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September 05, 2022

Happy Labor Day. Smart Brevity™ count: 1,174 words ... 4½ mins. Edited by Jennifer Koons.

🇨🇦 Breaking: Royal Canadian Mounted Police are searching the expansive western province of Saskatchewan for two suspects believed to have stabbed 10 people to death in an Indigenous community. Get the latest.

🗳️ 1 big thing: Roe wave rising

This illustration shows a voting ballot with the female symbol on top of it.

Illustration: Axios Visuals

Tom Bonier — a Democratic strategist and CEO of TargetSmart, a data and polling firm — says a "Roe wave" of new women voters, fired up by the Supreme Court's abortion decision, could swamp GOP hopes of a red wave in November's midterms.

  • "In my 28 years analyzing elections, I’ve never seen anything like what’s happened in the past two months in American politics: Women are registering to vote in numbers I’ve never witnessed," Bonier writes in a New York Times op-ed (subscription).

Why it matters: "I've run out of superlatives to describe how different this moment is, especially in light of the cycles of tragedy and eventual resignation of recent years," Bonier continues.

  • "This is a moment to throw old political assumptions out the window and to consider that Democrats could buck historic trends this cycle."

The states with the biggest surges in women registering after the Dobbs decision were deep-red Kansas, where abortion rights triumphed in a referendum last month, and Idaho, Bonier writes:

Key battleground states also showed large increases, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio, which are all facing statewide races in which the fate of abortion access could be decided in November.

🧮 By the numbers: N.Y. Times Upshot found (subscription) that in 10 states with available voter registration data, women registering to vote rose by about 35% after the decision, compared with the month before the leak of a draft opinion. Men ticked up by 9%.

2. 💨 Labor Day headwinds

Data: National Conference of State Legislatures. Map: Kavya Beheraj and Nicki Camberg/Axios
Data: National Conference of State Legislatures. Map: Kavya Beheraj and Nicki Camberg/Axios

Amid a union revival, 27 states still have "right to work" laws that prevent private-sector unions from collecting fees from all members, reports Emily Peck, co-author of Axios Markets.

Why it matters: Unions have mostly adapted, and the laws' popularity has died down since the 2010s. But with union organizing picking up, the laws remain a headwind.

  • They also can keep wages lower for all workers in states where they're in force.

State of play: Missouri voters overwhelmingly rejected a version of the law in 2018, and no law has passed since.

  • The Pro Act, which passed the House last year, would override these laws but hasn't gained any traction in the Senate.

Context: The laws have racist roots, first gaining traction among Southern segregationists who feared unions would unite working-class whites with Blacks, as this piece in Dissent Magazine lays out.

  • The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1961: "In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as 'right to work.' It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights."

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3. 🇬🇧 Breaking: New prime minister

Liz Truss outside her new home in September. Photo: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Liz Truss was announced today as winner of the Conservative Party leadership election — and thus the U.K.'s next prime minister, Axios World author Dave Lawler reports.

  • She defeated Rishi Sunak, 57% to 43%.

Why it matters: Most recently as foreign secretary, Truss took a hawkish approach to relations with the EU and the war in Ukraine. She has vowed to slash taxes, despite the rocky state of the U.K.'s finances.

  • She's the third woman prime minister.

What's next: Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Scotland to formally resign to Queen Elizabeth II. Truss will make the trip to the queen tomorrow, before her first speech in Parliament.

  • Those visits usually take place at Buckingham Palace. But the 96-year-old monarch has requested that the 14th and 15th prime ministers of her tenure make the trip to Balmoral Castle.

How it happened: Johnson resigned after a revolt within his government over a string of scandals, including parties held in Downing Street in violation of pandemic lockdown rules.

  • Unlike Sunak, Truss never truly distanced herself from Johnson. She will now inherit the massive parliamentary majority to which Johnson led the Conservatives in the December 2019 general election.

The big picture: Truss voted "remain" in the 2015 Brexit referendum, but went on to become one of her party's most enthusiastic champions of leaving the EU.

  • She has built her political brand in part on tussling with Brussels.

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4. 📷 1,000 words: Labor Day weekend

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The beach in Santa Monica, Calif., yesterday.

5. 🍼 Fun data dive: How we name babies

Data: Social Security Administration. Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals
Data: Social Security Administration. Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Axios visual journalist Erin Davis found that across more than 1,300 U.S. place names, 900 (67%) were more common in their home states than the rest of the country, based on Social Security records.

  • A standout case in point: Tex. Nearly every baby named Tex born from 2000-2019 was born in Texas.

Another is Denali (formerly Mount McKinley), in Alaska, the tallest peak in North America: Denali is 158x more common in the mountain's home state than in the rest of the U.S.

  • But New Jersey parents eschew Trenton, the capital, as a name: It’s 85x less common in the Garden State than in the rest of the country.

Go deeper: Search popular baby names by state.

6. 🍪 Offices hawk free snacks

The cafeteria at Marriott International's new headquarters in Bethesda, Md. Photo: Marriott

Food is getting much more expensive at home and in restaurants — but not at work, where employers are giving it away to try to lure workers back, Axios Closer co-author Nathan Bomey writes.

  • 51% of companies are offering free snacks and beverages in 2022, up from 31% in 2019, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

By the numbers: Overall food prices were up 10.9% in July, compared with a year earlier — but the Consumer Price Index shows the price of "food at employee sites and schools" was down 13.9%.

State of the art: Some employers are investing in new cafeterias, where they subsidize food or give it away.

  • At the gleaming new 21-story headquarters of Marriott International in Bethesda, Md., a sprawling new cafeteria (photo above) is designed to draw people to the office.
  • Workers can grab a free brownie ice cream sandwich or orange freeze.

Airstream CEO Robert Wheeler said on an investor call in June that a full-service cafeteria is a centerpiece of a new HQ in Jackson Center, Ohio, "to attract and retain employees":

  • "We've got an on-site medical clinic. We have a full cafeteria."

💬 Nathan's thought bubble: At the Axios office in Arlington, Va., we have Snaxios ... a nice little enticement to come in for the day.

7. ☢️ Zelensky: Russia using plant as "nuclear weapon"

Photo: ABC News

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told ABC "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir in Kyiv that Russia is using Europe's largest nuclear power plant as a "nuclear weapon."

  • In the interview airing tonight, Zelensky says Russia's occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear station in southeastern Ukraine, and its six reactors, pose a threat akin to "six Chernobyls" — a reference to the 1986 nuclear disaster in the northern region of Soviet Ukraine.

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8. 🔥 Parting shot: Fire meets light

Photo: Lance King/Getty Images

The Northern Lights appear yesterday in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada — through a layer of smoke caused by multiple wildfires.

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