Today’s News & Commentary—April 5, 2016
Despite the company line of state chambers of commerce opposing minimum wage hikes, a survey conducted by GOP pollster Frank Luntz’s company LuntzGlobal found that a staggering 80% of business executives supported raising their state’s minimum wage while a mere 8% opposed it, according to the Washington Post. The Council of State Chambers commissioned the poll, which was leaked to the liberal watchdog Center for Media and Democracy. In a webinar explaining the results to the state chambers, LuntzGlobal’s managing director David Merritt suggested that those opposed to raising the minimum wage should deflect to other issues and kick the can down the road. “Most folks think there are bigger priorities,” Merritt said. “Creating more jobs rather than raising the minimum wage is a priority that most everyone agrees with. So when you put it up against other issues, you can find other alternatives and other things to focus on. But in isolation, and you ask about the minimum wage, it’s definitely a winner.”
The president of the United Auto Workers, Dennis Williams, wrote a letter to the editor protesting the New York Times column titled “The Jobs Nafta Saved.” Williams argued that the article ignored how Nafta pitched American workers in a race to the bottom against Mexican workers as they competing for lower wages. While Germany and Japan continue to offer middle-class wages for auto workers, Williams argued that Nafta has resulted in an American labor market that pays manufacturing workers an average of just $11.91 per hour.
As the Obama administration prepares to unveil its final rule implementing the president’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, the HR Policy Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are preparing to take immediate legal action to stop implementation, according to Bloomberg BNA. The administration is not without aid in defending the regulation. Because the executive order served as a kind of grab bag of Democratic policy goals for workers (including potential penalties for government contractors who violate the NLRA and a ban on those contractors forcing workers to sign arbitration clauses), liberal groups such as the SEIU and the American Association for Justice are preparing to take steps to help defend the law.
Over the weekend, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists began releasing stories on offshore finance through its Panama Papers series, which explores discoveries found in leaked documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. Although it’s hard to know at this stage what the fallout will be, Time suggested that it could result in a crisis for capitalism as it gives more concrete form to the sense that governments and corporations have colluded to rig the economy for the benefit of the top 1%.