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US labor unions, strike participant numbers, bargaining power, UAW, SAG, AFTRA
Photo credit: Joe Piette / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED)

PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to picks@whowhatwhy.org.

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More Than 330K Striking Americans Help Unions Flex Power (Maria)

The author writes, “More than 330,000 American workers — from Hollywood actors to medical technicians — have participated in strikes since the start of September, according to Cornell University’s labor tracker. Labor unions enjoying their highest approval ratings in generations are deploying hardball tactics in far-reaching sectors of the economy. The United Auto Workers said last week that it could expand the strike against Detroit’s Big Three automakers ‘at any time.’ … Two large-scale strikes, screenwriters and health care workers, ended in the past month.”

Lawyers, Trump and Money: Ex-President Spends Millions in Donor Cash on Attorneys as Legal Woes Grow (Reader Steve)

The authors write, “Donald Trump’s political fundraising machine is raking in donations at a prodigious pace, but he’s spending tens of millions of dollars he’s bringing in to pay attorneys to deal with the escalating costs of the various criminal cases he is contending with as he moves further into the 2024 presidential campaign. Campaign finance experts say using the money to pay for lawyers in cases not related to the campaign or officeholder duties appears to conflict with a federal ban on the personal use of donor dollars, even though the Federal Election Commission has ruled the prohibition doesn’t apply to so-called leadership political action committees.”

In Court Filing, GOP Legislators Admit They Can’t Fire Top Elections Official (Al)

From Wisconsin Public Radio: “Attorneys for the Legislature’s top Republicans told a judge Friday that a September vote to fire Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Megan Wolfe was ‘symbolic,’ and that Wolfe is ‘lawfully holding over’ in that position despite her appointment expiring July 1. The filing by lawyers representing Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, Senate President Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, contradicts what some of those lawmakers said publicly in recent months about their efforts to remove Wolfe from office.” 

The Real Danger in Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Independent Run (Gerry)

The author writes, “Most of the concern over the independent presidential campaigns of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West and the No Labels party has focused on the risk that they could draw votes away from President Biden and throw the 2024 election to Donald Trump. That’s understandable, given what happened in 2000 and 2016. But there is another reason to fear these candidacies, and it’s right there in the Constitution: a contingent election decided by the House of Representatives, arguably the worst part of the Electoral College system.”

How a Billionaire-Backed Network of AI Advisers Took Over Washington (Reader Jim)

From Politico: “A sprawling network spread across Congress, federal agencies and think tanks is pushing policymakers to put AI apocalypse at the top of the agenda — potentially boxing out other worries and benefiting top AI companies with ties to the network.”

Coal Dust Is Blowin’ in the Wind (Laura)

From Sierra: “When Kim Williams moved to the Lambert’s Point neighborhood in coastal Norfolk, Virginia, in 1989, she immediately noticed the soot.The laundry hung on the clothesline became dusty. When she opened the windows in spring, black grime collected on the white sills. Running her hand along her home’s siding darkened her fingerprint. Her children’s outdoor toys were caked with the same dark-gray residue. After her two boys played in the yard, their knees looked like they’d wrestled in charcoal. … More than 30 years after Williams moved to Norfolk, coal dust remains a hazard in her neighborhood. The coal dust that to this day billows into Lambert’s Point comes from the Norfolk Southern rail line, train terminal, and shipyard.” 

Over 1 Million Satellites Could Be Headed to Earth Orbit, and Scientists Are Worried (Sean)

The author writes, “Earth’s lower orbit, already crowded with tens of thousands of satellites, may soon choke with many more, underscoring a need for stringent laws regarding the use of shared orbital space, according to new research. More specifically, experts believe more than a million satellites are headed to low-Earth orbit. To arrive at that figure, researchers studied recent filings in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) database, which is a United Nations agency responsible for granting spaces in orbit for satellite use. To launch and operate satellite populations, nations are required to submit relevant information to the ITU.”

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