PA AFL-CIO Endorses Summer Lee for the 1st Time – MLB Players Union Democracy Fight Intensifies – World Down Syndrome Day 

Congresswoman Summer Lee (D-PA) rallies with striking UE union members from Wabtec in the summer of 2023 (UE)

Greetings from Rio de Janeiro, where the right-wing Bolsonaro-style state governor has banned two Brazilian legends from playing in Brasil’s largest stadium. 

Bolsonaro Ally Bans Brazilian Anti-Dictatorship Legends from Performing in Maracanã

In 1969, the Grammy-winning Caetano Veloso, one of the founders of the Tropicalismo musical movement, was arrested and imprisoned for several months by the Brazilian military dictatorship. Eventually, he was forced into exile and lived for several years abroad. 

Once again, the 81-year-old Veloso and his sister, the famed singer Maria Bethânia, are being blocked from playing a high-profile show at Brazil’s largest stadium.

This week, tickets went on sale. Quickly, the show sold out online within 30 minutes at a music venue in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood of Rio. 

Initially, the group wanted to play at the 80,000-seat Maracanã, the largest stadium in Brazil.

However, the stadium is operated by the state of Rio de Janeiro, whose governor is the right-wing Bolsonaro ally, Claudio Castro. He vetoed the idea of letting them play there, claiming that it could hurt the field conditions needed to play soccer at the stadium. 

Veloso’s wife Paula Lavigne publicly posted a link to a news story from O Globo that said that Casto denied them a permit because of Veloso’s constant critiques of Bolsonaro and Veloso. 

For more, check out Rolling Stone. 

PA AFL-CIO Endorses Summer Lee for the 1st Time

Since her first election to the State House in 2018, Summer Lee has never once won the endorsement of the PA AFL-CIO. Some affiliate unions have long opposed Lee due to her opposition to fracking and calls for crackdowns on pollution. 

In 2020, in her re-election for State Representative, Summer Lee was the only incumbent Democrat in the state legislature whom the PA AFL-CIO did not endorse

In 2022, the PA AFL-CIO, under the leadership of Frank Synder, declined to endorse her in her run for an open Congressional seat even though her opponent headed a legal division that did anti-union work. 

Now, with the PA AFL-CIO under the leadership of its first-ever woman President, Angela Ferritto, the PA AFL-CIO has endorsed Lee. 

“Summer Lee has been fighting for the rights of workers since she was first elected to Congress in 2022. Summer cares about unions and issues that matter to our members,” said Angela Ferritto in a press release. “The PA AFL-CIO is proud to support Summer Lee because we know she will advocate on behalf of our members.”

Many unions, which had not previously endorsed Lee in other races, have also warmed to her because of her active role as a first-term Congresswoman on picket lines. 

“The first time Summer ran for public office, in 2018 in the 34th legislative district, UE could see that she was the kind of progressive political leader we’ve been looking for, and we endorsed her,” said long-time Lee backer Al Hart, the retired editor of the UE News. “I’m very glad to see that the Pennsylvania labor movement recognizes what an extraordinary fighter for working people she is, and has thrown its support behind her”

Check out Summer Lee’s first television ad, which features her role in supporting UE’s strike at Wabtec last summer. 

MLB Player’s Union Democracy Fight Intensifies 

Over the past week, members of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) have been in an intense fight to change their union’s leadership.

Initially, a majority of players’ union representatives wanted MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark to change its deputy director, 62-year-old Bruce Meyer, and replace him with 33-year-old Harry Marino, who led efforts to unionize minor leaguers. 

However, after Tony Clark refused to listen to a majority of union members, many began organizing to replace Clark. ESPN’s Jeff Passan has the story: 

“Near the end of the call, the matter had been put to an informal poll, and a significant majority of the dozens of players in attendance raised their hands in favor of change. Faced with his hand-picked No. 2 receiving a no-confidence vote from a large portion of the union’s executive board, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark told the group that it was his decision whether Meyer would be removed from his job.

He was not wrong. Union rules grant Clark, not the players, the right to hire and fire. But the sentiment espoused by Clark at that moment roiled players throughout the game Tuesday and Wednesday, enveloping the union with the sort of palace intrigue typically reserved for a Sunday night HBO series. The veteran was among a large swath of players troubled by Clark’s comment after hearing him say consistently, over more than a decade running the MLBPA, that players run the union. The fallout cast questions across the rank and file not just about Meyer’s murky future but Clark’s long-term viability as executive director.

The call ended with no clarity on the future of union leadership. Backers of Clark have since rallied around him, attempting to whip support from players for what they believe will be a showdown for control of the MLBPA. While Clark could remain in charge of the union he has guided for more than a decade, the power play has damaged him considerably — and player leadership does wield the power to unilaterally vote him out of the position. If they do, Marino, the 33-year-old who blindsided the baseball establishment with a daring power play, could find himself not as Clark’s deputy but in the top role himself, though he’ll have to work to sway player leaders who were left in the dark about the move and know little about him.

Interviews with more than two dozen people involved in the fight — union officials, the outsiders seeking to unseat them, players on the union’s executive board and throughout the league, and influence-wielding agents — offered a portrait of a union in flux amid an offseason of lower-than-expected spending on free agents.”

For more, check out ESPN’s Jeff Passan’s long-form on the union democracy fight within the MLBPA. 

Georgia Bans Subsidies for Companies that Voluntarily Recognize Unions 

Today, Georgia voted to ban tax subsidies for companies that voluntarily recognize unions. 

The legislation could affect major employers in the state, like UPS, Ford, and Microsoft, that have nationwide voluntary union recognition agreements. It would force unions and the federal government to go through costly National Labor Relations Board elections instead of an employer simply recognizing the union. 

Right-wing groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are pushing states nationwide to adopt legislation that would make union organizing more cumbersome. The statute will likely be legally tested as it would allow states to preempt federal law, in violation of the Constitution. 

“If the ALEC statute survives preemption review, states will be free to experiment with a whole host of ways to better enable workers to form and join unions,” wrote Benjamin Sachs on the blog On Labor

For more, check out On Labor. 

On World Down Syndrome Day, Recognizing the Importance of Employment Integration

Finally, on World Down Syndrome Day, Pittsburgh Public Source has a moving story of integrating a man with Down Syndrome into the workforce at a local Giant Eagle grocery store. From Public Source

“My brother Tommy bags groceries for Giant Eagle customers. 

I drop him off on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays for his four-hour shifts at the store in McIntyre Square in the North Hills. 

Sometimes I watch him before heading out: He stands at the end of a checkout counter and scoops up items from the conveyor belt, quickly and efficiently bagging them to keep the line moving. A job coach hovers in the background, stepping in when he needs guidance. I can see that he’s learned to bag raw meat separately to avoid cross-contamination, and he intuitively knows when to move to a counter with a longer checkout line.   

Tommy has found purpose and joy in employment. He moonwalks between checkout counters, integrating his love of dance into the work. Customers know him by name and thank him as they leave the store. He’s thriving and I’m so proud of him. 

But we’ve traveled a long, difficult road to get here: Tommy is 30 years old and this role at Giant Eagle is his first job.”

For more, check out Public Source. 

Strikes & News Happening Elsewhere 

Alright, yinz, that’s all for today. Keep sending tips, story ideas, comments, and complaints to [email protected] 

Donate to help us cover the upcoming UAW fight in Chattanooga. Please, if you can, sign up as one of our 773 recurring donors today. Thanks again for all the support. 

Love & Solidarity, 


About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]