Today’s News & Commentary — July 22, 2015
Following its largest city, Los Angeles County voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2020. Between the county law—which applies to all unincorporated areas of the county—and the Los Angeles city legislation, more than half of the county workforce will be guaranteed more than state minimum wage. According to the Los Angeles Times, organized labor’s next challenge is to convince other local governments within the county to adopt the same increases.
The AFL-CIO leadership convenes next week, when they will meet with four presidential contenders: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and Mike Huckabee. According to Politico, the federation plans to push candidates on trade, wages and strengthening collective bargaining. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka tells Politico that the federation is seeking to pass a series of smaller bills, including an expansion of the NLRA’s coverage, new remedies for workers who win unfair labor practice cases, and possibly a proposal to make labor organizing a civil right.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the state of Illinois waived 99% of pension penalties for school districts that had given steep raises to outgoing educators. Since 2005, when the state created penalties for hefty raises for retiring teachers, school districts have amassed more than $150 million in penalties. But after finding loopholes in state law, more than half the districts have avoided paying the majority of their penalty bills.
In Kenya, teachers unions are appearing before the Court of Appeal today to defend a judgment that requires the government to increase their salaries, reports the Daily Nation. A lower court called on the government to increase teacher pay by 50-60% over the next four years. The government claims it cannot afford the salary increases, which go into effect immediately, and that the order takes away the parties’ freedom to negotiate voluntarily through the collective bargaining process.