Labor Rights And SCOTUS Wrongs | Crooked Media
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June 01, 2023
What A Day
Labor Rights And SCOTUS Wrongs

In This Episode

  • In a blow to unions and organized labor, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a concrete company seeking to sue the Teamsters union for the profit it lost during a worker strike. Advocates say the decision could prevent workers from exercising their right to strike nationwide.
  • The Senate voted to block Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, advancing the Republican-led legislation that nullifies the plan and repeals the current freeze on student loan repayments and interest. The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk, which he’s expected to veto.
  • And in headlines: a Russian missile struck Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv, Georgia police arrested three organizers providing aid to protestors of Atlanta’s “Cop City,” and failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake has dropped a new single.


Show Notes:



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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, June 2nd. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Arabindi and this is What A Day where we want to publicly condemn the sand bag that tripped Joe Biden yesterday at the Air Force Academy graduation. What’s up with that?


Tre’vell Anderson: Shame on you sandbag. They gave you a platform and you blew it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Get a job. Stay away from him. No more of this. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, two more members of the far right militia group, the Oath Keepers have been sentenced to prison. Plus, Kari Lake has dropped a new single. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But first, we got our first Supreme Court opinion of the season yesterday. And it is not looking great, people. In a blow to unions and organized labor, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a concrete company in Washington state that has been trying to pursue a lawsuit against the Teamsters Union. The court ruled that federal labor laws don’t protect the union from potential liability for damages that result from strikes and that state courts can decide who is liable. So obviously, this impacts the Teamsters union in this specific case. But the implications of this decision really extend to any union. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, and we’ve been seeing a lot more, you know, unionizing happening all over the place over the last couple of years. So this is definitely interesting here. Can you give us some background on this case and why exactly it’s so important? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. So this issue in question started back in 2017 during contract negotiations with the concrete company in question, Glacier Northwest Inc.. The Union, Teamsters Local 174, which represents truck drivers and factory workers, called for a strike and for drivers to walk off the job, which they did while wet concrete was still in their trucks, though they did keep the mixing drums rotating so that it wouldn’t immediately harden. Glacier decided then to remove the concrete from the trucks and then break it up once it’s hardened. They were obviously not happy about this. They claimed that they lost $100,000 because they weren’t able to fulfill a contract on the day of the strike. And they sued the union in state court. In 2021, the Washington state Supreme Court blocked Glacier’s lawsuit. They ruled that what happened to the concrete was incidental to the strike, and it was covered by the National Labor Relations Act, or NLRA, which upholds the rights of workers to strike. But the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday reversed that ruling. So advocates of organized labor have said by making unions liable for losses that companies can face during strikes, it could prevent this union and others from exercising their rights to strike in the future. And that was the basis of the court’s dissent in this opinion. But I mean, it was kind of a small dissent, only one justice. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, no, that doesn’t sound great for the break down. I thought at least, you know, we would have a little bit more of a split. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. I mean, two of the liberal justices joined the six conservatives on the court. I mean, we already have an overwhelming majority there. Uh. But the lone dissenter here was Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. She, as I mentioned before, was concerned that this decision could risk eroding the right to strike. Writing for the court’s majority, on the other hand, was Justice Amy Coney Barrett. She said, quote, “Because the union took affirmative steps to endanger Glacier’s property rather than reasonable precautions to mitigate that risk, the NLRA does not arguably protect its conduct.” This, unfortunately, is pretty in line with the tack that this court has taken on labor. Back in 2018, the conservative majority of the court overturned a pro-union decision dating back decades involving fees paid by government workers. More recently, the Supreme Court ruled that union organizers can’t recruit on agricultural land in California, saying that it violated the rights of employers. But this latest decision comes at a time when, as you just mentioned, more workers and unions across more sectors are coming forward and exercising their right to strike to get their needs met by their employers. We’ve talked to many a striking worker on this show. They will almost always say that they would rather be working, but they need to be doing this because their situations have become so untenable there are no other options. And the implications of this ruling could make it that much harder for them to feel like they can exercise that right without being taken to court and possibly becoming liable for the losses that occur when they do that. This decision, I mean, will have really broad implications not just for this union, but for any union that goes on strike. I mean, if any employer faces losses of any kind, you know, this is basically opening the door for them to sue. And I think we’ll see the effects of this. I mean, I hope not. I hope that unions still kind of step up and when things are wrong that they are able to strike. But I think this will make at least some workers feel really cautious about wanting to do that in the future. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. It definitely will like, you know, heighten up the anxiety that I think– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –is already present. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I mean, these people are already on strike. They’re already not getting paid like it’s– 


