Center for American Progress Action

Liz Shuler on Labor Day, Workers’ Rights, and the State of Unions

Liz Shuler on Labor Day, Workers’ Rights, and the State of Unions

In honor of Labor Day, Daniella talks with AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler about what the holiday means; recent wins for the labor movement, including the Inflation Reduction Act; and the key issues workers and unions are continuing to fight for.

Part of a Series

In honor of Labor Day, Daniella talks with AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler about what the holiday means; recent wins for the labor movement, including the Inflation Reduction Act; and the key issues workers and unions are continuing to fight for. Daniella also breaks down student debt cancellation with CAP’s Jared Bass and recent news on the FB​I​’s investigation of former President Donald Trump.

Learn more about the podcast here.


Daniella Gibbs Léger: Hey everyone, welcome back to the “The Tent,” your place for politics, policy, and progress. I’m Daniella Gibbs Léger. We’ve got a great interview lined up for you with Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the country. It’s a moving and powerful conversation about today’s labor movement and the importance of celebrating and supporting workers with Labor Day just around the corner. But first, we’ve got to get to some news.

You may recall, last week the Biden administration canceled $10,000 in student debt for tens of millions of Americans. As the president ]likes to say, this is a “BFD” [Big F—ing Deal]. Now, there are a lot of people with student loans out there who have questions about the program, and whether or how they qualify. There’s also been just an absurd amount of disinformation and nonsense being spread about the president’s plan. So, here to break down the announcement, what it does, and what it means for those of you who may have student loans is Jared Bass, senior director for Higher Education at the Center for American Progress. Jared, thanks so much for joining me on “The Tent.”

Jared Bass: Hi, thanks for having me.

Gibbs Léger: As I mentioned, President [Joe] Biden recently announced that he’s canceling $10,000 in federal student loan debt for those who make less than $125,000 a year. He’s also relieving $20,000 in student loan debt for Pell Grant recipients and extending the loan payment pause until the end of this year. Canceling some level of student debt is something that the Center for American Progress has long advocated for, but there’s been a ton of disinformation about what this plan does and does not do. So, for our listeners—some of whom I imagine are still paying off student loans—can you recap what this plan actually entails?

Bass: Sure, so the president announced really a three-part plan for student loan debt. So, the first part you talked about—which is debt cancellation—so $10,000 if you made $125,000 or less, and $250,000 for couples. And also, if you’ve ever received a Pell Grant, it also will relieve up to $20,000—an additional $10,000—but you still have to make under $125,000—[or] $250,000 for couples or those filing jointly. This will provide relief. About 90 percent of the people who will receive relief actually earn under $75,000, according to the White House’s estimates.

This is relief that’s targeted at low-income Americans, also the middle class. It also has the advantage of helping to narrow the racial wealth gap as well. We know that there’s wide disparity in the racial wealth gap already, but even among borrowers, too, there tends to be disparity, because not having that generational wealth, Black and brown borrowers tend to borrow more and actually take longer to pay off their student loans. With the additional $10,000 for Pell Grant recipients, it actually has the added benefit of helping a lot of Black and brown borrowers who, larger shares actually have Pell Grants. That’s going to be helpful for them.

The other two parts of the plan that are really going to be helpful for borrowers in addressing their student loan debt are: one, the payment pause that you talked about. So that means no interest, no collections, no payments on any student loan, whether in good standing or in default, will be required until the beginning of next year—so January 1, 2023—because the extension goes until December 31, 2022, the end of this year. And the last piece of the plan is making changes to repayment options for borrowers who still have outstanding debt after this announcement, after this relief goes through. So if you’ve got undergrad loans, you’re going to see that payment go down maybe quite substantially, because right now it’s about 10 percent of your discretionary income. That’s how your monthly payment is determined. That’s going to be cut in half to 5 percent. That’s great news if you have a balance that—if your original balance was $12,000 or less, you can get forgiveness after 10 years of repayment, instead of 20 or 25 years for how it works for most plans now. So this is welcome news for borrowers not only with the debt cancellation, the payment pause, but also future repayment options and relief there as well.

