Today's News and Commentary — May 1
The New York Times reports that New York City is nearing a nine-year agreement with the Teacher’s union. The United Federation of Teachers has been in a five-year dispute with the city over nearly $3 billion dollars in back pay they believe the city owes. This agreement would resolve that dispute and include a retroactive pay increase of nearly 8% paid out slowly over several years, as well as annual raises of up to 2%, and “substantial savings for the city” on health coverage.
The Senate confirmed David Weil as the head of the Department of Labor’s wage and hour division on Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal. The division enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act (which governs minimum wage and overtime), as well as the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Journal sharply criticized Weil’s credentials, describing him as “big labor’s” man at the Department.
The Washington Post reports that Senate Republicans filibustered a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10. The filibuster prevented the Senate from considering the legislation on Wednesday. According to the Post, although Democrats pledge to reintroduce the bill, it’s unclear when they would have time to do so before the 2014 midterm elections.
Media Matters, a left-leaning media watchdog group, is in a contentious labor dispute with its employees, according to Politico and the SEIU. According to the SEIU, the employees asked Media Matters to recognize the union via card check, but Media Matters declined and instead opted for an NLRB election. The employees feel “betrayed,” according to their statement, given that Media Matters is a vocal supporter of unionization and card check at other companies. According to Politico, Media Matter’s Vice President Angelo Carsuone said they don’t oppose unionization and there’s “more to the story.”
Activists continue to pressure the White House on immigration policy, even if the chance of Congressional action are low, according to the New York Times. On Wednesday, union officials projected a short video urging the President to reduce deportations onto the side of AFL-CIO headquarters. The make-shift movie screen is 90 by 60 feet and two blocks away from the White House. The movie will run on loop in the evenings through Friday.
In other immigration news, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that some undocumented immigrants are eligible for in-state tuition at Virginia’s colleges and universities, according to the Times. Virginia residents who qualify for the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), like students in 18 other states, are now eligible for the in-state rates. Lawsuits are pending in Arizona and Georgia seeking in-state tuition for students have qualified for Deferred Action.
The New York Times reports on an ongoing lawsuit by Allstate Insurance sales representative against the insurer. The agents are claiming age discrimination (which is prohibited by he Age Discrimination in Employment Act) and are seeking class certification. But beyond the merits, this case highlights a major hurdle in employment discrimination suits: to stay in their jobs, the employees were required to waive their right to sue Allstate. Such waivers are common in employment contracts, and may contribute to the low rate of success in employment discrimination cases—28% as compared to 45% of all other civil cases.