Today’s News & Commentary — April 19, 2016

On Saturday, the Chicago Teachers Union rejected the proposal of a third-party mediator between the union and Chicago Public Schools, clearing the legal path for a possible strike on May 16, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The mediator’s report was a “virtually unchanged” version of the school board’s previous offer that the union previously rejected. Union President Karen Lewis assessed the probability of a strike as a virtual certainty but said it was unclear whether any potential strike would start later this spring or at the beginning of the next school year, according to the Chicago Tribune.

San Francisco Treasurer José Cisneros has sent notice to the city’s 37,000 Uber and Lyft drivers alerting them of their obligations to comply with the city’s business registration requirements, according to Business Insider.  While Uber used the occasion to emphasize the independent-contractor relationship it has with its employees, Lyft expressed “serious concerns with the City’s plan to collect and display Lyft drivers’ personal information in a publicly available database.” The registration fee per driver is $91 and would generate $3.37 million in revenue for the city if all drivers comply.

Speaking of independent contractors, Slate has an engrossing piece on the working lives of cable installers.  The piece not only provides a justification for the flexible appointment estimates that have been the butt of stand-up comics for years, it also exposes how cable companies have used gig apps similar to those employed by Uber to exert greater control over the workdays of these individuals.  David Blanchard, a Michigan labor lawyer who has filed a lawsuit on behalf of contractors against a contracting company, explained, “They use the GPS on your phone to track your location. Every minute of our time is micromanaged now.”

The Baltimore Sun reported that Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke introduced legislation to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.  The measure would take until 2020 to reach full effect and would boost the wages of 80,000 workers.  Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake declined to endorse the measure, stating that she supports the concept but had concerns about the effect the hike would have on the city’s businesses. The mayor’s spokesman Howard Libit said, “She believes the minimum wage is something that should be raised at the regional or state level, not by individual jurisdictions.”