Tre’vell Anderson: –Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –already anxiety inducing enough. And then, like, you might be liable for something that big and intense. It’s really daunting. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, not great, not great, not great. Now on to an update in the saga surrounding the student loan debt of up to 40 million Americans, including yours truly. Yesterday, the Senate voted to approve a measure that blocks President Biden’s plan to clear up to $20,000 of student loan debt for folks. This is the plan many of you will remember that has been in limbo for some months. As we wait for what will likely be another Supreme Court decision that pisses me off. So in a 52 to 46 vote, the Senate approved this Republican led legislation that nullifies the debt cancellation program and repeals the current freeze on student loan repayments and interest. Now, Biden will definitely veto this. We know that’s coming. And because the measure didn’t pass with a two thirds majority, they won’t be able to override the veto. So no need for immediate concern. But with this largely symbolic move, the writing is on the wall Priyanka.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Okay. Not liking the looks of this, but let’s break down this vote a little bit. What happened here? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah so as I mentioned, this was a Republican led effort. We know that they have rebuked the idea of the debt forgiveness plan since the beginning. They’re the reason why it’s in front of the Supreme Court right now. But in the Senate, the Republicans were joined by a couple moderate Democrats, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana. And, of course, it’s not a real party of absurdity unless Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who is an independent, is involved. So she also threw her support behind this effort. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Great. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Manchin basically called the plan quote unquote, “reckless” and says it adds too much to the national debt. He also said in a statement that it, quote, “forces hardworking taxpayers who already paid off their loans or did not go to college to shoulder the cost,” which give me a break personally. 


Priyanka Aribindi: We don’t have children. Our taxes go to like public education for other people’s kids. Like you don’t– 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –see us like sitting here being like, what the fuck? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Why? We shouldn’t be paying for that. Like, no, this makes no sense.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, it makes no sense. It makes no sense. But in addition to them, there were two other Democratic senators, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Mark Warner of Virginia, who did not cast votes at all. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. That is an especially interesting position to take, [laughter] in my opinion. But you mentioned that President Biden will definitely veto this so it won’t become law. But what is next for this plan like will it ever see the light of day? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Huh yuh, yuh yuh yi. I wish I had a better response. So– 


Priyanka Aribindi: I know. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –there’s two main things here, right? I already talked about the Supreme Court decision that we are waiting on. They will rule whenever they rule on if Biden can cancel the student loan debt in the first place. And then the second thing is how this entire debt relief plan is actually impacted by the debt ceiling deal that Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have agreed on, which the Senate began debate about yesterday. In that deal, there’s a provision that ends the freeze on student loan payments and interest on August the 30th. So just in a few months. Now, this has long been the plan, the Biden administration says, to start payments back. Mind you, payments have been paused since March 2020. That’s over three years ago. And that begs the question of if they really need this money anyway. But I digress. And so they’re basically saying that because this was always the plan, the debt ceiling deal just kind of codifies it. Obviously, though, a number of progressives are side eyeing this idea because it basically locks the administration into this plan. Even if the Supreme Court decides that the debt cancellation plan cannot be implemented. And so with that, you know, I have my own message to everybody out there like me who hasn’t had to pay on our student loans for over three years at this point. You better start saving your coins. Okay? Don’t let hot girl summer catch you slipping and have you defaulting in the fall. That’s not great. Nobody will want that. Okay. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Mm mm. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So prepare now. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No. I hate to say it. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] Prepare now so that you are not surprised come August 30th. Okay. More on all of this very soon, I’m sure. But that is the latest for now. [music break] Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Senators were on track to pass a debt ceiling package on Thursday in yet another nail biting vote ahead of the June 5th deadline. The bipartisan deal landed in the Senate yesterday after the House overwhelmingly approved it on Wednesday. While the legislation is expected to pass before the weekend, its speedy approval faced pushback from some Senate Republicans who sought to amend the deal with, you guessed it, more defense spending. As we go to record this episode at 9:30 p.m. Eastern, senators seemed poised to pass the legislation before Monday, when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says the U.S. will default on its debt. 


