Today’s News & Commentary — December 9, 2015
Do we need a third category for workers in the gig economy? Steven Greenhouse writes in the American Prospect about a new paper that proposes solutions for on-demand workers. The paper’s authors suggest on-demand workers should be subject to anti-discrimination laws and have the right to unionize, and employers should Social Security taxes. But they also propose an exemption from minimum wage laws and other benefits. Greenhouse interrogates the authors’ arguments regarding the alleged superfluity of workers’ compensation insurance for drivers, need for exemption from unemployment insurance, and difficulty of tracking hours. When comparing the on-demand workers to regular employees, Greenhouse finds far more similarities than differences. Read more about Greenhouse’s reporting on Uber and the gig economy.
The Working Families Party voted for “the biggest endorsement for Sanders yet.” Sanders’ landslide victory in the party’s online poll masks internal divisions among members. Some party affiliates, including union leaders and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, have already voiced support for Hillary Clinton. One of the party’s founders said the party too often passes over female candidates, reports the New York Times. The party pledged to devote its New York-based political muscle to helping Sanders win primary campaigns nationwide.
All politics is local, including right-to-work laws. According to the Chicago Tribune, the village of Lincolnshire might vote to give unionized employees who work at private companies inside village boundaries the choice not to pay union dues. The proposed ordinance caught the attention of the Chicago Federation of Labor, which plans to organize to stop the new “right-to-work zone.”
In other news from the Chicago suburbs, Coca-Cola and the Teamsters Local 727 will mediate in federal court. Production and warehouse workers have been on strike, in protest of alleged unfair labor practices. According to the Chicago Tribune, Coke claims the allegations are “false attacks.” The union declares Coke hasn’t negotiated seriously since October.
The fallout of a United Auto Workers strike travels down the assembly line. Since UAW members went on strike at Nexteer Automotive, an auto parts supplier, the General Motors plant in Flint may have to halt production. After months of negotiations, Nexteer rejected a proposal from the union. The Detroit Free Press notes that the strike comes on the heels of the UAW’s ratification of four contracts with major American automakers.
Forget gym memberships and dry cleaning; Boston companies have a new perk for their young hires: paying off their loans. The Boston Globe writes that several Boston-based employers plan to pay federal loans for employees, especially those at the lower end of the pay scale. The firms see loan repayment as a recruitment and retention tool as student debt balloons. One company executive declared: “Employers don’t do this to be nice. It’s absolutely an investment.”
Workers will end the year on a high note—or at least a confident one. The latest jobs report shows that overall hiring and people quitting their jobs rose slightly, both signs that the job market is improving. The New York Times explains that rising quits may lift wages, as people who quit usually have a higher-paying job lined up. Economists predict continued but slow job growth in the coming quarters.