Today's News and Commentary — May 20
When New York University undertook to build a campus in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, it issued a “statement of labor values” to guarantee that its workers were treated fairly. Despite that statement, however, the New York Times reports that the construction workers who built the Abu Dhabi campus faced harsh conditions, unpaid wages, physical violence, and retaliation for strikes. In the wake of the Times’ article, the University issued an apology to any mistreated workers. N.Y.U.’s president, John Sexton, called the treatment of workers described in the article, “if true as reported, troubling and unacceptable.”
The Associated Press reports that as the U.S. economy has improved since the Great Recession, many new jobs have been filled by temporary “contract” workers. Whereas in the past, such jobs “tended to rise during recessions and recede during recoveries,” in the past several years “[p]art time workers have accounted for more than 10 percent of U.S. job growth.” This trend has some economists worried, since contract workers contribute less to the economy than full-time, permanent workers.
According to the Wall Street Journal, aluminum giant Alcoa has agreed to a new five-year deal with the United Steelworkers Union that will cover 6,100 workers at 10 plants. Despite a downturn in the global aluminum market, the deal has generally been perceived as highly favorable to the union. Steve Morris, the president of USW Local 309, which represents many of the company’s workers, said that “since 2001, this is the best deal we’ve had.”
The Huffington Post reports that a former cheerleader for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers sued the team Monday, claiming that its pay practices violate the Fair Labor Standards Act. This is the latest in a series of such suits; in recent months cheerleaders have leveled similar claims against the New York Jets, The Cincinnati Bengals, the Buffalo Bills, and the Oakland Raiders.