Today's News & Commentary — April 16, 2015
Yesterday, thousands of employees in an estimated 200 cities rallied for a $15 minimum wage, Politico reports. The Los Angeles Times reports that nearly 1,000 demonstrators rallied in Los Angeles. The Chicago Tribune reports that many adjunct professors participated in rallies in Chicago. As we’ve covered previously, adjunct professors often earn poverty-level wages, and have joined to the Fight for $15 movement to advocate for a minimum of $15,000 per course that they teach.
The New York Times editorial board notes that the protests may force presidential candidates to take strong positions on whether they support a $15 minimum wage. They argue that “real leadership” requires not just supporting a higher minimum wage, but also “supporting the protesters’ parallel demand for the right to organize without retaliation” which would make it easier for collectively bargain with service-sector employers.
The Washington Post reports that Federal contractors and the Federal Government itself routinely violate the Service Contract Act, which sets minimum wage and benefit requirements for federal contracts. The Service Contract Act is a federal law governing federal contracts that it intentionally sets the required wages and benefits for contractors above the federally-mandated minimum wage. It, along with several similar bills, were designed to “establish the federal government as a ‘model employer’ to be emulated by the private sector.” However, due to complicated eligibility rules, it’s hard to for the Department of Labor to ensure that federal contractors comply.
Huffington Post and Pew’s Stateline report that ten states, in conjunction with the federal government, are launching pilot programs to help long-term unemployed worker secure new jobs. The pilot programs are targeted toward workers who are long-term unemployed and who have been participating in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) program for significant period. The programs implement new job training targeted at the specific difficulties that these populations might have in gaining new skills and obtaining new jobs. Federal and state officials hope that these programs may become national models.