Today’s News & Commentary — February 11, 2019


Published February 11th, 2019 - 02.11.192


Congressional talks over border security broke down Sunday, as the current government funding measure is set to run out this Friday at midnight, the New York Times reports.  If no deal is reached by that time, the government will shut down, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers without pay.  The last shutdown lasted 35 days, and left many government employees relying on food banks and pawn shops to survive.  The shutdown also cost the U.S. economy $11 billion.

Mark Zuckerman, President of The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank, argued in the Atlantic that private-sector unionization efforts should focus on small workplaces.  The article, which ran Saturday, highlighted a study showing that bargaining units of under 25 employees are 12 percent more likely to win a union than larger groups.  Zuckerman asserted that unions can use big data to overcome the lower marginal utility of focusing on smaller work sites.  According to Zuckerman, unions can use data to target low-wage workers in specific locations who share traits commonly associated with union support.

Zimbabwean teachers suspended a national strike yesterday, but will walk back off of the job if their demands aren’t met, Reuters reports.  The strike began on February 5th, with 80 percent of the country’s 100,000 public-sector teachers participating, according to the unions.  The teachers are demanding U.S. dollar salaries and an increase in allowances to cushion them against soaring inflation and economic hardship.

Elizabeth Warren officially launched her 2020 presidential campaign on Saturday, with heavy allusions to the roots of the U.S. labor movement, CNN reports.  Warren made the announcement at a rally in Lawrence, MA, the site of the historic 1912 “Bread and Roses” strike.  The striking textile workers of that era led a two-year effort for fair wages, overtime pay, and the right to unionize.  Warren highlighted how the workers “did more than improve their own lives. They changed America,” by spurring an effort for minimum wages in Massachusetts and beyond.

 

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