News & Commentary

August 28, 2013

Leading off, a couple of Washington Post op-ed’s may be of particular interest to readers:

Martin Luther King III reflects on Saturday’s rally at DC’s National Mall to commemorate the passage of 50 years since his father, Dr. King, led the ’63 March on Washington.  MLK III argues that the theme of the ’63 March, “Jobs and Freedom,” resonates today as the nation grapples with high jobless rates.  He argues that “if we truly want a strong and secure middle class, we must restore the ability of labor unions to organize and represent working people.”

Meanwhile, Harold Meyerson explores the parallels between the anticipated walk-out by minimum wage workers this Thursday and the emphasis on economic egalitarianism at the ’63 March.  He views the planned walk-out as a “demonstrat[ion] for the kind of economic justice to which march leaders and participants were showing their commitment when they came to the Mall 50 years ago.”

In a New York Times op-ed, history professor William Jones examines what modern proponents of “economic justice” can learn from those who marched on Washington in 1963 in “a political environment not so different from our own.”  Jones contends that the ’63 March galvanized support for economic policy changes through a “combination of institutional backing, coalition building and ambitious demands . . . .”

More details are emerging on the disputed union election at NBCU-owned Peacock Productions, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.  Peacock has explained that  “[a]s is part of the normal process,” the company will not tally votes in the election until the NLRB finishes reviewing whether Peacock employees are supervisors who aren’t entitled to rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

In a profile of Representative Steve Pearce (R-NM), the New York Times examines the challenges and possibilities of immigration reform in the GOP-controlled House.  Pearce, a self-described “border-state pragmatist” who represents a predominately Hispanic district, supports a guest worker program for those in the country illegally but opposes a path to citizenship. 

In international news, with the school year fast approaching, thousands of unionized Mexican teachers have blockaded roads and established a tent city in the Mexican capital’s main square to protest proposed public-school reforms.  The Wall Street Journal reports that the reforms would make teacher evaluations mandatory and allow for the dismissal of poorly performing teachers.

Closer to home, the Washington Post is reporting that DC Mayor Vincent Gray is expected to have a controversial “living wage” bill on his desk by the end of the week.  The bill would require retailers with sales of $1 billion or more and who operate stores that are 75,000+ square feet to pay DC employees at least $12.50 an hour, a sizable premium over the city’s $8.25 minimum wage.  Opponents of the bill argue that it will deter badly needed businesses, like Wal-Mart and Wegmans, from setting up shop in DC.

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