Weekend News & Commentary — April 30 – May 1, 2016

Today is May Day.  CNN explains how and why May Day is connected to the labor movement and labor rights, while the Chicago Tribune notes how marches are planned for today across the United States.  This year, “events are planned in cities from New York to Los Angeles to call for better wages for workers, an end to deportations and support for an Obama administration plan to give work permits to immigrants in the country illegally whose children are American citizens.”

The Verizon strike has continued into its third week.  Bloomberg reports that Verizon has made its “final” offer, “rais[ing] its wage proposal to 36,000 striking phone workers, offering a 7.5 percent increase over the length of the contract.  The union said it remains concerned about job transfers.”  Furthermore, “Verizon’s “best and final offer” includes job-security measures for current workers if the union agrees to cooperate on layoffs, buyouts and reassignments.  The company offered to continue matching 401(k) retirement benefits and contributing to pension plans with increases.  At the same time, Verizon is seeking increases in contributions from employees to their health care coverage plans.”  On the other hand, “among the union’s demands are limits on work transfers to other regions and jobs outsourced to contractors in other countries.”  No further negotiations have been scheduled.  Writing for The Huffington Post, Dave Jamieson argues that the strike isn’t about just wages and benefits, but the size and continuation of the unionized Verizon workforce.  In Newsweek, Arne L. Kalleberg asks if the Verizon strike signals the resurgence of the labor movement.

As the Indiana primaries approach, one workforce featured prominently by Donald Trump appears to be looking elsewhere.  Politico reports that most union workers at the Carrier plant whose jobs are scheduled to be outsourced to Mexico actually support Bernie Sanders.

Finally, The Wall Street Journal reports that “Members of a union representing some NJ Transit rail workers have become the first group to not ratify a new contract with the agency.  The New Jersey Transit Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen announced its decision in a statement posted Friday on its website. But a vote tally wasn’t disclosed.  Union officials say they will return to the bargaining table with NJ Transit, though it isn’t clear when that will happen.”