News & Commentary

January 18, 2016

Emily Miller

Emily Miller is a student at Harvard Law School.

According to the New York Times over 31,000 teachers employed by Detroit Public Schools called in sick to work in protest of deteriorating conditions at the schools, including what they referred to as “unsafe, crumbling, and vermin-infested” facilities. Although the action was neither ordered nor authorized by the union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, some teachers have hinted that this may lead to a full-fledged strike, to be discussed at the union meeting called for this Thursday.

The Department of Labor is investigating minimum wage increases in Portland, Maine and other cities for possible conflicts with the tip-credit provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The tip-credit provision allows employers to count employee tips against their minimum wage obligations up to a maximum of $5.12, reports the Portland Press Herald. Maine governor Paul LePage has recently come out against Portland’s increase of the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour as unlawful because the maximum tip-credit available to employers is insufficient to meet the new minimum wage. This is the first challenge of its kind to be mounted against local increases in state and local minimum wages, which have recently been enacted in Nebraska, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C..

In the face of challenges to fair-share fees for public sector unions following Friedrichs, the Washington Post reports that the potential impact of Freidrichs on police union membership may be fairly limited. Incentives for police officers to join the union, even in states with right-to-work laws, may be elevated in the wake of recent controversy surrounding police misconduct.  One potential reason cited is that the union provides legal representation for members accused of misconduct in arbitration proceedings.

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