Today's News and Commentary — June 4
In San Francisco, transit drivers have called in sick for a third straight day following the overwhelming rejection of a proposed labor agreement on Friday in what the San Francisco Chronicle describes as a “sickout.” According to the Chronicle, the “grassroots action is a loophole around a city law banning Muni employees from striking.” The president of the union representing the drivers said Tuesday that “the union has no part in what’s going on” and therefore cannot call it off.. The Associated Press reports that the rejected contract would have required workers to pick up the tab for pension payments currently paid by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
The New York City Teachers’ Union voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to approve a new nine-year labor contract, according to the New York Times. While some members expressed misgivings about certain provisions of the deal, particularly those addressing retroactive raises and reductions in health care costs, the contract ultimately “passed with over 77 percent of the roughly 90,000 votes cast.” The contract is widely expected to serve as a model for several other municipal unions in their negotiations with the City.
The Associated Press reports that the Michigan state legislature has approved $195 million to head off drastic cuts to the pensions of Detroit retirees and city workers. The grant of funds, which “is being hailed as a major step forward in ending the largest public bankruptcy in U.S. history,” will also allow Detroit to avoid selling a publicly owned art collection that some have valued in excess of $1 billion.
In immigration news, President Obama this week ordered FEMA to lead a relief effort in response to a “surge in unaccompanied children crossing the South Texas border illegally.” The New York Times reports that over 47,000 children travelling without parents have been apprehended since October 1, “a 92 percent increase over the same period in 2013.” The sharp rise in children crossing the border illegally has created a humanitarian crisis, as officials scramble to locate relatives to take charge of the minors.