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December 13, 2021
What A Day
Venti Vidi Vici

In This Episode

  • At least 100 people have died after tornadoes ripped through at least six states on Friday night. Search and rescue efforts continued throughout the weekend in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
  • On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that health providers could sue to block a law like Texas’s abortion ban, which allows private citizens to file a lawsuit against anyone who assists those seeking an abortion. But the options on who they can sue are extremely limited.
  • A group of baristas voted to unionize at a Buffalo-area Starbucks, making it the first company-owned store in the nation to do so. Starbucks employee and union organizer Casey Moore tells us what’s next as workers begin to negotiate a contract.
  • And in headlines: British scientists released the first real-world study of how Covid vaccines hold up against omicron, beloved Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez passed away, and a New Zealand man was accused of running a vaccination scheme after receiving 10 Covid shots in a single day.

 

Show Notes:

 

  • Huffington Post: “Starbucks Workers Just Unionized. Now The Real Fight Begins” – https://bit.ly/3GxXMQY

 

 

 

Transcript

 

Gideon Resnick: It’s Monday, December 13th. I’m Gideon Resnick:

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice, and this is What A Day, the HBO prestige drama about four siblings vying for respect and recognition from their terrifying billionaire father.

 

Gideon Resnick: You know, I’ve always said I am the Jeremy Strong of the podcasting world.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I’ve always agreed with that. I mean, your methods, maybe strange but you know, you really can see the result in the final product.

 

Gideon Resnick: This is method potting. On today’s show:

 

[clip of Casey Moore] I can’t even describe like how excited we all were.

 

Gideon Resnick: We hear what is next for the Starbucks workers that voted to unionize last week in Buffalo, New York. Plus, a new study of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine says a third shot more than doubled a person’s protection from Omicron, compared to just two.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But first, we have a quick update on the devastation caused by tornadoes that ripped through at least six states last Friday night and early Saturday morning.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Search and rescue efforts continued throughout the weekend in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. He’s at least 100 people have died. That’s adding up various official sources as of Sunday night recording. More than 80 of those deaths were in Kentucky alone, where a tornado just obliterated a candle factory right outside the small southwestern city of Mayfield, where 110 employees had been working on the overnight shift. More than 90 have been rescued and located, but at least eight workers were confirmed dead and eight others still missing. Here’s Brittney Sullivan, whose pharmacy in Mayfield was also destroyed.

 

[clip of Brittney Sullivan] We know that we’ve already lost a few of our customers from the tornado. It’s wiped out churches, it’s wiped out businesses, it’s wiped out homes. You have so many people saying, how can we help? But it’s almost like, Where do you begin?

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, awful. And yesterday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said the storm leveled more than 1,000 homes across his state and that the tornado was the most devastating in Kentucky’s history.

 

[clip of Governor Andy Beshear] There is no lens big enough to show you the extent of the damage here in Kentucky. Nothing that was standing in the direct line of this tornado is still standing.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: God, I don’t know if you saw the pictures, but it’s, they’re just horrifying.

 

Gideon Resnick: Terrifying.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s just, so, so deeply, deeply devastating. So what can you tell us about some of the other places that were hit really hard by the storm?

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, there was a lot of stuff. I mean, one story I saw said that six people also died when the roof collapsed at an Amazon facility in Edwardsville, Illinois. That actually led to some workers questioning the company’s ban on cell phones on warehouse floors. That’s a policy that was kind of gradually phased back in after a pandemic pause. And some have said that having that phone close by in an emergency like this one would help them survive in a future scenario like this one. And one anonymous employee told Bloomberg quote, “after these deaths, there is no way in hell I am relying on Amazon to keep me safe. If they institute the ‘no cell phone’ policy, I am resigning.”

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, and I mean, can you blame them? This seems like it was at least somewhat avoidable. So because these storms caused such unprecedented destruction, have they determined if there’s any connection between them and climate change?

