Tuesday Apr 07

Publisher’s Note: Winter 2019

We're on the countdown now in country after country. By the time this issue hits the mail and website, we’ll know about the Brexit referendum and the next chapter in the antics of Boris Johnson. Israel may need a third election to form a government. Spain after several elections finally combined with Podemos, the farther left party. Lula de Silva may be able to run in Brazil again.

Protestors are in the streets everywhere it seems. Hong Kong swept the decks in recent municipals and hundreds of thousands are in the streets as we go to press. The streets are also full in Lebanon, Iraq, Chile, Bolivia, Iran, and France. It sometimes feels like the world is aflame.

Then we have the United States where President Donald Trump, barring a miracle, will face some Democrat or another on November 3, less than ten months away as you open this issue.

No matter what is swirling around us, we have to focus on what we can all do in these tumultuous times, and that’s what we are doing in this issue as we prepare for our fiftieth anniversary of Social Policy and stay the course.

We begin looking first at how to ensure that voters are able to surmount the efforts to prevent them from accessing the polls as I join with Steve Tingley-Hock in trying to peel the facts from the falsehoods in the dark holes of the data held by Secretaries of State throughout the United States. This piece cries for transparency and reform. As we focus on state and local election practices, Gregory Squires from George Washington University reminds that localities are central as well. We can’t really talk about the power and promise of localism without thinking about community organizations which – when they work at the gold standard as Mike Miller argues in Part 1 of his evaluation – empower people at that level. The growth of e-commerce operations, large and small, has led to a virtual revolution in logistics and transportation making warehouses key links in the chain. A report from Eric Shragg and the Immigrant Workers Centre in Montreal lays out the facts, the issues, and the opportunities. Many labor and political strategists think of warehouses as choke points in our modern economy, but that presumes they don’t choke their workers to death first. Or, drive them crazy, as John Michael Cummings notes, because if so, they can forget about much in the way of mental health support or a lack of discrimination in employment.

Once again, we are delighted to have reports from the Organizers’ Forum International Dialogue, this time in Tunisia. The authors, who were participants in the week-long investigation include community and labor organizers and officials from Canada, Italy, France, Cameroon, and Kenya, along with youth, women, and philanthropic activists. Their reports are engrossing about this exciting and contradictory country which now carries the last legacy for democracy’s potential in the wake of the Arab Spring.

We have two excellent excerpts that are timely to the minute as one draws lessons from the horrid past and another gives hope and direction for the hopeful future. Raymond Caballero recounts the backstory behind the often cited Jencks decision of the Supreme Court requiring full revelations of prosecutor’s statements. Jencks was a labor organizer in the famous Arizona mine strikes but was caught up in McCarthyism and the Cold War, leading to his arrest and being blackballed as a Communist despite full knowledge that he had resigned in compliance with Taft-Harley. Cedric De Leon looks at the major political challenges that led to upheavals in political parties as they lost “the consent of the governed,” including the death of the Whig Party and emergency of the Republicans and the sweeping reforms of the New Deal. He sees hope in a future movement and the critical role that energized labor unions might play in creating sweeping changes, which is not surprising for the head of the Labor Center at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Our book review this issue focuses on voices in the dialogue of transformational change, as James Mumm tries to get a head start on Social Policy’s fiftieth year anniversary. In our columns, Phil Mattera notes the prevalence of wage theft complaints and awards across the country and the need to accelerate the efforts to force better corporate behavior. Drummond Pike in Money Matters doesn’t hold back as he calls for philanthropists and their foundation vehicles to stop piddling with the transactional and strive for the transformative investments that stood out in the past. Lest we forget the importance of adequate and affordable child care in achieving equity and family stability and participation in the workforce, John Anderson reminds us all in Northern Lights why and how this should still be near the top of everyone’s list of priorities. In Backstory, I note the differences in how a real membership organization with democratic power, like the UAW, can enforce accountability compared to a paper mâché disempowered membership, like that of the NRA, where members are forced to grin and bear outrageous scandal and corruption.

This may be our last issue of the decade, but it will come to you at the beginning of our fiftieth year. Page to page, it reminds all of us of the unique role that Social Policy plays in guiding and informing our thinking in these and other times. Happy New Year! On to the next decade!

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