Gibbs Léger: That’s very great information. I imagine we have a few listeners out there who have questions about how they can qualify for this program. Now, I know that part of this plan is still being rolled out, but can you tell our listeners where they should go to find more information about how to qualify? And what parts of the plan may we still be awaiting more details on?

Bass: Sure. So, the president, with his announcement, has a fact sheet that’s out. So, information can be found on the White House’s website, You can also go to or []. If you do a simple Google search, you’ll find the right site. But there you’ll be able to access more information about the president’s plan. Parts of it, they’re still rolling out, including being able to sign up or subscribe to information and changes from the department about the debt relief announcement, including when the application becomes available.

And that’s just a critical piece of information. So, the application is not currently available for debt cancellation. The president’s going to try to make it as automatic as possible. So, if you have income-driven repayment [IDR], if you’re participating in that plan, they have your income information already, because you had to provide it to sign up for that. They’re going to try to make it as automatic as possible for folks where they already have their information. But we’re hoping for a simple form and a simple application for people to fill out to attest to their income. And that income is going to be based off of either the 2020 tax season or the 2021 tax season. It will not deal with 2022 taxes at all for income.

As far as the parts that we’re still waiting to see, one is the application, which we talked about, but also the IDR plan. So, this is going to be based off of a proposed rule coming out of the administration. And so we haven’t seen that rule yet, but we’re expecting it in the next couple of weeks to be unveiled. And then we’ll have more details about the types of loans, who qualifies, how you can participate in the plan, and really just the basic questions that I think a lot of borrowers have with this huge and historic announcement coming out of the White House.

Gibbs Léger: And while this plan is an important first step, we know that there’s still so much work to be done to tackle the larger college affordability crisis in this country. What other changes are needed to restore the promise of higher education and opportunity for all Americans, and are you hopeful that we can see real progress on these policies in the near future?

Bass: Yes, yes. I love how you phrased that. Restoring the promise of higher education is key here, and I am very, very hopeful that that’s something that we can do. The president already alluded to some of this in his announcement—things like controlling the cost of college education has to be part of the conversation, also holding institutions accountable. Those were two smaller features of the speech. I think the debt cancellation took the big news there.

The Center for American Progress released a report earlier this month where we looked at some of the things that Congress and the administration could do to actually restore the promise of higher education. That report was called “After President Biden Cancels Student Debt,” and it includes things like increasing grant aid, grant assistance. There have been calls for doubling the Pell Grant, which used to cover around 80 percent of the cost of attending college education; now it covers about 30 percent for most institutions.

We can double the Pell Grant, we can decrease our reliance on student loans so the No. 1 form of assistance that we provide—the federal government provides—to students actually comes in the form of loans. So it’s no wonder that we have a student debt crisis, because that’s what we give out; we give out loans as the No.1 form of assistance. So if we can decrease the reliance on student loans as the No.1 form of aid [and] increase grant aid, that is just a commonsense solution to the student debt crisis and will help us prevent another student debt crisis in the future.

Another thing we can do is actually control the cost of college education. We know that college education has outpaced inflation for quite some time, decades even. So we can work with colleges, and the administration and Congress can work together with colleges to determine how do we actually control the cost of college moving forward, so we that we don’t have to rely on loans so much, and to make up that gap between what the federal government provides and what tuition charges.

We can also just hold institutions accountable for poor outcomes, and that’s things like making sure that they have a quality education moving forward, and we need to fix the repayment system. A lot of the urgency around debt cancellation really stems from the fact that we have a student loan payment system that promises forgiveness after 10 years if you’ve worked in public service for that long, and then also promises forgiveness after 20–25 years of repayment if you’re on an income-driven repayment plan. But the Government Accountability Office, which is a government watchdog, has actually determined that those plans haven’t worked well, and that folks who should have received forgiveness or have been eligible for forgiveness just simply weren’t and because of misinformation about how those programs worked. So that is something that we need to fix, that’s something that we can fix. I’m hopeful that we’ll see a moment of folks coming together to really tackle some of the root causes of the student debt crisis.

