Today’s News & Commentary — February 23, 2018
In advance of Monday’s oral argument in Janus, Bloomberg and the New York Times consider what might become of public sector unions if Abood is overruled. In These Times has a long feature on the advocacy groups who are funding not only Janus but also other efforts to undermine public sector unions. Key groups include the National Right to Work Foundation, whose legal fund represents Janus, and the State Policy Network, a network of conservative think tanks and nonprofits connected with the state lobbying giant the American Legislative Exchange Council. See all of our coverage of Janus here.
West Virginia’s teachers went on strike yesterday seeking higher pay. In a last-ditch effort to halt the strike, the Governor signed a bill on Wednesday giving teachers a 2% pay raise over three years. (There’s no public sector collective bargaining in West Virginia, so the legislature sets teacher salaries.) The state ranks 48th in teacher pay.
The New York Times highlights that, although black unemployment is at an all-time low, inequality persists between black and white workers. Economic theory claims that discrimination is expensive when the labor market is as strong as it is right now, so economists are struggling to account for the gaps between black and white employment rates. The Times looks to Minneapolis, and to the workers building that city’s stadium, for some insights. A new study from the Economic Policy Institute examining demographic trends in annual work hours gives a more granular view of these inequalities, noting that black men with less education are the most disconnected from the work force.
Another major fault line shows up in the study, which finds that all workers are increasingly fractured into two categories: “prime-age adults who are falling out of, or never get into, the labor market at all, and prime-age adults who are employed and working more hours.”
The magazine Dissent has a piece about the real estate company WeWork, which owns hip co-working spaces designed for freelancers or small companies or nonprofits. The piece notes that WeWork has some labor issues. For the most part, the piece explores what WeWork means for work now and in the future.