Justin Miller

Justin Miller is a former Prospect writing fellow and is currently covering politics for the Texas Observer

Recent Articles

Janus: A New Attack Presents Old Challenges for Unions

There’s a new case against public-sector unions headed to the Supreme Court. But the challenges it presents are anything but new.  

(Sipa via AP Images) A logo sign outside of the headquarters of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in Washington, D.C. I n February 2016, it looked all but certain that the Supreme Court would make the public sector right to work. The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association , contended that it was unconstitutional to require non-member employees in unionized government shops to pay “fair share” fees to defray their union’s costs of collective bargaining and worker representation—which cover all workers, member or not. Unions were preparing for the worst. Then Justice Antonin Scalia died, leaving the court deadlocked on the case. Even though President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, was obstructed by the intransigency of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, unions thought they had dodged a bullet. If (and when) Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump, she would appoint a new justice, creating a liberal majority and striking a severe...

Both Red and Blue States Rely on Prison Labor

As a Louisiana sheriff’s off-the-cuff remarks and the California wildfires remind us, all states depend on and profit from putting prisoners to work—and that’s a problem. 

(Photo: AP/Jae C. Hong) Inmate firefighters cut down trees along the Highway 29 as wildfires continue to burn Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, near Calistoga, California. E arlier this month, Steve Prator, who heads the sheriff’s office in Caddo Parrish, one of the largest in Louisiana, held a press conference in which he bemoaned the state’s newly passed prison reforms, which could reduce the inmate population by as much as 10 percent by gradually releasing nonviolent offenders who would be eligible for a new early-release program. Why? Apparently, he didn’t want the parish to lose its captive labor pool. “That’s the ones you can work,” Prator said of the people who could be soon be let go under the plan. “That’s the ones that can pick up trash, the work release programs. But guess what? Those are the ones [the state is] releasing.” He added, “In addition to the bad [prisoners], they’re releasing some good ones that we use every day to wash cars, to change oil in our cars, to cook in the...

The Right's Legal Attacks Go After Remaining Fragments of Worker Power

Conservatives' crusade to limit worker rights through the courts is coming to a head. 

(Photo: AP/Susan Walsh) People stand in line to go into the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, for the first day of the new term. L ike heat-seeking missiles, conservatives are looking to the Supreme Court to snuff out the few remaining sources for worker power. If their efforts succeed (and many high court observers believe that they will ), there will be a further atomization of labor law: Workers who want to exercise their legal rights will be far more isolated and up against far more powerful employers. On Monday, Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments for a consolidated group of cases, including National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil , that will determine whether employers can prohibit their employees from joining collective class actions to settle workplace issues—like wage theft or discrimination—by including mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts. As unions have precipitously declined over the past few decades, one of the most powerful...

Trump Gives Tax Cuts to Rich and Fairy Tales to Everyone Else

Republicans are selling Trump's tax plan by saying it will help the middle class. But, as we knew all along, it’s written for the rich. 

(Photo: AP/Evan Vucci) President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, in Washington. trickle-downers_35.jpg A fter toiling away for months, the so-called “Big Six” gang of Republican architects have finally unveiled their initial tax proposal, with the feel-good slogan “More Jobs, Fairer Taxes, Bigger Paychecks.” Despite all the political spin in recent weeks from Trump and his lieutenants about how the plan won’t be a big giveaway for the rich (and might even raise their taxes!) and will be a boon for the middle class, the proof is in the paper. As expected, the details of the plan show a proposal that was explicitly written for the rich , with provisions aimed at easing the tax burden of the wealthiest Americans. And for the middle class? Nothing but outright lies and murky promises to iron out the details in Congress. The plan cuts the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, a move...

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