News & Commentary

July 30, 2018

Martin Drake

Martin Drake is a student at Harvard Law School.

Robert Reich argued in the Guardian Sunday that workers’ low wages are the result of a lack of worker bargaining power.  Reich, a former U.S. Secretary of Labor, writes that despite the 3.8 percent unemployment rate, employees don’t have the leverage to capture a larger share of profits.  He points out that 80 percent of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck.  Reich blames the lack of worker bargaining power on two economic developments:  the difficulty of joining a union, and the concentration of monopoly power.

Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan signed the city’s domestic workers’ bill of rights into law last week, Truthout reports.  Seattle is the only city in the U.S. with such a law, which establishes protections for the city’s more than 30,000 nannies, caregivers and housekeepers, who have historically been excluded from labor laws.  The law entitles domestic workers to Seattle’s minimum wage, grants them meal and rest breaks, and gives workers who live with their employers overtime pay and one day off per week.  The law also establishes a first-of-its-kind Domestic Worker Standards Board, which will identify proposals and recommendations that will raise standards for the domestic workers.

German pilots are expected to announce a strike against Ryanair today, Ireland’s Independent reports.  The budget airline has been hit by a wave of labor unrest recently; its Irish-based pilots will engage in their fourth 24-hour work stoppage this Friday.  The Friday strike is expected to cancel 20 out of Ryanair’s 300 flights that day.  Additionally, six hundred flights were cancelled last week when cabin crew members in four countries went on strike.

A Guardian investigation revealed numerous Amazon workers have suffered from workplace injuries that resulted in their homelessness.  The Guardian highlighted one worker in particular, Vickie Shannon Allen, who was injured as a result of a faulty workstation.  Amazon did little to address Allen’s injury, and it took nine months to fix the faulty workstation.  In part as a result of the ongoing injury, which prevented Allen from working regularly, Allen is now living out of her car in the Amazon parking lot.

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