Today’s News & Commentary – December 10
The Senate has confirmed Lauren McGarity McFerran to the NLRB for a five-year term. The party-line vote ensures that that the Board will retain a 3-2 Democratic majority as the Senate switches control next year.
Last month Volkswagen adopted a type of employee representation system for its Chattanooga, TN, plant, which established a tier-based system with different levels of bargaining privileges dependent on the group’s level of employee support. Yesterday, following a vote at the plant, the UAW was certified to represent at least 45% of its workers, qualifying for the top-tier of representation. This tier entitles the group to hold meetings on plant property and meet regularly with company representatives. The UAW will be allowed to call for a second NLRB election for full unionization in February, one year after the previous vote. The LA Times and Wall Street Journal have coverage of the vote.
According to Politico, an NLRB judge yesterday “found that Walmart violated federal labor law by “implicitly threatening” a California store closure over potential worker organizing and by maintaining a dress code “restricting associates’ right to wear union insignia.” The events in the case concern two stores in Placerville and Richmond Calif. and the labor group OUR Walmart.”
The New York Times reports that the number of available jobs has risen to the second-highest level in 14 years. The Times notes that this news could help drive up wages, which have barely kept up with inflation since the recession ended. Yet the Times’ Upshot Blog notes that while more jobs are available, actual hiring is rising at a much slower pace. The author’s theory is that during the recession, employers got used to the low wages they could offer their employees, due to the desperate conditions faced by many workers. Yet now, with an improved labor market, employers simply aren’t willing to increase compensation in order to fill their openings. The article concludes, “eventually some employers will decide that they are leaving too much business on the table by not offering the pay and benefits and training that will fill their vacant openings. If that happens on a wide enough scale, it will mean that the long-awaited gains in wages for ordinary workers will finally start to arrive.”