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, scientists aren’t really drawing that direct connection just yet, but fierce storms and tornadoes, like what we just saw don’t typically come so late in the year. It is December, after all. And meteorologist Victor Gensini told The Washington Post that because of climate change quote, “it is absolutely fair to say that the atmospheric environments will be more supportive for cool-season tornado events.” So in our conversational terms, that means we could be seeing more storms like this well into the winter months. We’ll continue to follow the recovery efforts as this story continues.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: OK, so we’re going to look at some developing legal news now. So Gideon once again, there’s terrible news out of the Supreme Court on abortion. On Friday, the Supreme Court issued an opinion on one of the two cases about abortion that’s in front of the court this term. This case, Whole Woman’s Health versus Jackson, is about a law Texas passed called SB 8. The law effectively bans abortions in Texas after the sixth week of pregnancy. Plus, it allows any private citizen—in other words, anyone who is not a state official—to sue under the law.

 

Gideon Resnick: Right.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And by literally, I mean, literally anyone. So you and I could sue someone under this law, even if we don’t know them, even if we don’t live in Texas. So that’s the first thing it does. And second, it allows that private citizen to sue anyone who performs, aids or abets the abortion for $10,000, at least, in damages. So to be clear, doesn’t allow them to sue the person seeking the abortion, but doctors, clinics, friends, family, the Uber driver that gave that person a ride to the clinic—all of them are fair game, and they could all be paying out tons of money under this law. The reason SB 8 is set up like this is because it basically makes it impossible for plaintiffs to challenge the law in court. It’s illegal to ban abortion in the state, but there is no state official that anybody can sue to prove it’s illegal. And if no one can challenge, the law just basically gets to stand as it is.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So then last Friday, what was the exact question the Supreme Court had before them?

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So Gideon again, it’s a little complicated, but bear with me here. So abortion providers and abortion rights organizations sued a whole bunch of people in order to stop this law from taking hold. So that includes state court judges, the state attorney general, state medical licensing officials, the head of the Texas Health Department, a private citizen who had said he might try to sue under the law at some point—so basically, all of these people were sued so that these providers could try to determine who they can sue under the law.

 

Gideon Resnick: Right.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And basically, this court had to decide whether abortion providers could even bring a lawsuit to block a law like this that explicitly violates the Constitution.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and so what did the court actually say here?

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Well, technically they made two rulings. So first they ruled 8 -1 that legal challenges to SB 8 are allowed, which sounds like it could be good news. But lest you think that, wait until you hear what else they said. The court also ruled 5 to 4, with John Roberts joining the liberals that even though abortion rights groups can challenge this law, they can’t sue almost any of the people that I named earlier. So they can’t sue the judge, they can’t sue the clerks, they can’t sue them for adding the case to the docket, they can’t sue the attorney general, they can’t sue the private citizen. Basically, the court said the only people that can maybe be sued are the state medical licensing officials and the head of the Texas health department.

 

Gideon Resnick: So technically, these legal challenges can go forward, but for pregnant people, it basically does not help.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Correct, right. Abortion is basically non-existent right now in Texas, not because providers are worried about whether they’ll keep their license, but because they can’t afford to be paying out $10,000 to anyone and everyone who is mad about abortion and decides to sue. Right? So under this ruling, that problem still exists. Here’s a quote from an article on Balls and Strikes, which is a website that provides progressive coverage of the Supreme Court, quote, “Allowing a husk of a lawsuit to proceed against a handful of barely relevant defendants is like telling firefighters they can do their jobs, but only with whatever half-empty water bottles they have in the truck.”

 

