The Sunday Subject – January 16, 2022

Biden has asked Congress to change the Senate’s filibuster rules in an effort to pass crucial voting rights legislation.

The President stated in a speech on Tuesday, “Sadly, the United States Senate, designed to be the world’s greatest deliberative body, has been rendered a shell of its former self.” A 36-year veteran of the Senate, Biden stated he respects the Senate’s traditions, though he concluded the filibuster was standing in the way of majority rule. (Read Subject’s primer on the filibuster here). Relatedly, Biden raised alarm on the matter of voting rights, citing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and efforts to overturn a democratic election. The President warned that Congressional inaction could be a mortal blow to American democracy. “The goal of the former president and his allies is to disenfranchise anyone who votes against them, simple as that. Your vote won’t matter. They’ll just decide what they want and then do it. That’s the kind of power you see in totalitarian states, not in democracies.”

Sixteen universities are being sued by former students alleging violation of antitrust laws.

A lawsuit alleges that sixteen private universities, including Caltech, Columbia, Georgetown, MIT, Northwestern, and Penn, colluded to fix prices and deny financial aid to students in need. The 1994 Improving America’s Schools Act allows colleges to work together to determine financial aid formulas, but only as long as they don’t consider students’ financial need when creating these formulas. The schools in question are alleged to have broken that law by taking student’s financial situations into account and proceeding to create a formula that harmed students who needed assistance. The parties filing the lawsuit are requesting a class-action suit in an effort to obtain financial restitution for any student harmed by the collusion from 2003 to the present.

A second Buffalo Starbucks has voted to unionize.

After the Elmwood Avenue Starbucks became the first Starbucks in the country unionize, the staff of a Cheektowaga location voted 15-9 on Monday in favor of joining Workers United, part of the Service Employees International Union. Starbucks has ten days after the vote to file an appeal to the National Labor Relations Board. If they don’t, or if an appeal is denied, Cheektowaga will join the Elmwood Ave. location as a unionized shop. The Elmwood union vote sparked a nationwide movement, with Starbucks locations in seven states—and four more in the Buffalo area—planning union votes in the near future.