Today’s News & Commentary — April 6, 2015
The Los Angeles Times reports that there are mixed responses among business leaders and workers to the County Board of Supervisors’ vote to study the potential impact of an increase in the minimum wage. This Board vote comes at a time when the City of Los Angeles is considering a minimum wage hike to $15.25 by 2019. Other California cities, including San Francisco and San Diego, have recently boosted their wage minimums above the state level, and some other cities in Los Angeles County, such as Santa Monica and West Hollywood, are considering doing so.
According to the Associated Press, Hanjin Shipping company has pulled out of the Port of Portland, taking nearly 80 percent of the West Coast city’s container business. The pullout took place in the context of labor slowdowns led by port workers.
In international news, the Associated Press profiles emerging labor leaders in China who have shirked the Communist Party’s officially sanctioned labor union. As migrant factory workers demand rights and a greater share of wealth, protests have doubled every year for the last several years. The article describes retaliation against labor leaders and long prison terms for leading strikes.
In the New York Times, Steven Greenhouse covered the death of Victor Gotbaum, the two decade executive director of District Council 37 of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Mr. Gotbaum, who played a pivotal role in saving New York City from bankruptcy in 1975, passed away yesterday evening. He was 93 years old.
In commentary, the New York Times features an Op-Ed written by Tuong Lai, a sociologist and former advisor to two Vietnamese prime ministers. In making the case for Vietnam to sign on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would require the Vietnamese government to allow the formation of independent labor unions at the factory level. Tuong Lai argues that Vietnam is already on track to comply with this provision.
In the Washington Post, Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz argues that Democrats and Republicans could broker a grand compromise on comprehensive immigration reform by trading such legislation for an end to affirmative action. He argues that as as the first African American president and the son of an immigrant, President Obama was born to give a speech ending affirmative action as we know it. He refers to this ideal both as Martin Luther King’s dream and as the embodiment of Justice Harlan’s dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson.