News & Commentary

April 18, 2016

Protesters will once again take to the Guggenheim to demand that labor protections be incorporated into the museum’s expansion into Abu Dubai, says The New York Times.  The organizers, part of the group Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction (G.U.L.F), previously staged protests inside the museum in 2014 and 2015 to advocate for the rights of workers in the United Arab Emirates, a country with poor labor ratings.  In 2014 the organizers showered the museum with fake currency thrown from the top tiers of the rotunda.  Shortly thereafter they installed their own politically-charged artwork alongside a show of Italian Futurism.  And most recently they littered the museum with thousands of fliers about worker’s rights.  Now that negotiations between G.U.L.F. and the museum have broken down, expect a new spate of highly-visible demonstrations at the Manhattan’s mecca of modern art.

The Atlantic published an article yesterday “Bernie Sanders, Union Buster,” by Andrew McGill, that highlights how the 2016 democratic presidential race has led to a division between national and local union ranks.  Most national unions like the American Federation of Teachers and Service International Employee’s Union came out early in favor of Hillary Clinton.  The endorsements were almost always decisions made by the union’s executive leadership, often sitting in Washington D.C.  But more and more, notes McGill, local affiliates are breaking with their national governance to endorse Bernie Sanders.   Take the Washington Federation of State Employees, a subsidiary of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, as an example.  Despite their parent union’s endorsement of Clinton, their local council recently voted for Sanders and prodded their national leaders to think again about the methods used to select presidential candidates.  The article suggests that the fissure between national union leaders and their local affiliates underscores the need for a change to how union endorsements are selected. Although the decision has always come from the top down, “Locals have signaled they want a bigger say in national political decisions.”  And “[u]ntil they get it in a meaningful way, divided unity will continue,” says McGill.

The Capitol will be whirring with debate over a series of controversial Labor Department regulations this week, reports The Hill.  Tomorrow, the House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing on the Department’s restrictions on silica dust at industrial sites.  Critics say that complying with the standard will be too costly for affected businesses.  Two days later, on Thursday, the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will open discussion on the Department’s overtime rule, slated to increase take-home pay for millions of low-income workers.

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