News & Commentary

April 3, 2014

In political news, yesterday in McCutcheon v. FEC the Supreme Court eliminated the overall limit on the amount of money any one person can give to a political candidate or party.  The 5-4 decision broke along predictable conservative versus liberal lines.  The New York Times, Washington PostWall Street Journal, and SCOTUSblog all have coverage.

The Los Angeles Times reports that 20 students were arrested at University of California Santa Cruz on Wednesday for blocking an entrance to campus during a strike.  UAW Local 2865 represents 13,000 graduate student teaching assistants and tutors, and has been negotiating a new contract with the university since this summer.  The union called the strike to protest growing class sizes and increasing workloads, as well as alleged unfair labor practices, including threats to fire union members who went on strike, according to local KSBW news.  Coordinated strikes were also planned at UC Berkley.

The New York Times has a long profile of the SEIU’s campaign to unionize employees at Pittsburgh’s largest employer: the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  SEIU argues that the Medical Center should be a leader in how it treats it workers, much like how steel companies in Pittsburgh were leaders in labor relations.  According to the Times, the Medical Center argues that it pays its medical staff and service workers fairly, and above market for the region.

Former football players for Northwestern University’s football team met with Members of Congress on Wednesday to support the players’ push to unionize, according to the Washington Post.  As we’ve previously covered, the regional NLRB office recently held that football players at Northwestern are employees of the university, and therefore have the right to unionize.  A spokesperson for the NLRB announced that the players’ unionization vote is on April 25, according to the Post.

The National Urban League is releasing a report income inequality and race today, according to the New York Times.  The report found black Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed than white Americans; Hispanic Americans are slightly more likely to be unemployed than white Americans.

In Germany, unionized pilots at Lufthansa airline began a 3-day strike, according to the New York Times.  The strike is a result of several months of slow negotiations over pay and retirement age.  Although an estimated 900 flights were cancelled, the airline reported calm scenes at airports – because the union gave more than the required 48-hours notice, Lufthansa was able to notify and re-book passengers, according to the Times.  But, the Times reports, public reaction to this strike may be negative because of its how disruptive the strike is, and pilots’ already high salaries.



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