Today’s News & Commentary — July 8, 2016

“I have known Philando ‘Phil’ Castile since he joined the Teamsters back in 2002 and he was an amazing person who did his job at St. Paul’s Public Schools because he loved the children he served.  He will be deeply missed by his colleagues and his community,” Teamsters Local 320 remembers Philando Castile who was killed by a police officer on Wednesday. Alton Sterling was killed by a police officer while at work selling CDs the night before.  A neighbor who knew Sterling said, “If you wanted Blues, and he didn’t have any Blues CDs, he’d find a Blues CD for you and sell it to you later, …He would hunt down classical music if you asked him for it.”  Nola.com reports that the table where Alton Sterling sold CDs was covered in flowers and messages by Wednesday evening. And five police officers were killed while working at a demonstration in Dallas last night, with 6 more injured. “Police in Dallas were on duty doing their jobs, keeping people safe, during peaceful protests,” said President Obama.

What happens when good jobs lead to outrageous housing prices?  Activists in San Francisco are proposing a payroll tax specific to tech companies to help fill gaps in the city’s budget.  While Silicon Valley’s successes have brought an economic boom to the Bay Area, their presence has also created a housing “affordability crisis,” and advocates say the companies have not been paying their fair share to address the problem.  Meanwhile, in Philadelphia airport workers are fighting for a union. This passionate op-ed from one baggage handler explains why the workers might strike during the Democratic National Convention — which takes place in Philadelphia in two weeks — saying “[w]e won’t stay hidden when the world is watching Philadelphia.”

In federal news, the NLRB will be keeping a database of federal contractors who receive unfair labor practice complaints.  The database will help federal agencies comply with the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order that requires them to assess labor law violations of all companies who bid on government contracts.  And the Department of Justice is increasing penalties for employers who violate federal immigration law under The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).

Finally, on the international front – South Korean union leader Han Sang-gyun was imprisoned for five years on July 4.  Han Sang-gyun is President of South Korea’s Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, which has hundreds of thousands of members. He was convicted of eight counts against him, all stemming from demonstrations he and the union have organized since 2012.