Today’s News and Commentary — October 23

Published October 23rd, 2013 -  - 10.23.13


Coverage continues of the four-day transit strike in San Francisco, which ended on Tuesday. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that under the four-year deal workers would receive a 15.4% raise in exchange for several work-rule changes and an increase in medical insurance premium payments. The agreement still needs to be approved the BART board (see here for a report on the Board’s reaction) and the unions, SEIU Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555. The Chronicle further addressed calls by some, including a state senator, to ban strikes by transit workers, noting that while strike bans could potentially be structured to incentivize both sides to compromise, experts warned that such bans can be “counterproductive and … create[] new problems.” Finally, the Chronicle reports that California Governor Jerry Brown ordered a 60-day cooling-off period to avoid another transit strike in the Bay Area, this time between AC Transit and its unions.

Detroit’s bankruptcy trial began this morning, as more than 300 city workers and retirees demonstrated outside the federal courthouse, the Detroit Free Press reports (live blogging of the hearings can be found here). The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25 represents the majority of city workers and is challenging the legality of the bankruptcy, arguing “the filing itself violates state prohibitions against cutting pensions,” NPR reports.

The New York Times ran an op-ed today discussing last month’s Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report (covered on this blog here) which provided data demonstrating that “American students and adults [are] lagging behind their peers abroad in terms of important [job] skills.” The Editorial Board observed that the “United States…has yet to take on a sense of urgency about this issue. If that does not happen soon, the country will pay a long-term price.”

The New York Times reports that New York adopted work rules for young models on Monday night, requiring that models under the age of 18 be treated as “child performers” subject to stricter regulation. Susan Scafidi, the academic director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University, called the new law “one of the biggest developments in a century” for labor law and the fashion industry.

In Boston, unions have come front and center in the campaign for mayor between John R. Connolly and Martin J. Walsh, the Boston Globe reports (and here). Organized labor has been sending a series of mailers attacking Connolly as “a son of privilege.” Walsh, a former union leader, has called for the mailers to be stopped, and a key point of contention in the debate last night was which candidate would be better positioned to negotiate with unions as Boston’s mayor. The Globe also reports on efforts by the SEIU to unionize part-time faculty at Boston area colleges, efforts that were successful last month at Tufts University but failed by two votes at Bentley University yesterday.

Across the pond, the New York Times reports that chemical company Ineos announced that it will close “[o]ne of the largest manufacturing plants in Scotland” as a result of failed talks between the company and employees, who “declined to accept an ownership plan involving pension and job cuts.” An Ineos spokesperson said the plant closing will result in the loss of over 650 jobs.

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