News & Commentary

February 25, 2015

The Wisconsin State Legislature began consideration Tuesday of a right-to-work bill, which would permit workers in the state who choose not to join a union, but who nevertheless benefit from union-negotiated contracts, to avoid paying fair-share fees.  The Washington Post reports that Republican leaders planned to fast-track the bill, with the goal of finalizing it before large-scale protests—like those seen in the state in 2011 when Republicans curbed the power of public employee unions—are able to materialize.  The New York Times reports that while protests at the Capitol “evoked memories of sustained protests in 2011 . . . this year’s crowds were smaller, and the bill’s passage seemed likely.”  The passed out of committee by a vote of 3 to 1, paving the way for its consideration by the full Senate.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, newly elected Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf on Tuesday indicated that he would soon announce plans for a “broad-based tax increase,” as well as an increase in the state’s minimum wage.  Citing Walmart’s recent decision to raise its workers’ wages to $10 per hour by 2016, Wolf said that “I think an increase to $10.10 makes sense.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Facebook’s bus drivers, who shuttle employees between the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters and San Francisco, voted unanimously to approve their first union contract.  The drivers voted in November to join the Teamsters, “amid complaints that they are underpaid, overworked and unfairly compensated for time on the job.”  The new contract includes an increase in average pay for the drivers from $18 per hour to $24.50 per hour, as well as addressing complaints about working conditions.

In international news, the Associated Press reports that Brazilian labor unions are suing McDonald’s and its local franchisee, alleging 30 years of labor violations.  The suit “seeks to prevent McDonald’s from opening new stores until it complies with legislation and asks that it be slapped with penalties of up to 30 percent of its revenue in Brazil.”

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