Today's News and Commentary — October 14

Published October 14th, 2014 -  - 10.14.142


Court workers in San Francisco went on strike and joined picket lines in front of three superior courthouses this morning, the SF Weekly reports. The court workers, members of SEIU 1021, allege bad faith negotiation tactics on the part of the court. The group has filed charges with the California Public Employment Relations Board, alleging violation of state labor laws. “Court management’s bad faith was on display not just in their actions at the bargaining table,” said Diane Williams, president of the San Francisco SEIU court chapter and a clerk in the traffic department at the Hall of Justice. “They just spent $16 million in their reserve fund and not only didn’t give their employees a raise, they didn’t restore any of the many and essential justice services they cut in the last five years. Isn’t that their mission?”

Slate posted a video yesterday that reveals data about where in the United States fast food workers make the worst wages. Hawaii, Maryland and New York came in at the bottom. To identify the worst places to be a fast food worker, Business Insider took a look at where there are the largest gaps between worker wages and the state living wage. The living wage is the full time hourly wage needed to cover basic living expenses like housing, food, transportation and healthcare in a given locality, and varies depending on the cost of living in each state. In 24 states, fast food workers’ wages are less than the living wage, these states accounting for almost two billion workers nation-wide. But even in states with salaries above the living wage for one person, many workers are still coming up short in trying to provide for their families, because more than 1 in 4 fast food workers supports at least one child. As a result, 52% of fast food workers rely on public assistance programs. Video originally posted by Business Insider.

In political news, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has pulled out of the windy city’s mayoral race for medical reasons, Politico and the Chicago Sun-Times report. Last week, Lewis started experiencing severe headaches, and was shortly thereafter diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. She has already undergone surgery, and has a regimen of chemotherapy and radiation ahead of her. Until she was hospitalized, it seemed certain that she would challenge incumbent Mayor Emanuel. Lewis has “locked horns” with Emanuel since he took office, but her emergence as a serious electoral rival was laid bare in July after the results of a poll had Lewis leading Emanuel 45 percent to 36 percent. But with Lewis out and Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President and former alderman in the Chicago City Council, having publically stated multiple times that she will not reconsider her decision to step out of the race, Emanuel and his “$9 million-plus war-chest could wrap it up in Round One.”

In another political race, Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn continues to slam Republican David Perdue for his hand and “pride” in outsourcing jobs to foreign countries during his time as CEO of Dollar General, The Wall Street Journal reports. Nunn is considered by some to be a long shot to defeat Perdue in filling Sen. Saxby Chambliss’s (R) soon to be vacant Senate seat. However, the announcement by Senate Republicans’ campaign arm of a $1.45 million ad buy to boost Perdue indicates to The Wall Street Journal that party leadership may feel the race tightening.

In the parenting section of The Washington Post, Darlena Cunha urges parents and policy makers alike to consider why so many kids come to school sick. Her answer has two related parts. First, parents cannot afford to stay home from work because so few parents have paid leave or have leave that would allow them to stay home with a sick child. Second, we have a work culture that expects workers to show up to work, even if they are sick and even if they have leave. These norms and cultural work ethics are then in turn transferred to our children, who watch mom and dad go to work sick and who themselves are sometimes sent to school ill. With flu season now in swing, Cunha urges us all to take responsibility for how we contribute to the spread of infectious diseases, and calls for a change in our social infrastructure, which often forces individuals to choose between job security or school success, and their health.

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