Justin Miller

 Justin Miller is a senior writing fellow for The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

The Labor Prospect: Walker's Union-Busting Platform

Scott Walker's plans for executive power, Bernie expands his support among rank-and-file union members, and Berkeley moves toward a $19 minimum. 

AP Photo/Isaac Brekken
AP Photo/Isaac Brekken Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a town hall meeting Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. Welcome to The Labor Prospect, our weekly round-up highlighting the best reporting and latest developments in the labor movement. W isconsin Governor Scott Walker, seeking to bolster his bona fides as the leading anti-labor crusader in the Republican presidential field, announced yesterday an ambitious plan to gut workers’ rights nationwide . In a speech in Las Vegas, he unveiled a policy platform that calls for eliminating federal public sector unions, instituting a national right-to-work law, and eliminating the National Labor Relations Board. He appears to be doubling down on his image as someone who’ll stand up against organized labor, but as Brian Mahoney notes for Politico , it doesn’t appear to be working. Walker’s national polling numbers have dropped to about 2 percent. While his plan would kill the NLRB, Republicans are...

Is Hillary’s New Campaign Finance Reform Plan the Real Deal?

Even if she's just trying to keep up with Sanders, her plan to overhaul campaign finance has reformers talking.

(Photo: Quad City Times via AP/Louis Brems)
(Photo: Quad City Times via AP/Louis Brems) Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters in Hampton, Illinois, on Monday, September 7. E arlier this week, Hillary Clinton unveiled an ambitious and expansive “democracy revitalization” pillar to her 2016 presidential campaign platform. “Americans are understandably cynical about a political system that has been hijacked by billionaires and special interests who will spend whatever it takes to crowd out the voices of everyday Americans,” the announcement said. “And with the rise of unlimited, secret spending in our political process, it is virtually impossible for anyone to really know who or what is influencing our elected officials.” Campaign-finance reformers have applauded the platform, which they say largely mirrors the policies that they’ve advocated for. “It’s solid and it’s bold and as good if not better than anything we’ve seen from a presidential candidate,” says David Donnelly, CEO of campaign-finance advocate Every Voice. “She gets...

The Labor Movement: A Year in Review

A lot has happened on the labor beat in the past year, and a lot of it good. Here's a look at the Prospect's coverage of workers' rights and unions since last Labor Day.

(Photo: AP/Seth Wenig)
(Photo: AP/Seth Wenig) Protesters in New York rally for higher pay in front of a McDonald's on April 15, 2015. A ll in all, the year between yesterday’s Labor Day and last year’s had a surprising amount of good news for workers. No, their incomes weren’t rising, their rate of unionization was still dismally low, the Republican governor of Illinois is hell-bent on destroying the state’s public-sector unions, and if Sam Alito gets his way, the Supreme Court will try to gut those unions during its next session. All that said, during the past 12 months, workers made more gains in legislation, administrative rulings, and some courts—including the court of public opinion— than they had since before the Reagan years. At The American Prospect , we remain dedicated to the plight of working people, labor unions, and the organized-worker movement more generally, and are committed to covering the daily fights for worker justice. In recognition of that fact, here’s a round-up of our best labor...

The For-Profit College Industry Is Losing its Most Loyal Politician

Congressman John Kline is not exactly a household name, even to D.C. politicos. And for the past dozen years, he’s preferred it that way. Kline has successfully flown under the radar while quietly becoming one of the most powerful politicians on education policy, reaching his apex in 2011 when he took the helm of the Education and the Workforce Committee.

Kline, who represents Minnesota’s 2nd District, announced yesterday that he will not be seeking reelection in 2016. While most are likely focused on the fact that this opens up a crucial seat in a noted swing district, you can be sure that the for-profit higher education industry is heartbroken.

That’s because Kline has notoriously been the industry’s closest political ally, taking gobs of contributions from for-profit education groups while fighting back regulations on the Hill designed to rein in the problematic sector. Nobody in Congress has taken more money from for-profits than John Kline—and since his appointment as the head of the education committee, his coffers have been flooded.

In 2010, he received $57,000 from for-profit institutions, according to OpenSecrets. In 2012, $204,000. And in 2014, $186,000. The money comes from the biggest (and most lucrative) for-profit education groups in the country. Most notable of them all is Apollo Education Group, which owns the biggest for-profit chain, University of Phoenix. In 2013-2014, the group spent nearly $400,000 in campaign contributions and in 2014 alone spent nearly $1.4 million in lobbying.

As the industry has exploded over the last ten years, so has its political influence and lobbying presence. Given that these schools are heavily dependent on federal student loans, wielding power at the Capitol is essential. The industry has become a political target for reform as it has become known for predatory recruiting tactics, lackluster training, and abysmal student outcomes. Recruiters regularly target low-income minority students who are prime candidates for financial aid, as well as military veterans who have GI Bill funding. When President Obama pledged to regulate the industry in 2010, lobbying became a priority. In 2009, the industry spent $2.9 million in lobbying; by 2011, that number reached $12.5 million.

The money has paid off so far as legislative reforms have run into various roadblocks. That’s mostly thanks to John Kline, who controls what education policy comes before his committee. In 2014, a bill that would have prevented for-profits from milking the federal aid system and targeting military veterans died within 15 minutes of being introduced in his committee. Kline said that the bill was “nongermane” to his hearing on financial aid.

Time and time again, Kline has used his position in Congress to beat back attempts at regulating for-profits all the while claiming that his biggest campaign contributors have no influence on his politics.

So as Kline announces his impending retirement, let’s keep an eye on what he does with the rest of his term as the gatekeeper on education policy. It will also be interesting to see the industry scramble as they try to find a replacement lap dog to continue championing their right to profit off the exploitation of vulnerable students. 

The Labor Prospect: Employing Standards

A game-changing decision from the NLRB, Uber drivers launch a class-action lawsuit, and the struggle to pay tuition on minimum wage. 

AP Photo/M. Spencer Green
AP Photo/M. Spencer Green McDonald's workers and supporters rally outside a McDonald's, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, in Chicago. Welcome to The Labor Prospect, our weekly round-up highlighting the best reporting and latest developments in the labor movement. I n case you haven’t heard (and we can’t imagine how you couldn’t have), the NLRB announced a blockbuster decision that could turn modern labor relations on its head. In its Browning-Ferris case, the labor board ruled that companies are legally joint-employers with their contractors, staffing agencies, and franchisees. “With more than 2.87 million of the nation’s workers employed through temporary agencies in August 2014, the Board held that its previous joint employer standard has failed to keep pace with changes in the workplace and economic circumstances,” an NLRB statement read. What does this mean? Essentially, when contract, franchise, or temp workers unionize and bargain a contract, the company who has hired their employer...