POSITIVE PEACE

In a discussion thread at the New Haven Independent, one of the anti-union posters is invoking Martin Luther King and calling for “a peaceful solution.”

Fortunately, there’s a peaceful solution the Yale – New Haven Hospital could agree to tomorrow: card-check neutrality. Let’s keep in mind it was MLK who warned us against seeking “a negative peace which is the absence of tension” rather than “a positive peace which is the presence of justice.” He also said: “You see, no labor is really menial unless you’re not getting adequate wages…if you’re getting a good wage, as I know that through some unions they’ve brought it up…that isn’t menial labor. What makes it menial is the income, the wages.”

He wrote the first quote in jail in Birmingham. He said the second one at a rally for SEIU 1199 – his “favorite union” – in 1968.

OVERHEARD IN THE BATHROOM DURING LAST NIGHT’S ALDERMANIC MEETING ON YALE – NEW HAVEN HOSPITAL

“Man, after this I’m going to need to go home, go out on the deck, and smoke a cigar.”

“Yeah. I think I’ll go home and smoke a cigar in my hot tub.”

VICTORY AT YALE – NEW HAVEN HOSPITAL

Tonight finally came the announcement of agreements between Yale – New Haven Hospital, Community Organized for Responsible Development, SEIU 1199, and the City of New Haven on how to build a Cancer Center whose benefits can be shared by the whole city. It’s a validation of of what we’ve been saying all along: everyone with a stake in this project deserves at seat at the table. Yale – New Haven Hospital can and will grow in a way that grows the city of New Haven as well. Everyone who framed this as a choice between support for cancer patients and support for community benefits was wrong. The community benefits agreement and labor conduct agreements signed today represent victory for everyone who believes in local democracy and progressive partnership. They mark the end of business as usual in New Haven, and they offer a chance to fashion a national model of responsible development and community partnership. In an era in which business’ political and economic power and ability to threaten exit too often translates into unilateral control over the conditions of development, the community benefits agreement model offers a tremendous tool for securing democracy on the local level and safeguarding the health, environmental, housing, and labor concerns of the communities on whom these businesses depend.

PIN THE TAIL ON THE ELITE

There’s a lot that could be said about Matt Bai’s NYT Mag profile of Mark Warner, which unsurprisingly says as much about Bai as about Warner. Bai’s faith in the conservatism of the average American, and the culpability of the uber-rich liberals in wrecking the Democrats’ appeal, will be familiar to anyone who read his chiding critique of Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson’s book for considering structural obstacles to Democratic resurgence when the problem was obviously those liberal Hollywood celebrities and crazed bloggers stopping the party from offering Americans what they actually want. What struck me most on reading the article was the way that Bai’s choice of anecdotes reinforces his narrative – which may also be a reflection of Warner sharing anecdotes that reinforce a similar one.

Bai notes Warner’s plans to reform Medicare and his “embrace of free trade,” as things which will antagonize that infernal liberal elite, even though, as his readers may recall from the 2004 election, the party’s coterie of fund-raisers and policy wonks and strategists and spin-meisters are not known for their support for including labor standards in trade agreements. Warner’s belief that eroding entitlements in the solution to global competition seems more likely to put him on a collision course with the low-income voters who depend on our social insurance net and who’ve borne the burden of neoliberal trade policy. But there’s no gesture towards such a confrontation in Bai’s piece; instead we get an anecdote about his being hectored by elitist liberals at a Bay Area dinner party:

Warner thought his liberal guests would be interested in his policies to improve Virginia schools and raise the standard of living in rural areas; instead, it seemed to him, they thought that they understood poverty and race in an intellectual way that he, as a red-state governor, could not…as some of the guests walked Warner to his car, one woman vowed to educate him on abortion rights. That was all he could take. “This is why America hates Democrats,” a frustrated Warner blurted out before driving away. (Still piqued a month later, Warner, speaking to The Los Angeles Times, summarized the attitude of the assembled guests about their plans to save the country: “You little Virginia Democrat, how can you understand the great opportunities we have?”)

