Tag Archive: Pennsylvania

Mar 15 2018

2018 Elections: PA – 18 Goes Blue

In Pennsylvania congressional district that was so strongly Republicans in 2016, Democrats didn’t even bother to field a candidate. PA-18 went for Donald Trump 20 points over Hillary Clinton and incumbent Representative Tim Murphy (R) ran unopposed. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rated the district R+11 due to partisan gerrymandering. Then Murphy had to resign …

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Aug 05 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Mother Jones and the Children’s Crusade by JayRaye

The Great Philadelphia Textile Strike of 1903

The Central Textile Workers Union of Philadelphia held a meeting the evening of May 27, 1903. A vote was taken and a general strike call was issued. That general strike eventually caused 100,000 textile workers to go out on strike in the Philadelphia area. 16,000 of those were children under the age of 16, some as young as 8 or 9 years of age. The textile industry of the day employed children at a higher rate than any other industry. The number given from the 1900 census was 80,000. In cotton textiles, they made up 13.1% of the work force, and that rate reached 30% in the South.

The Central Textile Workers’ Union issued this statement:

Thirty-six trades, representing 90,000 people, ask the employers to reduce working hours from sixty to fifty-five hours a week. They are willing that wages be reduced accordingly. They strike for lower wages in an effort to get shorter hours.

Three trades, representing 10,000 people, ask for the same reduction in working hours, but, in addition, they ask for the same weekly wages or a slight increase, averaging ten per cent.

The request for shorter hours is made primarily for the sake of the children and women. For six years the organized textile workers of Philadelphia have been trying in vain to persuade the politician-controlled Legislature of Pennsylvania to pass a law which would reduce the working hours of children and women and stop them from doing night work.

Average  wages for adults for 60 hours of work were $13. Children working 60 hours(!) got $2.

On Monday June 1st, at least 90,000 textile workers went out on strike in the Philadelphia area. Of the 600 mills in the city, about 550 were idle. Philadelphia now had more workers out on strike than at any other time in her history. Several thousand workers had already been on strike before the textile strike began, including: the carriage and wagon builders, and the carpenters along with others working in the building trades. It appeared that the city would be in for a long hot summer.

By the next day, Tuesday, the strike spread to the hosiery mills, increasing the army of idle workers by  8,000  Most of these were women and children employed in the Kensington district. This class of workers was unorganized, but they decided to join the ranks of the unionist in other branches of the textile trade as they witnessed the magnitude of the fight for a shorter work week. The Manufacturers vowed they would not submit to the union demands even if they had to shut down their factories indefinitely.

Oct 02 2012

PA Voter ID Law Blocked for Now

Pennsylvania Judge Robert Simpson, who had previously ruled that the state voter ID  law could go forward, has suspended the portion of the law that would required voters to have a state issued ID to vote on November 6. Voters can still be asked for ID but if don’t have it, they can still go ahead and vote:

Judge Simpson said in his Tuesday ruling that for the presidential election of Nov. 6, voters in Pennsylvania could be asked to produce the newly required photo IDs, but if they did not have them could still go ahead and vote. The decision could still be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

“While we’re happy that voters in Pennsylvania will not be turned away if they do not have an ID, we are concerned that the ruling will allow election workers to ask for ID at the polls and this could cause confusion,” said Penda D. Hair, co-director of Advancement Project, one of the groups that challenged the law. “This injunction serves as a mere Band-Aid for the law’s inherent problems, not an effective remedy.”

The ruling does not stop the law from being enforced in future elections and there are some serious concerns. Poll workers can still ask for ID and that creates confusion about provisional ballots, as David Dayen at FDL News points out:

Just think of the scenarios. A voter is asked for ID, and producing none, instructed to write a provisional ballot. Technically that ballot must be counted, but the voter might leave, suspecting their vote won’t count. Or they may not follow the provisional ballot instructions closely enough. Or poll worker error could easily lead to a voter being asked to leave without voting. [..]

So this all relies on poll workers knowing that the provisional ballot process is not in effect for voter ID, but that they have to ask for a voter ID anyway. I’m not necessarily confident in that approach, but it’s better than how it initially looked.

What Atrios said

I tried to read the ruling, but it’s written in gibberish. The smart lawyer people on the internet seem to agree that the judge has decreed that poll workers will ask for IDs, but if people don’t have them they should let them vote anyway. In other words, better than nothing but untrained poll workers are not going to have any idea what they’re supposed to do so this election in PA will be a complete mess.

Sep 15 2011

Legally Stealing The Election

Or how to cheat to win by rigging the system:

The GOP’s Genius Plan to Beat Obama in 2012

Republican state legislators in Pennsylvania are pushing a scheme that, if GOPers in other states follow their lead, could cause President Barack Obama to lose the 2012 election-not because of the vote count, but because of new rules. That’s not all: There’s no legal way for Democrats to stop them.

The problem for Obama, and the opportunity for Republicans, is the electoral college. Every political junkie knows that the presidential election isn’t a truly national contest; it’s a state-by-state fight, and each state is worth a number of electoral votes equal to the size of the state’s congressional delegation. (The District of Columbia also gets three votes.) There are 538 electoral votes up for grabs; win 270, and you’re the president.

Here’s the rub, though: Each state gets to determine how its electoral votes are allocated. Currently, 48 states and DC use a winner-take-all system in which the candidate who wins the popular vote in the state gets all of its electoral votes. Under the Republican plan-which has been endorsed by top GOPers in both houses of the state Legislature, as well as the governor, Tom Corbett-Pennsylvania would change from this system to one where each congressional district gets its own electoral vote. (Two electoral votes-one for each of the state’s two senators-would go to the statewide winner.)

Some Republicans in the House see a downside to this thus hitting a snag:

With next year’s presidential election expected to be hard-fought, even sapping some electoral support from Barack Obama in Pennsylvania could have a major impact on the national results. But to several Republicans in marginal districts, the plan has a catch: they’re worried that Democrats will move dollars and ground troops from solid blue districts to battlegrounds in pursuit of electoral votes – and in the process, knock off the Republicans currently in the seats.

Suburban Philadelphia Reps. Jim Gerlach, Pat Meehan and Mike Fitzpatrick have the most at stake, since all represent districts Democrats won in the last two presidential elections. They and the rest of the Republicans in the delegation are joining with National Republican Congressional Committee officials to respond and mobilize against the change.

“Any proposed change to the election laws shouldn’t be done under the radar,” Fitzpatrick told POLITICO. “If every vote matters, everyone should have a chance to discuss this.”

State GOP chairman Rob Gleason is also opposed to the plan.

As David Nir at Daily Kos points out the electoral college is unfair as it is but there is a solution:

(T)he only way to fight back is to push for the national popular vote, something which can be achieved via an interstate compact between states. The states in the compact would all award their EVs to the winner of the national vote, but the law would only take effect once enough states signed on (i.e., states with 270 electoral votes between them). Several states have already signed on (including big boppers like California and Illinois), and this way, no constitutional amendment is necessary.

If the GOP presses forward with their Pennsylvania plan, we’ll have to respond somehow, and I think the national popular vote is the best plan.

As John Aravosis at AMERICAblog notes:

If the Democrats tried this, the Republicans would be rioting in the street. They’re quite literally trying to steal the presidential election. How will the Democrats respond? The word feckless comes to mind.

Uh. Yup

Mar 10 2011

Walking Away from Omelas

Ursula K. LeGuin, a sorely underappreciated sci-fi writer, wrote a short story in 1974 called The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. It’s in pdf, but take five minutes and read it.

Then follow me below the fold.