Going Into Labor Day | Crooked Media
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September 01, 2022
What A Day
Going Into Labor Day

In This Episode

  • Labor Day weekend is coming up, and it’s a great time to celebrate American workers. We check in with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh about unions, the state of the job market, and why so many people are “quiet quitting” their jobs.
  • And in headlines: a U.N. report accused China of committing human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims, actress Lea Michele addressed rumors about her behind-the-scenes conduct on “Glee”, and Nicole Kidman’s AMC ad is getting a sequel.


Show Notes:



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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, September 2nd and Tre’vell Anderson. 


Erin Ryan: And I’m Erin Ryan and this is What A Day where we’re preparing to beat the heat this holiday weekend by frantically texting anyone we’ve ever met who has a pool. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mrs. Bush, my student government teacher from back in the day has a fabulous pool. 


Erin Ryan: Can I come over? 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] She’s in South Carolina. 


Erin Ryan: Can I come over? [laugh] 


Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, a U.N. report accuses China of committing crimes against humanity, against Muslim Uyghurs. Plus, new federal data shows how the pandemic impacted school learning for young kids. 


Erin Ryan: But first, Labor Day weekend is coming up. It’s a great time to enjoy some time off from work, but also to celebrate workers in the US. And as we know, there’s been a lot going on in the American workforce. We’re still navigating a pandemic and economic recession could be on the horizon. When is it not? And so much more. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, and we’ve seen in recent months what workers are capable of when they come together and fight for better working conditions. You might remember this huge victory from earlier this year when Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, New York, voted to form a union, the first in the company’s history. 


[clip of Amazon warehouse workers] ALU, ALU, ALU, ALU.


Erin Ryan: Also gave us the gift that is Chris Smalls, who is so cool. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. 


Erin Ryan: Their victory inspired so many other workers to stand up to their employers, some of whom also work for equally big evil corporations. We’ve seen workers at Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and even Apple organize for better wages, working conditions and more. While not all of these efforts have been successful so far. The momentum we’re seeing right now is proof that there’s been a huge shift in attitudes toward labor. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. So to check in on the state of the American workforce, I spoke to U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. He actually used to be a labor union leader himself before entering politics. I started by asking him what he and the Biden administration are doing to keep this momentum going and support workers who want to unionize. 


[clip of Marty Walsh] We’re encouraging employers to recognize and respect the wishes and desires of their employees, number one. President’s been very clear on that. We’re launching, you Know Your Rights Campaign here at the Department of Labor. So if workers want to find out about collective bargaining, what it means, how do you organize? People get a chance to go on the website and look at it to see what’s going on. As a person who grew up in the labor movement. It’s exciting to see the interest and the activism out there. And what’s beautiful about it is seeing young people that have no connection to organized labor that are out there organizing. They just know that there’s power in collective organizing. And that power means bringing more, more voices to the table. And what’s interesting is they’re not organizing nationally over wages. They’re organizing over work conditions, life balance, respect. I think that we’re going to see more and more organizing going on this country, and we have more interest in sharing union organizing today than we did all of last year. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So there’s a few different topics I want to ask you questions about so I’m going to hopscotch around to a few different things. I want to start with this kind of recurring idea that we keep hearing that no one wants to work right. We know that from the July jobs report that more than half a million people were added to payrolls that month, which seems like a stat that to me like contradicts that sentiment. But I’d love to hear from you. Where is this idea that people are not interested in working coming from? 


[clip of Marty Walsh] People aren’t staying out of work because their unemployment check or they’re not staying out of work because they got all this money during COVID. They weren’t given millions of dollars. They were given a couple hundred bucks a month. You know, people are going through their savings now. So uh once they go through their savings and they don’t have revenue coming in, they’re gonna have to go to work. I think there’s a part of our population that is still concerned about COVID 19 and they’re concerned about their personal health. There’s no question about that. Then you have folks that are leaving employment, going to other employment, looking for better opportunities, and they’re getting paid more and they’re being respected more. And I think companies that are being creative at recruiting employees are getting those folks to come and work for their companies. There are other people out there that don’t know how to access a good paying job. And I think that we look at the unemployment rate in the country right now, it’s 3.5%. You look at the Black, unemployment is 5.7%. So historically, the Black unemployment rate’s always been higher than the white unemployment rate. So that means that we’re not doing something right. So I think that people are starting to become creative on creating those pathways. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I feel like anecdotally for so many people that I know it’s not that they don’t want to work, but that the last couple years of racial reckoning, of the pandemic, that forced all of us to work from home has kind of like just changed their idea of the type of work they want to do, the type of work that they’re willing to do. Right. And so in that process, folks, their understanding of the proper work, like what work should look like has just changed. So I’m wondering like how does such a fundamental shift in people’s understanding of work impact these conversations we’re having about labor shortages from your vantage point? 


[clip of Marty Walsh] You’re absolutely right. So let’s go back in time. March of 2020, everything had shutdown. Several months later, we had demonstrations all across America in the aftermath of George Floyd getting killed. If you watch the signs in the streets, it wasn’t just about police and injustice. It was about jobs. It was about racism. It was about discrimination. It was about housing. You’re right. It was a reckoning. And I think that cities and employers paid attention to that. And then as time went on, we kind of went back in to the regular daily routine that we do every day. I think between what happened with COVID and still with COVID and then what happened with the demonstrations around the country, that’s still in people’s minds. And I think that moving forward is a new term now, it’s not great resignation anymore. It’s quits. It’s short term quits or whatever it’s called. You have people leaving their job looking for better opportunities. They’re working long hours. They want to make sure that the work life balance is good. They want to make sure they’re respected in the job site. They want to make sure they be paid the same amount of money. Women are still underpaid compared to men doing the same jobs. Latino unemployment rate is not quite double of the white unemployment, but it’s still there. There’s still a lot of concern in the workplace, and I think that we have an opportunity to really address the discrimination, the shortfalls, creating opportunities for the middle class. If we don’t get it right this time, then unfortunately, 20 years from now, they’re going to be people on this podcast having the same conversation about we have to change the way we do business. That has to happen. That has to happen right now. People want that. People are demanding that. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You kind of mentioned this earlier. I think this is the term you were looking for, quiet quitting. 


[clip of Marty Walsh] That’s what it is yeah. Quiet Quitting, sorry. 


Tre’vell Anderson: That’s what it was. 


[clip of Marty Walsh] Yeah yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, it’s a new term, right? To describe what I think is like a persistent way that people show up at work, which is like doing the bare minimum, not going above and beyond the call of duty, etc.. You know, there are OP eds and so many different articles out there now talking about how this quote unquote “trend” might impact the economy. I’m wondering from your vantage point, knowing what you know about this alleged trend, is doing the least at work really going to bring down the whole economy? 


[clip of Marty Walsh] No, I don’t think it’ll bring down the whole economy. But I also think that for workers and for employers, I think it’s important to have the conversations about what the feeling in the workplace is. I think if you’re an employer and you’re not talking to your employees today after what’s gone on in the last couple of years, you’re missing a huge opportunity. The CEOs that are having dialog with their employees, the CEOs that are concerned about their employees’ mental health, a lot of struggles, right. Mental health, you’re not seeing them have problems hiring people. You’re not hearing them have problems retaining people. It’s the companies that aren’t necessarily talking, that are just thinking about the bottom line. But you also got to remember, you don’t get that bottom line unless you respect your employees. And I think that by having those dialogs is so important. When you have a workforce that respects and appreciates the mission of the company or respects, appreciates the people they work with every day. That’s where you retain people. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And we can’t talk about all of this without, you know, mentioning that R-word uh recession. There’s been a lot of concerns, a lot of talk about whether we are heading in that direction. Based on what you’re seeing at this point, what you’re hearing from businesses. Where do you see things heading as it relates to a recession? 


[clip of Marty Walsh] I’m not sold on heading to a recession. And if we are, I’m not sold on high unemployment numbers because I think that there are lots of industry in America right now that are looking for people to work in, that there’s an opportunity to help direct people in those areas. One is cybersecurity. You have mechanical, electrical engineers. We have an opportunity in nursing. Those industries aren’t going away. So I think what we have to do is make sure we’re preparing workers that if their industry slows down, we have the right supports in there to help people train in to new industry. I’m less concerned about a recession today. My focus really is about how do we do a better job of reaching people where they’re at? How do we get people in to those better jobs? 


