News & Commentary

April 17, 2015

On the heels of the “Fight for Fifteen” campaign, The New York Times reports that the movement is significant for “political activists looking to the 2016 presidential campaign and beyond” as a “potentially pivotal moment.” The wage fight coincides with several important political developments in the last two years. These developments include city and state campaigns to increase the local minimum wage as well as President Obama’s endorsement of a federal minimum wage hike. Professor Leslie McCall of Northwestern University argues that public opinion seems to be shifting at the same time. According to the General Social Survey, the percentage of Americans who agreed that “inequality continues to exist because it benefits the rich and powerful” increased by more than 10% from 2010 to 2012 alone. Professor McCall notes that an increasing number of political moderates seem to attribute the responsibility to mitigate economic inequality to major corporations.

In a similar vein, the Editorial Board of The New York Times writes that the 2016 presidential candidates must now face the “reality of grindingly low pay amid great corporate plenty.” All candidates, regardless of their political views, should now feel obligated to detail their stance on raising the minimum wage and other labor issues. However, calling for a higher minimum wage is not enough. The Editorial Board writes that political candidates must also support the right to organize without retaliation in an act of “real leadership.” According to the Editorial Board, President Obama’s “support for unions has been disappointing” in the context of recent attacks on unions in many states.

Politico reports that the NLRB has set its sights on the right-to-work movement and has published a call for briefs on the issue. Unions are currently not allowed to collect fees from non-members in right-to-work states under NLRB caselaw. However, the agency has indicated that it might allow an exception if the non-member “avails himself of union grievance procedures” even in a right-to-work state. Opponents of the idea surmise that the NLRB’s invitation for briefs means that the agency has already made up its mind about changing the rule.

Four weeks after employees of the public broadcaster Radio France decided to strike, most have since returned to work. The employees had protested a proposal that would have reorganized Radio France and led to “hundreds of layoffs and the closing of the country’s oldest orchestra.” Radio France currently operates seven radio stations and two orchestras and is seem as “one of France’s most trusted voices in news and entertainment.” Network employees are represented by five unions, four of which voted to end the strike on Tuesday after the government appointed a labor mediator. The fifth union, CGT union, is expected to return to work this week.

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