In This Episode
- The Supreme Court yesterday blocked the Biden administration’s attempt to enforce a vaccine or testing mandate for private employers. Meanwhile, Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin said again that they, will not support changing the filibuster rules to pass new voting rights measures.
- More than 8,000 grocery store workers in Colorado have begun a strike against their employer, the Kroger-owned chain King Soopers. Kim Cordova, head of the workers’ union that represents them, joins us to discuss their demands.
- And in headlines: The FBI arrested the leader and founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia for his involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection, teachers in France protested the country’s school COVID policies, and the UK’s Prince Andrew was forced to give up all of his military and royal titles.
- We’ll be back with a new WAD on Tuesday, January 18th after MLK Day.
- The Economic Roundtable: “Hungry At The Table:
- White Paper On Grocery Workers At The Kroger Company” – https://bit.ly/3I3a84p
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday/
Gideon Resnick: It is Friday, January 14th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day, where we’re reminding you that the studies showing that cannabinoids prevented COVID only describe scenarios where you wear a big weed leaf over your entire mouth.
Gideon Resnick: I believe that is true. I didn’t read the study at all.
Priyanka Aribindi: I read it over a stranger’s shoulder on a train, but I stand by my analysis.
Gideon Resnick: And I endorse it. On today’s show, the FBI arrested the leader of the Oath Keepers. Plus teachers in France protest over COVID policies.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, we have a lot of news out of Washington from every branch of our government. So buckle up.
Gideon Resnick: OK.
Priyanka Aribindi: First, the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s attempts to enforce a vaccine or testing mandate from going into effect for large, privately owned companies yesterday. You probably remember hearing about this mandate when it was first issued in November. It would have required workers at these companies to be vaccinated or tested weekly, with select exceptions. It would have applied over 84 million workers, and the administration estimated that it would get an additional 22 million people vaccinated and prevent a quarter of a million hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
Gideon Resnick: Wow.
Priyanka Aribindi: But the High Court voted six to three against it, with the three liberal justices in dissent.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and the Supreme Court has previously upheld various state vaccine mandates that have come in front of them, as we’ve talked about before. So what was the reasoning behind their decision to not do the same thing here?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So it seems that they didn’t believe that in this case, the administration had the congressional authorization to impose such a broad requirement. In an unsigned opinion, the court said, quote “Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA, which is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the power to regulate occupational dangers, it is not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly.” Which is what they’re claiming this was doing.
Gideon Resnick: It would be really bad if more people were trying to regulate public health during a pandemic. You know, that be so scary.
Priyanka Aribindi: Terrible.
Gideon Resnick: There was also a vaccine mandate for health care workers and people that work at those facilities. What did the Supreme Court decide there?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So the Supreme Court actually issued an entirely separate ruling about this mandate for health care workers. Health care workers who are at facilities that receive federal funding will still need to be vaccinated. This will affect an estimated 17 million plus workers in the field, and the administration estimates that it will save hundreds or even thousands of lives each month. On the health care ruling, the court voted 5-4 to uphold the mandate, with Chief Justice Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh siding with the liberal justices.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and this is obviously happening with the backdrop of the Omicron variant surge across the entire country. Earlier this week, the number of U.S. patients that were hospitalized with COVID hit an all-time high. So what else is happening with the Biden administration’s response?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, they are trying to step it up. So yesterday, Biden announced that the government is buying an additional 500 million tests to be distributed to Americans. So that brings the total number of tests that they have purchased to do this with up to one billion. His administration also plans to make free, high quality masks available to all Americans. So unsure if there will be a reimbursement situation for those of us who already bulk ordered KN95s after listening to Dr. Abdul El-Sayed on this show. I know I did. If you’re in that boat, I will keep you all updated because I’m very interested.
Gideon Resnick: Same.
Priyanka Aribindi: He’s also sending military medical teams to six states where hospitals have been really overwhelmed with COVID cases. So a lot going on there.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and that is still not everything that happened in D.C. just yesterday. So aside from Omicron, Biden has been prioritizing the push for new voting rights legislation. What is the latest there?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it was a busy day and unfortunately not a great one for, you know, everything that is important to us. It started with something good. The House passed a measure yesterday that combined the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Amendment Act that was passed completely along party lines—so not a hard fight in the House, but definitely disappointing when you think about the fact that zero Republicans support it.
Gideon Resnick: Yep.
