Today’s News & Commentary — February 24, 2015
Lawmakers in Wisconsin’s state legislature have begun debating a new right-to-work law, which would ban unions from drawing dues from nonsupporting members. The Wisconsin law, which would require the approval of Gov. Scott Walker to go into force, has been particularly charged given Walker’s potential 2016 Presidential bid. Though Gov. Walker stated in 2012 that he would “do everything in [his power]” to keep right-to-work legislation off his desk, he has now expressed that he intends to support the bill. Critics of right-to-work laws – which currently exist in 24 states – argue that such legislation dramatically weakens organized labor. Demonstrators led by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO gathered at Madison’s Capitol’s rotunda Tuesday in protest. The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel and the New York Times report.
The Fourth Circuit Court has ruled against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in case questioning the lawfulness of criminal background checks in private employment screening. The EEOC alleged that Freeman, a nationwide marketing service company, violated Title VII when it relied upon credit and criminal background checks in hiring, as these practices had a disparate impact against African-American, Hispanic, and male job applicants. A district court had ruled against the EEOC, finding its statistical report on Freeman’s background checks erroneous. The Fourth Circuit Court affirmed the lower court’s judgment in EEOC v. Freeman, No. 09-CV-2573 (D. Md. Aug. 9, 2013). Law360 reports.
Spouses of certain high-skilled immigrants will now be able to apply for work authorization of their own. The government currently estimates that as many as 179,600 people will be eligible to apply for employment authorization in the first year, and 55,000 annually in subsequent years. The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Wall Street Journal reports that several Brazilian unions are suing McDonald’s Corp.’s Latin America franchisee, Arcos Dorados. The suit alleges that Arcos Dorados restaurants in Brazil regularly violate local labor laws, including paying less than the minimum wage, not paying overtime or hazard pay, and not permitting workers to take legally required breaks.
At the New York Times, Eduardo Porter critically discusses the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement’s impact on labor rights, arguing that our experience with NAFTA suggests “that no trade agreement can protect American workers on the losing side of globalization.” The Economic Report of the President, released last week, argued that the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement “will constitute the largest expansion of enforceable labor rights in history…more than quadrupling the number of people around the world covered by enforceable labor standards.” Porter suggests that a more effective answer to “the dislocations of global integration” may be to look to Europe’s “expansive labor standards and its more generous social policies.”