Today’s News and Commentary — August 12
The New York Times reports on an unusual development in a rumbling nation-wide public pension crisis. Bryan Jeffries – chief of Arizona’s firefighters’ association – has urged fellow firefighters and state police officers to voluntarily cut their own benefits. Cutting pensions for firefighters and police officers, Jeffries argues, “would help save their woefully underfunded retirement plan and bail out towns and cities that are struggling to keep up with their mandated contributions.”
The Boston Globe continues coverage of the Market Basket shut down, discussing the uniqueness of the now three-week long strike. Not only has the dispute placed employees on the same side as ousted management: the strike has taken place in absence of a union. “In one of the highest-profile worker movements in years — and in one of the most union-friendly states in the country — organized labor is on the sidelines.”
The New York Times reports that the Metropolitan Opera has set a new deadline for reaching an agreement with its unions. The Met has threatened to lock out workers if they fail to agree to concessions, and a final agreement must be reached by Sunday. Opera season is set to open in a month.
The Wall Street Journal reports on a new coalition that seeks to help employees exit unions, rather than enter them. The coalition, which includes 79 groups in 44 states, recently kicked off its second annual “National Employee Freedom Week.” Unions often require a particular method and time of year for workers to drop membership. Though unions say this information is clearly communicated, National Employee Freedom Week spokespersons believe that many union members do not leave because they “either don’t know they can or forget when and how to do it.”
The Washington Post profiles Lily Eskelsen García, incoming president of the largest labor union in the country, the National Education Association.
The Seattle Times called for the State of Washington to open its collective bargaining process to the public, arguing that the “public needs to know if the state drives a hard bargain with its public-employee unions.”