News & Commentary

August 14, 2013

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Department of Justice is suing to stop the merger of American Airlines and U.S. Airlines. If the merger goes through, more than 70% of the domestic market will be controlled by just four airlines. The Transport Workers Union of America, which represents workers at both airlines, expressed support for the merger, arguing it would improve wages and job security for workers at the airlines.

In other regulatory news, now that Secretary Tom Perez has been confirmed to lead the Labor Department, the Department may be able to release a whole range of safety regulations that had been held up years. The Associated Press reports that the Department is considering releasing pending regulations on workplace safety, including one on exposure to silica, and one that would allow nonunion employees to designate a union official to assist in workplace safety inspections. Other pending regulations pertain to wages for home health care workers, employment of disabled workers and veterans, and requiring employers “to disclose which attorneys and consultants they hire advise them during union organizing drives.”

In response to the recent fast-food worker strikes, in an opinion column, Matt Miller of the Washington Post strongly encourages President Obama to seize the moment and push hard for increased wages and better conditions for low-paid service workers. The author argues that because service jobs at fast-food restaurants can’t be outsourced, this industry is the perfect place to apply political pressure for increased wages.

In the Washington Post’s op-ed page, Katrina vanden Heuvel writes glowingly on “progressive champion” Bill de Blasio’s rise in the NYC mayoral race.  She provides an outline of de Blasio’s plans to reform the city’s public schools and ensure that workers are paid a living wage.

Some troubling news coming from the U.S. Postal Service, as USPS CFO Joseph Corbett reports that the struggling federal agency is operating with a “dangerously low level of cash.”  But as the Washington Post reports, labor groups continue to argue that ending the mandate that the USPS pre-fund future retiree health care benefits will remedy the USPS’s economic ills.

Talk about a big tent.  The Washington Post reports that evangelicals have joined forces with big business and labor unions, working across the country to push the House to move on comprehensive immigration reform.

Around the globe, the Washington Post reports that autoworkers at Hyundai, and the affiliated Kia Motors, in South Korea planned a walkout after negotiations with management collapsed. The Union spokesperson said they had failed to reach an agreement after three months of talks. Hyundai and Kia workers will vote next week to determine the length of the strike.

More locally, Politico reports that the AFL-CIO is planning on targeting state officials, especially in gubernatorial races, during the 2014 election. The gridlock in Washington means local policies, rather than federal ones, are playing a larger role in people’s day-to-day lives.

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