Tre’vell Anderson: That was my conversation with the labor secretary, Marty Walsh. [music break] Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Erin Ryan: Authorities released bodycam footage this week from a deadly encounter between a Columbus police officer and an unarmed Black man. 20 year old Donovan Lewis was asleep in his bed early Tuesday morning when officers arrived at his apartment to serve him with an arrest warrant. In the video, you can see one of them go into Lewis’s bedroom where he was fatally shot while he was still in bed. Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant told reporters that Lewis appeared to have something in his hand when the officer shot him, but in reality it was just a vape pen. Lewis’s death has reignited outrage toward the Columbus Police Department following a string of other fatal shootings of unarmed Black residents. The officer who shot Lewis is currently on administrative leave, and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations is currently investigating the shooting. In the meantime, an attorney for Lewis’s family, said yesterday they may take legal action against that officer. 


Tre’vell Anderson: A new U.N. human rights report released Wednesday accused China of committing serious human rights violations against the Uyghur Muslims. This long awaited assessment had been delayed for nearly a year because the Chinese government has long denied any wrongdoing against that ethnic minority and lobbied against the report’s release. And for a few weeks, it actually wasn’t even clear whether it was going to be published or not. But the report managed to come out just 10 minutes before the U.N. high commissioners term ended. The 48 page report validates previous claims by human rights activists alleging that China detained Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups for religious and cultural differences. One former detainee interviewed by the U.N. said their time in custody, quote, “would amount to torture”, which is horrible. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that the report will make any difference because the Chinese government would have to be fully on board to accept the report’s recommendations. And that seems unlikely right now. 


Erin Ryan: Newly released data shows that the effects of COVID led to serious learning setbacks for American grade schoolers. Specifically, average test scores for reading and math among nine year olds fell dramatically, and the decline was especially sharp for students of color, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which conducted the research. The effects of school shutdowns and other pandemic related disruptions erased two decades of progress in those subjects. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Wow. 


Erin Ryan: Ugh. Experts fear it might take an entire generation for test scores to rebound, and that could have a domino effect on student’s success and ultimately hurt their job prospects later in life. 


Tre’vell Anderson: An update to the story about SCOTUS wife, Jenny Thomas, e-mailing 29 Arizona state lawmakers and encouraging them to overturn the 2020 election results in their state. It turns out she sent identical emails to two state lawmakers in Wisconsin as well. The existence of the Arizona emails was reported by the Washington Post in June, but the more recent ones were revealed only yesterday. In her message, Thomas pushed legislators to choose new presidential electors in order to, quote, “fight back against fraud”, which we know there was none. But as we know, Jenny’s husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is able to do his job impartially because they don’t talk or communicate and maybe haven’t even met each other. 


Erin Ryan: What do you think an email from Jenny Thomas would look like? I’m picturing, remember early web. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Uh oh. 


Erin Ryan: Chain emails [laugh] like from 1997 when you would get an email and it was like forward this to 20 people, otherwise you’re going to have bad luck. [laughter]


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. 


Erin Ryan: Anyway, the actress Lea Michele is putting some rumors to rest before her debut on the Broadway show Funny Girl next Tuesday. In a profile with The New York Times, she dismissed allegations that she bullied her cast mates on the set of Glee while admitting that she had, quote, “blind spots caused by perfectionism”. But how perfect are you really if your coworkers say you’re racist? Michele also responded to a rumor that’s maybe harder to believe, that she can’t read. Internet detectives based this theory on pictures of Michele signing books, but her pen isn’t touching the paper. Among other things, in yesterday’s profile, Michele said she knew her lines every day on Glee instead of the illiteracy rumors. Quote, “I think often if I were a man, a lot of this wouldn’t be the case”. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Interesting. 


Erin Ryan: You know what she didn’t say? She didn’t say, I can read. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And speaking of women in entertainment, we’ve got an update on what’s coming next from the mayor of movies herself, Nicole Kidman. If you’re a fan of AMC Theaters, these nine words have a permanent home in your subconscious mind. 


[clip of Nicole Kidman] Somehow, heartbreak feels good in a place like this. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Well, they play in a Kidman fronted ad for the theater chain before every single movie. We’ve talked before on this show about the follow up, which was teased earlier in the month. But an article published yesterday in Vanity Fair gave us more info. Apparently it will be written by screenwriter Billy Ray, who also wrote the first post. Before that. He trained himself to envision Nicole Kidman watching Jurassic Park by writing Captain Phillips, The Hunger Games and Volcano. And according to Ray, they’re not just going back to the well. He said, quote, “It’s a very, very different approach. That is a little bit of a wink to the one we’ve already done”. 


Erin Ryan: I really hope it is. Nicole Kidman watching a screen and she says, wow, this sucks. Pull back to reveal she’s watching the commercial where she says, somehow heartbreak feels good in a place like this. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, so good. That imitation. You should go on the road with that. Mm hmm.