Gibbs Léger: Well, Jared that is a lot of very helpful information for our listeners. I want to thank you so much for joining us on “The Tent” to explain it all.

Bass: Thanks for having me.

Gibbs Léger: Before we move on, there’s one more thing I have to get off my chest: Remember when the FBI searched [former President Donald] Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home earlier this month? I know it feels like a year ago. Well, a new DOJ [Department of Justice] report released late Tuesday night is revealing some damning new evidence about Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice and his lies about the classified documents he stole from the federal government. We already knew from that redacted affidavit the FBI released last week that they found 184 classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. 92 documents were marked as secret and 25 were marked top secret, which only a limited number of government officials have security clearances for. Let’s be clear, if these documents had fallen into the wrong hands, they could have revealed sensitive information about U.S. spies or how intelligence agencies track electronic communications in foreign countries.

Well, if that wasn’t enough, Tuesday night we learned that Donald Trump and his lawyers lied to the Department of Justice and resisted the FBI’s efforts to get all the documents back. After multiple meetings with FBI officials, a grand jury subpoena to return the documents, and Trump’s lawyers insisting that they returned everything, FBI agents found more than 100 classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Agents even found classified documents moved out of that storage facility they had set up at Trump’s golf resort and in his desk next to his passports.

Now, as you might expect, MAGA extremists have turned themselves into pretzels trying to defend the indefensible. And I thought I’d seen it all until [Sen.] Lindsey Graham (R-SC) decided to go on national television on Sunday night and make what sounded a lot like threats of political violence should the DOJ ultimately decided to prosecute Trump for his reckless behavior. He literally said there would be riots in the streets. And sure, Lindsey’s since tried to clarify that he wasn’t making, quote, “any threats.” But this is just an incredibly dangerous thing for him, an elected official, to suggest. All of this whining from Trump loyalists is a smoke screen.

A couple of things here: One, it is a crime to steal classified documents from the government and Lindsey Graham knows this. Two, Trump was alerted over a year ago that he took documents to Florida that shouldn’t have left the White House. So all these complaints about the timing of the FBI search are total nonsense. Donald Trump has had a very long time to fully cooperate with law enforcement on this, and he chose not to. Instead, he lied to the federal government about top-secret information he’d stolen from it. And three, Lindsey, you were in the Capitol on January 6, and saw firsthand the dangerous consequences that threats of political violence have in this country. You said that night that you were “done with Trump.” “Count me out,” were your exact words. So now, you have the audacity to threaten riots in the streets if the Department of Justice finds evidence of a crime and needs to prosecute Donald Trump? Let’s not forget that FBI offices have already been targeted since the FBI search. Law enforcement says security threats are on the rise, likely because of this very type of rhetoric. Shame on you, Lindsey Graham.

And every time you open your mouth to defend Donald Trump, it just makes me wonder: What does Trump have on you? Because remember, during the primary, you said something to the effect of, “If we elect this man, it’ll be the end of our country, and we’ll deserve it,” or something like that. Basically, you were correct then, and then something happened and you suddenly became Trump’s biggest fan. What does he have on you, Lindsey? Tell us, please.

As always, please let us know if you have anything else you’d like us to cover on the news. Hit us up on Twitter @TheTentPod, that’s @TheTentPod. And stick around for our interview with Liz Shuler in just a beat.

[Musical transition]

Gibbs Léger: Liz Shuler is the president of the AFL-CIO and oversees the federation’s 57 unions and its 12.5 million members. She is the first woman to lead the organization and previously served as the union’s first female secretary-treasurer. She was the youngest woman to ever serve on the federation’s executive council as well. Liz grew up in a union household and started her career in the labor movement, working for IBEW’s [International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers] Local 125 in Portland, Oregon. Liz also serves as chair of the Board of Directors of the Economic Policy Institute.

