Today's News and Commentary – May 14
Tomorrow, fast food workers across the globe will go on strike in protest of low wages. One-day strikes have been organized in 30 countries and across 150 U.S. cities reports the Miami New Times. SFGate reports that walkouts in San Francisco and Oakland are scheduled at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr., Taco Bell, and Domino’s Pizza. The Japan Daily Press describes how the Service Employees International Union has coordinated the strikes across countries. In an interview with Bill Moyers, Josh Eidelson of Salon describes how recently uncovered internal National Restaurant Association documents reveal the industry’s concern with the campaign. In Fortune/CNN, Kate Bronfenbrenner of the Cornel University School of Industrial Labor Relations explains how a global strategy may be easier to pull off than nationwide strikes, as “places in South America or South Africa have a greater tradition of striking in solidarity than [the U.S. does.]” In the opinion pages of the Detroit News, Richard Berman argues that the strikes are “Potempkin Village protests led by national labor unions.”
The Associated Press reports that two miners were killed Monday night in an accident at a Patriot Coal-owned West Virginia mine. Mine Safety and Health Officials have designated Brody No. 1, a subsidiary of Patriot Coal, a pattern violator of safety and health standards. Killed were Gary P. Hensley, 46, and Eric D. Legg, 48.
The Washington Post reports that Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has called for opening the Thrift Savings Plan to all U.S. citizens. The Thrift Savings Plan is a defined-contribution retirement fund similar to a 401(k) available to federal civil servants as well as military personnel. Sen. Rubio’s plan was released in tandem with Social Security reform recommendations that would raise the retirement age, cap benefits, and waive payroll taxes for employees who continue to work past their retirement age. Sen. Rubio also announced a Medicare plan similar to the voucher program introduced by former Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI).
In the New York Times, young Tunisians express frustration as unemployment hits 30 percent despite the successes of the Arab Spring. The 2011 overthrow of President Ben Ali was motivated in part by unrest over joblessness. Protests continue outside the Gafsa phosphate mines, where in the most recent round of hiring, 30,000 people applied for just 2,700 spots.
The Wall Street Journal explains that British wages have grown quicker than consumer prices for the first time since 2009. Unemployment has reached its lowest mark as well. The Daily Mail reports that pressure is on for management to increase wages to adjust for inflation.