News & Commentary

June 30, 2014

The Washington Post offers a brief summary of today’s impending Harris v. Quinn Supreme Court decision. The issue at stake is whether unions representing employees in local and state government jobs may deduct fees from the paychecks of non-union members in their bargaining unit. Politico, Reuters, and the Chicago Tribune feature commentary from Prof. Sachs. This blog has covered the case extensively including here, herehereherehere, and here.

According to the Allentown Morning Call, in reaction to the impending decision, Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Arizona are engaged in a debate over so-called “paycheck protection” legislation. These bills would prevent unions representing government employees from deducting dues from non-members’ paychecks.

NPR features a story discussing the federal tipped minimum wage. While the federal minimum wage has been raised to $7.25 over the last two decades, the minimum for tipped workers has remained at $2.13 an hour since 1991. This means that employers are required to pay a base rate of $2.13 an hour with the rest made up in tips. Pursuant to federal law, if the tipped workers overall earnings do not reach $7.25 an hour, the employer is required to make up the difference. However, in practice, it is difficult for employers to keep track of hourly earnings and even more difficult for authorities to enforce. The story highlights Brand 158, a Glendale, CA restaurant that has eliminated tipping.

The Los Angeles Times reports that President Obama has requested that Congress approve $2 billion in emergency funding to increase border security and detain unaccompanied children entering the United States without papers. The funding would include a streamlined process for deporting the children, permanently altering their due process rights. If passed, this funding would be the only immigration proposal that has actually made it through both the House and Senate during the last year and a half of comprehensive immigration reform debate.

The Associated Press reports that transit bus employees represented by Teamsters Local 533 in Reno, Nevada have voted to strike. The MV Transportation’s employees’ contract expires tonight at midnight.

In the Press Enterprise, an administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that it was illegal for a San Diego County casino to ban its employees from wearing pins declaring their support for UNITE-HERE.

The New York Times features a brief story on Louis Fabiano, a “terminal appearance attendant” at Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Fabiano is charged with polishing the fingerprints and smudges of the train station daily visitors off of handrails, doors, mailbox’s and the terminal’s famous brass clock.

In international news, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India plans a massive overhaul of the country’s labor laws according to Reuters. The changes are expected to follow a path of economic liberalization that favors smaller government and less regulation. India’s labor unions are expected to fight the changes.

The Global Post reports that the Lao government is debating an increase in the Southeast Asian country’s minimum wage. The current minimum is 626,000 Lao kip a month, or $77.93 U.S. dollars. The reforms hope to increase the wage to 800,000 Lao kip a month, or $99.59 U.S. dollars.

The Associated Press reports that a 24-hour strike in Belgium has shut down train service throughout the country. According to Deutsche Welle, the strike was called by the CGSP, the rail union, which argues that hiring is not proportional to staff departures.

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