Today’s News & Commentary — July 30, 2019
As the hottest month of the summer approaches, Texas workers are dying on the job at alarming rates. Every year since 2009, Texas has registered more deaths on the job than any other state. In 2017, a worker in Texas died at work every 16 hours, exceeding the number of murders in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin—combined. Texas does not require employers to have workers’ compensation insurance or provide regular rest breaks (even in the summer), and it has no state occupational safety inspection agency and the fourth lowest union representation in the nation. “Literally, we’re not holding employers liable for the lives of their workers,” Marianela Acuña Arreaza, director of the Fe y Justicia Worker Center, told the Texas Observer. Yesterday in Houston alone, two workers died from inhaling toxic fumes while working with a mobile fertilizer truck near a school, and nine workers were injured in a building collapse on a construction site.
Before NFL teams started training camp this month, the league’s owners and players union were already in talks about renewing their 10-year labor agreement, due to expire in March 2021. The league is eager to reach a new agreement soon so it can focus on broadcast negotiations. In the coming weeks, the negotiations will tackle how to share the league’s annual revenue of $14 billion. In the current collective bargaining agreement, players get about 47% of the league’s revenue, which is expected to increase to 50% in a new deal, hewing closer to the percentage NBA players receive. In response, team owners are likely to propose expanding the regular season to 18 games from the current practice of 16. However, many players—and their union—remain adamantly opposed, expressing concerns that a longer season will lead to more injuries and shorter careers. Meanwhile, professional NFL cheerleaders, who are not unionized, often barely make minimum wage.
As home health care is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country, the need for home health care workers is growing even faster. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that home health aides and personal care aides will be the third- and fourth-fastest-growing job categories between 2016 and 2026. The home care industry will have to grow by millions of workers—approximately 7.8 million—to meet the needs of an aging population over the next decade. However, industry associations say their members have struggled to recruit and retain enough workers to meet that need. Although agencies told Newsday that they are going “the extra mile” to try to attract workers in a tight employment market, none reported raising wages.
A Los Angeles Times opinion column advocated for better treatment of workers in Korean barbecue restaurants. Workers affiliated with the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance ” described a life of blatant wage theft, racial discrimination, constant stress, exploitation and job insecurity.” Although such issues are not unique to Korean barbecue or the restaurant industry, author Frank Shyong wrote, “It’s long past time to for us consider how much suffering and toil goes into the $1 taco and $3 banh mi we love to celebrate.”