What Can Organizing Do For You? | Crooked Media
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July 25, 2023
What A Day
What Can Organizing Do For You?

In This Episode

  • UPS and the Teamsters union — which represents about 340,000 UPS workers nationwide — reached a tentative labor deal on Tuesday, averting what would have been the largest strike involving a single employer in the history of the United States. Workers still need to ratify the agreement, which includes wage increases and new worker protections.
  • Though the Supreme Court ended affirmative action in higher education this summer, the Department of Education has opened a civil rights investigation into Harvard University’s legacy admissions policy. The probe will look into allegations from a complaint filed earlier this month, which accuses the university of giving preferential treatment to white, wealthy students.
  • And in headlines: a federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s new rules for asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, Ecuador’s president declared a state of emergency following a wave of deadly gang violence, and Trader Joe’s recalled two types of cookies that could contain rocks.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, July 26th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What A Day. Where we have already marked our calendars for August 5th, otherwise known as National Mustard Day. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: All right, honesty hour, everybody. I–

 

Juanita Tolliver: Oooh! 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –love Chicago, but uh I don’t fuck with mustard [Juanita gasps and sighs] on a hot dog. Not for me. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Eew, you put ketchup on it then? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I like ketchup, I hate to say it. [laughter] I hope I don’t sound ridiculous, but I like ketchup. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had a very tough day. Too bad. So sad, I suppose. Plus, Trader Joe’s is recalling some of its cookies because they may contain an unpleasant surprise. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I feel like that’s got to be the downplay of the year. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: But first, [laugh] we have a deal, y’all. Well, a tentative deal. The packages will keep coming. The deliveries will be made, and Amazon won’t take over just yet because UPS and the Teamsters Union have reached a tentative deal y’all. The negotiations include big ones for workers, including things they frankly should have always had, like air conditioning in their delivery trucks, you know, since the world is burning. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Additionally, representatives have negotiated increased wages for everyone, more full time positions, dozens of workplace protections and improvements, as well as no more forced overtime on their days off. Like not only do you get called in on your day off, but you got to work extra. Yikes. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yikes. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And this tentative deal is being delivered nearly a week ahead of schedule since 340,000 workers were set to strike right after midnight on August 1st. So, in other words, it’s a little bit of a labor miracle. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, sounds like it. I mean, some of these things that you just said are being included are a huge deal. But, I mean, just so we’re clear here, you know, we averted something that seems pretty catastrophic. Just how bad would a UPS strike have been if it actually happened? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Let’s just say it would have shaken our entire economy to the core as a UPS strike would have been the largest labor strike involving a single employer in the history of the United States. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: According to reports last year, UPS handled an average of 20.8 million packages a day. And if that stopped, supply chains would have been upended. And we all know what that was like during the pandemic. Estimates also noted that a strike would have created a multi-billion dollar hit to the economy. So the fact that the talks restarted after they broke down weeks ago is huge, especially when you consider that there was no external intervention in these negotiations. If you recall earlier this month when talks were paused and the union and UPS were both pointing the finger at each other, blaming each other for not negotiating in good faith, the head of the Teamsters Union made a specific request that the Biden administration not intervene, especially in the event of a strike. It’s giving I can do it myself. All right. So when both parties came back to the table Tuesday morning, they finalized the terms quickly. And acting Labor Secretary Julie Su confirmed to CNN that the Biden administration stayed out of it. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. Okay. They did it themselves. Very impressive. What are the leaders of UPS and the Teamsters Union saying about this tentative deal? How are they feeling now? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Girl, they are over the moon. The CEO of UPS, Carol Tomé, dubbed it a, quote, “win win win.” It’s like she’s giving T-Pain. You know, it’s a vibe, adding that, quote, “This agreement continues to reward UPS’s full and part time employees with industry leading pay and benefits while retaining the flexibility we need to stay competitive, serve our customers and keep our business strong.” In a separate statement, Teamsters President Sean O’Brien said, quote, “We’ve changed the game, battling it out day and night to make sure our members won an agreement that pays strong wages, rewards their labor and doesn’t require a single concession.” He added, quote, “This contract sets a new standard in the labor movement and raises the bar for all workers.” So it’s a major win in both of their eyes. Naturally, next it goes to the union workers who will have the ultimate say on what happens here. And that’s why we’ve repeatedly used the word tentative. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Because nothing happens unless the workers vote to ratify the contract on August 3rd. So let’s not breathe too big a sigh of relief just yet, because there could still be a strike next month. According to reports, some union members feel frustrated about the reality that throughout the pandemic, UPS enjoyed record breaking profits and workers didn’t see any of those returns. And thus resentment is high. So this is nowhere near over until that vote next week. And we will definitely be watching that closely. We’ll also be watching to see what other workers pick up the baton in their negotiations next, like at Amazon and the United Auto Workers, because there’s a chance that all the strikes and threats of strikes we’ve seen this summer will roll right into the fall. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. Thank you so much for that update, Juanita. A nice bit of positive news for once. Really appreciate it. But switching gears a bit. Affirmative action may be dead, but legacy admissions are not. At least not yet. Yesterday, the Department of Education opened a federal civil rights investigation into Harvard’s policy on legacy admissions. This, of course, follows the Supreme Court’s decision last month to end affirmative action policies in college admissions, as well as a formal complaint filed very quickly afterwards against Harvard that challenged their legacy admissions policies. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I feel like this is more good news and what a lot of folks– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –hope that the Department of Education would do when they received this complaint. So let’s revisit that complaint against Harvard. Remind us what’s in it and what triggered this investigation. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, just to lay some groundwork here. Legacy applicants, a.k.a applicants with relatives who are alums and donors are over six times more likely to get into Harvard than a regular applicant is. They oftentimes benefit from wealth and greater educational resources, and most importantly, for the purposes of being a civil rights investigation here, more than 70% of legacy admits are white. The three Boston area groups that brought this complaint against Harvard argue that Harvard’s legacy admissions preferences illegally discriminate against Black, Latino and Asian applicants and instead favor often white, wealthy students. This investigation was opened under Title Six, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race. And it comes during a period where there is this increased scrutiny on the college admissions process and practices. Though the Education Department won’t issue a comment on the open investigation. A representative from Harvard says that it, quote, “remains dedicated to opening the doors to opportunity.” Unclear exactly who that opportunity is for at this point. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: But, you know, whatever that means. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Girl, we know they talking about people who have money. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. [laughter] Just last month, the high court said that affirmative action violated the Constitution. So now groups that aren’t happy with that decision are wondering why, if that’s the case, for affirmative action, legacy admissions are still being allowed. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean, this was the number one thing I heard from Black and Brown people– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: -after the Supreme Court rendered that decision, because it’s like, hey, we know who this harms and the fact that wealthy people and white people will still benefit. So here we are. A few other higher education institutions have been getting rid of their legacy admissions policies. Tell us more about what’s happening there. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. Obviously, Harvard is not the only school with legacy admissions. It’s in the spotlight because it was at the center of one of the Supreme Court cases that ended up taking down affirmative action. It’s also like the beacon of higher education or looked at in that way by the United States and the world in some ways. But, you know, other universities are acting differently. Last week, Wesleyan University became the latest high profile school to drop the practice of legacy admissions. This also happened well before this year’s Supreme Court decision at schools like Amherst, Johns Hopkins and Carnegie Mellon, and is expected to continue at other highly selective universities as fairness in admissions comes more into question. But as for the seven other Ivy League institutions, mum’s the word about their plans, if any, to do with legacy admissions. And it’s worth reiterating here, the end of affirmative action was a massive blow to efforts to open opportunities for disadvantaged Black and Latino students, as well as other students of color. But ending legacy admissions practices can help rectify some of the disparities in higher education, while increasing access for students who historically have not had those same advantages. Obviously, we will be keeping track of this story and letting you know any updates. That is the latest for now, though. We will be back after some ads. [music break]. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: A federal judge has blocked the Biden administration’s new rules for asylum seekers at the U.S. Mexico border. The system, which was put into place in May, was a key feature of the White House’s plan to discourage migrants from crossing the southern border without authorization. U.S. District Judge John Tigar, who also blocked the Trump administration’s version of those rules, sided with the immigration advocates yesterday, saying that the policy violates federal immigration law by making it harder to apply for asylum protections. Under the new system, migrants cannot, for the most part, apply for asylum if they’ve crossed into the U.S. illegally, and they’re also required to seek those protections in advance while they’re in Mexico or another country. The order won’t take effect for another two weeks, and the Justice Department has said that it will appeal. Meanwhile, the U.S. Border Patrol said that the reported number of illegal border crossings last month hit its lowest level in more than two years, which the administration claims is a sign that the new system is working. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I’m just going to raise my eyebrows because I don’t think that’s how causation works. But. Okay. Okay. Ecuador’s president, Guillermo Lasso, has declared a state of emergency and even curfews in part of the country following a wave of deadly gang violence. The first order was issued early yesterday for the country’s prisons after a massive riot inside what’s considered Ecuador’s most dangerous prison complex. Nearly 2700 soldiers and police officers were called in to retake control of the prison and at least 31 people were killed. Later in the day, Lasso issued a separate order, temporarily suspending people’s right to assemble in three provinces. That was in response to a shooting that killed the mayor of Manta, the country’s third largest city, and left several others hurt. Ecuadorian authorities have blamed the rise of organized crime groups for the surge in violence. Both orders will be in effect for the next 60 days. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Switching gears to some science news. According to a new study published yesterday in the journal Nature, the prevailing current in the Atlantic Ocean could slow down or even stop completely within the next few decades. And the reason is not surprisingly, at all, human driven climate change. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Dun dun dun [ominously]. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. To give you a sense of what is going on here. The current is part of a vast circuit of conveyor belts carrying warm and cold ocean water all around the world. That interplay has a strong influence on what climate is like in different places. And without the Atlantic Ocean current, most of the northern hemisphere would face freezing temperatures and rainfall would become erratic around the entire world. All of this is driven by water temperature and density, and what’s slowing the conveyor belt down is a combination of rising ocean temperatures and more freshwater coming into the ocean as more ice melts from the poles. The scientists behind the study say that the exact tipping point is unclear, but by their estimates, the current could collapse by the middle of the century or get this as early as 2025. I’m sorry, that’s just a little too soon for me. Probably for the rest of you, too. While there is some disagreement among scientists over the timeline. There is definitely consensus that this would be catastrophic for the entire world. What other things do people need to shout from the fucking rooftops for the people in power to take this seriously? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I feel like we just need to make them watch Day After Tomorrow because this story is literally the plot of Day After Tomorrow. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s what we’re living in. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Which I used to enjoy. But it’s too real. And we’re 18 months from it happening apparently so. Yikes. If you need to tap into your petty, let’s just say that Ron DeSantis did not slay the day away on Tuesday. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Not really a big difference between Monday, Sunday, all the other days. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Priyanka said he’s a failure every day of the week. Well, here we are. [laughter] His presidential campaign went through another round of cuts, slashing 38 positions or a third of its total staff. As we told you earlier this month, according to federal filings, the DeSantis campaign has burned through a lot of cash since the Florida governor entered the race and hired a lot of people early on. Among those brilliant hires was Nate Hochman, a former writer for the National Review, who was brought on as a speechwriter but ended up being part of this purge because he made a weird meme filled video of DeSantis with fascist imagery like it was straight up a shout out to Nazis and how DeSantis aligns with them because it was all over his face in the video, but– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Oh! 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –not a good look for the guy expected to be Donald Trump’s biggest competition. And to make matters worse for our buddy Ron. He was also involved in a multi-car accident yesterday as he was traveling in Tennessee for a fundraising tour. He wasn’t hurt, though one of his staffers was treated for a minor injury. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And finally, if you’ve recently made a grocery run to trader Joe’s. You might want to double check what you brought home. That is because the chain is recalling two of its beloved cookie brands after their supplier said that they might have rocks in them. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Eew. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t really want to think too hard about how that happens. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Eew. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: But now I unfortunately am. The extra crunchy cookies in question are they Trader Joe’s Almond Windmill and the dark chocolate chunk and almond cookies. In a statement, the company said it has already removed and thrown out its stock of potentially contaminated products. But if you are one of the lucky few who grabbed a container of gravelly snacks, please do not power through and eat them. You can bring them back to the store for a full refund or you can add them to your rock collection. Feels like a limited edition there cookie rock don’t really make them like that that often. Whatever feels right for you and you might want to check your freezer because these aren’t the only treats from TJ’s that you need to watch out for. Last month, Trader Joe’s also recalled its organic tropical fruit blend products because they may be contaminated with listeria. I just I can’t. I’m sorry. What’s going on?

 

Juanita Tolliver: 0 for 2 for Trader Joe’s like, if you don’t eat rocks, then you’re probably eat some listeria. You know, take your chances. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Listen. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Hard pass. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: The world is going to engulf us in um rainfall, we’re all going to be flooded away and I’m going to be eating fucking rocks and getting listeria. I guess this is the fate we deserve. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yikes. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave for a review, return a Trader Joe’s cookie to the Earth and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just all the things we can do to stop the climate catastrophe like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 

 

[spoken together] And keep on win win winning. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I’ll take T-Pain’s version over Charlie Sheen’s version any day so come on, T-Pain. All day.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: 1,000%. T-Pain only. This is a Charlie Sheen free zone. [laughter] [music break]

 

Juanita Tolliver: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers. Our intern is Ryan Cochran, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.