Today’s News & Commentary — June 16, 2016

According to U.S. News & World Report, the AFL-CIO’s general board, which represents more than 12 million active and retired workers, has voted to endorse Secretary Hillary Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The move had widely been expected since Clinton secured enough support among delegates to become the presumptive Democratic nominee. Although Clinton has secured endorsements from unions representing a majority of the nation’s union members, The Teamsters, the Firefighters and UNITE HERE have yet to endorse a candidate, although POLITICO has reported they may do so in coming weeks.

Citing tepid growth, persistent uncertainties in the U.S., and international events, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen announced that the Fed would keep U.S. interest rates unchanged.  The bank signaled it still planned rate hikes later this year, but is expected to raise rates more slowly in the coming years. Yellen gave no clues as to whether a rate hike would come as early as the Fed’s next rate-setting meeting in July, or whether the bank would wait for more data heading into its September meeting. According to The Wall Street Journal, while the Fed’s median projection for two rate hikes this year remains intact, six Fed members now predict just one rate hike this year, up from just one member heading into this week’s meeting.

Earlier this week, President Obama hosted the first White House Summit on the United State of Women. Along with $50 million worth of commitments to improve the lives of women and girls around the world, the White House announced a new Equal Pay Pledge. As part of this pledge, 28 companies, including Amazon, Airbnb, and PepsiCo have promised to conduct an annual gender pay analysis and reassess their hiring and promoting processes to ensure equity.  Additionally, as part of the Summit, the Department of Labor, announced it would be updating its sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors for the first time since the 1970s.

As reported in POLITICO, a divided NLRB threw out the results of a union election at Ohio’s Ace Heating and Air Conditioning Company, saying a supervisor unlawfully told workers that their employer would shut down if they voted in a union.  The supervisor was pro-union and even voted in the union election (although he was later excluded as ineligible), but claimed he was relaying a threat from upper management. The NLRB held that relaying the threat, which the company denies, violated the National Labor Relations Act, and ordered a new election.

California’s cities continue to take steps to raise the minimum wage. The Berkeley City Council voted to place a measure on the November ballot that would raise the minimum wage to $15 in 2019 and mandate 48 hours of paid sick leave. A citizens’ initiative already on the Berkley ballot would more quickly raise the minimum wage up to $15 next year. Earlier this month, voters in San Diego approved a referendum to the City Council’s minimum wage increase ordinance that had previously been vetoed by the mayor. The ordinance increases the minimum wage in San Diego to $10.50 an hour, and mandates one hour of paid sick leave for every thirty hours worked.