Today's News and Commentary – September 13th
The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. government will audit about 1,000 U.S. businesses suspected of hiring undocumented immigrants. “The audits suggest the Obama administration is choosing not to ignore companies that hire blue-collar, foreign labor even as it presses for an immigration overhaul.” The audits could result in job losses for undocumented workers and in significant fines for employers who fail to properly document their employees.
The New York Times Editorial Board reports that California Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign a bill this week extending employment protections to domestic workers. Although domestic workers have been largely unprotected by federal labor and employment laws, this bill would require that they be paid time-and-a-half if they work more than a nine-hour day or 45-hour week. If Gov. Brown signs the bill, California will join New York and Hawaii as the states that have gone furthest to protect workers in this industry, which is notoriously difficult to regulate. The current bill does not include meal and rest breaks for workers, and it exempts employers’ family members, protections which were included in a stronger version of the bill Gov. Brown threatened to veto last year.
On the Wall Street Journal opinion page, Richard Berman, executive director of the Center for Union Facts, describes the rising prominence of workers’ centers as a tool for organizing protests in the absence of a union. According to Berman, workers’ centers have a legal status that exempts them from many NLRA regulations. As a result, they can dodge the standard union financial transparency requirements, and strike indefinitely. However, he argues that since workers’ centers flourish because unions cannot recruit a large enough percentage of a given workforce, it is unclear how successful they will be in long-term workplace organizing.
Previous reports that the number of Americans seeking jobless benefits fell to their lowest level since 2006 may have been exaggerated, according to the New York Times. The error was caused by data malfunctions in the reporting systems of two states, and the real number of initial jobless benefit-seekers is “almost certainly higher than reported.”