Today’s News And Commentary — January 19, 2016
Airport workers across the country demonstrated yesterday to call attention to their low wages. CBS New York reports that workers chose Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day because of injustice and inequality, and that in addition to New York there were protests in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago. According to The Boston Globe, the workers called for a $15 minimum wage and they were supported by the SEIU. KATU reports that the protesting workers in Portland, Oregon included “baggage handlers, ramp workers, janitors and other employees.”
A service employee in the United States Capitol also used MLK Day as a call to action. Writing in The Hill, Anthony Thomas describes how he feels stuck as a low-wage worker and how many federal contract workers struggle to make ends meet. He calls for a $15 minimum wage and a union, noting Dr. King’s ties to the labor movement. Thomas also theorizes that Dr. King would press President Obama to sign an executive order mandating the the $15 minimum wage and calling on the food service and janitorial contractors in the Capitol to agree to a labor accord.
Carwasheros in New York continue to fight for rights, as a law intended to protect them still has yet to be implemented. Writing for In These Times, Jean Stevens describes how the Car Wash Accountability Act set to regulate New York City’s car washes and combat chronic wage theft, underpayment and safety issues has been stalled by a lawsuit. Meanwhile, without a timeline for the implementation of regulations, workers continue to face exploitative and unsafe conditions.
Amazon faces legal action for its entry into the gig economy, and it may be considering the legal challenges to its use of independent contractor delivery drivers as a cost of doing business. Bloomberg reports that Amazon’s same-day delivery service utilizes independent contractor drivers, and that a California lawsuit alleges the drivers should be classified as employees.
Finally, The New York Times featured several letters to the editor in response to coverage of the Friedrichs oral arguments, in which readers reacted to several articles including Adam Liptak’s piece yesterday. All three published letters express disappointment with the probability the Court will rule for the petitioners, and cite the importance of unions for teachers and the middle class.