ICYMI: “How the Justice Department came to investigate Rep. Matt Gaetz,” from our Matt Zapotosky and Michael Scherer.
WORKING IT: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been quietly carving out an unusual role in the Republican Party as a supporter of organized labor and advocate for what he's described as more equitable capitalism for the past several years.
Rubio has previously expressed support for the right to organize — citing a Culinary Workers Union strike with his father as one of his “earliest political memories” — but his policy interest in American workers piqued after the 2016 election. And last month, Rubio penned a surprising op-ed in endorsing the efforts of the workers at Amazon's Bessemer warehouse in their fight to unionize.
For all of ex-president Donald Trump's bluster about the white working class, pro-union conservatives are still far and few. But Rubio's office told Power Up the number of private responses from Congressional Republicans applauding the Florida lawmaker's op-ed was “stunning.”
Rubio's office told Power Up Amazon's Alabama win now provides even more of an opportunity for conservatives to question what the modern labor movement should look like as its disappointing loss is sparking a conversation about a shift in unionization strategy.
Rubio's reimagining of labor unions is yet to be determined. But Rubio and a handful of prominent conservatives — including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and author J.D. Vance — signed a letter issued by American Compass calling for the exploration of a new labor framework to strengthen worker representation.
The policy ideas referenced in the letter draw on “entirely different arrangements” that exist in other economies, like sectoral bargaining across industries in European countries. Specifically mentioned are Germany's works councils, committees elected by workers to represent them in their workplace (even in non-unionized companies). And “co-determination” in Germany allows employees in large public and private companies to holds seats on corporate boards.
- Also, Canada: “In some places, unions manage functions like unemployment insurance and job training that we take for granted as government responsibilities. In Canada, collective bargaining offers the parties autonomy to depart from government mandates in regulating their own workplaces,” the letter states. “Conservatives should be willing to consider all these approaches, and others besides.”
Rubio and his team have been meeting with union groups and leaders. Labor experts and advocates agree the exploration of new strategies is merited, but caution Rubio faces an enormous policy lift in garnering true support — both from unions skeptical of conservatives and from his own GOP peers — in establishing a new organizing structure.
- Harry Holzer, a Georgetown University public policy professor and the former chief economist for the Clinton Labor Department, said he didn't want to “sell out the idea of work councils” but “can't imagine any Republicans would support that because [the GOP is] so anathema to unions.”
- “And I don't think unions will be impressed by what Rubio has done, when push comes to shove,” Holzer added.
- Susan Houseman, Upjohn Institute for Employment Research vice president and director of research, commended Rubio's efforts and said broadly increasing worker representation through structures used overseas like works councils or co-determination is “a bold proposal for somebody who is very conservative to be considering.”
- “The decline of unions [has] been linked to the rise of inequality in the U.S. and inequality has grown in other countries but not to the same degree,” Houseman argued. “But such a proposal will be strongly opposed in board rooms so I think it'd be tough.”
In the wake of the Bessemer defeat, labor leaders have said they'll tweak their strategies in less dramatic ways than Rubio is considering. They argue current labor law gives outsized power to employers, making it more difficult than ever to unionize a large and powerful company.
- “We’re focused on building a new type of labor movement where we don’t rely on the election process to raise standards,” Jesse Case, secretary-treasurer of an Iowa Teamsters local working to rally the state’s Amazon drivers and warehouse workers, told the New York Times's Noam Scheiber.
- “Labor law, as currently written, greatly hamstrings unions and their formation,” Matt Dimick, a professor at the Buffalo School of Law, told Power Up. “Perhaps the greatest limitation in the current law is that it prevents a union from doing anything to demonstrate its efficacy before workers are asked to vote for to recognize the union as their bargaining representative.”
- “Thus, when workers vote for a union, they are asked to place their trust in an organization that has been — literally — prohibited from demonstrating that they can do anything to help them,” Dimick added.
The PRO Act passed the House last month, which would make it easier for workers organize — including eliminating the specific prohibition on picketing for the purposes of union organizing. Rubio does not support the bill, and claimed it would “mandate adversarial relations between labor and management.” And some progressive leaders, who have previously called for more fundamental changes, are reiterating calls to go even further than strengthening current labor law.