Liz, thanks so much for joining us on “The Tent.”

Liz Shuler: What a pleasure to be with you, Daniella, on Labor Day.

Gibbs Léger: Yes. So, I wanted to start by looking ahead to Labor Day, which somehow is right around the corner; I feel like we just started summer. I am the proud daughter of two union workers, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199 in New York and the transit workers union. And I know that my parents belonging to those unions really helped me and my siblings immensely throughout our entire lives. So, I know firsthand how important this day is. And it’s a good time for us to reflect on the role that the labor movement and unions like those affiliated with the AFL-CIO play in this country and in our economy. So, can you talk little bit about what Labor Day means for unions like the AFL-CIO more broadly?

Shuler: Absolutely. And I’m so glad to hear your background and that you know the importance of the labor movement, because I think fewer and fewer people really have come from union families or know someone in a union. So, it’s important for us to remind folks that the freedoms that we enjoy today didn’t just happen, they were born out of struggles—many, many, many years and decades of workers coming together over time to make our working conditions better, particularly during the Industrial Revolution. And we know that a lot of jobs back then were dangerous jobs, dirty jobs, and people were literally dying on the job. So here we are today with a modern labor movement that has evolved over time and really, as they say, brought you the weekend.

We actually celebrate Labor Day every day, but the Labor Day moment is really for us to reflect on the gains that we’ve made, the struggles that we still have in front of us—especially coming out of the pandemic—and really honoring and respecting the work that working people do in this country. Because as we know, business would not be successful, our country would not run or function without the labor of so many people in so many people in so many industries across the economy.

Gibbs Léger: That’s 100 percent right. My pinned tweet is all about thanking unions for all the things that we take for granted: the weekend, lack of child labor, all of that. I’d love to get your thoughts on where the movement is overall right now. You talked about the pandemic; it’s had profound impacts on health and our economy overall, and it’s exacerbated many of the issues that workers have already long struggled with. So how are workers faring today, in a—we’re not post-pandemic, we’re in—wherever we are with this pandemic?

Shuler: Well, workers are struggling. The economy is broken; it’s not working for working people. We know that it’s nearly impossible for most people to make a decent living with good health care and some semblance of retirement on the horizon without working sometimes two and three jobs. And with costs going up, and workers having less voice and less power in the workplace than we’ve seen over time, people are frustrated, people are fed up. Especially during the pandemic, they were called “essential”—we know the essential workers were front and center—and then the next moment, they’re treated as expendable. As companies are rebounding, they’re making billions of dollars in profits. CEO pay is skyrocketing. But yet, working people are still struggling to keep up. And so that’s why folks are now seeing the labor movement as a path forward, as a place to go to actually be seen and be able to fight back against the injustice that’s happening in workplaces all across the country. So it’s a real moment for working people. They’re finally recognizing that they do have power, and that they can make change. But it’s about coming together collectively to do that. And we think, of course, the most powerful way to do that is through the labor movement, through unions.

Gibbs Léger: So, I want to touch on that a little more and ask you about the impact that you think having a pro-union president like Joe Biden has had the last couple of years. We have seen some progress—seemingly in the last couple of weeks—that will benefit workers, such as the recently announced student debt forgiveness plan, the Inflation Reduction Act, the bipartisan infrastructure law, and more. And I know we’ll hear him reflect on the importance of workers this Labor Day in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But can you break down for our listeners what all of these bills and this movement means for workers and the labor movement?

Shuler: Yes, this administration has meant everything, and has made a tremendous impact on working people, and has made every decision looking through the lens of working people and their needs. And you just ticked off a number of victories, incredible investments. I don’t know why more people aren’t celebrating in the streets, because what we’ve seen just even in the last year, has been incredible. And really, this administration has put unions at the center of a lot of these investments by including labor standards and job quality requirements and making sure these investments are actually reaching more working people in communities that have traditionally been left behind. Not only are these investments going to create new and better jobs, they’re going to create a better planet for us to live on for generations to come. It’s going to bring down costs for working people, the investments in lowering the cost of prescription drugs and health care premiums, and clean up the environment.

