News & Commentary

December 18, 2015

According to the Wall Street Journal, 100 workers at Southwest Airlines were suspended without pay for attending union meetings in November. Transport Workers Union Local 555 represents 12,300 Southwest Airlines workers in the Dallas-based airline company. Southwest has also filed a complaint in federal court in Dallas, alleging TWU helped organize efforts to disrupt flights. This comes amid contract negotiations between Southwest and the TWU local that have been in works since 2011.

According to Lydia DePillis at the Washington Post, Republicans in Congress failed to attach their “laundry list” of attempts to block the Obama administration’s employment reform efforts to the final negotiated budget deal. Republican proposals included cuts to labor agencies and workforce development funding, but the only employer-backed rider that made it into the final deal was restricting the implementation of the administration’s “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” order, dealing with safety rules in handling fertilizer and enforcing minimum wage for seasonal contractors on federal lands. Other employer-friendly provisions remain in the 2,000-page bill, but it seems this is a battle the employer lobby has lost.

The Wall Street Journal takes a look into Lincoln, Nebraska, a Midwestern metropolitan area with a 2.3% unemployment rate, to examine what life looks like in a city with steady job creation and higher wages. Some employers have trouble finding workers, in a labor market where it’s easy for workers to find and switch jobs, earn higher wages and better benefits, including hiring bonuses, gym memberships, and creative perks. This summer, average hourly earnings in the Lincoln metropolitan area increased 11% from a year earlier, compared to the country’s overall growth of 2.5%. Some employers are hoping to recruit people from the coast, where cost of living is higher, to grow the labor force. Full employment may be great, but if companies are going to continue to grow, they need the labor force to grow, too. 

Politico reports that Bernie Sanders has won his biggest union endorsement yet in the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which represents over 300,000 members working in technology, news media, broadcast and cable television, and airline industries. This is his third national union endorsement, adding to National Nurses United and the American Postal Workers Union. Hillary Clinton’s union support includes AFSCME and SEIU, and amounts to over 10 million of the 14.6 million dues-paying union members in the country.

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