Today's News and Commentary–May 12
According to the New York Times, Lynn R. Williams passed away last week at the age of 89. Mr. Williams was the president of the United Steel Workers from 1983 until 1994. During his tenure, he helped steel workers weather layoffs and convinced the steel industry to be more transparent about its financial situation (so that the union could bargain more effectively).
The Washington Post reports that, on Saturday, 2,000 service workers rallied at Johns Hopkins Hospital and demanded higher wages. Some workers say that they have been living in poverty and relying on food stamps to make ends meet.
According to the Wall Street Journal, thousands of workers at the three largest airports serving New York City have signed unionization cards. The cards will be counted today at Riverside Church in Manhattan. If enough people have signed cards, the workers will be able to vote to decide whether they would like to be represented by the 32BJ Service Employees International Union.
The Washington Post notes that, earlier today, workers went on strike at U.S.-owned Caltex gas stations in Cambodia. The workers are seeking higher wages and day care facilities for their children, among other things. According to one of the strike leaders, at least 250 employees have stopped work, forcing 17 of Cambodia’s 26 Caltex stations to suspend operations.
The Washington Post reports that Reiner Hoffmann was just elected to lead the German Trade Union Confederation— an umbrella organization that represents German unions in discussions with government authorities, political parties, employers’ organizations and others. Mr. Hoffman says that he will push the government to set a national minimum wage in the near future, and will try to make union membership more attractive to younger workers.
Finally, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board argues that school reform is difficult to achieve because teachers’ unions have “learned to wait out reformers until one of their allies gets back into political power.” In New York City, for example, the teachers’ union “refused to negotiate for five years” with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. And now, the union has reached a new contract with Mayor Bill de Blasio. The editorial board suggests that this contract will cost taxpayers more and reduce teacher accountability.