Today’s News & Commentary — July 15, 2019
On Sunday, The Wall Street Journal explored the disconnect between the current record-low unemployment rate and wage stagnation. Theoretically, a low unemployment rate should lead to wage inflation because employers need to boost pay to attract new employees. However, wages have failed to rise as the unemployment rate has decreased. This has led economists to abandon the unemployment rate as a means of gauging the health of the job market. Instead, they have turned to other measures like the underemployment rate, which factors in those who want to rejoin the labor force or switch from part-time to full-time employment.
Proctor & Gamble, one of U.S. Soccer’s official sponsors, took out a full-page New York Times advertisement on Sunday to demonstrate its support for equal pay for the United States women’s soccer team. The company also said that it is making a donation of $529,000 to the women’s national team’s players association, $23,000 for each member of the 23-player World Cup roster. Megan Rapinoe responded by stressing the power of corporate support on “Meet the Press.” “These are some of the most powerful corporations, not just in sports but in the world, and have so much weight that they can throw around,” she said. “And I think that they just need to get comfortable with throwing it around.”
Héctor Figueroa died of a heart attack on Thursday. He was 57. As president of New York’s 32BJ SEIU, Figueroa represented more than 170,000 building cleaners, security guards, doormen, and airport workers. He supported the Fight for 15 and led airport workers to securing a minimum wage of $19 an hour. “Héctor was a champion for working people, minorities, the poor, the voiceless,” said Governor Cuomo in a statement. On Friday, The New York Times published a letter authored by Figueroa before his death. The letter calls for revitalizing the labor movement by expanding union activism on behalf of non-unionized workers.
Kaiser Permanente’s employees, represented by the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions or CKPU, are heading towards a strike. CKPU includes most Kaiser employees who are not doctors, registered nurses, or mental health workers. The majority of these workers are based in California. CKPU’s contract expired September 30th and talks on a new contract have broken down. CKPU members will vote in late July or early August on whether to authorize a strike. Los Angeles grocery store workers are readying themselves for a strike as well. They have been operating without an official contract since March and negotiations broke down in June.