Today’s News and Commentary — May 7
A group of international union representatives met in New York yesterday to plan another round of day-long protests at fast-food restaurants — this time across the United States and around the world. The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the Washington Post report that the unions are planning the protests as a follow-on to the fast-food protests begun in New York in 2012, which led to a nationwide push for a $15-per-hour minimum wage. The demonstrations are expected to take place on May 15 in over 30 countries.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers are asking the Obama administration to exempt fast-food restaurants on military bases from his executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10 per hour, the Washington Post reports. The lawmakers are concerned that because federal contracts restrict the prices concessioners can charge on military bases, the executive order might drive them away from operating on bases.
In California, lawmakers have introduced a bill to regulate employers’ increasing use of long-term temporary workers, or “perma-temps,” the Los Angeles Times reports. The bill, which is widely backed by labor unions and modeled off of similar legislation in Illinois and Massachusetts, would make both labor contractors and client companies jointly liable for payment of wages, accurate reporting of hours, wages, benefits, and insurance. The purpose of the bill is to prevent companies from relying on temporary workers to avoid minimum-wage and maximum-hour labor laws, although opponents argue that the bill would make companies responsible for lapses beyond their control.
Yesterday, the Obama administration announced plans to allow the spouses of highly trained immigrants to work in the United States, the New York Times reports. Currently, the spouses of immigrants on temporary H-1B visas — who number in the hundreds of thousands — are not allowed to work in the United States. The new proposal would authorize the spouses of H-1B visa-holders who have applied for a green card to work.
The Labor Department announced today that the United States productivity rate dropped 1.7 percent between January and March, the Washington Post reports. The Department attributes the decline to unusually harsh winter weather, as factory output and retail sales have increased since temperatures increased.