News & Commentary

September 10, 2013

Nearly sixty Maryland trash workers are on strike today, disrupting trash collection for about 8,000 homes in Montgomery County, Maryland, the Washington Post reports. The workers, members of the Laborers International Union of North America, allege that their employer, Potomac Disposal, attempted to intimidate them by threatening to contact immigration officials about their status. Workers stated that although they had never been asked to complete an I-9 form before, after pressing for employer-provided health insurance in contract negotiations, they found I-9 forms attached to their time cards. Potomac Disposal declined to comment.

The Associated Press reports that on September 16, high school teachers in Greece will begin what they describe as a “long-term” strike to protest staff cuts ordered by the government as part of its austerity measures. The teachers will join a growing movement of public employees revolting against staff cuts. Workers at Athens University began a one-week strike yesterday, civil servants plan to strike for two days next week, and elementary school teachers are considering a possible strike as well.

The Wall Street Journal writes that President Obama, unable to attend the AFL-CIO’s convention yesterday due to the crisis in Syria, offered a videotaped message to convention attendees. In the video, the President expressed his support for better overtime pay, improved workplace safety, and “a true right to organize,” as well as immigration reforms that are fair to workers and their families.

A post in The New York Times Economix blog yesterday afternoon attempts to explain why over the last fifty years company profits as a share of national income have soared while workers’ wages and benefits have declined. The article posits that policies designed to achieve full employment could go a long way toward reversing this trend.

The California Public Employment Relations Board has issued a complaint against the Los Angeles Unified School District, the LA Times reports. The complaint alleges that the District unilaterally adopted a teacher evaluation system without obtaining consent from the teachers’ union as required by law. The District claims that it has not yet implemented the new evaluation system and plans to discuss it further with the union.

In other California labor news, the LA Times writes that a bill that would limit out-of-state professional athletes’ ability to collect workers’ compensation has been sent to Governor Jerry Brown for approval. The bill would amend California law to prevent out-of-state players from filing workers’ compensation claims in California for latent injuries accumulated over their careers. Governor Brown is expected to sign the bill into law.

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