News & Commentary

August 14, 2014

Time Magazine reports that youth employment for ages 16 to 24 has increased by 2.1 million this summer to a total of 20.1 million. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released yesterday, 25 percent of youth positions are in the leisure and hospitality industries, which include fast food, while another 19 percent are in retail.

The California State Assembly is considering a law that would make it harder for franchisor companies like McDonald’s to end licensing agreements with franchisees. MSNBC reports that the SEIU, a major backer of international fast food worker strikes, is supporting the bill on the theory that protecting franchisees from the threat of closure will facilitate wage increases. The International Franchise Association has come out in opposition to the bill, stating that if a union like the SEIU were to unionize a single franchisee, it could “use it as a bargaining chip to negotiate with the franchisor.”

According to the Stranger, a local Seattle newspaper, the National Restaurant Association and five other business groups have filed an amicus brief supporting the International Franchise Association’s lawsuit to block provisions of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law. The law established two separate tracks for the rate at which businesses must implement wage increases. Businesses that employ over 500 workers are designated as “large” and must make the increase by 2017. “Small” employers with under 500 workers have until 2021. The IFA argues that franchises have been misclassified as large employers, unfairly aggregating franchisors’ employees rather than examining individual, independently managed franchises.

The New York Post reports that the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, a New York City police union, is seeking to intervene in the Second Circuit stop-and-frisk case, Floyd v. City of New York. The PBA seeks to intervene after the Appeals Court remanded to the District Court for the parties to discuss settlement. After Mayor de Blasio took office, the police union has expressed concern that the City is not adequately representing their interests in the suit. The PBA’s filing argues that there is precedent for police unions intervening in the Ninth Circuit, where the Los Angeles Police Department’s union felt the city was not adequately defending its search policies.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Virgin America flight attendants have voted to join the Transport Workers Union (TWU). Prior to this vote, Virgin, which filed to go public last month, was the largest non-union U.S. carrier. This vote comes on the heels of significant airline labor developments. In April, pilots with JetBlue, then the largest non-union U.S. carrier, voted to join the Air Line Pilots Association. JetBlue’s flight attendants are currently organizing to win TWU representation.

In sports news, baseball team owners are set to vote today on Major League Baseball’s newest commissioner. A search commission narrowed the field to three finalists, Rob Manfred, current commissioner Bud Selig’s handpicked successor, Tom Werner, former director of development for ABC and owner of the Boston Red Sox, and Tim Brosnan, who has worked for the MLB since 1991. The New York Times reports that some owners oppose Manfred’s appointment, arguing that he has not driven a hard enough line in labor disputes. Manfred was outside counsel for the MLB during the damaging 1994 strike. Since 1998, he has overseen collective bargaining negotiations in 2002, 2006, and 2011. During this period, the MLB, unlike the national football, basketball, and hockey leagues, has experience no work stoppages.

According to DCist, District of Columbia city councilwoman and mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser has received the endorsement of District Council 20 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the largest union representing D.C. government employees. A day earlier, she received the endorsement of the AFL-CIO.

The New York Daily News reports that Times Square costumed characters are meeting with local immigrant advocacy group, La Fuente, to discuss unionization. The costume characters pose for photos with tourists in exchange for tips. Last Saturday, the New York Police Department circulated fliers advising tourists that tipping was unnecessary. NYP Chief Bill Bratton has also back legislation in the city council requiring the characters to register with the city.

In international news, Bloomberg reports on new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to dismantle the nation’s complicated labor law. The article argues that India’s forty-four separate labor laws amount to confusing and overly burdensome regulation restraining growth. Meanwhile, 94 percent of Indian workers work in the informal sector, unprotected by these regulations. As national level reform would prove difficult, Prime Minister Modi is supporting individual state’s efforts to pass new laws.

Enjoy OnLabor’s fresh takes on the day’s labor news, right in your inbox.