- The loss in Bessemer “can be an opportunity to look beyond the PRO Act and why we need labor law with a focus on the sector,” Larry Cohen, chairman of the progressive advocacy group Our Revolution and a former president of the Communications Workers of America, told Scheiber.
- “It would be incredibly powerful if Biden and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh called on McDonald’s and Amazon and other major corporations to set a bargaining table with workers and government and they would help support it,” Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, told him.
On the Hill
TOP DEMOCRAT DUNKS ON ‘COURT-PACKING’ PROPOSAL: “Democratic leaders on Thursday expressed opposition to a proposal from a group of liberal lawmakers that would expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices, underscoring tensions within the party over how to address concerns that the nation’s highest court will remain reliably conservative for years to come,” our colleague Marianna Sotomayor reports.
- “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that she has ‘no plans’ to bring the bill to the floor and that she supports a commission created by President Biden that will produce a report this year on possible changes to the court, including expansion and term limits.”
- But she didn’t close the door completely. “It is not out of the question. It has been done before in the history of our country, a long time ago. The size of our country, the growth of our challenges in terms of our economy, etcetera, might necessitate such a thing,” Pelosi said.
WHITHER GOP FOREIGN POLICY: Former senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), “the onetime prisoner of war in Vietnam, embodied a distinctive Republican worldview: a commitment to internationalism — and confrontation when necessary — that stemmed from the Cold War and endured through the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush,” the New York Times’s Lisa Lerer writes.
- “Then came Trump, who campaigned on a promise to put America first, an isolationist mantra that resonated with a nation weary of endless wars.”
- “Now, out of power in Washington, Republicans have splintered into disparate factions, with few figures to take the lead.”
- Ouch: “'Boy, I’m hard-pressed,'” said Chuck Hagel, the former Republican senator, when asked to name a G.O.P. foreign policy expert in the Senate," per the Times. “'The emphasis on foreign policy probably hasn’t been the same with senators. But I can’t think of a Dick Lugar or a John Warner or any of the guys I served with,'" he said, referring to the former Republican senators from Indiana and Virginia.
WATCHDOG SAYS FORCE NEEDS ‘CULTURAL CHANGE’: Inspector General Michael Bolton told a congressional committee Thursday that “the Capitol Police would have to undertake sweeping procedural changes to be prepared for future threats to the Capitol and Congress,” our colleague Karoun Demirjian reports. “He also called for a ‘cultural change,’ saying that the force must move away from the ‘traditional posture of a police department’ and start acting instead like ‘a protection agency’ focused not on responding to disturbances but on preventing events like the Jan. 6 riot.”
- Training is not an afterthought. “If you want to invest dollars, that’s the place to invest it: training,” Bolton said. “To be truly effective, you have to have that continuous training.”
- Expand the force’s intelligence capabilities. “We need an intelligence bureau. Right now it's considered an intelligence division. It needs to be a full-service, comprehensive bureau.”
- “The testimony from Bolton was the latest in a series of damaging revelations about the missteps and dysfunction that plagued the force’s response to the deadliest attack on the Capitol in more than 200 years,” the New York Times's Luke Broadwater reports.
FYI: Today marks 100 days since the attack.
- 17 requests in 78 minutes: Our Post colleagues reconstruct the failures of planning and preparation that left police at the Capitol severely disadvantaged on Jan. 6.
ARIZONA REPUBLICANS CONTEST THE ELECTION — AGAIN: “The nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, Az., last fall are currently packaged in 40 cardboard shrink-wrapped boxes and stacked on 45 pallets in a county facility in Phoenix known as The Vault. But on order of the Republican-led state senate, the ballots and county's voting equipment are scheduled to be trucked away next week — handed over for a new recount and audit spurred by unsubstantiated claims that fraud or errors tainted Biden's win in Arizona's largest county,” our colleague Rosalind S. Helderman reports.
- “The ballots will be scrutinized not by election officials, but by a group of private companies led by a private Florida-based firm whose owner has promoted claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent.”