Gideon Resnick: Right.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: You know, in practice, this still means abortion is functionally illegal in Texas.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And you said earlier this has implications for issues that go beyond abortion. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Sure. I mean, for example, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Saturday that he will allow Californians to sue quote, anyone who manufactures, distributes or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts for damages.” You know, any other time that kind of law or proclamation, it wouldn’t be allowed because of the Second Amendment. But now the Supreme Court has basically said, you know, States have permission to functionally pass laws that skirt basic constitutional protections. And maybe the gun manufacturing one is something that many people would support, maybe many progressive people would support that. But you can imagine where this is headed. Imagine a law that says you can sue anyone that sells a face mask, that’s filed by anti-mask states, right? Or anyone that provides a vaccine. Surely, vaccines are technically legal and facemasks are technically legal, but so is abortion. This basically allows state legislatures to decide what constitutional protections they want to protect and which ones they don’t, and it defeats the entire point of the Constitution. As John Roberts himself said, if this law is allowed to stand quote, “the Constitution itself becomes a solemn mockery.” It’s really bad. It’s really scary. So we’ll keep you up to date on how the legal challenges to SB 8 go and how Newsom’s new proposal goes as well.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, a lot to take in. So following up on some news from Friday’s show, we reported that a group of barristers voted to unionize at a Buffalo-area Starbucks. That made it the first company-owned store in the nation to do so. They’re going to be joining SB Workers United. That’s part of another affiliate that is under the larger umbrella of the Service Employees International Union. But as we also reported, the union lost an election at a second location and a third one remains unresolved, with challenges over enough ballots to impact the final result. The National Labor Relations Board is going to review that.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: That is where things stand overall. Good news mostly, and some questions, But you also had a chance to catch up with someone who works up there. So tell us more about that.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I spoke with Casey Moore. She’s been on the show before, and she works at a Buffalo Starbucks, although not at one of the three that voted last week, but she’s on the organizing committee. Here’s what she had to say when it was announced that workers at the store on Elmwood Avenue voted to unionize:

 

Casey Moore: I can’t even describe like how excited we all were when we knew that we had won Elmwood. Everybody just kind of erupted and was hugging each other and jumping up and down. And it’s been such an intense campaign for the past three months so to finally have a victory and to have made history was just the most incredible feeling in the whole world.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, she said it was quote unquote “intense” because of this significant anti-union campaign that Starbucks mounted. So various executives from all over the country flew to these locations, for example in what was really seen as thinly-veiled efforts to convince workers to vote no. There was also a legal battle to have all the buffalo locations vote as one instead of as separate stores, which could have favored the company. And finally, there was an effort to actually delay the ultimate vote.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It has been a real fight. It’s very exciting to hear this. So given that history, what do we actually expect happens next?

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, a lot of people are talking about a really possibly contentious contract fight. Here’s what Moore had to say about what workers want:

 

Casey Moore: Everything from, you know, seniority pay to health and safety concerns to just having a just clause in our contract, which means that Starbucks can’t fire anyone for an arbitrary reason. I think everything like that and there’s so much potential to really change what it means to work in the service industry with this contract.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, but as we’ve mentioned, those talks can and likely will be quite difficult. In a sense, as with any situation like this, what we saw last week was just a first step. And a collective bargaining agreement fight could end up being potentially even more protracted. A good HuffPost article that we can link to brought up the point that if Starbucks were to offer something good in these negotiations, wouldn’t they just in turn be incentivizing other shops to unionize? They would be signaling to people, Hey, you could get nicer things if you do this. And based on the available evidence, they do not seem to want to do that. Moore said for their part:

 

Casey Moore: We are offering the olive branch, you know, trying to put all of the union busting and everything behind us.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And already a few other locations in Buffalo filed for union elections themselves, as did one in Arizona, and that was before the results were announced last week. So more on all this soon as we find out more information, but that is the latest for now. We’re going to be back after some ads.

 

[ad break]

 

Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.

 

[sung] Headlines.

 

Gideon Resnick: British scientists released the first real-world study of how COVID vaccines held up against Omicron. So they looked at people who got two doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and how well protection held up after four months. The bad news is that, according to the report published on Friday, the vaccine was only about 35% effective in preventing symptomatic infections—I don’t like that. That is a sharp drop off from its performance against Delta. But there is some good news. The study also said that a third Pfizer shot is about 75% effective in fighting Omicron. So schedule that booster if you did not get the opportunity to yet. The scientists warned that this new variant is spreading much faster than Delta, and it will become the dominant strain in the UK within days. It’s still going to take some time to see if the current Omicron surge may send more people to the hospital, but in the meantime, scientists are urging the British government to reintroduce tougher lockdown restrictions to slow the spread.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: This weekend saw the loss of two entertainment icons. Beloved Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez, better known as the king of Mexican music, passed away yesterday in Guadalajara at the age of 81-years old. The operatic singer, known as El Rey to his fans, was known for expressive anthems like this one:

 

[song plays]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: The ranchero star had been in poor health following a fall in August. Fernandez recorded over 300 songs, sold 65 million albums, and won eight Latin Grammys during his lifetime. Unbelievable. Gothic author Anne Rice also passed away this weekend at age 80 after complications following a stroke. While Rice wrote over 30 novels throughout her career, she is best known for her novel Interview With a Vampire, famously adapted into a movie starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in 1994. In an interview with Larry King that same year, Rice explained why she loves the gothic genre:

 

[clip of Anne Rice] When I become a vampire or a witch, or when I write about that subject, I am able to write about good and evil and guilt and pain and death and life in a way that I can’t when trying to write realistically.

