Today's News and Commentary — February 1, 2016

Published February 1st, 2016 -  - 02.01.16


According to the New York Times, the Ports of New Jersey and New York, the busiest port system on the East Coast, were closed after members International Longshoremen’s Association engaged in a surprise walk off around 10 a.m. Friday.  The ILA is currently under investigation by the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the US Attorney for New Jersey.  It is unclear who organized the walk off, however the union has issued statements that it was in response to what some members are calling “harassment” by the Waterfront Commission as well as interference with hiring provisions in the union’s contract.  The director of the Waterfront Commission has called the walk off “illegal and forbidden by the union’s collective bargaining agreement.”  The Wall Street Journal reports that operations resumed starting with the 7 p.m. shift on Friday.

In an effort to target the gender and race disparities in compensation, the Obama administration has proposed a reform to current EEOC reporting requirements, reports the Washington Post. The new rules would require businesses with over 100 employees to report salaries based on race, gender, and ethnicity. This data could support the EEOC in lawsuits against companies accused of discriminating on the basis of protected status and inform management and employees in salary negotiations. The EEOC intends to aggregate and publish the data yearly. While neither individual nor corporate identities would not be disclosed in these reports, if the EEOC pursues a lawsuit against a company on the basis of this data, the name of the company would become public knowledge. The Washington Post reports that this move is part of a continued effort on behalf of the Obama administration to diminish these types of pay disparities. The proposal does not need congressional approval and is expected to be approved by the Office of Budget Management.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers filed a lawsuit Friday against the Detroit Public Schools over deteriorating conditions in the facilities, according to the Detroit Free Press.  The DFT claims that problems such as mold, rodent infestations, and crumbling infrastructure present an immediate danger to student’s physical and mental health and deprive students of their constitutional right to a “minimally adequate education.”  This lawsuit comes on the heels of a ruling in favor of the Union on Monday in an injunction suit filed by the schools against DTF.  The suit unsuccessfully attempted to enjoin the teachers from engaging in “sick outs,” the largest of which, on January 20th, caused 88 of roughly 100 schools in the system to close.

Non-tenure-track faculty at USC have cast their votes and are awaiting results of a union drive which could create one of the largest faculty unions at a private university.  The LA Times reports that organization among adjunct faculty has become increasingly popular nationwide given faculty concerns over working conditions, particularly pay and job security.  Officials from the Service Employees International Union, who have been organizing at USC for the past year, have stated that both pay and job security may be improved if faculty vote to unionize.  The results of the vote will be announced Tuesday.

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