Priyanka Aribindi: A Russian missile struck Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, Thursday morning, killing at least three people, including a nine year old child and her mother who were trying to get into a locked air raid shelter. The attack on Kyiv injured sixteen people and damaged apartments, schools and a children’s hospital. According to The New York Times, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the people responsible for the locked bomb shelter should be prosecuted. And Kyiv city officials have opened a criminal investigation looking into the shelters, how they’re maintained and why they were locked at the time of the attack. Thursday’s strike comes after Kyiv has experienced relentless attacks by Russia over the past couple of weeks. Meanwhile, Zelensky is in Moldova for the European Political Community Summit, where he wants to discuss how his country can join the EU and NATO, as well as receive more military support. Just this week, the U.S. approved sending $300 million dollars in military aid to Ukraine. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Two more members of the far right militia group, the Oath Keepers, were sentenced on Thursday over their role in the Capitol riots. Roberto Minuta, one of the six Oath Keepers convicted of seditious conspiracy earlier this year, was sentenced to more than four years behind bars. Edward Vallejo was also sentenced on Thursday to three years in prison. Yesterday’s convictions come after two of their colleagues, including the group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, were also ordered to serve time for helping organize the violent insurrection that took place on January 6th. Minuta was seen on video guarding Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to former President Donald Trump just hours before protesters stormed the Capitol on January 6th, and federal prosecutors said that he bought 5500 rounds of ammunition ahead of the insurrection. I don’t know what you planning to do with 5500 rounds of ammunition? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Nothing good. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Nothing good. Okay. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Nothing good. 


Tre’vell Anderson: While Minuta tried to come across as apologetic in court during yesterday’s sentencing. Prosecutors were quick to point out a social media post that Minuta made shortly after he was arrested in March of 2021 that referred to all January 6th defendants as quote unquote, “political prisoners.” We’re really going to need them to give up that political prisoners thing. It’s not working and it’s also not accurate. 


Priyanka Aribindi: [laugh] Don’t flatter yourself like that. I’m so sorry. That’s absolutely not what you are. You are domestic terrorists. But okay. And finally, an update on cop city. The $90 million dollar police training complex that Georgia law enforcement wants to build on 300 acres of forest near a predominantly Black neighborhood in Atlanta. Earlier this year, we told you about how police killed Manuel Teran, also known by the nickname Tortugita during a Cop City protest in January. More than 40 people have been charged with domestic terrorism. Wild. We were just talking about that, very different for organizing demonstrations against the proposed facilities so far. And the crackdown on protesters by law enforcement has only continued. On Wednesday, Georgia police arrested three head organizers of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a community bail fund that has helped bail Cop City protesters out of jail after being arrested. The three organizers were hit with felony charges of money laundering and charity fraud, and they were taken into custody after police searched one of their homes. State investigators say that they have evidence linking the trio to the financial crimes that they are accused of. But the lawyer representing them said he had yet to determine what that evidence could be. The three Atlanta Solidarity Fund organizers will likely appear in court in the coming days. This is so crazy. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: These charges for what these people are doing are so wildly overblown. It is crazy. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, it’s really wild. That one, it seems like nobody wants this quote unquote, “cop city” in the first place. Right? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But also the fact that taxpayer dollars will go in part towards putting this multi-million dollar $90 million dollar to be specific, you know, training complex together. And if the training that y’all have had thus far, hasn’t got you treating people better? I don’t know that a new complex will help do that. But you know, what do I know, Priyanka? I don’t know. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Unclear how throwing money at this problem makes it any better. Like, I don’t think you need 300 acres uh worth of classrooms to uh teach police not to kill Black and Brown people. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But uh that’s just me anyways. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So wild, so wild, so wild, absurd. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads. 




Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, WAD squad. And today we’re doing a segment we like to call No Context, Bad Vibes. 


[clip of intro for No Context, Bad Vibes] No context. Bad vibes. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, yes. Take a listen to today’s clip. 


[clip of Kari Lake song titled 81 million vote, my ass] If you would’ve told me two years ago, three years ago that I would be in the middle of a political movement, I would have said, put down Hunter’s crack pipe right now. [electric guitar strumming] Right now. I can’t afford the groceries. I can’t afford your gas. It’s Bidenflation across the nation. 81 million votes, my ass. [electric guitar strumming] Hey! 81 million votes, my ass.


Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] Oh my God. 


Priyanka Aribindi: What is going on? [laugh]


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, my God. Okay. Okay. That was, of course, failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake’s new single, charmingly titled 81 Million Votes, My Ass. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh my God. 


Tre’vell Anderson: The title comes from a comment Lake made in her speech at CPAC’s Ronald Reagan dinner, referring, of course, to the number of votes Biden got in the 2020 election. Lake, an election denier, in case you could not tell and rumored a Senate hopeful, was apparently approached to collaborate by disgraced former Fox anchor Ed Henry, who said the phrase reminded him of a country song. With Lake’s blessing, Henry moved forward with the track, collaborating with music executive LJ Fino, who worked on Trump and the J6 Prison choir’s Haunting Justice for All. I remember that one, haunting is correct. And songwriter Jeffrey Steel, a singer who has apparently written for Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts. Now that we’ve got some context, Priyanka, what are your thoughts on this clip? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Listen, that context, I don’t know if that’s helping me make any sense of what I just heard. [laughter] It is all, I am, I’m floored a little bit. I don’t know if I heard that much of Carrie Lake’s voice in that. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s her so-called single. I feel like she she’s really more of a feature. [laughter] But yeah. Failed gubernatorial candidate, potentially failed country star. I didn’t like that. But it was fun to laugh to. [laughter] Might I want to hear more? Possibly. Did I like it actually? It’s a little bit of an earworm. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So that’s the thing. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Um. Yeah. I don’t know. You’re watching my reactions in real time. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, well, so that’s the thing. It gives earworm, right? It’s a little catchy. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s kind of in my head. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I was over here tapping my toes. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m not going to sing it. I’m not going to sing [laughter] it in the mic. I can’t do that to myself. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I was over here tapping my toes. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m too young, I’m too young to be canceled like that. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And I hate that for us that, you know, all you need is a good beat, you know, a good little rhythm line. And here we are bopping our head to their foolishness. I want to be clear. It is foolishness. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Can’t afford my groceries. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I won’t be streaming it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Can’t afford my gas. Um. [laughter] Yeah.


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh see. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You got me. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know the words already. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Song of the summer, song of this summer. [laughter] We have one we didn’t until now. Move over Taylor Swift. Move over Beyoncé. Here we are. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, Lord have mercy today. That was no context, bad vibes. 


[clip of intro for No Context, Bad Vibes] No context. Bad vibes. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Extremely, extremely bad vibes. [laughter]


Tre’vell Anderson: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Stream literally anything other than Kari Lake and tell your friends to listen. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just about the continuing consequences of insurrectionist actions like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


[spoken together] And watch out for those sandbags. 


Priyanka Aribindi: They’ll get ya, they really will. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. They will. You know, they’re just waiting around the corner for you to not be paying attention and so you can trip over them. So be careful. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Make you look like an idiot in front of the whole country. [laughter] He did not look like an idiot, but they tried. They tried. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz, our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla, and Raven Yamamoto is our associate producer. We had production assistance this week from Fiona Pestana. Jocey Coffman is our head writer and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.