We think this is an incredible moment. The problem is there’s a disconnect in what we know has happened here in Washington, and translating that out to the grassroots level, and so that people in communities are actually feeling the impact in their daily lives. And we think that that’s an important role for us in the labor movement because we can reach people in workplaces, in every industry, in every zip code, to really unpack what these accomplishments have been and how they will translate into people’s pocketbooks. So, we are very much excited by the work that’s been done so far. We have more work to do, but I think as you’ve said, the American Rescue Plan; the infrastructure law; the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS Act—which is going to bring back high-tech manufacturing to the United States, when we so sorely need it—and then the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, which is the first time that the White House has actually looked at what they can do to help increase union membership and bargaining power just by virtue of initiatives that they can control inside the federal government. These are incredible accomplishments that, going into Labor Day, we want to make sure that everybody knows about.

Gibbs Léger: And so, I want to pivot from talking about the progress we’ve seen in Washington, D.C., and talk about what we’ve been seeing in cities, and states taking matters into their own hands. California, for example, just passed a bill called the FAST Recovery Act, which would give fast-food workers in the state a seat at the decision-making table to help set workplace standards for the entire industry. So, could you talk a little bit about the influence the labor movement has had at the state and local level, and are there any big takeaways you think other places could replicate?

Shuler: Well, as you know, most of the progress is felt at the state and local level. And so, as much as we’re excited about what we’ve done and accomplished at the federal level, the example you mentioned about the FAST Recovery Act is a great example of innovation, and experimentation, and solidarity of unions and community coming together to create new models that are going to benefit working people. So, I think that’s an incredible accomplishment, alongside so many that we can point to at the state and local level. I would say that paid family and medical leave programs [are] a great example. In 11 states and the District of Columbia, we’ve seen those programs passed. And then of course, at the county level, we’ve been seeing victories around collective bargaining wins as well. So, whether it’s Maryland and Delaware, with paid family leave, whether it’s Virginia, with its groundbreaking public sector collective bargaining legislation, we’re lifting up the rights and voices of working people all across this country.

So, there are a lot of examples we can point to, and we just have to keep the momentum going. And in fact, I think the ballot initiative process is something that often gets overlooked when we talk about elections. We’re also seeing minimum wage ballot initiatives in places all across the country. So, I think that’s a hopeful sign that will galvanize working people, that they can actually see the difference that’s being made in these policies that will impact their lives. And it becomes much more of a pocketbook impact when you can have paid days off, which we know most workers don’t have in this country, unless you’re in a union.

Gibbs Léger: Right. I also want to ask about the unionization efforts we’ve seen at big, powerful companies like Amazon and Starbucks lately and all the public support they’re gathering. A new Gallup poll out this week shows that support for unions is at its highest—the highest it’s been since 1965. So, what do you make of this and what else do you think is needed to ensure that workers can effectively bargain with employers?

Shuler: Oh, those Gallup numbers were so heartening, and in fact, they are an increase over the numbers we saw last year, at 68 percent of the public supporting unions. So to be at 71 percent just shows that the momentum is building, and people are waking up to this idea that coming together collectively and raising your voices through a union is incredibly powerful. And, of course, companies are coming at us with everything they have because they see this as a threat to their power.

And what we’re seeing with Amazon and Starbucks is a great example of what working people have been doing in all industries across this country: rising up, making their voices heard, showing that they’re done with toxic work environments. They’re done with being called “essential” one day and “expendable” the next. They’re fed up, they’re fired up, and they’re not going to take it anymore. We find this movement extremely exciting. It’s galvanizing. It’s uplifting and inspiring so many more people to step up and have the courage to speak out.

