letter to shareholders.

“I’ll venture a rare prediction,” he wrote in February. “BNSF will be a key asset for Berkshire and our country a century from now.”

Peter S. Goodman and Clifford Krauss contributed reporting.

View

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Biden: Rail Strike Averted Is ‘Big Win For America’

A strike might have begun as early as Friday that could halt shipments of food and fuel at a cost of $2 billion a day.

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that a tentative railway labor agreement has been reached, averting a nationwide strike that could have been devastating to the economy before the pivotal midterm elections.

Railroads and union representatives had been in negotiations for 20 hours at the Labor Department well past midnight to hammer out a deal, as there was a risk of a strike starting on Friday that could have shut down rail lines across the country.

The president brought business and union leaders to the Oval Office on Thursday morning, then hailed the deal in remarks in the White House Rose Garden.

“This agreement is validation of what I’ve always believed, unions and management can work together — can work together — for the benefit of everyone,” President Biden declared.

President Biden made a key phone call to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh at 9 p.m. Wednesday as the talks were ongoing after Italian dinner had been brought in, according to White House officials who insisted on anonymity to discuss the conversations. On speakerphone, the president told the negotiators to get a deal done and to consider the harm to families, farmers and businesses if a shutdown occurred, the officials said.

What resulted from the back and forth was a tentative agreement that will go to union members for a vote after a post-ratification cooling off period of several weeks. One union had to wake up its board to move forward on the agreement, which involved 50 calls from White House officials to organized labor officials.

In the Oval Office, a beaming President Biden joked that he was surprised everyone was “still standing” after the late night and that they should be “home in bed.”

The strike would also have disrupted passenger traffic as well as freight rail lines, because Amtrak and many commuter railroads operate on tracks owned by the freight railroads. Amtrak had already canceled a number of its long-distance trains this week, and said the rest of its long-distance trains would stop Thursday ahead of the strike deadline.

Following the tentative agreement, Amtrak said it was “working to quickly restore canceled trains and reaching out to impacted customers to accommodate on first available departures.”

The five-year deal, retroactive to 2020, includes the 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses that a Presidential Emergency Board recommended this summer. But railroads also agreed to ease their strict attendance policies to address some of the unions’ concerns about working conditions.

Railroad workers will now be able to take unpaid days off for doctor’s appointments without being penalized under railroad attendance rules. Previously, workers would lose points under the attendance systems that the BNSF and Union Pacific railways had adopted, and they could be disciplined if they lost all their points.

The unions that represent the conductors and engineers who drive the trains had pressed hard for changes in the attendance rules, and they said this deal sets a precedent that they will be able to negotiate over those kinds of rules in the future. But workers will still have to vote whether those changes are enough to approve the deal.

The threat of a shutdown had put President Biden in a delicate spot politically. The Democratic president believes unions built the middle class, but he also knew a rail worker strike could damage the economy ahead of the midterms, when majorities in both chambers of Congress, key governorships and scores of important state offices will be up for grabs.

That left him in the awkward position on Wednesday. He flew to Detroit, a stalwart of the labor movement, to espouse the virtues of unionization, while members of his administration went all-out to keep talks going in Washington between the railroads and unionized workers.

As the administration was trying to forge peace, United Auto Workers Local 598 member Ryan Buchalski introduced President Biden at the Detroit auto show as “the most union- and labor-friendly president in American history” and someone who was “kickin’ ass for the working class.” Buchalski harked back to the pivotal sit-down strikes by autoworkers in the 1930s.

In the speech that followed, President Biden recognized that he wouldn’t be in the White House without the support of unions such as the UAW and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, saying autoworkers “brung me to the dance.”

But without a deal among the 12 unions in talks back in Washington, President Biden also knew that a stoppage could halt shipments of food and fuel at a cost of $2 billion a day.

Far more was at stake than sick leave and salary bumps for 115,000 unionized railroad workers. The ramifications could have extended to control of Congress and to the shipping network that keeps factories rolling, stocks the shelves of stores and stitches the U.S. together as an economic power.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, speaking aboard Air Force One as it jetted to Detroit, said a rail worker strike was “an unacceptable outcome for our economy and the American people.”

President Biden faced the same kind of predicament faced by Theodore Roosevelt in 1902 with coal and Harry Truman in 1952 with steel — how do you balance the needs of labor and business in doing what’s best for the nation? Railways were so important during World War I that Woodrow Wilson temporarily nationalized the industry to keep goods flowing and prevent strikes.

Union activism has surged under President Biden, as seen in a 56% increase in petitions for union representation with the National Labor Relations Board so far this fiscal year.

With the economy still recovering from the supply chain disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic, the president’s goal was to keep all parties so a deal could be reached. President Biden also knew a stoppage could worsen the dynamics that have contributed to soaring inflation and created a political headache for the party in power.

Eddie Vale, a Democratic political consultant and former AFL-CIO communications aide, said the White House pursued the correct approach at a perilous moment.

“No one wants a railroad strike, not the companies, not the workers, not the White House,” he said. “No one wants it this close to the election.”

Sensing political opportunity, Senate Republicans moved Wednesday to pass a law to impose contract terms on the unions and railroad companies to avoid a shutdown. Democrats, who control both chambers in Congress, blocked it.

The economic impact of a potential strike was not lost on members of the Business Roundtable, a Washington-based group that represents CEOs. It issued its quarterly outlook for the economy Wednesday.

“We’ve been experiencing a lot of headwinds from supply chain problems since the pandemic started and those problems would be geometrically magnified,” Josh Bolten, the group’s CEO, told reporters. “There are manufacturing plants around the country that likely have to shut down. … There are critical products to keep our water clean.”

By 5:05 a.m. Thursday, it was clear that the hard work across the government, unions and railway companied had paid off as President Biden announced the deal, calling it “an important win for our economy and the American people.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

: newsy.com

View

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Biden: Tentative Railway Labor Deal Reached, Averting Strike

A strike might have begun as early as Friday that could halt shipments of food and fuel at a cost of $2 billion a day.

President Joe Biden said Thursday that a tentative railway labor agreement has been reached, averting a strike that could have been devastating to the economy before the pivotal midterm elections.

Railroads and union representatives had been in negotiations for 20 hours at the Labor Department on Wednesday to hammer out a deal, as there was a risk of a strike starting on Friday that could have shut down rail lines across the country.

President Biden made a key phone call to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh at 9 p.m. as the talks were ongoing after Italian dinner had been brought in, according to a White House official insisting on anonymity. The president told the negotiators to consider the harm to families, farmers and businesses if a shutdown occurred.

What resulted from the back and forth was a tentative agreement that will go to union members for a vote after a post-ratification cooling off period of several weeks.

“These rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs: all hard-earned,” President Biden said. “The agreement is also a victory for railway companies who will be able to retain and recruit more workers for an industry that will continue to be part of the backbone of the American economy for decades to come.”

The threat of a shutdown had put President Biden in a delicate spot politically. The Democratic president believes unions built the middle class, but he also knew a rail worker strike could damage the economy ahead of the midterms, when majorities in both chambers of Congress, key governorships and scores of important state offices will be up for grabs.

That left him in the awkward position on Wednesday. He flew to Detroit, a stalwart of the labor movement, to espouse the virtues of unionization, while members of his administration went all-out to keep talks going in Washington between the railroads and unionized workers.

As the administration was trying to forge peace, United Auto Workers Local 598 member Ryan Buchalski introduced President Biden at the Detroit auto show on Wednesday as “the most union- and labor-friendly president in American history” and someone who was “kickin’ ass for the working class.” Buchalski harked back to the pivotal sitdown strikes by autoworkers in the 1930s.

In the speech that followed, President Biden recognized that he wouldn’t be in the White House without the support of unions such as the UAW and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, saying autoworkers “brung me to the dance.”

But without a deal among the 12 unions in talks back in Washington, President Biden also knew that a stoppage might have begun as early as Friday that could halt shipments of food and fuel at a cost of $2 billion a day.

Far more was at stake than sick leave and salary bumps for 115,000 unionized railroad workers. The ramifications could have extended to control of Congress and to the shipping network that keeps factories rolling, stocks the shelves of stores and stitches the U.S. together as an economic power.

That’s why White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, speaking aboard Air Force One as it jetted to Detroit on Wednesday, said a rail worker strike was “an unacceptable outcome for our economy and the American people.” The rail lines and their workers’ representatives “need to stay at the table, bargain in good faith to resolve outstanding issues, and come to an agreement,” she said.

President Biden faced the same kind of predicament faced by Theodore Roosevelt in 1902 with coal and Harry Truman in 1952 with steel — how do you balance the needs of labor and business in doing what’s best for the nation? Railways were so important during World War I that Woodrow Wilson temporarily nationalized the industry to keep goods flowing and prevent strikes.

Inside the White House, aides don’t see a contradiction between President Biden’s devotion to unions and his desire to avoid a strike. Union activism has surged under President Biden, as seen in a 56% increase in petitions for union representation with the National Labor Relations Board so far this fiscal year.

One person familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss White House deliberations on the matter, said President Biden’s mindset in approaching the debate was that he’s the president of the entire country, not just for organized labor.

With the economy still recovering from the supply chain disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic, the president’s goal was to keep all parties so a deal could be reached. The person said the White House saw a commitment to keep negotiating in good faith as the best way to avoid a shutdown while exercising the principles of collective bargaining that President Biden holds dear.

President Biden also knew a stoppage could worsen the dynamics that have contributed to soaring inflation and created a political headache for the party in power.

Eddie Vale, a Democratic political consultant and former AFL-CIO communications aide, said the White House pursued the correct approach at a perilous moment.

“No one wants a railroad strike, not the companies, not the workers, not the White House,” he said. “No one wants it this close to the election.”

Vale added that the sticking point in the talks was about “respect basically — sick leave and bereavement leave,” issues President Biden has supported in speeches and with his policy proposals.

Sensing political opportunity, Senate Republicans moved Wednesday to pass a law to impose contract terms on the unions and railroad companies to avoid a shutdown. Democrats, who control both chambers in Congress, blocked it.

“If a strike occurs and paralyzes food, fertilizer and energy shipments nationwide, it will be because Democrats blocked this bill,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The economic impact of a potential strike was not lost on members of the Business Roundtable, a Washington-based group that represents CEOs. It issued its quarterly outlook for the economy Wednesday.

“We’ve been experiencing a lot of headwinds from supply chain problems since the pandemic started and those problems would be geometrically magnified,” Josh Bolten, the group’s CEO, told reporters. “There are manufacturing plants around the country that likely have to shut down. … There are critical products to keep our water clean.”

The roundtable also had a meeting of its board of directors Wednesday. But Bolten said Lance Fritz, chair of the board’s international committee and the CEO of Union Pacific railroad, would miss it “because he’s working hard trying to bring the strike to a resolution.”

By 5:05 a.m. Thursday, it was clear that the hard work across the government, unions and railway companies had paid off as President Biden announced the deal, calling it “an important win for our economy and the American people.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

: newsy.com

View

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Strike Threat on Freight Railroads Is New Supply Chain Worry

“Failure to finalize an agreement before the Sept. 16 deadline will hurt U.S. consumers and imperil the availability, affordability and accessibility of everyday essential products,” the Consumer Brands Association, which represents manufacturers of food, beverage, household and personal care products, said in a letter to Mr. Biden last week.

In a statement over the weekend, Corey Rosenbusch, the president of the Fertilizer Institute, an industry group, said a potential work stoppage would be “bad news for farmers and food security.”

The Association of American Railroads, a freight rail industry group, said a disruption to service would cost more than $2 billion per day in economic output, idle thousands of trains and result in widespread product shortages and job losses. Rail accounts for about 28 percent of U.S. freight movement, second only to trucking’s nearly 40 percent, according to federal data.

More than 460,000 additional trucks would be needed each day to carry the goods otherwise delivered by rail, the American Trucking Associations, another industry group, said in a letter last week asking lawmakers to be prepared to intervene. The trucking industry faces a shortage of 80,000 drivers, so a rail disruption would “create havoc in the supply chain and fuel inflationary pressures across the board,” it said.

In a message on Friday, Steve Bobb, the chief marketing officer of one of the rail carriers, BNSF, encouraged customers to ask Congress to intervene. His counterpart at Norfolk Southern echoed that request to its customers over the weekend, too.

Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said on Friday that he was hopeful that a strike could be averted, but was prepared to act if not.

View

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

North Korea Says It Will Never Give Up Nukes To Counter U.S.

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 9, 2022

“Let them sanction us for 100 days, 1,000 days, 10 years or 100 years,” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said, accusing the U.S. of raising tensions.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stressed his country will never abandon the nuclear weapons it needs to counter the United States, which he accused of pushing to weaken the North’s defenses and eventually collapse his government, state media said Friday.

Kim made the comments during a speech Thursday at North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament, where members passed legislation governing the use of nuclear weapons, which Kim described as a step to cement the country’s nuclear status and make clear such weapons will not be bargained.

The law spells out conditions where the North would be inclined to use its nuclear weapons, including when it determines that its leadership is facing an imminent “nuclear or non-nuclear attack by hostile forces.” The law requires North Korea’s military to “automatically” execute nuclear strikes against enemy forces, including their “starting point of provocation and the command,” if Pyongyang’s leadership comes under attack.

The law also says North Korea could use nukes to prevent an unspecified “catastrophic crisis” to its government and people, a loose definition that experts say reflect an escalatory nuclear doctrine that could create greater concerns for neighbors.

Kim also criticized South Korea over its plans to expand its conventional strike capabilities and revive large-scale military exercises with the United States to counter the North’s growing threats, describing them as a “dangerous” military action that raises tensions.

Kim has made increasingly provocative threats of nuclear conflict toward the United States and its allies in Asia, also warning that the North would proactively use its nuclear weapons when threatened. His latest comments underscored the growing animosity in the region as he accelerates the expansion of his nuclear weapons and missiles program.

“The purpose of the United States is not only to remove our nuclear might itself, but eventually forcing us to surrender or weaken our rights to self-defense through giving up our nukes, so that they could collapse our government at any time,” Kim said in the speech published by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

“Let them sanction us for 100 days, 1,000 days, 10 years or 100 years,” Kim said. “We will never give up our rights to self-defense that preserves our country’s existence and the safety of our people just to temporarily ease the difficulties we are experiencing now.”

Kim was combative toward South Korea in Thursday’s speech and urged his country to expand the operational roles of its tactical nuclear weapons and accelerate their deployment to strengthen the country’s war deterrent. Those comments appeared to align with a ruling party decision in June to approve unspecified new operational duties for front-line troops, which analysts say likely include plans to deploy battlefield nuclear weapons targeting rival South Korea along their tense border.

The North is also communicating a threat that it could use its nuclear weapons during conflicts with South Korea’s conventional forces, which would raise the risk of accidental clashes escalating into a nuclear crisis, Cheong said.

North Korea has been speeding its development of nuclear-capable, short-range missiles that can target South Korea since 2019. Experts say its rhetoric around those missiles communicates a threat to proactively use them in warfare to blunt the stronger conventional forces of South Korea and the United States. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in the South to deter aggression from the North.

Kim has dialed up weapons tests to a record pace in 2020, launching more than 30 ballistic weapons, including the first demonstrations of his intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017.

U.S. and South Korean officials say Kim may up the ante soon by ordering the North’s first nuclear test in five years as he pushes a brinkmanship aimed at forcing Washington to accept the idea of the North as a nuclear power and negotiating concessions from a position of strength.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

: newsy.com

View

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

The Supply Chain Broke. Robots Are Supposed to Help Fix It.

The people running companies that deliver all manner of products gathered in Philadelphia last week to sift through the lessons of the mayhem besieging the global supply chain. At the center of many proposed solutions: robots and other forms of automation.

On the showroom floor, robot manufacturers demonstrated their latest models, offering them as efficiency-enhancing augments to warehouse workers. Driverless trucks and drones commanded display space, advertising an unfolding era in which machinery will occupy a central place in bringing products to our homes.

The companies depicted their technology as a way to save money on workers and optimize scheduling, while breaking down resistance to a future centered on evolving forms of automation.

persistent economic shocks have intensified traditional conflicts between employers and employees around the globe. Higher prices for energy, food and other goods — in part the result of enduring supply chain tangles — have prompted workers to demand higher wages, along with the right to continue working from home. Employers cite elevated costs for parts, raw materials and transportation in holding the line on pay, yielding a wave of strikes in countries like Britain.

The stakes are especially high for companies engaged in transporting goods. Their executives contend that the Great Supply Chain Disruption is largely the result of labor shortages. Ports are overwhelmed and retail shelves are short of goods because the supply chain has run out of people willing to drive trucks and move goods through warehouses, the argument goes.

Some labor experts challenge such claims, while reframing worker shortages as an unwillingness by employers to pay enough to attract the needed numbers of people.

“This shortage narrative is industry-lobbying rhetoric,” said Steve Viscelli, an economic sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream.” “There is no shortage of truck drivers. These are just really bad jobs.”

A day spent wandering the Home Delivery World trade show inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center revealed how supply chain companies are pursuing automation and flexible staffing as antidotes to rising wages. They are eager to embrace robots as an alternative to human workers. Robots never get sick, not even in a pandemic. They never stay home to attend to their children.

A large truck painted purple and white occupied a prime position on the showroom floor. It was a driverless delivery vehicle produced by Gatik, a Silicon Valley company that is running 30 of them between distribution centers and Walmart stores in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Here was the fix to the difficulties of trucking firms in attracting and retaining drivers, said Richard Steiner, Gatik’s head of policy and communications.

“It’s not quite as appealing a profession as it once was,” he said. “We’re able to offer a solution to that trouble.”

Nearby, an Israeli start-up company, SafeMode, touted a means to limit the notoriously high turnover plaguing the trucking industry. The company has developed an app that monitors the actions of drivers — their speed, the abruptness of their braking, their fuel efficiency — while rewarding those who perform better than their peers.

The company’s founder and chief executive, Ido Levy, displayed data captured the previous day from a driver in Houston. The driver’s steady hand at the wheel had earned him an extra $8 — a cash bonus on top of the $250 he typically earns in a day.

“We really convey a success feeling every day,” Mr. Levy, 31, said. “That really encourages retention. We’re trying to make them feel that they are part of something.”

Mr. Levy conceived of the company with a professor at the M.I.T. Media Lab who tapped research on behavioral psychology and gamification (using elements of game playing to encourage participation).

So far, the SafeMode system has yielded savings of 4 percent on fuel while increasing retention by one-quarter, Mr. Levy said.

Another company, V-Track, based in Charlotte, N.C., employs a technology that is similar to SafeMode’s, also in an effort to dissuade truck drivers from switching jobs. The company places cameras in truck cabs to monitor drivers, alerting them when they are looking at their phones, driving too fast or not wearing their seatbelt.

Jim Becker, the company’s product manager, said many drivers hade come to value the cameras as a means of protecting themselves against unwarranted accusations of malfeasance.

But what is the impact on retention if drivers chafe at being surveilled?

“Frustrations about increased surveillance, especially around in-cab cameras,” are a significant source of driver lament, said Max Farrell, co-founder and chief executive of WorkHound, which gathers real-time feedback.

Several companies on the show floor catered to trucking companies facing difficulties in hiring people to staff their dispatch centers. Their solution was moving such functions to countries where wages are lower.

Lean Solutions, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., sets up call centers in Colombia and Guatemala — a response to “the labor challenge in the U.S.,” said Hunter Bell, a company sales agent.

A Kentucky start-up, NS Talent Solutions, establishes dispatch operations in Mexico, at a saving of up to 40 percent compared with the United States.

“The pandemic has helped,” said Michael Bartlett, director of sales. “The world is now comfortable with remote staffing.”

Scores of businesses promoted services that recruit and vet part-time and temporary workers, offering a way for companies to ramp up as needed without having to commit to full-time employees.

Pruuvn, a start-up in Atlanta, sells a service that allows companies to eliminate employees who recruit and conduct background checks.

“It allows you to get rid of or replace multiple individuals,” the company’s chief executive, Bryan Hobbs, said during a presentation.

Another staffing firm, Veryable of Dallas, offered a platform to pair workers such as retirees and students seeking part-time, temporary stints with supply chain companies.

Jonathan Katz, the company’s regional partnerships manager for the Southeast, described temporary staffing as the way for smaller warehouses and distribution operations that lack the money to install robots to enhance their ability to adjust to swings in demand.

A drone company, Zipline, showed video of its equipment taking off behind a Walmart in Pea Ridge, Ark., dropping items like mayonnaise and even a birthday cake into the backyards of customers’ homes. Another company, DroneUp, trumpeted plans to set up similar services at 30 Walmart stores in Arkansas, Texas and Florida by the end of the year.

But the largest companies are the most focused on deploying robots.

Locus, the manufacturer, has already outfitted 200 warehouses globally with its robots, recently expanding into Europe and Australia.

Locus says its machines are meant not to replace workers but to complement them — a way to squeeze more productivity out of the same warehouse by relieving the humans of the need to push the carts.

But the company also presents its robots as the solution to worker shortages. Unlike workers, robots can be easily scaled up and cut back, eliminating the need to hire and train temporary employees, Melissa Valentine, director of retail global accounts at Locus, said during a panel discussion.

Locus even rents out its robots, allowing customers to add them and eliminate them as needed. Locus handles the maintenance.

Robots can “solve labor issues,” said Nathan Ray, director of distribution center operations at Albertsons, the grocery chain, who previously held executive roles at Amazon and Target. “You can find a solution that’s right for your budget. There’s just so many options out there.”

As Mr. Ray acknowledged, a key impediment to the more rapid deployment of automation is fear among workers that robots are a threat to their jobs. Once they realize that the robots are there not to replace them but merely to relieve them of physically taxing jobs like pushing carts, “it gets really fun,” Mr. Ray said. “They realize it’s kind of cool.”

Workers even give robots cute nicknames, he added.

But another panelist, Bruce Dzinski, director of transportation at Party City, a chain of party supply stores, presented robots as an alternative to higher pay.

“You couldn’t get labor, so you raised your wages to try to get people,” he said. “And then everybody else raised wages.”

Robots never demand a raise.

View

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

The Changing Tide For Unionizing In The U.S.

Unionizing has been making an unusual comeback in the U.S. as the economy roars back from pandemic lows, but efforts don’t always mean success.

There’s a surge of high-profile unionizing and union activity going on in the U.S. workforce, from media to food and retail industries. 

A labor union is an organized group of workers who make decisions about working conditions like retirement plans, insurance and wages. They bargain with the employer on behalf of its employees.

A recent Gallup poll found that 71% of Americans approve of labor unions. That’s the highest percentage recorded since 1965, and according to data from last year, there was near unanimous approval among Democrat respondents, reaching a record high of 90%.

So, what’s behind all this unusual, sudden union activity, and is this really a sign of lasting change?

“Our social welfare system is employer provided, and what I mean by that is we get our health care, we get our private pensions, etc., through our employers,” said Lane Windham, associate director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University. “In other countries, a lot of that comes through government, through the state, and that sets up a system in the United States that gives corporations a heavy incentive to stop workers from forming unions.”

Union membership rates have actually been on a steady decline since the 1960s. At their height, nearly a third of Americans were in a union. By 2021, that’s down to about 10%. That drop is particularly stark for the private sector. While about a third of public sectors jobs have consistently belonged to unions, private sector jobs have declined, down to about 6% last year.

There are a few reasons for why this could be. Some industries where unions dominated in the 1950s, like manufacturing, declined over the next few decades. But also over time, employers gained newfound empowerment in disrupting any organizing. Much of that has to do with the changing political winds in the 70s and 80s.

“In the 1970s, employers begin to have to make a profit within a globalized capitalism,” Windham said. “They are now competing with corporations all over the globe, and so where are they going to be able to make a profit margin?”

“What you see in the 1970s is that corporations began to bend and break labor law at a whole new level,” Windham said. “The number of unfair labor practice charges against employers in the 1970s doubles, and you also see the rise in this time of the anti-union consultant industry.”

In 1981, things came to ahead with a strike of federally employed air traffic controllers. There, former President Ronald Reagan threatened to fire the workers and ban them from the industry unless they return to work within 48 hours, saying, “But we cannot compare labor management relations in the private sector with government. Government cannot close down the assembly line.”

To be clear, a strike is technically illegal for air traffic controllers in the U.S. without going through the proper steps, and the process to authorize a strike is purposefully complicated to keep airlines from shutting down. But, it wasn’t until this moment that those rules were enforced on such a massive scale. Reagan ended up firing and banning more than 11,000 workers who refused to cross picket lines.  

“The fact that Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers sent a message that workers both in the public and private sector did not really have a full freedom to form unions,” Windham said. “It chilled any radicalism. It chilled any effort to effectively build their movement.”

In the following years, the average number of major strikes per year plummeted.

Employers became emboldened to replace striking workers, so the downward trend of union membership continued to the record-lows now showing up in the past couple of years.

So, what turned the tide in recent years?

“Think about the early days of the pandemic,” Windham said. “Remember we celebrated essential workers, we banged pots and pans for them, we waved at the delivery truck drivers. Then, we watched as all those essential workers went back to the same kind of dead-end jobs, and people really saw how unjust our system is.”

Going into 2021, companies started recording record profits as the economy came roaring back from pandemic lows, growing to the fastest full-year rise since 1984. There was also a historic job shortage, as employers struggled to recruit and retain workers. This combination of things made a perfect storm for unionization efforts: For workers, suddenly, the bargaining ball was in their court.

That’s especially true for industries dependent on so-called “essential workers,” like retail or food and restaurants.

Though there is a visible jump in the number of workplaces starting to organize — that number doubled from 2020 to 2021 — that doesn’t necessarily translate to unionization successes.

Earlier this year, two Apple stores filed paperwork to begin organizing. The momentum fizzled out, however, after Apple hired anti-union lawyers, sent out warnings against unionizing and eventually gave a pay raise to retail workers.

Four Amazon warehouses have recently held elections to form a union, but all but one have decisively voted against it. Those losses include a second warehouse on Staten Island in New York.

Starbucks is embroiled in a number of legal battles after allegedly firing workers for organizing unions and being accused of shutting down stores that successfully voted to unionize.

In the U.S., it’s a long, long road from generating momentum for union efforts to actually winning that victory.

: newsy.com

View

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

NASA Moon Rocket On Track For Launch Despite Lightning Hits

By Associated Press
August 28, 2022

NASA’s new moon rocket remained on track to blast off on a crucial test flight Monday, despite a series of lightning strikes at the launch pad.

The 322-foot Space Launch System rocket is the most powerful ever built by NASA. It’s poised to send an empty crew capsule into lunar orbit, a half-century after NASA’s Apollo program, which landed 12 astronauts on the moon.

Astronauts could return to the moon in a few years, if this six-week test flight goes well. NASA officials caution, however, that the risks are high and the flight could be cut short.

In lieu of astronauts, three test dummies are strapped into the Orion capsule to measure vibration, acceleration and radiation, one of the biggest hazards to humans in deep space. The capsule alone has more than 1,000 sensors.

Officials said Sunday that neither the rocket nor capsule suffered any damage during Saturday’s thunderstorm; ground equipment also was unaffected. Five lightning strikes were confirmed, hitting the 600-foot towers surrounding the rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The strikes weren’t strong enough to warrant major retesting.

“Clearly, the system worked as designed,” said Jeff Spaulding, NASA’s senior test director.

More storms were expected. Although forecasters gave 80 percent odds of acceptable weather Monday morning, conditions were expected to deteriorate during the two-hour launch window.

On the technical side, Spaulding said the team did its best over the past several months to eliminate any lingering fuel leaks. A pair of countdown tests earlier this year prompted repairs to leaking valves and other faulty equipment; engineers won’t know if all the fixes are good until just a few hours before the planned liftoff.

After so many years of delays and setbacks, the launch team was thrilled to finally be so close to the inaugural flight of the Artemis moon-exploration program, named after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology.

“We’re within 24 hours of launch right now, which is pretty amazing for where we’ve been on this journey,” Spaulding told reporters.

The follow-on Artemis flight, as early as 2024, would see four astronauts flying around the moon. A landing could follow in 2025. NASA is targeting the moon’s unexplored south pole, where permanently shadowed craters are believed to hold ice that could be used by future crews.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

: newsy.com

View

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Sound Designer Ben Burtt Shares How Skywalker Ranch Shaped ‘Star Wars’

The new Disney+ series “Light & Magic” pulls back the curtain on visual effect artists — and legendary sound designers.

Ben Burtt has lived in a galaxy far, far away from the very start. 

“I first came out here with a gang led by George Lucas in 1978,” Burtt said.

He was hired by George Lucas to record sounds for a movie called “Star Wars.” His job was to find the sounds for ships, creatures and lightsabers.

“I was very fortunate to arrive on the scene in sound at a time when a revolution took place,” Burtt said. “From a creative standpoint, there was more of a demand for — especially with special effects movies — demand for new material, not just a recycling of sound libraries from the past.”

Burtt became a legendary sound designer who makes an appearance the new Disney+ documentary series, “Light & Magic.” The six episodes highlight the groundbreaking visual effects in “Star Wars” and many other films.

“Light & Magic” director Larry Kasdan, who also co-wrote “The Empire Strikes Back” and a Han Solo spinoff, says a film just isn’t the same without good sound.

 “That’s always been the easiest experiment you can do in movies is turn off the sound,” Kasdan said. “Suddenly it’s just, ‘Oh that’s an interesting image, but I don’t see what got me so excited.’ Then you start adding back the sound, and you say, ‘Oh, that’s it.'”

Skywalker Ranch is the secluded filmmaker’s retreat George Lucas built near San Francisco after the success of “Star Wars.” There, Burtt and his team found the perfect place to record a huge library of iconic movie sounds. 

“When George Lucas first bought the ranch, this was an empty valley here,” Burtt said while walking the grounds. “We had a shooting range right in this area where we are where we did all the guns for ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.'” There’s a nice redwood forest on that ridge there, and we used to go up in there because of the acoustics were really nice. We even did Luke running through the swamps of Dagobah, jumping, running along with Yoda on his back.”

Burtt says that’s the magic of sound: You can record it anywhere as long as you get the right kind. 

He is now the winner of multiple Academy Awards.

“In a way, whatever [Industrial Light & Magic] does, however spectacular, the illusion is not complete until sound is added,” Burtt said. “You always feel like you’re part of the ILM team, in a sense. You’re part of the filmmaking team, giving a final touch to the illusions.”

Burtt has upheld a legendary career, creating old-school sounds that are still helping shape the future of visual effects.

: newsy.com

View

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Walmart Strikes a Deal to Offer Members Paramount Plus for Free

Walmart said on Monday that it had reached an agreement to include the Paramount+ streaming service in its Walmart+ membership package, bringing access to TV shows and movies from franchises like “South Park,” “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Star Trek” to some of its customers.

The streaming subscription will be free for Walmart+ subscribers, who pay $12.95 per month for a bundle of perks that include discounts for fuel and free shipping at the retail giant.

Chris Cracchiolo, the general manager of Walmart+, said in a statement that the company chose Paramount+ because the service had “something for everyone.” Walmart had also been in talks with companies including Disney and Comcast.

The broad adoption of streaming has created a cluttered marketplace for services that deliver TV shows and movies directly to consumers. Major media companies like Netflix, Disney, Paramount and Comcast all compete for subscribers, making partnerships with providers like Walmart — which has millions of weekly customers — an attractive proposition.

Paramount and Walmart have a longstanding business relationship. Paramount has a dedicated team of 13 people based in Bentonville, Ark., the site of Walmart’s corporate headquarters, and the retailer sells products based on Paramount’s Paw Patrol, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and SpongeBob franchises.

View

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<