Today's News and Commentary — October 9, 2014
The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday over whether Amazon must pay its warehouse workers for the time they spend waiting to go through security screening at the end of their shifts, the New York Times reports. A 1947 law, the Portal-to-Portal Act, states that employers do not have to pay workers for “preliminary” or “postliminary” activities. In Steiner v. Mitchell, the Court interpreted the law to mean that companies must pay workers for tasks that are an “integral and indispensable part of the principal activities for which covered workmen are employed.” The Justice Department will ask the Court to rule against the warehouse workers, according to Politico.
The New York Times reports that Walmart will cut healthcare benefits for 30,000 workers beginning January 1, 2015. Walmart said that the passage of the Affordable Care Act had caused larger-than-expected numbers of employers to enroll in its health plan, increasing costs.
The Labor Department will enforce the rule extending minimum wage and overtime pay to home healthcare workers, the Wall Street Journal reports. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2015, and will cover workers who provide home care services, like certified nursing assistants, home health aides, personal care aides, caregivers, and companions. The Labor Department has announced that it will not enforce the law for six months, however, and will “exercise its discretion” in deciding to bring cases against employers.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has been traveling the country, mobilizing voters to support union-backed candidates and reminding them that people can change the economy through their votes. Mr. Trumka said, “Voter turnout is going to be the deciding factor” in the next election. Races in Wisconsin and Kentucky are especially close.
In Atlantic City, New Jersey members of UNITE HERE Local 54 and employees of the Taj Majal blocked traffic last night in a protest to keep their healthcare and pension coverage, the Wall Street Journal reports. Trump Entertainment Resorts is threatening to close the casino if union members do not agree to give up their healthcare and pension plans.