To read this story, and Bai’s article, you would think the only people to the left of Mark Warner are Bay Area elitists with cash left over from their brie purchases to distort the primary process. Of course, Matt Bai isn’t the only elite journalist committed to a vision in which his self-styled centrism is the will of the masses and those to his left are an insular elite. Michael Crowley, in a TNR piece on the tensions between Steny Hoyer’s more TNR-friendly war position and Nancy Pelosi’s, chose to describe Pelosi’s inner circle this way:

In addition to her top confidant, the combative Miller, others with Pelosi’s ear include Rosa DeLauro of New Haven; Anna Eshoo of Palo Alto; and Jan Schakowsky, a fiery crusader from Chicago’s upscale Lakefront area. All are critical of the war.

Now I’ve had the pleasure over the past four years of discovering all kinds of things for which New Haven should be nationally known. But it isn’t. Probably, as many TNR readers recognize Lakefront as New Haven. So Crowley could as helpfully written about “Anna Eshoo of Palo Alto, Jan Schakowsky of Lakefront, and Rosa DeLauro, whose New Haven, CT district represents a largely low-income constituency.” I’m curious why he decided instead to specify how “upscale” Lakefront is. But maybe that just makes me part of the reason people hate Democrats.

MIKE MORAND ON THE CANCER CENTER PROJECT

“There are a lot of values here, and they’re not necessarily contradictory.”

– Yale Associate VP Mike Morand, Dwight Hall Debate, Tuesday night

I couldn’t have said it better myself. That’s why the accusation that some of us are soft on cancer for wanting to see the largest development in the city’s history done responsibly is such a baseless and irresponsible one.

After several months of widening tension between John Sweeney and union leaders calling for a more aggressive, broader-based organizing vision more like the one that’s been winning in from Los Angeles to New Haven, Andy Stern and Bruce Raynor yesterday explicitly ruled out another term with Sweeney at the helm of the AFL-CIO as an acceptable vehicle for change:

Asserting that sweeping change was needed to revive the labor movement, the union leader, Andrew L. Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, said Mr. Sweeney was not the person to bring about bold change. “We need to make far-reaching changes and have a leader committed to such changes, and that leader is not John Sweeney,” said Mr. Stern, whose union represents more than 1.7 million workers…Yesterday, Mr. Stern joined the leaders of four other major unions – the Teamsters, the laborers, the food and commercial workers, and the hotel, restaurant and apparel workers union, Unite Here – in endorsing a platform that calls for overhauling the A.F.L.-C.I.O. The platform proposes nearly tripling the amount that the 13-million-member federation spends on unionization efforts…

In an interview, Mr. Stern indicated that his union would stay in the A.F.L.-C.I.O. if labor leaders elected a challenger committed to broad changes to help unions grow…Saying he is the best candidate to push labor forward and unite it, Mr. Sweeney has said he has no intention of being pressured into retiring. “At a moment when workers are under severe attack, it’s time to work together as never before to build and strengthen our movement,” he said in a statement. “It’s certainly no time for ultimatums.” Mr. Stern said he would support John W. Wilhelm, president of Unite Here’s hospitality division, if he challenged Mr. Sweeney. But Mr. Wilhelm has voiced doubts about running because unions with only 35 percent of the federation’s membership support him. Several Wilhelm supporters said that if he declined to run, they would support Terence O’Sullivan, the laborers’ president.

With over 55 percent of the vote, the Yale student body has elected Steven Syverud, the most progressive Yale College Council candidate in my time at Yale, its new President. Steven has the broad vision for the YCC which many of us have found lacking during much of our time here. He understands that the Yale student body stands to benefit most when its elected leaders prioritize standing firm for our priorities over avoiding making Yale’s administration uncomfortable.

This year I had the great opportunity to work with Steven as he crafted a YCC resolution strongly echoing the UOC’s platform for financial aid reform and to see him ensure that it won unanimous support from the Council. Steven stood with the UOC throughout the financial aid fight to this point, and he shares our commitment to continuing to push for further comprehensive change. Steven also shares our commitment to bringing university leaders and GESO leaders to the negotiating table and to pursuing much-needed reforms to better support our teachers and our learning. And Steven has long supported increasing Yale’s monetary contribution to New Haven and achieving a more progressive partnership between our city and our university.