News & Commentary

September 5, 2013

NBC News reports that Unions are dramatically increasing donations to super PACs ahead of the 2014 election cycle.  So far in 2013, “unions contributed $10 million to the political committees” as compared to the $1.7 million Unions contributed in 2011, “the last off-election year.” 

In other election news, the Wall Street Journal reports that all three leading Democratic candidates for Mayor of New York have announced, “they would back efforts to organize private-sector employees into labor unions.”  This is a departure from current Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “hands-off approach.”  This means unions may be more effective at organizing in low-wage private sector industries – such as fast-food restaurants and car washes – that “have been the target of unionization drives” recently.

In immigration news, the Wall Street Journal reports that immigration activists, including Unions, are planning coordinated events across 60 cities on October 5th to pressure the House into taking action.

The New York Times reports that a memorial has been dedicated to the twenty-eight Mexico farmworkers who were killed in 1948 when a plane chartered by federal immigration authorities crashed near Fresno, California.  The farmworkers were being transported to Mexico.  Some had arrived through a guestworker program, others had entered the country without authorization.  After the crash, the farmworkers were buried, unnamed, in a mass grave.  The victims have since been identified, and their names are inscribed on the memorial.  The incident inspired Woody Guthrie to write a protest song entitled “Deportee.”

In Jersey City, the New York Times reports that the city is considering requiring all business with over ten employees to provide their employees with paid sick days.  Mayor Steven Fulop supports the idea, and has called it “a matter of ‘basic human dignity.’”  A handful of cities across the nation have passed similar bills: Last year, New York City passed a bill requiring workplaces with more than twenty employees to provide sick day.  Connecticut has a similar law, as does Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, and Washington State.  According to the Times, studies show that employers in cities with such laws “ultimately support the policy” and believe it “has not made them less profitable.” 

The Los Angeles Times reports that “[s]pouses of veterans in same-sex marriage will be collect federal benefits.”  This is the next in a series decisions implementing changes in federal benefits after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor.  However, the Washington Post reports that despite this directive, the Texas and Mississippi National Guards are not processing benefits applications for same-sex spouses of National Guard personnel because state laws forbid it.

In other federal benefits news, the Washington Post reports that Department of Agriculture has released a study showing that 14.7% of households nationwide are “unable to get access to quality food or went hungry at some point in the last three years.”  Despite this, multiple states – including Kansas, Delaware, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wyoming, and Utah – reject federal waivers that would make it easier for residents in those states to receive support through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

In other news regarding low-income families, according to Washington Post, the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, has released a new study that finds a strong correlation between “the size of a region’s middle class and the economic mobility” of the residents in that region.  The study does not show causality, but one of the authors argues that there is reason to think the size of the middle class “is a driver mobility”: in wealthier areas, “young people move up the income ladder by moving to other cities . . . [which] would not by itself produce a larger middle class.”  

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