On the News With Thom Hartmann: Hostess to Lay Off 18,000 Unionized Workers in Its Liquidation, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Hostess is in the process of complete liquidation and 18,000 unionized workers are set to lose their jobs and possibly their pensions; Michigan will join 23 other states in the nation that have approved “right-to-work” for less laws; Virginia can now be added to the growing list of states controlled by Republicans who want to rig the next presidential election; and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Massive labor protests are expected in Michigan today, as Republicans lawmakers and Republican Governor Rick Snyder give their final approval to the state’s new “right to work for less” law. Michigan will join 23 other states in the nation that have gone right to work for less – but it is by far the most unionized state to suffer this fate, which is a real win in the war of the Koch Brothers versus the organized labor community. In response, as many as 10,000 union workers are expected to march on the Michigan Capitol building today, and kick off a brand-new labor struggle in America’s rust belt. Schools across the state are closed due to staff shortages, as teachers are expected to join the struggle at the capitol today, too. President Obama made an appearance in Michigan on Monday, where he slammed the new right to work for less law calling it strictly “political.” Working people have done a remarkable job pushing back against anti-union laws in Wisconsin and Ohio, but the President’s leadership on this issue is vitally important to the success of the labor movement. President Obama must understand that he was re-elected to a second term in large part because of the efforts of organized labor. It’s time for him to fight for working people, and get a card-check bill passed through Congress.

Twinkie-maker Hostess continues to screw over its workers. The company is in the process of complete liquidation and 18,000 unionized workers are set to lose their jobs. More troubling – they could lose their pensions. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Hostess CEO, Gregory Rayburn, admitted that his company essentially stole employee pension money and put it toward CEO and senior executive pay. While this isn’t technically illegal, it’s another sleazy theft by Hostess executives – who’ve paid themselves handsomely while running their company into the ground. Just last month, a judge agreed to let Hostess executives suck another $1.8 million out of the bankrupt company to pay bonuses to CEOs. If there’s no way to recover the money for the Hostess pension plans for workers, then we the taxpayers- through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. – will have to foot the bill to make sure workers get the retirement money they paid in. Hostess shows us clearly what predatory capitalism is all about: big bucks for the very few rich executives, layoffs and poverty for the workers and their communities.

In the best of the rest of the news…

With just a few more weeks left in 2012, we’ll soon be closing the book on the hottest and most extreme year of weather in American history. So far, the last 11 months have marked the hottest period in our history, and once December is over, 2012 will officially be the hottest single year ever recorded – averaging a full degree above the previous record. In the first eleven months of this year, 85% of our nation was hit by the top 10% of the warmest temperatures in history. And with the hotter weather, comes more extreme weather. According to the National Climactic Data Center – 46% of the nation experienced very extreme weather. That’s more than double the average of extreme weather for the United States. This is what the Carbon Industry’s global climate change has brought us. And, more troubling, the global weirding is just getting started, as the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration warns more record-breaking heat and extreme weather events are ahead in the near future. Tragically, we must prepare for life on a hotter, more hostile planet, brought to us by the oil, coal, and gas barons and industrialists who bought off our politicians, funded hack scientists to muddy the debate, and throw over 2.4 million pounds of pollution into our skies every SECOND with no regard whatsoever for future generations.

The Supreme Court is set to take up the issue of marriage equality next year, but we already know which way one justice is expected to rule. Antonin Scalia has previously compared federal laws banning gay marriage to federal laws banning murder and bestiality. He has argued that government can indeed ban behavior that it believes to be immoral. While speaking at Princeton University on Monday, Scalia was asked about his previous comments on gay marriage and responded by again comparing gays to murderers saying, “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder?” Those comments aren’t too surprising coming from the high court’s resident dinosaur. But they do add to the long list of unethical behavior the Scalia has racked up while on the bench, with numerous cases of partiality, accepting gifts, and being paid to speak at politically charged events. The aging Scalia will have to retire soon, but Congress should do its job first and impeach this corrupt associate justice.

And finally…we can add Virginia now to the growing list of states controlled by Republicans who want to rig the next Presidential election. Republican state Senator Bill Carrico introduced legislation to change how Virginia hands out its 13 Electoral College votes. Rather than a winner-take-all system, which handed President Obama all of Virginia’s Electoral College votes this year because he won the majority of the vote in that state, Republicans want Virginia’s votes doled out based on who wins each Congressional district. Since Republicans have gerrymandered the heck out of the state to keep Republican districts intact, this scheme would greatly benefit Republicans. In fact, had this system been in place this year, Mitt Romney would have won a majority of Electoral Votes in the state – 9 to 4 – despite losing the popular vote in the state. Had the rest of the battleground states adopted this same scheme, Romney would be our President today, even though he lost every single battleground state and lost the national vote. This is a scam – and Republicans in Ohio and Pennsylvania are trying it, too. Progressives must stay diligent and push back against Republican efforts to steal the next election.

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, December 11th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.