Today’s News & Commentary — August 16, 2019
Senate Republicans won’t even consider legislation to raise the federal minimum wage. Last month, the House approved the Raise the Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $15, by a vote of 231 to 199. But to get to the President’s desk, the legislation would have to pass the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee—and committee Chair Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TE) refuses to consider the bill, or any legislation to raise the federal minimum wage at all. A $15 federal minimum wage would raise pay for 27 million American workers.
This week, Senator and Presidential contender Elizabeth Warren weighed in on the California worker misclassification debate. California’s state legislature is debating several bills to address rampant worker misclassification. One high profile bill is AB-5, which would codify the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex ruling into state law, modernizing the legal test used to determine whether a worker is an employee, who is entitled to key protections like the minimum wage and family leave, or an independent contractor, who is not. But the pro-worker bill is squaring off in the legislature against legislation to overturn Dynamex, leaving gig workers like Uber and Lyft drivers newly vulnerable to misclassification. Warren urged legislators to pass AB-5, ensuring workers have access to “basic protections like the right to organize, wage and hour laws, health care coverage and protections against sexual harassment.” You can read OnLabor’s recap of the legislative debate here and here.
Workers at the sports and pop culture website The Ringer announced that they’re unionizing earlier this week. Three days after their public announcement, Ringer management agreed to voluntarily recognize the union—a testament to growing union strength in digital media.
Gilded Age steel baron Andrew Carnegie famously crushed unions at his steel plants. Instead of paying his workers a living wage, he used a fraction his fabulous wealth to build libraries. This week, hundreds of employees at the Carnegie Library system in Pennsylvania voted to unionize.