Today's News & Commentary — April 2, 2015
Yesterday, McDonald’s announced that it would raise the wages of its employees to $10 per hour, Time reported. This comes shortly after both Wal-Mart and TJX also announced a pay increase for their lowest paid workers. But as Politico reports, and we noted yesterday, McDonald’s announcement only applies to the 5% of McDonald’s workers who are employed directly by the company, rather than the individual franchise locations. Ben Sachs is quoted in Politico‘s article explaining that McDonald’s move is likely in part a response to the Fight for $15 movement. He argued: “It’s good news. It’s not good enough news.”
Los Angeles City employees will soon be voting on whether to go on strike, the Los Angeles Times reports. SEIU, which represents the 10,000 city employees, has been engaged in contract negotiations with the city for nearly a year but the two sides have failed to reach agreement. The sides continue to disagree on whether employees will increase their contributions to health care premiums whether employees’ wages will be frozen for the next three years. If the union votes to strike, another 10,000 city employees who are represented by other unions may follow the SEIU’s lead and strike as well.
The New York Times reports that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has reached a compromise with teachers unions regarding their contract. The final bill allows some portion of each teacher’s evaluation to be based on students’ test scores, but leaves the exact percentage to be determined by the state Education Department. It increases the minimum length of time before a teacher is eligible for tenure from three years to four years. It also requires teacher to receive more positive evaluations before gaining tenure, and makes it easier for principals to fire teachers based on fewer negative evaluations. The compromise agreement was approved by the New York legislature on Tuesday night as part of a series of budget bills.
In political news, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett will visit multiple states to encourage them to implement paid-sick leave policies, according to the New York Times. Federal law requires many employers to provide unpaid sick leave, but the U.S. is one of few countries that doesn’t require any paid leave. Instead, cities and states have filled this gap—for example, Seattle, where Secretary Perez and Ms. Jarrett will begin their tour, recently passed a paid-leave bill.
In the Baja California Peninsula, which is part of Mexico, farmworkers who have been on strike for two weeks appear willing to return to work, the Los Angeles Times reports. The farmworkers strike has brought agricultural exports to a near stand-still and has cost “tens of millions” of dollars, according to the Times. The deciding turn seemed to come on Friday when employers offered to boost wages by 15% for any employees who return to work. The initial strike was caused by an ongoing dispute over wages for farmworkers.
Politico reports that unionized mines are safer than non-unionized mines. An analysis by SNL Energy, a research company, used data from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration to determine that in 2013 and 2014 unionized mines were both safer and more productive than their non-unionized counterparts.