Today’s News & Commentary — August 3, 2016

On Monday, Massachusetts became the first state to prohibit employers from asking applicants to share information about past salaries prior to being hired.  Hailed as an innovative strategy to combat the disparity in wages between women and men, the law requires companies to calculate and offer salary figures without regard for past compensation.  Commentary on the bipartisan legislation comes from Slate, Mother Jones, and Forbes, while The Boston Globe takes a deeper look at the history of the equal pay movement in Massachusetts.

Organized labor is flexing its political muscle in New Jersey, with one of the state’s largest unions refusing to donate to democratic candidates until the New Jersey Senate votes on a constitutional amendment requiring the state to make quarterly payments into the public employee pension fund.  The teacher’s union has demanded progress on the amendment—now stalled because of negotiations surrounding a transportation bill—and faces a looming deadline for passing the measure if it is to appear on the November ballot.

A unit of telecommunications workers at AT&T has voted to authorize a strike—though contract talks continue—a sign, perhaps, that the recent Verizon strike has encouraged workers in the industry to take action.  The Communications Workers of America, which represents both sets of workers, has also stepped up its organizing activities at competitor T-Mobile in the aftermath of the 45 day walkout.

In The Washington Post, Michael Wasser, a senior policy analyst at Jobs With Justice, makes the case for a broader rebirth of organized labor in the United States.  Focusing on the gap between widespread public support for unions and diminishing union density, he suggests strengthening penalties under the National Labor Relations Act to improve the ability of workers to organize.