Today's News & Commentary — April 23, 2015
Approximately 40 contract workers walked off their jobs in the U.S. Senate to join more than 1,000 activists calling for President Obama and Congress to pay federal contractors more, according to CNN. Obama passed an Executive Order in February raising the hourly wage of federal contract workers to $10.10. The workers say they need a wage that will allow them to have financial security and to provide for their families.
The New York Times reports that Congressional Democrats are uniting around a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour. The bill, which Senator Patty Murray will introduce in the next few days, will also gradually eliminate a separate minimum wage for tipped workers, like servers. The bill is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Congress.
In Illinois the state’s tollway board voted to end an agreement that would require contractors to hire union workers in return for assurances against strikes and other actions, the Chicago Tribune reports. The decision came after Governor Bruce Rauner voiced disapproval of the agreement. Rauner argued that project labor agreements prevent competitive bidding. Board members who supported the plan countered that the possibility of strikes or other job actions would bring uncertainty to the project.
A new Human Rights Watch report says that factory owners in Bangladesh have used violence and intimidation to prevent workers from forming labor unions, the New York Times reports. Bangladeshi factories make clothes for international labels like H&M, Wal-Mart, and the Gap. While Western retailers have taken steps to improve safety at the factories, they have done little to prevent other labor abuses.