UAW expands strikes to 38 facilities in 20 states, including one in Mississippi.
DOJ charges prominent Democratic Senator and wife with bribery.
Iran cracks down on remembrances for slain hijab protesters.
UAW expands strikes to 38 facilities in 20 states, including one in Mississippi
In a Facebook live address (stream starts at 8:20), UAW President Shawn Fain announced that the ongoing autoworkers strike will expand to 38 facilities across 20 states, targeting GM and Stellantis. This includes GM’s Jackson Parts Distribution in Brandon, MS. This facility fulfills parts orders for GM dealerships and ACDelco. These closures may affect aftercare and servicing for current owners of GM or Stellantis vehicles.
While Fain says there is still a lot of work to do, the union has made some serious progress in negotiations with Ford. No new Ford locations will strike in recognition of their good faith negotiations in the past week. One Ford facility in Michigan that walked off last week will remain on strike. Fain reported progress with Ford in the following demands:
- Eliminating wage tiers for some workers.
- Reinstating the cost of living adjustments (COLA) which was suspended in 2009
- Right to strike over plant closures.
- In the event of indefinite layoff, up to 2 years income security with healthcare. Applies to all workers who’ve been with the company for 90 days, including temporary workers.
- Enhanced profit sharing, including for temporary workers with over 90 days employment.
- Immediate conversion of all temporary employees with 90 days of employment upon ratification.
Fain says that GM has offered to meet some demands on eliminating lower wage-tiers for its Customer Care and Aftersales workers (such as those at the Brandon, MS, facility). However, GM and Stellantis have rejected other demands for protections and benefits for these workers and core assembly workers.
DOJ charges prominent Democratic Senator and wife with bribery
The Department of Justice has charged Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and his wife Nadine with accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of bribes from New Jersey businessmen. The DOJ has accused Menendez, who is in his third term and is chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of using his influence to benefit three New Jersey businessmen as well as the Egyptian government. In exchange, Menendez and his wife received, “cash, gold bars, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle and other items of value”. Agents who searched Menendez’s home discovered $480,000 in cash as well as gold bars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In addition to interfering in both state and federal criminal prosecutions on behalf of two of the businessmen, the DOJ has accused Nadine Menendez and Wael Hana, a halal meat distributor of Egyptian heritage, of a long-running conspiracy to use the senator’s influence to do favors both for Hana and the Egyptian government. This includes passing sensitive US government information to Egyptian officials, via Nadine and Hana. At Hana and Nadine’s urging, Menendez also allegedly lobbied his fellow senators to support US aid to Egypt.
This is not the first time Sen. Menendez has been indicted for similar misconduct. In 2015, he was charged with illegally accepting favors and monetary gifts from a Florida eye doctor. This included flights on a private jet, three nights at a five-star Paris hotel, and over $700,000 in political contributions to Menendez and the Democratic Party. That prosecution ended in a mistrial when jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
Menendez will reportedly step down as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee while the case proceeds. He defended himself in statement, claiming that prosecutors have “misrepresented the normal work of a Congressional office”.
Iran cracks down on hijab defiance, blocks families from memorializing loved ones killed in last year’s protests
It’s now been over a year since Mahsa (or Zhina) Amini’s death at the hands of Iran’s morality police. Amini’s death sparked months of protests in the country, resulting in hundreds of protesters being jailed or killed by the regime. Although protests have died down somewhat, many women still openly defy Iran’s laws requiring women to wear a hijab, or headscarf, when out in public. The government recently floated a bill to make such offenses punishable by up to a decade in prison.
Moreover, in hopes of heading off any resurgences in anti-regime demonstrations, Iran is seeking to block the families of young people killed in last year’s demonstrations as the anniversaries of their deaths approach. Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard recently detained Amini’s father and warned him not to hold an anniversary event commemorating his daughter. Family members of other victims have been been met with similar intimidation and threats.