Daily News & Commentary— January 9, 2020
Workers at Delta Airlines are suing Lands’ End over health concerns they attribute to negligently made uniforms. They filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, alleging that the uniforms were tested and showed “several heavy metals and chemicals present above safe levels, including mercury, formaldehyde, fluorine and chromium,” that caused migraines, rashes, and trouble breathing for some workers. The workers are asking Lands’ End to recall the uniforms and establish a fund to support ongoing medical expenses for the 1,900 workers who allege harm.
On Thursday, the New York Times published a profile on Freelancers Union founder Sara Horowitz, describing her work organizing contract workers and developing “Trupo” a company that bundles benefits for those workers. In the interview, she discussed the difficulty of organizing a highly transient workforce, but also the importance of building worker power for people largely setting out on their own in different parts of the “gig economy.
The Washington Post writes that a law passed in December to provide paid family leave to federal employees has significant drafting problems that exclude broad categories of the federal workforce. WaPo reports that certain sets of federal workers employed by the FAA, VA, TSA may be included, as well as U.S. Public Health Service offices. While the law does not become “effective” until October (leaving time for correction)WaPo predicts that certain agencies might “voluntarily” agree to provide the benefit, or raise it in union contract negotiations if the law is not corrected to create a mandate.
A new study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Health found that a $1 increase in minimum wage equates to a 3.4 to 5.9% decrease in suicide among those with a high school education. This echoes the findings of a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, published last year, that suggested minimum wage increases and a strengthened Earned Income Tax Credit would improve Americans’ wellbeing and reduce the suicide rate. The Washington Post notes that this report joins a growing body of research that “examines the relationship between economic conditions and public health.”
Finally, OnLabor announced this week that the blog will host a recurring “Dissent in Exile” feature, to respond to forthcoming NLRB decisions and “offer short, dissenting views” and provide “a source for alternative perspectives.” NLRB Member Lauren McFerran’s departure left the NLRB with only 3-members, all from the Republican Party.