Erin Ryan: Thank you. I definitely will. [laughter]


Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads to reflect on what swiping right has done to our brains after ten long, long years. 




Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday WAD squad and for today’s Temp Check, we’re talking about the app that revolutionized dating by making it slightly more shallow. Tinder. Tinder came out in September 2012, which means we’re about to mark ten years with the app. It inspired imitators like Hinge and Bumble, putting what felt like every hot single person on Earth inside our phones, plus a few who only said they were single. But let the records show that Grinder came first in 2009. Thank you very much. The gays are always leading the way. Everyone’s decade with apps like Tinder has been different. A survey in 2020 found that 57% of people who tried dating apps described their experience positively, while a more recent survey of 500 people found that nearly 80% had experienced emotional burnout or fatigue while online dating. So, Erin, as we reflect on this super important anniversary, what are your thoughts? 


Erin Ryan: I’m going to go ahead and say I never had Tinder. Never. But I did meet my husband on OkCupid. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, wow. 


Erin Ryan: And now I have a kid. So I think the cynical take is like, oh, dating sucks, dating sucks, dating sucks. But I think that what Tinder and other apps have done has made people realize that actually it’s possible to be happy by yourself. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm. 


Erin Ryan: You don’t need a partner to complete you. If you find a person who does complete you. Great. Awesome. Excellent. But also, you don’t need one. And you don’t need to waste your time looking for one because there’s just so much trash out there. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mmm. 


Erin Ryan: Like Tinder is a fire hose of trash. And before Tinder, it was like a conveyor belt. Now, I think people are just sort of like, no, I’m avoiding the trash altogether, which I think is ultimately a good thing. I don’t know how about you? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Fire Hose of trash. That should be their new tagline. First of all, [laughter] love that. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Tinder has done nothing but cause harm and pain and strife in my life. Okay. [laugh] Ooh, that rhymed. Look at me. I should be a poet. It’s a cesspool, is what it is, right? You get on this app and you’re swiping and your swiping and swiping half of the people on there, they’re just collecting likes. They don’t really want to go on dates. They don’t really want to find their partner in life. Right. They just playing games okay. I don’t know about you Erin, but I’m well–you have a partner and a child. So lucky you. I may need to try OkCupid. I was thinking about Christian Mingle and then I was like, mmm I have some issues. 


Erin Ryan: I feel like the challenge with dating apps is standing out and you would stand out on Christian Mingle. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You think? [laughter]


Erin Ryan: Yeah. People would be like, I will never forget this profile that I just saw in Christian Mingle. I bet that Farmers Only would be a place you could really make a splash. During the time that I was app dating. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.


Erin Ryan: It was sort of like, Yeah, there’s just a lot of bad stuff out here and I don’t like it. I would rather just like be at home with my cat and uh found something that was passable. And now here I am. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, I will just say that most of the people that I know who have found a partner on these apps, it’s not through Tinder. And I’ll just leave you with that. Okay. We checked our temps. They’re a little lukewarm. Okay. Maybe a little spicy. Okay. 


Erin Ryan: Like a gazpacho, [laughter] a gazpacho with, like, some red pepper oil in it. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mmm. 


Erin Ryan: You’re like, oh, this is, like, more than I expected from a gazpacho. Yet it’s still room temperature. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I love that for both of us. [music break]


Erin Ryan: Before we go. Monkeypox is rarely fatal and hardly new. Yet the response to the virus has been too slow to contain the epidemic. The official communication about it hasn’t helped. Andy Slavitt, President Biden’s former senior COVID adviser, joins Crooked’s Positively Dreadful to shed more light on how political pressures can warp decision making in these kinds of crises. Listen to new episodes of Positively Dreadful every Friday wherever you get your podcasts. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And one more thing, WAD is taking a break for the Labor Day weekend? Oh, yes, we are. To either spend some time in pools or be disappointed by our friends who are hoarding their pools. We’ll be back with a new episode on Wednesday, September 7th. [music break] That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, super like us on Tinder and tell your friends to listen. 


Erin Ryan: And if you’re into reading and not just the script to Nicole Kidman’s next AMC commercial like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Erin Ryan. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


[spoken together] And thanks for ten years Tinder. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Ten years of nothing. 


Erin Ryan: Literally nothing. I don’t have Tinder. [laughter] I’ve never had Tinder. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Lucky you. 


Erin Ryan: I know. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Lucky you. [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Lita Martínez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.