News & Commentary

August 22, 2013

More details are emerging about the planned nationwide walk-out of fast food workers on August 29th.  MoneyWatch reports that the call for the walk out came from a PR agency whose clientele includes both the Service Employees International Union and United Food & Commercial Workers.  Supporters of the strike maintain that workers are underpaid, while opponents point to razor-thin franchisee profit margins.

Citing rising costs, UPS will join a growing number of employers in cutting off health benefits to spouses of employees who can get coverage through their own employers.  But, as noted by both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, the cuts will fall solely on the UPS’s non-unionized white-collar employees; union contracts protect the ability of UPS’s blue-collar employees to insure working spouses through the current UPS plan.

The Catholic Church is wading into the immigration debate to urge passage of legislation that provides a path to citizenship.  As the New York Times reports, churches across the country will offer a coordinated message during immigration-focused Masses on September 8th.  The Masses will be the cornerstone of a broader Church campaign to provide House Republicans and wavering Democrats with a religious rationale to support reform.

The Los Angeles Times reports that actor Ned Vaughn, executive VP of Hollywood’s actors union, SAG-AFTRA, will resign his position and run as a Republican candidate for California’s state legislature.  In the piece, Vaughn discusses how his work in SAG-AFTRA squares with his Republican principles, and rejects the “idea that all Republicans are completely anti-union.”

In more GOP news, Karl Rove weighs in on Republican proposals for providing accessible and affordable health coverage for workers.  Writing in the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page, Rove praises a proposal by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) to make health insurance portable, allowing workers to take their plans with them job to job.

In a profile of Greeley Colorado’s meatpacking industry, the Wall Street Journal provides a glimpse into the human side of the immigration reform debate.  The article raises questions about how immigration reform will affect both American workers and the broader economy, and the role of unions in protecting wages in the face of a bigger labor pool.

Also on the immigration front, the Wall Street Journal analyzes the issue of H-1B visa reform.  While startups decry the cost and complexity of sponsoring foreign workers for H-1B visas—temporary work permits for highly skilled workers—tech giants such as Microsoft and Intel are pushing Congress to raise the cap on H-1B visas, claiming a lack of highly-skilled American workers to fill jobs in programming and engineering.

The Washington Post  reports that labor groups are expressing concern over a ruling by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit barring the Merit Systems Protection Board—the body that hears federal employee appeals of adverse personnel actions—from hearing claims brought by “noncritical sensitive” employees.  American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox argues that the appeals court “dismissed…the due process rights of tens of thousands of current and future federal workers.”

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