Daily News & Commentary— January 10, 2020
France’s transportation strike against austerity reached its sixth week yesterday — and is now the longest strike in the nation’s history. Public sector workers went on strike in early December to protest the government’s proposed pension reform proposal to merge pension schemes for French workers into a single system—under which many workers would see much less generous pensions and have no choice but to work past France’s legal retirement age. Yesterday, at least 450,000 French people joined massive protests against the pension cuts, as nurses, lawyers, and more than a third of French teachers joined the transportation strike. While negotiations are ongoing, union leaders say that they “are far from a deal.”
In India, millions of workers went on a one-day strike to protest the Hindu supremacist government’s economic policies and the highest nationwide unemployment in 45 years. 10 unions called the strike after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced plans to privatize publicly-owned companies, including Air India, the Shipping Corporation of Indian, and the Bharat Petroleum Corporation. Modi, whose party has its origins in a fascist group that sought to expel Muslims from India and argued that the Holocaust was a “good lesson” for Hindu nationalists, campaigned by promising economic modernization while demonizing India’s nearly 200 million Indian Muslims. Modi’s policies have been economically disastrous. Demonetisation—Modi’s sudden 2016 decision to declare more than 99% of Indian currency notes void—“wiped at least 1% from the country’s GDP and cost at least 1.5 [million] jobs.” But Modi is quickly pursuing his other promise to oppress Indian Muslims, attempting to pass legislation that could strip citizenship from millions of Indian Muslims stateless while building detention camps to hold people rendered stateless.
Here in the United States, 76 House Democrats sent a letter yesterday to House leadership urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring the PRO Act to the House floor for a vote. The PRO Act — a package of pro-labor legislation to protect the right to organize — passed through the House Committee on Education and Labor in September, but has not moved since. According to the Intercept, which reported the letter, “progressives and union leaders were frustrated that it wasn’t brought to the floor for a full vote before the holiday break.” The letter was signed by Democrats “span[ing] the ideological spectrum within the party” and was led by “frontline” Reps. Jared Golden (D-ME) and Max Rose (D-NY), who flipped their districts blue in 2018.
Lyft has offered to settle a massive worker misclassification lawsuit brought by 8,000 New York drivers by paying “about $100 to $600 each”—but only if drivers agree to “sign confidentiality and non-disparagement agreements,” Bloomberg reports. The suit is one of several lawsuits brought by rideshare drivers alleging they have been illegally classified as independent contractors, rather than employees, and thus denied important protections and benefits like minimum wage, paid family leave, and health insurance. According to emails obtained by Bloomberg, lawyers for the class are advising drivers to reject the offer, arguing that it’s too low and that the deal would bar drivers from disparaging the company even for “true or good reasons.”
The longest running continuous strike in America ended yesterday—clocking in at 1,029 days.