There’s a realization that businesses can’t function without happy, productive, content workers. Those lattes at Starbucks don’t get made if you don’t have baristas who actually can feel respected and heard on the job. I think it’s a great example of this notion that coming together collectively gives you more strength, gives you more power, and in fact, makes businesses more productive and more successful when they’re working hand in hand with their workforce. Because as we know, people tend to stay longer in jobs if they feel more satisfied, if they have predictable schedules, [and] if they have decent pay and benefits to rely on. So that’s what we’re seeing, and I just have a feeling we’re going to continue to see more of it. And hopefully next year, we can have another conversation when the Gallup polls come out, and it’s even higher.

Gibbs Léger: I hope so, too. Now, with the midterms getting closer every day, I’d love to hear what issues matter most to the AFL-CIO and labor movement heading into the fall. You talked a little bit about needing to tell people about the good stuff that’s happening in [Washington,] D.C. So, how are you planning on approaching voter education and, again, just really interested in what the top issues are for folks?

Shuler: Oh, yeah, Daniella, it is economic issues, of course, and quality-of-life issues, frankly: predictable schedules; decent pay that’s keeping up with inflation and the costs that we keep hearing that are going up; making sure that people have good health care and workplace safety, so that if you’re speaking up about something that is unsafe on the job, that you’re not going to feel like you’re about to lose your job by raising your voice; things like paid sick days, paid family leave. So those are the economic issues that we hear over and over again that are important to people. And, as I said, the quality-of-life issues where you want to be able to work a decent job with good pay and benefits but also have time with your family, time to actually take a class or pursue a hobby. But as we know—and the “Great Resignation” is real—people have been waking up to this notion that there is better, that they deserve better.

And that’s why we’re seeing people rising up and coming together in new and creative ways to exercise their voice. That organizing is translating into our politics. The AFL-CIO is actually taking an organizing approach because we know that the most powerful way to reach people is through one-on-one conversation. In this day of social media, and our Facebook feeds and the social media vortex, people are limited in the ways they get their information. We think that the labor movement has a special role to play here, that we can be a trusted source for information, that we can have those one-on-one, face-to-face conversations and really break through the noise that’s out there and the polarization that’s out there. So, we are doubling down on our grassroots infrastructure. We are the only institution in this country that can reach actual real working people in real workplaces all across the country, not to mention on their doors and in their communities. And so we’re really excited because we’re investing in this infrastructure at the community level, making our approach hyperlocal so that we’re surfacing the issues that really matter to people locally. And then, not just planning for November 2022, but building for 2024 and beyond.

Gibbs Léger: I love to end these interviews on a positive note when we can. As the first female leader of the AFL-CIO, can you talk a little bit about the progress that you’ve seen in labor in recent years when it comes to racial and gender equity? And then finally: What are you hopeful about, and where do you think the labor movement will be in the next five to 10 years?

Shuler: Oh, wow, just in 30 seconds or less? I am so honored to be in this role at this moment. And certainly, as a woman, it’s reflective of so many women that have come before me who have been fighting on the front lines of picket lines and strikes but also leading quietly in their workplaces behind the scenes. Not many people know this, but the labor movement is actually the largest working women’s organization in the country. We represent 6.5 million women. So, it is a true honor to stand on so many shoulders and know that there’s this army of women who are making change in their workplaces.

And that’s really what Fred Redmond—our secretary-treasurer—and I hope to bring to this next chapter, as we’re building a new future for the labor movement, is to bring women and people of color and young people and immigrants from the margins, often, of the economy to the center, and bring their perspectives, and be looking through the lens of racial justice and economic justice for communities of color, to the center of everything we do in the labor movement, because that is the workforce of the future. We know that work is changing, our workforce is changing, and that the labor movement needs to be changing along with it and become more inclusive, more relevant, more dynamic. And so your question about what I see for the future is that we become a center of gravity for all working people who want to ladder up to that next new job; who want to fight for economic fairness in their workplaces; who want to be on the front lines of racial and economic justice; that I want them to see the labor movement as a path to make that change. So, I’m excited about the future, and I think we can keep building on this momentum and show that the labor movements doors are open wide, and that we are the force for social and economic justice for all.

