Today’s News and Commentary — June 25
On the Wall Street Journal opinion page, Steve Caldeira (President of the International Franchise Association) argues that many of the new higher minimum wage ordinances are unfair to franchises. Caldeira writes that in Seattle, “at the request of the SEIU, the city council and mayor classified franchisees not as the small, locally owned businesses they are, but as giant corporations.” This matters because in many cases, as in Seattle’s minimum wage bill, large companies (more than 500 employees) have three years to phase-in the increase to $15/hour, while small business get seven years to phase-in the increase. Caldeira thinks this arbitrarily discriminates against small business simply because they are franchises.
The New York Times reports that in the new contract negotiations for Long Island Rail Road workers, union leaders are skeptical that the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s latest offer is really “everything [the unions have] asked for,” as the MTA claims. While MTA offered workers 17% raises over seven years, the union claims that it requested the raises over six years, not seven, and that under the MTA’s offer, for the first time employees would be required to contribute 2% of their salaries to their health care plans. The railroad workers voted in February to approve a strike, and they have still not ruled it out: the Times reports that it could happen as early as July 20.
Politico reports that several top former Obama aides will lead a new nationwide campaign to challenge teacher tenure, seniority, and other job protections that are championed by teachers’ unions. The Incite Agency, founded by former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and former Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, will lead the effort, which will proceed through litigation and a major public relations push. The move is said to highlight the schism within the Democratic Party over education reform: “Teachers unions have long counted on Democrats as their most loyal allies. But in the past decade, more and more big-name Democrats have split with the unions to support charter schools, tenure reform and accountability measures that hold teachers responsible for raising students’ scores on standardized tests.”
On the New York Times Taking Note blog, Lawrence Downes reports that “Representative Luis Gutierrez, the Illinois Democrat, took the House floor this morning and declared the end of immigration reform.” Because of the July 4 recess and the upcoming midterm elections, Downes thinks the prospects for immigration reform are “dead, for the foreseeable future.”