Today's News and Commentary – March 18
The Wall Street Journal reports that prominent sports labor lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, who “helped bring free agency to the NFL and has worked with the NFL and NBA players unions,” is suing the NCAA for antitrust violations, claiming “that the NCAA illegally caps players’ compensation at an athletic scholarship rather than allowing the open market to set the athlete’s value.” The suit, which seeks class-action status, “was filed on behalf of current football and basketball players, and it names the NCAA and college sports’ five most prominent conferences as defendants.”
The Washington Post reports on today’s gubernatorial primary in Illinois, where “organized labor came together to spend big money trying to prevent former private equity executive Bruce Rauner from winning the GOP nomination.” The Post concludes that “their effort looks like it is on the verge of falling short.” Rauner has said that public unions are “organized against the public good.” The Post also notes that “[l]abor has also tried to boost state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R), Rauner’s closest competitor and an opponent of a key pension reform law.”
The New York Times reports on “several small but growing programs started within the last year to help highly educated and accomplished women . . . return to jobs they left in finance and at law firms to care for children or aging parents.”
A Wall Street Journal editorial criticizes the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division’s tactics regarding minimum-wage violations in Oregon – specifically because the Labor officials “ordered [several blueberry] growers to pay back wages and penalties and asked them to sign away any right to appeal the deal.” The Journal highlights the fact that “Oregon magistrate judge Thomas M. Coffin ruled for the growers,” finding that in order “to avoid the potential loss of millions of dollars worth of berries, defendants had to agree to the DOL’s allegations without an opportunity to present a defense or confront the DOL’s evidence in an administrative or court hearing.” The Department has appealed Coffin’s ruling.
At Salon, Josh Eidelson reports that New York City Public Advocate Letitia James today “will announce a four-part proposal to tackle alleged rampant wage theft in the fast food industry: Creation of an anonymous whistleblower hotline for workers to report wage theft; expansion of city agencies’ authority to investigate wage theft; convening of City Council hearings at which McDonald’s’ CEO and franchisees would be invited and then questioned by councilmembers; and urgings that the McDonald’s Corporation amend its franchisee agreements to create a mechanism to punish those that don’t follow the law.”
Finally, the Washington Post reports that factories “unexpectedly post[ed] their biggest output gains since last summer and help[ed] overall industrial production reverse a weather-related January decline,” according to Federal Reserve data. The Post observes that “[t]he jump was the largest since August” and “[a]uto factories were a big factor in the rise, with output of motor vehicles and parts increasing 4.8 percent last month after dropping 5.2 percent in January.”