Today's News and Commentary — September 26

Published September 26th, 2013 -  - 09.26.131


Members of Congress are continuing negotiations to avert a shutdown of the federal government, and the House Republican leadership today is expected to announce an alternative plan to defunding the Affordable Care Act. The Washington Post reports that GOP leaders are discussing introducing a debt-limit bill that would exchange defunding Obamacare with an abolition of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and trade the leverage of a government shutdown next Tuesday, October 1, with the leverage of a default on October 17. Joe Davidson of the Washington Post describes a few of the federal agencies’ plans for their workers and constituents in case the government does shut down on Tuesday.

Also in the District, about 250 Hispanic and African American workers marched outside the White House yesterday demanding higher wages for federally contracted low-wage workers. According to the Washington Post, the workers carried stacks of boxes representing 250,000 petitions asking the president to sign an executive order guaranteeing them a living wage.

The L.A. Times reports that after deadlocked negotiations between the University of California system and the union that represents about 8,300 custodians, gardeners, and food service workers, the university has imposed terms that will require the workers to contribute 6.5 percent of their pay to retirement plans, up from 5 percent. Officials of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Local 3299 say that the imposed increase amounts to a 1.5% pay cut from the workers’ average annual salaries of $35,000. The university has also increased its own contribution from 12 percent from 10 percent. Incoming UC President Janet Napolitano, the former Secretary of Homeland Security, takes office Tuesday.

The Transport Workers Union elected a new president, Harry Lombardo, at its convention Wednesday. The Post reports that Lombardo plans to take a more aggressive approach to labor-management relations than his predecessor. Lombardo will start by leading a protest today at the Las Vegas headquarters of Allegiant Air, where 600 represented flight attendants have yet to secure a contract after two years of bargaining.

In international labor news, a new wave of violent protests gripped Bangladesh over the weekend as the Garment Workers Coordination Council and other groups have demonstrated for higher wages and improved conditions in the country’s troubled garment factories. The Wall Street Journal profiles Shahjahan Khan, a government minister who has inspired some of the protests, while the New York Times editorial board calls for Bangladesh to raise the minimum wage, index it to inflation, and make it easier for workers to form unions.

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