Today’s News and Commentary

A coalition of Missouri labor unions filed a lawsuit on Wednesday challenging a new state law that makes state employees easier to fire. Under Missouri’s merit system, most state employees are hired and retained according to standardized, performance-based criteria. The unions say the law, which reclassifies an estimated 25,000 state workers as at-will employees, violates workers’ collective bargaining rights. In August, Missouri voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure which would have barred compulsory private-sector union fees, blocking a 2017 right-to-work law passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature. 

Anaheim’s City Attorney issued a report this week saying that an Anaheim ballot initiative to raise wages would not actually apply to Disney employees whom the measure was intended to benefit. If passed, Measure L would require Anaheim employers who receive city subsidies to pay workers a minimum of $15 an hour in 2019, with annual increases that would be tied to the cost of living by 2022. In June, the Anaheim City Council put the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot after a petition for the living wage ordinance received signatures from over ten percent of Anaheim residents. This summer, Disney terminated its agreements to receive tax breaks from the city. While the City Attorney’s report claims that this move exempts Disney from the outcome of the initiative, the measure’s proponents argue that Disney is still receiving city subsidies from a 1996 bond agreement that helped the company create its California Adventure theme park.

Health care workers at University of California campuses voted this week to authorize a strike after reaching a deadlock in contract negotiations. Ninety-six percent of AFSCME Local 3299 members voted from the strike after UC officials announced employment terms for patient-care technical workers which raised healthcare premiums by 61 percent, increased the retirement age by five years, and allowed thousands of patient care jobs to be outsourced to outside contractors. AFSCME’s 15,000 patient-care technical workers will be joined by 9,000 employees in the union’s service unit, which went on strike for three days in May over stalled contract negotiations.

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