Gibbs Léger: That is so inspiring to hear. And Liz, I’ve been looking forward to this interview for weeks. I get really emotional when I talk about my parents. They’re now elderly—in the twilight of their years—and they’re able to live well in their retirement because they worked really hard and long, but they had great unions backing them up and giving them support. And like I said, I know that I am sitting here today talking to you because of the work of unions. So, I want to thank you so much for joining us on “The Tent,” Liz. And I hope you and yours have a wonderful Labor Day.

[Musical transition]

Gibbs Léger: As always, thanks for listening, please be sure to go back and listen to previous episodes. I wanted to give the people an update about my bedtime situation because I know you’re all waiting with bated breath. I did a whole week of getting my butt upstairs by 10:00/10:30 p.m. every night until Monday night. So, it was like a week. So, I did a good job. I’m proud of myself. This tells me that I can do this. I just have to commit to it.

But Monday night, I had to stay awake to make sure I finished “The Bachelorette,” because it was the “Men Tell All.” And here with me again, is Sam. Hello, Sam.

Sam Signorelli: Hello.

Gibbs Léger: Okay, so we saw the “Men Tell All” on Monday—or should it just be called “ads,” because I felt like all we saw were ads, and cross-promotions, and ads. And I was really annoyed by this episode, extremely annoyed.

Signorelli: Yeah, I agree. It just felt very disingenuous. It didn’t seem like any of the conversations that they were going for felt real. I don’t know. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Gibbs Léger: It makes total sense. I mean, look, I think that the “Men Tell All” episodes are usually the worst. The “Women Tell All,” those are usually better, and I don’t know if it’s because the women just go for the jugular. But it was—“boring” is not the right word—but it seemed perfunctory, and it was the Nate and—what’s-his-face? God, I forget his name already—redemption storylines. And the fact that they didn’t show the rose ceremony?

Signorelli: Yeah, what the heck?

Gibbs Léger: I mean, excuse me. How dare you make me go online to watch it? And it was only four minutes. You could have cut any number of things. I didn’t need to see Meatball pour tomato sauce all over his body.

Signorelli: For a second time.

Gibbs Léger: Exactly. Who needs to see that twice? Just ridiculous, and stop trying to make—or whatever it is—happen. People, no. And thank you, Twitter people who just put the clip on Twitter.

Signorelli: Thank you to our company Slack for “The Bachelor” that I watched it on.

Gibbs Léger: You’re very welcome. We had Aven’s hometown. Poor Aven. Everyone forgot about that. We had his hometown, which I thought was fine. His parents seem perfectly nice and asked all the right questions. And they didn’t go to a witch, they went to a fortuneteller person or something?

Signorelli: Your guess is as good as mine. I don’t know.

Gibbs Léger: I feel like I saw the word coven or something. I’m very confused. And then she knocked over the table, and hilarity ensued.

Signorelli: I think it was a bad omen.

Gibbs Léger: I think so, too. But can I tell you fun story?

Signorelli: Please.

Gibbs Léger: Many, many years ago—I will not say how many years ago—when I lived in New York, a friend of mine, we decided to go hop into one of the million, it seems, fortuneteller places in lower Manhattan and I got my fortune read. She said many things, and one of the things she said was, somebody from your past is going to reemerge and you’re going to end up with this person for the rest of your life. I was like, “Girl get out of here.” And a couple months later, my now-husband reached out to me. I’m just saying.

Signorelli: Oh my god, chills. Wow.

Gibbs Léger: Any who, that’s a tangent. Oh, I was so mad about the thing that’s going to change everybody’s lives, [which] is the audience gets a free cruise.

Signorelli: Yeah, well, again another ad.

