Today's News & Commentary — April 9, 2015
Mark Bittman, writing in the New York Times, asks whether McDonalds efforts to transform its image is too little, too late. The fast food chain recently announced that it would raise the salaries of minimum wage workers by $1, a change that only affects 11% of McDonalds’ workforce. The chain “tries to play it both ways, controlling what franchisees buy and sell but insisting that it cannot dictate how they treat employees.”
The Huffington Post reports that an advocacy organization called StudentsFirst is the latest to sue California’s teachers’ unions. In the lawsuit, Bain v. California Teachers Association, the plaintiffs allege that the union punishes employees who choose not to pay the optional fee for political activities like lobbying. StudentsFirst claim that the union provides supplemental benefits to members in order to coerce all employees to pay the political portion of their dues, violating dissenting teachers’ free speech rights. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the lawsuit is an attempt to stifle the union’s ability to engage in the political process.
A recent report finds that quotas are not the best way to increase the number of women on corporate boards, the New York Times reports. While a quota system ensures that women are placed on boards, it does not guarantee that women will remain in their posts. Other policies like a corporate governance code (written policies addressing gender diversity), substantial maternity leave, and female political power were more helpful in increasing the number of women. Australia, Norway, and Denmark have the highest registered levels of female economic power. The United States ranks sixth.
French air controllers went on strike yesterday, according to the New York Times. 40% of the country’s flights have been cancelled. Employees are demanding better working and retirement conditions.
A recent Labor Department report suggests that hiring may pick up, according to the New York Times. Although a jobs report released on Friday showed that employers only added 126,000 jobs in March, the new report shows that job openings increased by 3.4% in February, reaching a 14 year high. Businesses have been slow in filling the new positions but hiring could pick up in the next few months. The number of unemployment benefits applications also fell last week.