- “The recount has sparked an internecine fight among state Republicans, with the GOP-led Maricopa County Board of Supervisors refusing to assist the effort, saying multiple past reviews have already demonstrated the election was run properly. And it has triggered deep fears among Democrats and voting-rights groups that the process could further election conspiracies that led to violence on Jan. 6.”
- “There are people who have been looking for any reason to get their hands on all of the ballots. Now they've gotten their chance — and we don't know what they're going to do with it,” Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), whose office is in charge of state elections, told our colleague. “Hobbs said she is examining possible legal options to stop the process.”
Outside the Beltway
BODYCAM FOOTAGE SHOWS OFFICER FATALLY SHOOTING 13-YEAR-OLD: “More than two weeks after Chicago police officer [Eric Stillman] shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo, a police oversight agency on Thursday released a video of the March shooting that had set the city on edge,” our colleagues Mark Guarino, Meryl Kornfield and Kim Bellware report.
- “The graphic video, which the city's Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) posted to its website, shows the police officer chasing Adam through an alley, ordering him to stop and show his hands. Adam appears to stop at the opening in a fence, turn and raise his hands as the officer fires once, striking him in the chest.”
- “Adam is among the youngest people fatally shot by police since The Post began tracking police shootings in 2015. The only younger people were two 6-year-olds and a 12-year-old, all of whom were unarmed. Adam is first person younger than 14 shot and killed by police since 2017.”
What we know about Toledo. “Adam was a seventh-grader at Gary Elementary School on the South Side and lived with his mother, grandfather and two siblings in the Little Village neighborhood,” per Guarino, Kornfield and Bellware.
- “He had a big imagination and curiosity since he was a little baby. He was goofy and always cracking jokes, making everyone laugh. He loved animals and riding his bike,” Adam's mother, Elizabeth Toledo, said in a statement per the Chicago Sun-Times.
- “Adam was really into zombies. And the zombie apocalypse. He even had this zombie apocalypse bag packed and ready to go. Some of his favorite movies and TV shows were ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,’ ‘Ghostbusters,’ ‘SpongeBob SquarePants,’ ‘Toy Story,’ ‘Cars,’ ‘The Walking Dead,’” she said.
HAPPENING TODAY: “Biden [will] welcome Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to the White House, using the first in-person visit by a foreign leader to emphasize that his administration sees Asia as its highest priority,” our colleagues Anne Gearan and Simon Denyer report.
- “The coveted first invitation is intended to reward a strategic ally who was buffeted by transactional and sometimes capricious treatment under Trump, and to send a signal to China that Biden plans to firm up America’s Asian alliances.”
- The agenda: “A variety of Chinese actions, including military moves in the South China Sea and perceived threats to Taiwan are on the agenda, along with human rights concerns … Biden and Suga are also expected to discuss Biden’s strategy review on nuclear-armed North Korea.”
- More: “Biden and Suga are expected to issue a joint statement that contains unusually strong language about Chinese actions in the Taiwan Strait. Tensions have mounted in the strait over the past year, and China appeared to threaten invasion last fall.”
In the media
- The small world of trauma: From Emmett Till to Daunte Wright, the eerie ties among Black victims of violence. By The Post’s Sydney Trent.
- ‘You have some f---ing nerve shutting us off during a pandemic!’: Off the grid: A flood of federal aid often fails to reach America’s poorest families. By The Post’s Greg Jaffe.
- Holding onto power: Andrew Cuomo’s white-knuckle ride. By the New York Times Magazine’s Matt Flegenheimer.
- ‘Can I hold my daughter?’: These parents had to bond with their babies over Zoom — or lose them forever. By the 19th*’s Eli Hager.
- All news is local news: Caron Nazario saw Eric Garner, who he called ‘uncle,’ die in police hands. Then officers pepper-sprayed him six years later. By The Post’s John Woodrow Cox and Michael S. Rosenwald.
- America’s ‘Forever War’ visualized: The war in Afghanistan: America’s longest conflict in photos. By The Post’s Nick Kirkpatrick, Craig Whitlock and Julie Vitkovskaya.
- Weird news: A woman called animal control on a croissant. By the New Yorker’s Amanda Arnold.