Today's News and Commentary — July 2
In an advisory opinion issued Monday, an independent hearing officer ruled that Los Angeles violated labor laws when it moved to roll back pension benefits for future city workers without negotiating with the unions who would represent those workers, reports the Los Angeles Times. The city argued that because the changes would only affect future workers, they fell outside of the unions’ purview. The hearing officer called the city’s distinction between current and future workers “frivolous.” The city’s Employee Relations Board will consider the advisory opinion on July 28.
After Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley intervened to stop a planned strike, the SEIU has resumed talks with Johns Hopkins Hospital, where it represents over 2000 workers, according to the Associated Press. The primary sticking point has been the minimum wage for all hospital workers. While the union is asking for $14 per hour, the hospital has been unwilling to offer more than $12.25.
The Wall Street Journal reports on the benefits that Chinese workers have reaped from the rapid growth of the Chinese auto industry. In parts of China, wages for auto workers are as much as 17.6% higher than other manufacturing wages in the same area. According to the paper, the “explosive growth of China’s auto industry during the past 20 years has helped to lift tens of thousands . . . into the middle class.”
The Huffington Post reports that the staff of Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog organization, has voted “overwhelmingly” in favor of unionization. Media Matters had previously been criticized for resisting the unionization effort, but in the run-up to the election the organization pledged neutrality, “ a move that was applauded by pro-union workers.”