse facilities has been ongoing across the country for years, but the Bessemer group is about as close as anyone’s come thus far. That’s in the face of an avalanche of corporate union busting, as is Amazon’s custom. Still, this week the workers got a big boost: the official endorsement of the NFL Player’s Association.
The workers are attempting to join the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, which worked with them clandestinely out of a Fairfield Inn so that the Amazon bosses wouldn’t catch on back in the summer.
Here’s where things are at now. The prospective union got over 2,000 of the warehouse’s 5,800 or so workers to sign cards saying they wanted to vote on a union, which was enough to the the NLRB involved, even in late December when Trump’s anti-worker goons were in charge. If you remember, one of Biden’s first acts as president was to fire the NLRB’s head lawyer, because the guy was a Trump flunky who sided with Uber in a big worker classification case.
So now the Amazon crew in Bessemer has a more sympathetic team at the top of the NLRB. That’s good, because the election is coming up. The NLRB announced that voting will begin
next month and continue through March, mostly by mail. It’ll be the first vote for an Amazon union since 2014, when a small group of tech workers in Delaware voted against one. And since Alabama is a right-to-work state that’s pretty hostile to unions in the first place, if the RWDSU and the brave employees putting it all on the line pull this off, it could touch off a wave of similar actions around the country.
Pfizer Gouges Government
One of the best small miracles to come out of the largely dysfunctional rollout of the Coronavirus vaccine was the discovery that Pfizer’s vials of the substance actually contained more doses than scientists thought.
That let doctors usually get more doses in arms faster, although they were often slowed down by overzealous restrictions as to who they could give it to.
But big pharma is always gonna big pharma, so you can guess what happens next. Pfizer is going to wring every last dollar from American taxpayers for this thing, making sure it’s paid by the dose.
How they did it will piss you off even more. For weeks, Pfizer lobbied the government to change the language of its original order for the vaccines, to note that the vials contained six doses, not five. Doing so could have a positive impact -- in that doctors knowingly can provide more doses faster. But since the sixth dose often requires a specialized syringe to extract, Pfizer is clearly playing the refs to make sure it gets every last penny possible. Its contract states that it gets paid by the dose, after all.
And since there’s more doses per vial, the company is now saying it’s required to provide fewer vials. The end result is most important, of couse -- the more jabs we get in arms the better -- but there’s no end to the lengths big pharma will go to maximize profits, no matter the situation.
Dems Forfeit Filibuster
And finally, you’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: Democrats are floundering a little in the Senate.
On Monday, Democrats Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema both stuck by their previous statements that they had no interest in ending the legislative filibuster, a key provision that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was fighting for in exchange for letting the Democrats take their committee chairship in the Senate.
In reality, this is a pretty thin win for McConnell, who didn’t get much besides Sinema and Manchin proving once again that they’re only sort of Democrats. When push comes to shove the Democrats are still clearly counting on Sinema and Manchin’s votes for unrelated bills, which filibuster or not still have a chance to get through.
McConnell also backed off on his hard-line demand that Democrats promise to preserve the filibuster, which means they could still take what’s known as the nuclear option and vote to end it with a simple majority at some point this year, provided they can finally convince Manchin and Sinema that there’s no other way to get stuff done.
They could of course have done that and just broken a promise to McConnell, but that’s not the kind of hard ball the Democrats usually play.
Regardless, the debate for now is done, and McConnell and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can hammer out the rest of the terms for their power-sharing agreement going forward, in which Democrats still have that prized tiebreaker vote. We’ll see what they do with it.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
A new study by University of Chicago and Notre Dame Economists found that 8 million people have been pushed into poverty in between June and December as federal pandemic aid programs expired. In related news, Joe Biden indicated today that he was open to putting income thresholds on the next stimulus check that gets sent out. More arbitrary cutoffs for relief, just what we need!
But hey, there’s more: Biden did say that he was moving forward to replace notorious racist Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman. As many progressives pointed out, the best possible situation would be sending every American about 100 of those bills each month.
The Oregon GOP took the wild but also incredibly predictable step today of officially putting a rubber stamp on Capitol storming conspiracy theories, passing a formal resolution calling the attack a so called “false flag,” perpetrated by leftists in order to impeach Donald Trump. Surprising that they’re the first ones to do it, but we’ll certainly get more of the same!
And finally, Joe Biden reversed Donald Trumps discriminatory ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military, making sure that people of all identities can serve the country however they choose.
JAN 26, 2021 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn