One incredibly important move to help workers that the Biden administration has signaled didn’t necessarily look like a pro-worker move. Even before President Biden was inaugurated, his incoming White House counsel started asking for suggestions for judicial nominees who would be diverse not just on race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion, but on professional background. Specifically, more candidates who have been public defenders or civil rights attorneys (a group that also happens to be more diverse in other ways).
How’s that a pro-worker move? According to a new study by Emory University law professor Joanna Shepherd, judges appointed by former President Obama who had corporate backgrounds with Obama-appointed judges were 36% less likely to rule for workers over bosses in workplace disputes. Obama-appointed judges with backgrounds as prosecutors were 50% less likely to take the side of workers than were non-prosecutors.
Advocacy groups like Demand Justice, which helped fund Shepherd’s study, are working to keep the pressure on the Biden administration to follow through on this and make the federal judiciary more diverse in this key way.
● The gig economy is a vampire that we shouldn’t make peace with, writes Hamilton Nolan.
- Both unionized and nonunionized workers in RTW states are paid 3.1% less, on average, than workers with similar characteristics in non-RTW states, according to previous EPI research. If this average pay penalty for being in an RTW state were applied to the pay of a median or typical full-time, full-year Montana worker, it would amount to a $1,143 loss in annual earnings.
- Since the Great Recession, median wages have grown faster in Montana (12.9% from 2007 to 2019) than in its neighboring RTW states (8.2% from 2007 to 2019).
● The future of the middle class depends on student loan forgiveness, writes Anne Helen Petersen:
“We’re drowning in the technical details and neglecting the core moral argument,” Frederick Wherry, a professor of sociology at Princeton University and the director of the Dignity and Debt Network, told me. Student loans have failed to serve their original function, instead working to hollow out the middle class or prevent access to it altogether. Substantive — if not wholescale — student loan cancellation offers an opportunity to not only acknowledge how the program has misled millions of Americans but to begin the long process of restoring access, solidity, and racial equity to the middle class. None of that can happen if we keep focusing on individual scenarios.
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