MR Daily Review
Monday, August 29th
1. Chipotle workers win the company’s first union.
Late last week, workers at the Chipotle in Lansing Michigan became the first location to win their union. The workers joined with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. This is monumental – a huge and inspiring win for those workers in Michigan, in particular considering the disgusting union busting Chipotle has engaged in, including earlier this year completely shutting down a store in Augusta, Maine out of fear of workers’ successful organizing efforts. To shut it down, Chipotle sent an email notifying workers the store was closing effective immediately, blaming workers for the closure, and letting them know if they were lucky they might get a final paycheck. At the time, no one believed that Chipotle had no choice but to close the location, when in this past quarter alone Chipotle successfully upped its prices, increased their revenue 16% and netted $2 billion in profit. But, we can just add it to the endless list of labor law violations that Chipotle wracks up. Well documented by Alex Press, her essential reporting details how for just the NYC area, Chipotle has hundreds of thousands of labor violations inside of just two years, and owes workers $150 million in back pay and some $375 million for additional violations. Just this month, investigators found Chipotle in violation of labor laws that led to a $20 million settlement for ~13,000 employees, significant, though a fraction of what Chipotle actually owes. The union is hopefully the first of many. Solidarity forever, comrades.
2. People who got millions of dollars in PPP loans continue to meltdown about student debt relief.
Conservative ghouls had a lot to say about Joe Biden’s student loan debt relief. Mostly outrage that government should take any action that helps anyone other than the super elite. Many – including the White House – have pointed out the utter cravenness of those who received astronomical sums in PPP (paycheck protection program) loans, who also have not shut up about the ‘unfair’ debt relief. However, the outrage did not end with the GOP. Outraged elites took to the editorial pages in major newspapers, giving us their ‘common sense’ take that forgiving loans is somehow unfair. What they are outraged about is that this might help someone other than the most wealthy, and might make it harder for the military to meet recruitment goals, without its full range of coercive tools at its disposal. As a reminder, the PPP loans that were part of the first COVID relief bill were doled out under the guise of being for payroll, while companies proceeded to layoff employees by the millions. This meant that the loans went to the very richest in society and were largely forgiven despite the dubious ends to which their beneficiaries put them. The average PPP loan was $107,000 dollars. Boomers need to retire. They also never mention the outrageous difference in cost of education that has accelerated exponentially.
3. Biden approves biggest sale of weapons to Ukraine yet, signaling a shift to a long term strategy as the war ‘promises’ no end in sight. Earlier this Spring, Congress approved a $40 billion military aid package for Ukraine to aid in their fight against Russia. Since then, Congress has approved a steady drip-drip-drip of additional “lethal aid” packages, proving the Senate at least has one arguable function, and there is basically endless money as long as it is spent for war. This newest $3 billion dollar boost is important beyond showing yet another commitment to funding this war, it’s the first attempt to do so that is explicitly based on new manufacturing. Military contractors in the US are stepping up to build the weapons system Ukraine depends on and getting paid billions of dollars to do so. This is a significant shift from the previous tact that depended on Pentagon stockpiles. The war has dragged on for months and most of the reporting tends to indicate it is increasingly drawn to a stalemate. With millions displaced and thousands dead in many ways this outcome will only increase those numbers, an outcome everyone should be trying to avoid, but instead the United States throws more fuel on the fire.
4. 9/11 families demand Biden return stolen $7 billion dollars from the Afghanistan Central Bank to Afghans.
In February, despite the people of Afghanistan facing threats of mass starvation and famine, Biden announced his shameless decision to expropriate (i.e., steal) $7 billion held by the Afghanistan central bank, for his own ends. Bizarrely, Biden delivered some of the stolen money to a fund in New York that pays off judgments to 9/11 families – if they can prove their damages in court. Recently, 9/11 families wrote to Biden to demand that he return the $7 billion to whom it belongs – the Afghan people. Further, the ~70 people who signed the letter said: “Any use of the $7 billion to pay off 9/11 family member judgments is legally suspect and morally wrong. We call on you to modify your Executive Order and affirm that the Afghanistan central bank funds belong to the Afghan people and the Afghan people alone.” Biden must return the funds to the Afghanistan people now, with interest.
5. US strikes in Syria, retaliating for a prior non-deadly attack.
This past week, the US launched a series of strikes in Syria. Reportedly, the strikes are in response to a rocket attack against two coalition bases housing US troops in Syria in which three US service members suffered minor injuries. Apparently, the first strike destroyed three vehicles and the rocket launchers used in the initial attack. The reporting is that 4 Iranian-backed militants were killed. One way that the US could prevent future death and violence on all sides is to get out of the country that it has no legal basis to be in in the first place.