Today's News and Commentary — December 15
As Prof. Sachs recounts in more detail here, the NLRB on Friday issued a new final rule which allows the NLRB regional director responsible for elections to decide “which, if any, voter eligibility questions should be litigated before an election is held.” This marks a shift from prior practice under which voter eligibility questions had to be litigated prior to the election.
SFGate reports that on Saturday, restaurant workers at San Francisco International Airport returned to work after a two day strike led by UNITE HERE! Local 2. The union stated that the walk out was intended to send a message to the airport’s restaurants that they were determined to win job security protections and health care coverage. Union representatives hinted that such actions could continue during the busy holiday travel period.
According to the StarTribune, members of the International Association of Machinists Lodge 1947 approved a 5-year extension of their labor contract with Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac, WI. This Midwestern employer of 2,800 had openly discussed moving its manufacturing plant to Oklahoma, with the IAM offering concessions and local government offering incentives to convince them to stay.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Boeing and other Seattle-based companies, including Starbucks and Costco, have aggressively negotiated relationships with local medical providers to provide better care for their employees. Some medical centers, including Virginia Mason, have adopted Boeing’s quality assurance system to boost efficiency. This private-medical partnership represents a unique employee-centered step taken by these major, regional employers to improve healthcare while reducing costs.
In immigration news, the New York Times reports that five-thousand immigrants came to the largest convention center in Los Angeles yesterday to learn whether they qualify for President Obama’s executive action. Hundreds of activists also attended to discuss how to enroll the maximum number of people and try and stop Republicans from canceling the program.
According to the Washington Post, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) will move ahead this week with key executive branch nominations, including Sarah Saldaña to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Saldaña would be the first Latina to hold the position. She was initially considered a non-controversial nominee and had the support of Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) until she stated that President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration were legal.
In international news, a general strike in Belgium has shut down both air and rail traffic today. According to the Associated Press, the general strike capped a month of protests by trade unions against Belgium’s austerity measures. Actions have drawn over 120,000 protesters, with some striking workers starting fires at factory entrances to discourage others from working.
Reuters reports that Nigeria’s two main oil worker unions will begin an indefinite strike today, protesting the Nigerian government’s inability to reduce gasoline prices and maintain the country’s refineries. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) most recently threatened to strike last September.