Today's News and Commentary – April 29
In Detroit, city officials have reached tentative agreements with local unions in the course of the city’s bankruptcy proceedings. The New York Times reports that the agreements’ terms are currently confidential and subject to ratification by union members. 14 unions, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, have reached these agreements, while other municipal unions, including those of the police and firefighters unions, have not.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Toyota has announced that it will move 3,000 jobs from its Southern California plant in Torrance to its new North American headquarters in Plano, Texas. Toyota is the last of three Japanese automakers to exit the state, following Nissan and Honda. Reuters reports that Toyota executive Jim Lentz stated that the move was based on Texas’s “friendly overall business climate and certain advantages for Toyota employees, from affordable housing and shorter commutes to the absence in Texas of a personal income tax.”
Phoenix’s city government is currently negotiating new, two-year labor contracts with unions representing nearly 14,000 civil servants. AZ Central reports that the city government has reached agreements that include pay and benefits cuts with both the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association and Local 777 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. The negotiations have become a source of controversy as the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association has demanded pay restorations after a five-year hiring freeze.
In the New York Times, about 1,500 protesters joined a rally in front of the White House protesting the Obama Administration’s deportation policies. 12 activists were arrested in the first of many protests planned for this week.
The Daily Mail and Wall Street Journal report that members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union initiated a 48 hour strike on the London Underground last night. RMT struck in response to plans to close all Tube ticket offices. Attempts at negotiations between the RMT and the London Underground management fell apart after only a few hours.
In the New York Times, Justin Wolfers questions “The Low-Wage Recovery,” a report recently published by the National Employment Law Project. The report focuses on growth in low-wage industries like retail trade. Wolfers argues that NELP’s methodology does not accurately capture growth and that high-wage industries have seen slightly higher growth than low-wage industries.
The Washington Examiner has published a series of articles in a special report entitled, “Out of Touch with America: Are Unions Obsolete?” The series includes an article arguing that public employees unions have contributed to increased state debt and an article connecting the United Auto Workers failure to unionize a Chattanooga plant in February with an overall decline in support for labor. It also features an opinion piece claiming that right-to-work laws offer “a new, democratic approach that give individual workers more options for representation while requiring greater accountability and transparency from their representatives.”