Daily News & Commentary—July 19, 2017

Published July 19th, 2017 -  - 07.19.178


NPR reports that state minimum wage preemption laws are on the rise.  27 states currently have laws prohibiting cities from raising their minimum wage above the state minimum.  In Missouri, the last state to pass one of these measures, a minimum wage preemption law will go into effect on August 28th.  When this law takes effect, St. Louis’s $10 minimum wage ordinance will no longer be operative.  The surge in these types of laws is part of an on-going policy conflict between more liberal urban areas and more conservative state legislatures.  Read more here.

The New York Times Magazine published a piece exploring the future of service work under Amazon following its recent acquisition of Whole Foods.  While recognizing that Whole Foods’ employment policies were mainly “good marketing,” the Times described John Mackey, the Whole Food’s CEO, as having “perhaps the clearest articulation of a species of corporate messaging that emerged in the ’90s and took hold in the 2000s: that of the reluctant captain of industry, the community-minded national chain and the compassionate employer.”  In contrast, Amazon’s view of labor is similar to others in tech, particularly companies in the gig economy, which have helped “consumers grow comfortable with a software-mediated system wherein jobs are sliced into an endless series of assignments, with compensation negotiated wordlessly, instantly and without room for a second thought.”  Amazon, unlike Whole Foods, “has never put forth a rosy vision of the future of service labor.”  Read more here.

It was confirmed yesterday that Betty Dukes, the named plaintiff in the class-action Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Dukes, passed away earlier this month at her home in California.  The lawsuit accused Wal-Mart of paying women less than men in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Although the plaintiffs suffered a defeat at the Supreme Court when the Court in a 5-4 decision decertified the class, Dukes helped expose large retail chains treatment of low-wage workers.  Speaking about her aunt, Dukes’ niece, Rita Roland, stated “She was a voice fighting for equal rights and against racial and gender discrimination in the workplace.”  Read more here.

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