News & Commentary

February 27, 2015

The LA Times reports that news of Wisconsin’s impending right-to-work law would make the state the 25th state in the country to abolish union fees. The move is part of Republican Governor Scott Walker’s platform, which “some see as strong enough to carry him to the presidential nomination.” Conservatives argue that no one should be forced to join a union or pay its fees. In 1944, Arkansas became the first state to enact a right-to-work law, which appealed to many states in the Midwest. Wisconsin’s move comes at a time when union participation is at a 50-year low. Currently, about 12% of the general workforce is part of a union, including 7% of private sector employees. An Opinion piece notes that Wisconsin’s adoption of the measure would “mean that half the states will have barred requiring workers to pay dues to the unions that represent them in collective bargaining.”

According to The New York Times, all employees who work for tips in New York City will see an increase in their minimum wage to $7.50 an hour by the end of the year. The new law intends to consolidate different categories of tipped workers, whose base minimum wage range from $4.90 to $5.65. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has stated that he believes the statewide minimum wage for nontipped workers should be $10.50 an hour and $11.50 an hour in New York City due to the cost of living. Meanwhile, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has argued that the city’s rate should be $13 an hour and eventually $15 an hour. New York’s statewide minimum wage is set to rise from $8.75 to $9 at the end of the year.

Although port operators and dockworkers reached a tentative deal last week to end delays, some retailers are still experiencing repercussions. Macy’s and Home Deport announced that they were “still trying to untangle gridlocked shipments at West Coast ports, a logistical nightmare that has affected merchants across the country.” One retail analyst predicted that no retailer was immune to the West Coast delays. However, traditional retailers that cancel their late deliveries may inadvertently benefit discount retailers like T.J. Maxx and Nordstrom Rack which will be able to take advantage of the goods in the marketplace.

In international news, Brazilian truckers set up almost 100 blockades to protest higher taxes and low incomes. This comes after the government and truckers’ unions announced an agreement Wednesday in an attempt to end the protests. Truckers want the government to lower the diesel fuel tax, which increased in February, and to create minimum payments for transportation services. The Brazilian Justice Minister, José Eduardo Cardozo, stated that it has been difficult negotiating with and fining organizers as “there is no single group coordinating the protests.” Meanwhile, Brazil’s unemployment rate rose to the highest level in more than a year in January.



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