Today’s News & Commentary—February 23, 2020


Published February 23rd, 2020 - 02.23.2033


Members of Nevada’s Culinary Workers Union participated in the state’s Democratic caucus Saturday, including at “strip caucuses” located at their workplaces in casinos and hotels. The Union did not endorse a candidate this year, but as The New York Times details, it did single out Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All proposal for criticism, telling its members that Medicare for All would take away their hard-won union health benefits. In the ensuing back-and-forth, the union leadership also alleged that some Sanders supporters harassed and personally attacked them online. In spite of this conflict, Bernie Sanders appears to have won among the Culinary Union members who caucused at five of the seven strip caucus locations and tied at a sixth. Nevada entrance polls also showed Sanders winning a plurality among union households overall.

The Trump Administration published a memo Friday that would authorize the Secretary of Defense to end collective bargaining rights for the Department’s civilian workforce of nearly 750,000, Bloomberg Law reports. The memo delegates to the Secretary the President’s own authority to exempt federal agencies from law guaranteeing their right to unionize. American Federation of Government Employees secretary-treasurer Everett Kelly strongly condemned the memo, saying that denying the collective bargaining rights of Department of Defense workers would be “a travesty.” In a separate statement, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers President Paul Shearon suggested that the memo’s reasoning might also support union-busting among millions of private-sector workers in defense-related sectors.

The Economic Policy Institute released a report Thursday detailing “slow, uneven, and unequal” wage growth for U.S. workers over the past forty years. The report notes that “consistent, positive wage growth” has occurred in only ten of these years. Meanwhile, inequality continues to increase dramatically, with earners above the 95th percentile pulling farther and farther away from everyone else. Race- and gender-based wage inequities persist, while wages have decreased for the bottom 50% of college graduates. Wage growth at the bottom was strongest in states that have increased the minimum wage.

Abuse and exploitation of workers is rampant in New York City nail salons, according to a workers advocacy group report discussed by The Cut. The report found that 82 percent of nail salon workers experience wage theft, losing an average of $181 per week. The majority of these workers are immigrant women who are often the sole providers for their families.

Teamsters President James Hoffa has informed The Detroit News that he will not seek reelection to another term after his current term ends in March 2022. Hoffa has been President of the Teamsters for 23 years. It is not clear who will succeed Hoffa. One union official who had been regarded as a possible candidate, Rome Aloise, now faces internal charges of racketeering and intimidation of union members, according to Bloomberg Law.

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