Autoworkers union faces second big test in the South this week – National & International News – MON 13Apr2024


UAW faces second big test in the South this week.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen takes stand in hush-money trial.

Israel targets marked UN vehicle in Rafah, kills foreign UN worker.


UAW faces second big test in the South this week

Workers a Mercedes-Benz battery plant in Woodstock, AL, and an assembly plant in nearby Vance will be voting this week on whether to join the United Auto Workers union. Voting begins on Monday and runs until Friday, May 17. Last month, UAW won its first big victory in the Southern states when 73% of workers a Chattanooga, TN, Volkswagen plant voted to join. The union is hoping for another win at Woodstock and Vance to continue building momentum for a unionization push at foreign-owned auto plants across the South.

Ahead of this week’s vote, Mercedes management has bombarded workers at both the Woodstock and Vance plants (totaling about 5,000) with multiple texts and emails telling them not to vote for the union. Workers also say they are required to attend meetings during shift to hear anti-union talking points from management. UAW has sued for these unfair labor practices, even filing a suit in Germany where the company is based (and where its entire workforce is unionized).

State Republican officials (including Gov. Kay Ivey) and state business groups have rolled out a statewide anti-union campaign. Ahead of the Chattanooga vote, Ivey and Govs. Tate Reeves (Mississippi), Bill Lee (Tennessee), Henry McMaster (South Carolina), Brian Kemp (Georgia) and Greg Abbott (Texas) signed onto a letter warning workers in their state from joining unions. Alabama and many other Southern states have seen a boom in auto manufacturing from foreign automakers attracted by government subsidies and limited legal worker protections. 

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Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen takes stand in hush-money trial

Donald Trump’s former attorney and self-described “fixer” Michael Cohen took the witness stand today for the first time in the hush-money trial in New York. Once a trusted Trump insider, Cohen began working with prosecutors against Trump in 2019, when Cohen himself was serving a jail sentence related to his activities during Trump’s campaign. Since then, Cohen has long been a thorn in Trump’s side, having testified against him previously in last year’s civil fraud trial in New York, which Trump lost.

During his testimony today (the first of at least two days), Cohen spoke of his early involvement in Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign. When Trump announced his candidacy, Cohen alleged that Trump warned him “a lot of women” were going to come out with stories against him. Cohen says Trump trusted him to take care of these stories and make sure that they didn’t receive wide press attention.

It was Cohen who made a $130,000 payment to former porn actress Stormy Daniels to buy her silence about a one-time fling with Trump. This payment is at the heart of the case, with prosecutors accusing Trump of making fraudulent business entries to cover reimbursement payments to Cohen under the guise of “legal services”.

Trump’s defense team was quick to seize on the fact that Cohen himself has credibility issues, citing instances where he’d been accused of perjuring himself and of lying to Congress. Considering that he is the star witness of the state’s case, Cohen’s flamboyant and undisguised hatred of Trump (which he frequently talks about on news programs) may also make him a liability to the prosecution.

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Israel targets marked UN vehicle in Rafah, kills foreign UN worker

Israel’s invasion of Rafah continues with bombings and firefights throughout the enclave. Today, an Israeli sniper targeted a clearly marked UN vehicle in Rafah, killing one foreign UN worker an injuring another. The name and country of origin of the foreign aid worker have not yet been released.

Since October 7, over 190 UN workers, most of them Palestinian, have been killed in Israel’s military assault of Gaza. Likewise, hundreds of other charity workers, mostly Palestinian, have been killed. It wasn’t until 7 foreign aid workers from the World Central Kitchen were killed on April 1 that foreign leaders forcefully condemned Israel’s targeted attacks on aid workers.

Today, a gang of Israelis set fire to the compound surrounding the office of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in East Jerusalem. This is the second arson attack on an UNRWA facility in the past week. A mob of Israeli settlers also attacked an aid truck headed to Gaza and destroyed some of the items it was carrying. They also set fire to aid trucks outside a facility near Hebron in the West Bank.

The White House has condemned these attacks on aid trucks as a “total outrage“. This is the first time the Biden administration has commented on the blocking and obstruction of Gaza aid by Israeli citizens, although it has been happening almost daily for months. They have not so far commented on the killing of the aid worker.

A State Department spokesman said the US is “aware” there are American doctors trapped in Rafah.


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