Today's News and Commentary – August 4
The Metropolitan Opera’s battle with it’s two labor unions continues – after threatening to lock out its workers if it did not reach deals with its labor unions by Sunday night, management said on Saturday evening that it would extend its current contracts for about a week while an independent analyst examined its finances. The Wall Street Journal reports that hiring the independent analyst has postponed the lockout for a week while the analyst “prepares a confidential, nonbinding report on the Met’s books.” The New York Times reports that “the independent analyst could help the unions and management come to an agreement on the scope of the company’s financial troubles.”
The New York Times reports that workers’ advocates in New Jersey are pressing for paid sick leave mandatory for businesses on a city-by-city basis. Rather than waiting for state lawmakers to pass a state-wide bill, the coalition, led by the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, is “pushing for local ordinances, with the one that Newark enacted this year as a model.” If all six of the municipalities where the question could come on the ballot passed laws similar to Newark’s, the number of workers in the state with the benefit could double to about 140,000 before the end of the year, said Analilla Mejia, the executive director of the Working Families Party in New Jersey.
The New York City pension system is “strained by costs and politics,” The New York Times reports. The article reports that “next year alone, [New York City] will set aside for pensions more than $8 billion, or 11 percent of the budget. That is an increase of more than 12 times from the city’s outlay in 2000, when the payments accounted for less than 2 percent of the budget. But instead of getting smaller, the city’s pension hole just keeps getting bigger, forcing progressively more significant cutbacks in municipal programs and services every year.” Outside of pure economics, costly pension deals with public sector unions and many conflicting personalities complicate the situation for Mayor Bill de Blasio.
In immigration news, the Los Angeles Times reports that “illnesses and unsanitary conditions exist at some detention centers for immigrant mothers and children along the Southwest border, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general says.” Inspectors made 87 unannounced visits to 63 sites from July 1 to 15 – though there was not misconduct or inappropriate conduct by DHS employees during the unannounced site visits, there were some violations found, like children staying beyond the 72-hour temporary housing limit and detainees not receiving enough food. The article reports that “in some instances, Homeland Security employees were buying food with their own money for the immigrants, the report said. Workers also were donating toys, games and clothing.”