Policy: Labor

My Top 10 stories of 2013

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Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Obamacare,Labor,Wisconsin,Analysis,Scott Walker,Fracking,Walmart,GM,Politifact

Here's a look back at 2013 and the top ten Washington Examiner stories I am proudest of, arranged in chronological order:

1. Al Gore sells out to Big Oil: This Jan. 3 post on the sale of Current TV to Al-Jazeera looked at the various hypocrisies the former vice president and Earth In The Balance author engaged in to get an estimated $100 million payday from a cable channel owned by Qatar, an OPEC country.

2. Wisconsin public sector unions shrink: This April 9 piece broke the news of just how drastically membership in the Wisconsin branches of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees had fallen in the wake of Gov. Scott Walker's union reforms. The battle was definitely worth it for each side.

3. Unions have second thoughts on Obamacare: This May 28 piece examined the angst in organized labor over the Affordable Care Act, which had been championed by union leaders but became a threat to the rank and file's health insurance.

4. The real story behind the Maryland Chamber of Commerce's endorsement of Tom Perez for Labor secretary: This June 6 investigative piece showed how the letter from the Maryland Chamber of Commerce endorsing Perez - widely cited by Senate Democrats to show he was a moderate with Big Business support -- was secretly dictated to the Chamber, word for word, by a top Maryland official in charge of business regulations. That official just happened to also be a former top Perez aide who was running the media campaign to get his ex-boss confirmed by the Senate.

5. "Working Man blues": My five-part July series on the rise and fall of Detroit and the U.S. auto industry was timely: It came out right as Detroit officially announced its bankruptcy.

6. The curious story of "Gasland" director Josh Fox's drilling lease: This Aug. 21 investigative piece examined how Fox supposedly came to get an offer to lease his family's land for natural gas fracking, as detailed in his first film. The story he presented in "Gasland" at best uses extensive artistic license and at worse is a complete fabrication. I could not get completely to the bottom of the matter because while Fox initially cooperated with me in an effort to clear the matter up, he later refused to answer my questions as I learned his story didn't add up.

7. AFL-CIO slams Obamacare: Following up on my May story, I reported on Sept. 11 how Obamacare had Big Labor so worried that the 12 million-member AFL-CIO passed a resolution at their Los Angeles convention calling it a threat to their members' health insurance unless it was reformed. Some labor leaders talked openly of repeal.

8. GM released from bailout-mandated production quotas: This Oct. 17 editorial detailed how the Treasury Department quietly released GM from having to meet the domestic auto production targets originally called for in the federal bailout. This happened while the company was expanding production in China. GM was none too pleased - I heard this directly from them - but I had the facts right, so there was little they could do about it.

9. Exposing PolitiFact on the Obamacare promise: I gave PolitiFact hell in columns on Nov. 4 and Dec. 12 regarding its dismal record on President Obama's "if you like your insurance, you can keep it" promise. They declined to rate it as a lie on no less than six different instances from 2008 through 2012 -- when it really it would have really mattered.

10. How D.C.'s minimum wage hike helps Walmart: My Dec. 4 column noted how the DC Council began the year by trying to pass a minimum wage hike intended to bring to Walmart to heel. It is ending the year by pushing a minimum wage increase that would likely benefit Walmart. Such are the tangled politics and economics of the minimum wage issue.

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