Today’s News and Commentary–November 12
National Public Radio‘s “The Takeaway” today featured an interview with Professor Ben Sachs about Mulhall and Harris – the two major labor cases at the Supreme Court this Term – and “why these rulings will be so important for the future of unions.”
The New York Times reports that New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio faces a “potentially explosive issue” when he assumes office in that the contracts for hundreds of thousands of municipal workers expired several years ago, and city unions are calling for $7 billion in retroactive pay raises. Although de Blasio is “a favorite of the city’s unions,” he will face challenges in providing more generous contracts as “the city faces an anticipated $2 billion deficit next year.”
In the Midwest, the New York Times reports that the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of a controversial 2011 law supported by Governor Scott Walker that eliminated or curtailed collective bargaining for most public employees. The law “has been challenged by a teachers union in Madison and by a labor group representing employees of the city of Milwaukee” who “contend that the measure violates freedom of association rights and equal protection of the law by subjecting unionized public employees to burdens not faced by their nonunion colleagues.”
Salon reports that Seattle-area Wal-Mart workers plan to mount a walkout today, which will lead up to a “larger day of strikes and protests planned for Black Friday.” Salon also reports that janitorial workers in the Twin Cities who clean stores for Target and other corporations will announce today that they are also joining the Black Friday strike. These actions are backed by “the non-worker group OUR Walmart, which is closely tied to the United Food & Commercial Workers union.”
In international news, the Wall Street Journal reports that a striking worker at one of Nestle’s factories in Colombia was shot and killed this weekend. Nestle has asked the Colombian government to investigate the murder. The Journal notes that “[t]he killing of the union member comes two weeks after two U.S. lawmakers released a report that said most antiunion violence continues to go unpunished in Colombia, despite a Labor Action Plan agreed to in 2011 between Colombia and the U.S. as part of the Free Trade Agreement that took effect last year.”
And finally, In These Times provides an in-depth examination of the activism among fast food workers, including issues surrounding the involvement of unions like the SEIU, and discusses potential paths forward for the campaign. We covered these developments today as well.