Northern Mariana Islands, Patrick Zella, United States discussed on The Al Franken Podcast
Franklin four has been one of the most brilliant progressive American journalists over the last twenty five years and I'm a huge admire of him from his days at slate from its inception. He's been the editor in chief of the New Republic. <hes> couple Times Franklin now writes cover stories for the Atlantic monthly monthly and took some time out from the one he's just finishing up right now on Amazon and he's also done Brian Cover stories on Paul Manafort and on ice and actually we start the conversation really about ice and these <hes> what's behind these new raids and he's one of the few political journalists who has been writing about big tech and dangers that it presents an has doing in a prescient and very thoughtful way his latest book a world without mind the existential threat of big tech just want some prestigious international award that I can't pronounce and that's what we really care about about on on the Al Franken podcast prestige. That's primarily what we're going for <hes> here on the podcast so Franklin I will be talking about the effects of facebook Google Amazon apple and <hes> on the way Americans get their information <hes> how cliques have affected journalism and how our attentions span hope. I'm sorry no and how our attention span <hes> oh. I'm sorry I just I. I was looking at my phone. I got a text message. I'm babysitting tonight anyway. <HES> <HES> was I lost my train. <hes> my dad always said that. If you can't remember what you're talking about it wasn't important in the first place Franklin Franklin four okay. He's <hes> GONNA be with us in a moment but I actually now they think about WanNa talk about Secretary Costa's resignation but really more about the shady character who's going to be Acting Secretary of Labor. That's Patrick. PIZZAZZ basell has been the deputy secretary of Labor nomination. I fought very hard against because from nineteen ninety-six to two thousand one Zella was a lobbyist for Jack Abramov's firm. The most famously corrupt lobbying firm in the long heralded Donald Annals of corrupt lobbing firms Abramov and his team did some just terrible things always on behalf of horrible people and one of the very worst things they did was lobby on behalf of garment industry in the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific and this is really ugly and Zella was in charge of it there were sweatshops eighteen gene hour workdays they recruited poor young women from rural villages in in China and in the Philippines and told them that they're going to the united it states of America and that's because Marianna islands had become a territory of the United States and these women had to pay in order to be flown to the United States this is thousands of dollars Aziz women had to pay and if they were short they could take out a loan which pay off with their unbelievably meager salary there were also forced abortions mandatory abortions there was forced prostitution now on the other side of the ledger there were all expense paid luxury junkets for Republican members of Congress their staffs and their families and and for right wing thinkers like Kellyanne Conway all flying First Class to and from the Mariana Islands <hes> an accommodations at the fancy schmancy Hyatt Regency Z. Gulf tropical drinks with little umbrellas <hes> the whole nine yards and also you got propaganda from Zella so that when Republican leaders like Tom delay return to Washington the majority leader Peter would call the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana islands quote the perfect Petri dish for capitalism quick history of the Northern Mariana islands there a string of of of islands and they're just north of Guam to give you some idea of the geography the biggest island is site pan where they had the battle of Saipan a key battle in world war two which we <hes> when we won that we took over in the Marianas and control it after the war the northern Marianas was under the United States offices nineteen seventy five became a United States territory the Ford Administration wanted to help its economy so so <hes> it it said the businesses air would be able to ship products to the United States without quotas or tariffs or duties and they could even label stuff made in the U._S._A.. And they also wouldn't have to abide by American Labor or immigration laws so it wasn't long before American labels like Ralph Lauren Brooks Brothers J crew your Banana Republic. They're all making can close in sight Pan and who would do the actual work while they're these impoverished young women <hes> who've been recruited from China and the Philippines promise jobs in the United States eighths and they paid thousands of dollars and when they took the flight to the western hemisphere it must have seen remarkably like a remarkably short flight right <hes> the women found themselves incite pan and they're soon working eighteen hour days in sweatshops under horrible horrible conditions at night they'd be locked up with hundreds of other women in barracks infested with rats and <hes> equipped with one outside toilet for every fifty women they were allowed out for one hour every Sunday but many any had signed contracts agreeing not to fall in love or have a baby or protest working conditions and hence the beatings by factory foreman and hence the forced abortions those forces abortion some times came from a special kind of exploitation the women who were young and pretty or sent to work at various nightclubs in town catering to tourists who like young pretty girls some of these women owed money for their trip to the United States and were forced into prostitution. I I happened to write about all this back in two thousand five in my book the truth with jokes and all all this was very carefully documented by the Clinton Labor Department and by various investigative reporters Brian Ross who <hes> uncovered a lot of this for A._B._C. News did the number of reports on this and millions millions of Americans knew about these conditions but presumably not Patrick Zella because when I questioned him about his work there he told me that he had not been aware any of the sordid details this is odd and a lot of ways he they lobbied for Willie Tan it was the biggest manufacturer there and one of the biggest abusers of these women and <hes> that's actually in one of Brian Ross's report a dinner with these congressmen and Willie Tan <hes> speaking to them and this was dinner basell had organized. I was on the Senate help committee and that's health education labor and pensions and <hes> met with Mr Zella in my office the day before the hearing as a courtesy. I told him I was going to vote against him. Because of his work in the Marianas and I was going to ask him about that in the hearing there were widespread reports at the time that workers face terrible conditions including <hes> reports of many of these employees were women brought from who were told from the Philippines from China. We're told they're going to America and they ended ended up in these jobs in the northern Marianas islands and there were forced abortions prostitution and routine beatings you've been nominated to position where you'll be closely closely involved with enforcing minimum wage laws and other worker protections yet as we discussed in my office. One of the key issues you lobbied on was to block bipartisan legislation for basic worker protections in the northern Mariana islands were garment manufacturers could produce clothing labeled made in the U._S._A. Without having to comply with U._S.. Minimum wage laws in fact Mary Mariana Islands were your firm's largest lobbying client. Obviously that is concerning history for someone who will now be charged with enforcing worker protection laws. Were you aware of those horrible conditions even. On Wall you lobbied against the minimum wage protection for irs first of all senator thank you you did say you would tend to ask the question I appreciate that in our meeting yesterday and prepared to address the issue. I was not aware her of any such thing. I did not know just learned that twenty one of restraint Ross colleagues were also convicted of wrong I was I was not one of them. Okay and clear sorry about that. I was never ever congratulations. Thank you on that you know in retrospect. I wish they'd been more emphatic pointing out that he was was lying but I assumed that was just obvious to the rest of my colleagues. Maybe I had that a few of the Republicans on the committee had gone on on one of those junkets so here's what I think we should do. I am putting a petition online at Al Franken Dot Com Tom that you can add your name to demanding that the House Labor committee investigate whether Zella knew about these abuses in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and lied during his confirmation hearing this is essentially about lying to poor Asian women taking their money putting them into slave labor and forced prostitution and forced abortions are acting labor secretary shouldn't have spent four years making sure the Congress didn't change that so good Al Franken Dot Com and sign the petition and get your friends to do so as well Patrick basell tend not be are acting secretary of Labor.