Today’s News & Commentary – February 8, 2018
Senators Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer reached a bipartisan agreement yesterday evening in the hopes of avoiding another government shutdown. The deal would raise caps on military and domestic spending and is seen by some as a victory for both sides. Their proposal faced vocal opposition from Representative Nancy Pelosi, who took to the House floor for eight hours to protest the deal’s failure to protect for immigrants brought to the United States as young children who were previously protected from deportation under DACA. The Senate is expected to vote on the deal today, with the House to follow. If they cannot pass a deal by the end of today, the government will shut down for the second time in 2018.
Under any new spending bill, the National Labor Relations Board is anticipating substantial cuts to its budget for 2019, with the Board’s General Counsel Peter Robb preparing to make possible staffing cuts in its field offices. The Board’s Chairman, Marvin Kaplan, has agreed to work with Robb to make changes to the Board’s payroll in light of anticipated budget cuts. Board Member Mark Gaston Pearce has criticized potential budget cuts, arguing that because the Board lacks the authority to launch investigations absent a private complaint, the agency as it stands “can’t afford to do the kind of outreach necessary in order to do the job.” The Board currently employs more than 1,400 full-time employees in its offices.
Six Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to NLRB Member William Emanuel this week arguing that he likely violated ethics rules by participating in matters regarding the Board’s 2015 Browning-Ferris decision. Emanuel’s former law firm, Littler Mendelson, represented one of the parties in the case, Emanuel voted with a majority of the Board to overrule in December. As reported last week, the inspector general for the NLRB has opened an investigation into Emanuel’s conduct.
In Boston, contract workers employed by Ready Jet and Flight Services & Systems began a strike at Logan Airport on Wednesday afternoon. According to the Boston Globe, dozens of workers picketed outside of the airport yesterday to protest management conduct, including threats and illegal surveillance of employees’ during their efforts to organize a union; the National Labor Relations Board has previously charged the companies with unlawful interference with workers’ rights to organize. The Boston City Council passed a Resolution in support of the workers before the strike commenced, with City Councilor Lydia Edwards stating: “these workers are the backbone of what keeps our airport moving, yet they are continually overlooked and undervalued at poverty wages… They deserve the dignity and respect to exercise their right to organize for improvements and rights while on the job, free from surveillance, threats, or acts of intimidation.”
Reuters reports that Americans are voluntarily quitting their jobs at the highest level in 17 years, indicating a strong degree of optimism about the current state of the labor market. The DOL’s Jobs Opening and Labor Turnover Survey was released this week following their report that the economy is nearing full employment and that wage growth in January is the highest it has been in over eight years.