Gibbs Léger: I know. Do we need to see him struggle to pull up the app and press a button? Honestly—oh, my goodness—I don’t care about the audience getting a cruise. Where’s my cruise?

Signorelli: Yeah. Well, I would never get on a cruise because I get horrifically seasick on most moving objects.

Gibbs Léger: I would be so hopped up on Dramamine that I would just sleep the entire time.

Signorelli: So true.

Gibbs Léger: A cruise for me is definitely out of the cards. I am looking forward to next week, of course. Although, it seems like Erich is probably going to tick me off. Yeah, that whole thing. But I don’t know. Most of those guys from her season—I mean, their season—I’m just like, whatever.

Signorelli: Yeah, I feel like again, this is just [another] example whatever letter of why we shouldn’t have two bachelorettes at the same time, is I just do not see their connection with most of them. Especially Aven, it is blowing my mind that he has made it to the finals. When have they even spoken to each other?

Gibbs Léger: I know. There must be so much footage that we haven’t seen, because I don’t believe it. It’s weird. And you know, one of the many “Bachelorette” podcasts I listen to, they made a good point. Because of the way the season was done, there were no two-on-one dates, so you didn’t even have that drama of two come out, who will emerge?

Signorelli: Oh my God, you’re so right. Imagine a Hayden and Meatball two-on-one. That would’ve been fantastic. Also, what a chicken not showing up. Face the music, you loser.

Gibbs Léger: I know, exactly. Him and Chris, right? The one who was planning out fantasy suites on day one.

Signorelli: I honestly don’t want to hear him open his mouth anymore, but I do want to see Hayden get reprimanded.

Gibbs Léger: I want to see him watch as he says, “I never said that.” And then they play back him saying the thing that he “never said.”

Signorelli: I want them boo him.

Gibbs Léger: Boo that man!

Signorelli: If only.

Gibbs Léger: Well, I am very much looking forward to the next two weeks and seeing if folks actually end up getting engaged. I don’t know. Something tells me that Gabby may end up with Erich, but not engaged.

Signorelli: Yeah, I could see her not being engaged at the end of this. But I think [for] Rachel, I think it’s going to be Tino.

Gibbs Léger: I think so, too. I think she’s going to get over that whole, “Your parents hate me,” thing.

Signorelli: It just seems like it’s the classic teenage trope of, “Oh, it’s forbidden love. Therefore, I want it more.” They always pick the person whose hometown goes the worst.

Gibbs Léger: And it’s worked out so well.

Signorelli: Honestly, yeah.

Gibbs Léger: Well, Sam, thanks as always, for joining me for this recap.

Signorelli: Thank you, as always.

Gibbs Léger: And for the rest of y’all, continue to take care of yourselves. The COVID monster hit my house this week. I am fine, but others are not. Well, I should say they’re fine, but man—men and boys, when they get sick—that’s a topic for another episode. Any who, take care of yourselves. There’s a new booster coming out, and I’m really excited to go get it when it’s out. And we will talk to you next week.

“The Tent” is a podcast from the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It’s hosted by me Daniella Gibbs Léger. Erin Phillips is our lead producer. Kelly McCoy is our supervising producer. Tricia Woodcome is our booking producer, and Sam Signorelli is our digital producer. Rachel Lim provided research and production support for this episode. You can find us on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Daniella Gibbs Léger

Executive Vice President, Communications and Strategy


Erin Phillips

Broadcast Media Manager

Kelly McCoy

Senior Director of Broadcast Communications

Tricia Woodcome

Former Senior Media Manager

Sam Signorelli

Policy and Outreach Associate, Government Affairs

Rachel Lim


Explore The Series

Politics. Policy. Progress. All under one big tent. Produced by CAP Action, “The Tent” is a news and politics podcast hosted by Daniella Gibbs Léger and co-hosted by Colin Seeberger. Listen each Thursday for episodes exploring topics that progressives are focused on.


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