Today's News & Commentary – June 8, 2015
The New York Times reports that 350,000 childcare work days have been lost in Germany so far due to a strike that started in mid May. The strike initially began when an association of municipal employers refused to grant the Verdi services sector trade union’s demands for pay raises and changes to job descriptions for child care workers. Although the parties announced on Thursday that they would enter mediation to resolve the dispute, Verdi head, Frank Bsirske, has stated on Bavarian broadcasting that parents should urge communal employers to pay their childcare staff more, because “otherwise the strike could extend over weeks.”
The latest jobs report indicates that the U.S. added 380,000 jobs in May, better than the 225,000 that was expected, according to Wonkblog. The report indicated that the average hourly earnings for employees on private payrolls rose by 8 cents in May—a 2.3 percent increase from last May, making it the largest year-over-year increase since August 2013. The report also showed that long-term unemployment is trending down, with only 286 percent of the unemployed being out of work for 27 weeks or more—the lowest rate in six years. But as wages and jobs have increased, U.S. productivity fell in the first quarter, suggesting “our workers are doing less with more,” as Wonkblog hypothesizes.
On Friday, Chipotle announced that they would soon be offering sick days, paid vacation, and tuition reimbursement for all of its employees starting on July 1, Nation’s Restaurant News reports. While Chipotle has previously offered these benefits to salaried employees, they had not been extended to the chain’s hourly workers.
Following a series of strikes this year, Kaiser Permanente has reached a three-year agreement offering annual raises of 2 to 4 percent to 104,000 health-care employees. The contract covers workers in 28 local unions in eight states and Washington D.C. The agreement will also improve employee benefits, including dental benefits, life insurance, and tuition reimbursement programs. Once ratified this summer by union members and the national Kaiser Permanente leadership, the contract will cover 81,000 health care workers in California and more than 100,000 in the U.S.
Hillary Clinton told a conference of fast food workers on Sunday that she supported their campaign, saying, “I want to be your champion,” according to Politico. Clinton also expressed support for workers’ rights more generally, stating, “No man or woman who works hard to feed American families should have to be on food stamps to feed their own family.” Her address came on the heels of efforts to shore up union support through meetings with unions and taking a more liberal stance on immigration issues affecting undocumented workers.
Clinton has been joined by Gloria Steinem in her support for the fast-food workers’ movement. Steinem recently advocated for a $15-per-hour rate for fast-food workers to a board created by Cuomo to recommend a hike to the minimum wage for the fast food industry’s hourly workers. According to New York Daily News, Steinem urged the board, “Let’s be on the right side of history—and both sides of the counter, worker and customer—by raising wages for all fast-food workers across New York State.”