Today’s News & Commentary — August 27, 2018

Published August 27th, 2018 -  - 08.27.185


A provision of the recently enacted $717 billion defense-spending bill makes it easier for employees to gain ownership of the businesses where they work, CNN reports.  The provision directs the Small Business Administration to make loan guarantee programs more readily available to employee stock ownership plans and worker-owned cooperatives, effectively giving potential employee-owners easier access to the capital they would need to purchase a share in their business.  The mandate was tacked on to the defense bill by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.  The original idea stemmed from Rutgers professor Joseph Blasi, who directs the school’s Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing.

The state government of New Mexico is requiring its public sector union employees to sign a waiver of their First Amendment rights in order to declare their union membership, Las Cruces Sun News reports.  After the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus, the state government stopped automatically deducting union dues from its employees’ paychecks.  The government is now requiring that employees declare their union membership by signing a statement saying, in relevant part:  “I authorize the State of New Mexico to withhold CWA membership dues and transmit these funds to the union.  With this authorization I voluntarily and affirmatively waive my First Amendment Rights.”  While the state government is asserting that waiver of First Amendment rights by union members is required by the Janus decision, union representatives assert that union members are, in fact, allowed to retain “the full panoply of civil liberties afforded under the First Amendment.”

New York City is cracking down on the gig economy with new laws that put a cap on the total number of Uber drivers and set a minimum earnings level for drivers on the app, the Guardian reports.  Any shortfall in driver earnings must be made up by the company where they work.  Taxi drivers hope the new law will ease their work hardships, as the rise of Uber and Lyft have sunk the value of yellow-cab medallions.  One cab driver told the Guardian that his rush hour profits have gone from a usual $200 to $50 since the e-ride apps have come on the scene.

A Target store in Huntington, NY, will see a union vote in early September, a rare occurrence at the retail giant, Bloomberg reports.  If successful, the Long Island Target would be the company’s only unionized store in the country.  The vote will be held on September 7 and 8, and comes despite the company’s assertions that a supervisor’s participation in the union organizing drive should block the union election.

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