Today’s News and Commentary – February 18
The New York Times editorial page’s “Room for Debate” section today features an extensive discussion of the UAW’s defeat in Chattanooga, including pieces by Mike Elk, Kate Bronfenbrenner, Linda Chavez, Stephen Silvia, union representatives, and workers from the Chattanooga plant.
The Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal report on labor leaders’ vows to continue efforts to organize in the South in the wake of the Chattanooga vote. The Journal notes that “the AFL-CIO has begun to partner with outside nonprofit groups and has tried to organize more low-wage service workers” and has “also announced a plan . . . to start focusing more on Southern organizing and politics, particularly in Texas, which last year had one-fourth as many union members as New York despite having 2.7 million more wage and salary employees.”
In Slate, Dave Weigel writes about the links between Chattanooga and the mayoral race in San Diego, where the Democratic candidate, David Alverez, lost despite receiving millions in campaign contributions from labor unions. The victorious Republican had repeatedly accused unions of “trying to buy the election.”
In the Washington Monthly, Ed Kilgore argues that the comments made by prominent Republicans in Tennessee regarding the union election at the Volkswagen plant suggest that they object to “the very existence of private-sector unions,” despite the fact that the right to form a union is protected by the National Labor Relations Act and unions have been “a familiar part of the American landscape for most of the last century.”
In other labor news, Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California Irvine School of Law, writes in the Orange County Register that the Supreme Court’s consideration of Harris v. Quinn represents a potentially “dire possibility for [public sector] unions: revers[al of] the 1977 decision and holding that no one can be required to pay the portion of dues that support the collective bargaining activities of the union.”
The Los Angeles Times reports on a union-backed effort to raise the minimum wage for workers in Los Angeles’ largest hotels. Several members of the Los Angeles City Council plan to introduce an ordinance today that would raise the minimum wage for workers at “87 hotels that have 100 rooms or more” to $15.37 an hour. The California state minimum wage is currently $8 an hour and is scheduled to increase to $9 an hour in July.
Finally, E.J. Dionne writes in the Washington Post that conservatives should support raising the minimum wage, as doing so “achieves many of the goals conservative politicians regularly extol,” including “promoting work over dependency, reducing the cost of social welfare programs, fostering economic growth and strengthening families.”