Today’s News & Commentary — July 17, 2018
Seven fast food chains will stop enforcing “no poaching” agreements at all of their locations nationwide after an investigation by 11 state Attorney Generals. About 80% of fast food workers are constricted by these anti-competitive clauses, which critics say is an illegal practice that drives down wages for millions of workers. Arby’s, Auntie Anne’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Carl’s Jr., Cinnabon, Jimmy John’s, and McDonald’s have agreed to drop the practice. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have introduced legislation in Congress to make the practice illegal.
Last week, President Trump signed an executive order that would enable his administration to choose administrative law judges for regulatory agencies including the NLRB. Such judges are typically promoted from the federal civil service, but the order will give greater power to Trump-appointed agency heads in the selection process. The move followed last month’s Supreme Court ruling in Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission, which upended regulatory procedures for appointments that have been in place since the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act.
A proposed regulation to relax child labor law to allow teenagers to work longer hours in hazardous jobs is one step closer to becoming law. The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division sent the proposed rule, which would change the Hazardous Occupations Orders that prohibit 16- and 17-year-old apprentices from training in certain dangerous jobs including roofing and operating chainsaws, to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs on July 14. OIRA will review the proposal before it is published for public comment.
The DC City Council introduced legislation to overturn Initiative 77, also known as One Fair Wage, which voters passed by a 12% vote margin just last month. Seven Council members have already signed on to the repeal legislation, which needs seven votes to pass. Initiative 77 supporters are hoping to convince at least one Council member to withdraw their support or attempt to negotiate a compromise bill. In the meantime, Congressional Republicans introduced an amendment to block Initiative 77, by stipulating that “none of the funds made available under [the budget] may be used by the District of Columbia government to carry out the District of Columbia Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2017.” DC was poised to become the first major U.S. city to phase out the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.
Last week, the New York Times reported that “paychecks lag as profits soar” across the United States. While unemployment is at record lows and many industries complain of worker shortages, wages simply aren’t increasing even as prices are. As a result, according to the OECD, American workers’ share of the wealth they produce has fallen rapidly.