Today’s News & Commentary — January 27, 2017

Published January 27th, 2017 -  - 01.27.171


Teamsters president James P. Hoffa went on Fox News on Wednesday to praise President Donald Trump for some of his early actions.  Hoffa praised President Trump’s approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, his withdrawal from the TPP, and his re-shoring of jobs at Carrier and Ford Motor Company.  Hoffa also expressed hope for the future for Trump as a workers’ president, saying “He’s not just going to be the big business president; he’s going to be the president of everybody here.”  Hoffa also praised the president’s executive orders on immigration on the grounds that “anybody that has a country that anybody can walk in is a problem.”  Hoffa’s optimism for the Trump administration puts him at odds with other unions’ views towards the president, including SEIU, which cut its budgets 30% in response to the election outcome, and AFL-CIO.

The Iowa legislature is asking hundreds of state employees to forgo a 1.25% pay raise for nothing in return.  The request comes about as the state legislature is finding ways to cut $118 million in spending over the next five months.  Giving up the raise would save the state about $10 million, while each worker would give up about $61 per month.  AFSCME, which represents the state employees, voted to put the request to a member vote.  The state did not promise any protections or future benefits in return for giving up the pay raise, but the AFSCME Iowa Council 61 president Danny Homan noted in an email blast to the affected workers that giving up the raise may result in fewer layoffs at the end of the fiscal year.

The governor of Puerto Rico signed a controversial labor reform law yesterday that weakens many protections for employees in the hope that the law will attract businesses to invest in its struggling economy.  The law “implements flexible scheduling, cuts the amount of a mandatory Christmas bonus, reduces vacation days and overtime pay from double time to time-and-a-half, and implements a nine-month probation period for most workers.”  The law also creates a non-rebuttable presumption that someone is an independent contractor provided certain requirements are met.  Employees are now also have the burden of proof to show that their terminations were without just cause. These and other changes are summarized here.

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