Today's News & Commentary — February 19, 2016
The New York Times reports that the powerful Culinary Workers Union in Nevada, typically known for strong political involvement and high voter turnout among its 57,000 members, has decided to sit out the democratic presidential caucases this weekend. Although both Clinton and Sanders’ campaigns have pushed the union leaders to change their minds, it seems like they aren’t budging. The union is refusing to take sides in order to save resources now as it enters into critical contract negotiations so that it can focus its resources on the general election later.
The NYT also highlights a number of states that are seeing Republicans at the state level of government passing bills that undermine progressive labor laws passed at the local and city level. Specifically, state legislators have pre-empted or nullified pro-labor laws including local minimum wage increases (AL, ID, IL, MN, MT, PA, and WA), fair scheduling laws (IN, KS, NM), paid leave ordinances (PA and WA). The backlash is “championed almost entirely by Republicans,” and speaks to “both to the successes of labor advocates and the strength of the forces arrayed against them.”
A law guaranteeing workers access to paid sick leave is about to pass in Vermont, according to Politico. The Senate’s version of the bill, which requires employers to give workers 3 paid sick days per year, was just approved by the Vermont House 81-64. The bill will now go to the governer for final approval.
Last week, the number of jobless claims in the U.S. fell to its lowest level since November, per the Wall Street Journal. In the week ending on Feb. 13, unemployment claims fell 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 262,000, indicating fewer layoffs and a strong labor market.