Priyanka Aribindi: Kind of wild, but that’s not even the point that I’m trying to make. It passes the house than obviously all eyes go to the Senate, where Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have decided to keep doing their thing. They say they will not support changing the filibuster rules despite supporting the new voting rights measures, which doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense if you think about it for more than five minutes. I don’t know. But after that, they had a closed-door meeting with the president at the White House yesterday afternoon. Biden told reporters that quote, “I’m not sure” when asked if he thinks the bills will still pass.
Gideon Resnick: Honestly, same Joe.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s kind of where we’re all at. So nothing new out of them. Just definitely frustrating news.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So everybody has said their peace about this, it seems. So what is going to happen next with these bills?
Priyanka Aribindi: So this will finally reach the Senate floor for debate and a vote from every single senator on the record. This is actually the first time that voting rights have made it to the Senate floor out of five attempts. Republicans have filibustered it every single time leading up to now. This time it only got through on a technicality, so it’s just not great. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more. I mean, I hope we have good news to share with you on this front, but that is all we know on this for now.
Gideon Resnick: Yes. Whew. Deep breath. OK, moving to an ongoing labor story. More than 8,000 grocery store workers in Colorado have begun a strike this week, right?
Priyanka Aribindi: So if you were listening to the show yesterday, you heard a little bit about this. They are employees of the Kroger-owned chain King Soopers and are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is from a video captured by a CBS Denver reporter. Gideon, can you tell us more about what is going on here?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Just to recap, the collective bargaining agreement between the union and the store expired last week. The union turned down an offer that Kroger called its quote, “last, best, and final” which the company said would raise the starting pay to $16 an hour, increase wages up to $4.50 for some workers in the first year and give ratification bonuses of up to $4,000. So meanwhile, the union’s plan included a $6 an hour wage increase and new safety requirements, among other things they were looking for. But that was rejected by the company. Now, regarding those safety requirements, it should be noted here that the mass shooting that took place in Boulder last year happened at a King Soopers store where workers were among the victims.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, really a red flag inducing if you’re rejecting safety requirements. But go on, I want to hear more.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So in December, the union filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board, contending that the company has engaged in unfair labor practices. And then this week, King Soopers actually did the same. And as the Huffington Post noted in their reporting, by striking over these alleged unfair practices instead of explicitly over benefits and pay, workers could get some legal protections against the company just permanently replacing them.
Priyanka Aribindi: You got a chance to talk with the head of the workers union, Kim Cordova. What did she tell you?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, we went over a lot, but she went into more detail with me about the kind of safety protections that they want to see in place. Take a listen:
Kim Cordova So, you know, our workers were exposed to COVID. We had several workers die from COVID. And there’s been little to no sense of urgency for the company to protect them. So we’ve had to fight for personal protective equipment, even hand sanitizer, cleaning, sanitizing the stores. No social distancing for the workers. But not just the COVID stuff, we’ve seen an uptick in violent, either crimes or actions by customers or folks coming into the stores that have been aggressive or have physically or verbally assaulted our members. And we had, there was a mass shooting here in Boulder, Colorado, where workers in one of our grocery stores, I mean, we had 10 innocent victims were murdered in that store. And so even after that shooting, the company did not enhance safety.
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t even have words for that. That’s really awful.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. And so in addition to safety, Cordova also said that wages are a big issue here.
Kim Cordova This is Kroger, King Soopers and Kroger are the largest grocers, not just in Colorado, but in the United States. Yet the workers here are mostly part time, and they are barely paid at minimum wage. Our minimum wage in Denver County is 15.87, yet the company proposed wages of $16. That’s 13 cents. That’s not going to better anybody’s life or allow a worker to find an apartment instead of sleeping in their car at night.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right. And to her point, this strike came the same week as a really eye-opening and harrowing survey of Kroger workers nationally. Can you tell us more about what that revealed?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so it came from this nonprofit research organization, the Economic Roundtable. We’ll link to this in our show notes, but it included responses from more than 10,000 workers, and it found that 14% said they had been homeless in the past year. Thirty six percent said they worried about eviction. And over three quarters are food insecure. So here’s Cordova again:
Kim Cordova Workers are struggling working for these giant corporations and, you know, to work in a grocery store where you yourself cannot afford to buy food or quality or healthy food is shameful.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And as we’ve seen in tons of industries for quite a while now, but especially over the course of the pandemic, workers really seem to be asking themselves if all of this is worth it.
Kim Cordova They’re demanding more, because when you face death and you’re exposed to, you know, COVID, this type of virus that you can die from or your family members, people are thinking, Is this a good idea, am I paid enough for this, is this job worth it? Or you take the violence that we’re seeing where you can’t come to work and not be physically attacked or verbally assaulted because you ask somebody to please wear a mask or you’re out of toilet paper?
Priyanka Aribindi: You know, everyone deserves to be safe and everyone deserves to be paid for their work. And this is, I’m glad that you spoke to them about this. I’m glad that people are hearing this.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So we’ll keep following this story and other labor stories as they develop. But that is the latest for now.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Friday WAD squad. For today’s temp check, we are rounding up the stories of three celebrity couples who, when loaded into a hadron collider type device, would create a particle of concentrated media attention capable of destroying all human life.
Gideon Resnick: They would.
Priyanka Aribindi: First, there is the tall rapper turned tall singer Machine Gun Kelly and the mid-2000s bombshell actor Megan Fox. The pair have been dating for about a year and a half. They announced their engagement yesterday, posting videos of the proposal to share with their closest friends, i.e. every person in the entire world. MJK got Fox a ring that allegedly cost between 300 and $400000 and features both an emerald representing Fox and a diamond representing MGK—how romantic. I will withhold my feelings about the heinous design choices of this very creative wedding ring. Fox’s Instagram post included this caption quote, “Just as in every lifetime before this one and in every lifetime that will follow it, I said yes . . . and then we drank each other’s blood.”
Gideon Resnick: If they documented everything else so meticulously and there’s no documentation of this, I don’t believe it.
Priyanka Aribindi: The blood drinking, you know they would take a zillion photos of that. They definitely didn’t do it.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I don’t believe it. Next, a couple that a slightly more junior in terms of days of knowing each other, but could soon overtake MJK and Megan Fox in terms of total clicks aggregated, is the rapper Kanye West, known now as Ye and Uncut Gems star Julia Fox. Their first date was exactly two weeks ago but was quickly followed with an exclusive profile documenting their second date in quite some detail in Interview magazine.
Priyanka Aribindi: Pretty bold.
Gideon Resnick: Definitely a sight to behold. Yes. Bold exercise all around.
Priyanka Aribindi: For date number two.
Gideon Resnick: 100%. Yesterday, Julia Fox spoke more about their relationship on her podcast— she has one—Forbidden Fruit, saying quote, “For right now, I’m just living in the moment and I don’t have any expectations. It’s really such a Gemini-Aquarius connection. It is very inspirational.” I feel the need to just thank Kanye West and Julia Fox for dating.
Priyanka Aribindi: That uh, that’s just you who feels that need. And lastly, there is a couple that is probably the closest thing the celebrity PR world has to an atomic bomb is Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson. On Wednesday night, they went on a date in Los Angeles and were photographed having their first ever public hug!
Gideon Resnick: Oh wow.
Priyanka Aribindi: What a milestone! Very exciting stuff. So Gideon, my question for you, which I’m sure is almost impossible to answer: if you had to pick, which of these three celeb couples are you rooting for?
Gideon Resnick: I’m rooting for the comet, Priyanka, the comet that will take us all out in unison. No, if I have to pick, I honestly think, maybe this is just recency bias in terms of the order that we said them, but I kind of lean like Kardashian and Davidson at this point.
Priyanka Aribindi: Really? Tell me more.
Gideon Resnick: There’s just stuff that annoys me about the others more intensely and like I feel as if they are comparatively being less annoying about their specific relationship right now.
Priyanka Aribindi: I think I am rooting for—hate to say it, hope I don’t sound ridiculous—I think MGK and Meghan.
Gideon Resnick: OK.
Priyanka Aribindi: Because you know what? They just are super in love, and they keep delivering us these wild quotes that we could turn into games for this podcast. It’s pretty fun. And I don’t really think they’re harming anybody. I think they’re just drinking each other’s blood, supposedly.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, supposedly.
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, just keep doing that in peace. Your heinous ring, I don’t really care. It’s fine. It’s really bad. It’s a really bad ring guys.
Gideon Resnick: I got to see it.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s ugly.
Gideon Resnick: Just like that, we have checked our temps. They are—
Priyanka Aribindi: High. They’re very high.
Gideon Resnick: —hot and cold given our relationship to these couples. But we’ll be back after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is now in line with his fellow Republicans because he said that he also is not going to cooperate with the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. This was in response to the Democrat-led panel asking McCarthy to voluntarily testify. Yesterday, he said he had no info about conversations he had with former President Trump leading up to or regarding that day. However, on January 11th, McCarthy reportedly admitted to House Republicans that Trump had, quote, “some degree of responsibility.”.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oopsie!
Gideon Resnick: Members of the House Committee are now weighing the possibility of subpoenaing him and other lawmakers to get them to comply. Meanwhile, in other Capitol riot news, yesterday the FBI arrested if Stewart Rhodes—tremendous mug shot—the leader and founder of the far right Oath Keepers militia. Rhodes and 10 members of his group were charged with seditious conspiracy for organizing and plotting to storm the Capitol that day. The case against Rhodes and other Oath Keepers is the first time that prosecutors have filed sedition charges against any of the hundreds of people that were accused of taking part in the January 6th attack.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. Prince Andrew was forced to give up all of his military and royal titles yesterday amid growing concerns over the sexual abuse allegations brought against him. The order came directly from his own mom, Queen Elizabeth, the second, in a statement released by Buckingham Palace. In it, the palace said that from now on, Andrew was disallowed from undertaking quote, “any public duties and from using the title His Royal Highness.” The royal scolding comes just one day after a federal New York judge rejected Prince Andrew’s request to throw out the lawsuit brought against him by Virginia Giuffre. Giuffre accuses Andrew of raping her when she was a minor after she was trafficked to him by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, an allegation that Andrew continually denies. The Duke will likely face trial later this year after numerous attempts to avoid litigation as the rift between him and his family deepens.
Gideon Resnick: Tens of thousands of teachers in France left their jobs yesterday to protest the country’s school COVID policies, saying that those rules are not strong enough to protect them and their students from the virus. The one-day walkout was supported by most of the country’s teachers unions, and the protest itself is one of the biggest school protests that France’s seen in decades. Teachers and their allies filled the streets in cities nationwide, demanding that authorities pick a COVID policy and stick to it after months of changing their minds. French teachers, I feel ya. In one video posted online, protesters in Nice used a bed sheet like a parachute to repeatedly toss an inflatable puppet of French President Emmanuel Macron into the air. Inventive, quite honestly.
Priyanka Aribindi: Incredibly creative.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, Macron’s prided himself on keeping schools open longer than most European countries have, but his streak could soon come to an end, with the country reporting an average of 300,000 new COVID cases daily. The surge of infections is being driven in part by school-aged children, a demographic that is more likely to have the virus than French adults.
Priyanka Aribindi: It may not be as exciting as headline dressings like balsamic vinaigrette and Green Goddess, but the Food and Drug Administration is hoping to make French dressing cool again by deregulating it.
Gideon Resnick: Hell yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: The FDA has had a strict definition of what makes French dressing French for over 70 years. It has had to contain at least 35% vegetable oil plus some kind of acids such as vinegar, lemon or lime juice. Nothing distinctly French in there.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I don’t get it.
Priyanka Aribindi: Kind of weird. Anyways. The standard, however, has held the dressing back from evolving in the fast-paced world of salad and becoming everyone’s top choice at Sweet Green. On Wednesday, the FDA ruled that the French dressing standards can be more loose so dressing makers can do things like create low fat and fat free versions using less oil. This change goes into effect on Valentine’s Day—how romantic! If you didn’t know that the FDA cared about regulating dressings, they started to make strict rules about them in 1950 and stuck to the three most iconic ones at the time: French, mayo, and a wildcard option just called quote, “salad dressing.”
Gideon Resnick: That was what was ever around. You know, you just splash it on, whatever you got.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I mean, this doesn’t really compete, doesn’t really apply to me. I am a spicy cashew girl through and through. It’s a little bizarre to me, though. Like, French, what does that mean? That means nothing to me. Like, you got to tell me what the ingredients are or else I just have no clue what’s in your dressing.
Gideon Resnick: Right. Spell it out a little bit more. I want to be the guy at the FDA who is working on this file like my buddies are on like the vaccine team or whatever, and I’m like, Hey, we’re have—
Priyanka Aribindi: Having the time of your life,
Gideon Resnick: Right. You guys got a high stakes thing going on there. I’m working on dressing.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m just eating salad.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I’m vibing out. Good for them.
Priyanka Aribindi: What a life.
Gideon Resnick: We want to deregulate all of our dressings here at WAD. I think. I don’t know.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we do.
Gideon Resnick: And those are the headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: One more thing before we go: we will be back with a new episode next Tuesday because we’ll be off on Monday to commemorate Martin Luther King Day.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like to show, make sure you subscribe, follow us on Insta @whataday, and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just detailed accounts of Ye and Julia Fox’s third, fourth and fifth day, like me—they haven’t even made it there, we got to slow our roll—What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And look out for the remix of French Dressing.
Gideon Resnick: It may also get tossed into the air via a parachute, if it’s lucky. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.