 

Gideon Resnick: That rocks.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I love that. I love that.

 

Gideon Resnick: I’m in for any clip that starts “when I become a vampire.”

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Totally, totally. And I also love that movie. Young Kirsten Dunst is in it. Highly recommend it.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah. A New Zealand man is giving a whole new definition to the phrase “vaxxed A.F.” after receiving 10 COVID-19 shots in a single day—Good Lord! The New Zealand Ministry of Health opened an investigation after the man was accused of running a vaccination-by-proxy scheme in which anti-vaxxer citizens paid him to receive their shot while posing as the clients, to falsify their vaccine status—one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Honestly. That’s really dumb.

 

Gideon Resnick: New Zealand has enforced strict rules for those who choose to forgo the COVID-19 vaccine, denying entrance to restaurants, bars, and gyms to the unvaccinated. Now, for the record, while we all love getting the old “Fauci Ouchy”, receiving more than one Covax shot in a single day is not medically advisable by us or anyone else that I have ever heard or spoken to in my life. While the man in question has certainly created a horrible science experiment in his own body for the purposes of profit, we can all be grateful that he’s proven scientifically that you cannot boost yourself into a different dimension.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I love that this guy is both the ultimate vaxxer and the ultimate anti-vaxxer in one person. By love, I mean hate. Let’s see what superpowers he gets. Spoilers ahead for the Sex and the City revival “And Just Like That . . . ” If you’re planning on watching and you haven’t seen the premiere episode yet, just skip for it about a minute. We have some news. There is an old theater phrase that if you see a Peloton in the first act, it’s going to kill the protagonist’s lifelong love interest in the second act. The Sex and the City revival “And Just Like That . . . ” premiered Thursday night, and viewers and the brand team at Peloton were equally surprised to see one of the central characters, Mr. Big, die of a heart attack after completing the Peloton class with actual Peloton instructor Jess King. A spokesperson for the company says while Peloton okayed the bike and the instructor’s appearances, they were not aware of the grim plot details. A cardiologist who works for Peloton released a statement claiming it was Big’s lifestyle and family history that led to his cardiac arrest.

 

Gideon Resnick: Come on.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And if anything, his biking classes actually helped delay his untimely end. In a send-off fitting for the wealthy Mr. Big, Peloton’s stock price fell 10% overnight after the episode aired. On Sunday, however, the brand dropped a commercial starring actor Chris Noth and Jess King suggesting big lived after all. So whether it was a plot all along or just making the best of some bad news, we send our best to the Peloton, the Charlotte of the exercise equipment industry.

 

Gideon Resnick: Man, there is something so fishy about all the details of this story. I’m sorry. I need to know more. I sense this something bigger is going on here. Just my spidey senses.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I love that Sex and the City has turned Gideon into a Peloton truther.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah!

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I hope they don’t sue us for using that phrase.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Well, you know, I use it in all walks of life. So yeah, try and stop me. And those are the headlines.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: One more thing before we go: this week on offline, Jon Favreau talks to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy about the intersection between the internet and our emotional well-being, the impact the pandemic has had on our mental health and makes a case for what it means to truly live a meaningful, connected life. New episodes of Offline drop every Sunday in the Pod Save America feed, so listen and follow along wherever you get your podcasts.

 

Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, follow us on Instagram @WhatADay—hello, that’s new—knockback back your 10th Pfizer of the day, and tell your friends to listen.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And if you are into reading, and not just Peloton product placement contracts, like me—or actually Gideon—What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.

 

Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.

 

[together] And Succession, Season 4, when?

 

Gideon Resnick: uh, we’ll find out. I have not seen it yet, so we’ll find out.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: We will be texting about it very soon.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I’m nervous. 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 producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.