News & Commentary

July 5, 2019

Lolita DePalma

Lolita De Palma is a student at Harvard Law School.

Today, the Trump administration’s rule barring Medicaid-funded home health aides from deducting union dues from their paychecks goes into effect. While these workers can still pay their union dues through alternative methods, the rule will place an administrative burden on both unions and their members. April Verrett, president of SEIU Local 2015 said, “When you talk about each of [the union’s members] having to figure out, on their own, a way to make that deduction without it coming out of their paycheck it’s onerous. And it would impact the resources of the local, and therefore the power of our workers.”

Even though economic growth is at record highs, working Americans are not reaping the benefits, The Washington Post reports. Matthew Mish, head of credit strategy at the investment bank UBS, estimated that 40% of Americans have not benefited from the recent economic recovery. After adjusting for inflation, the bottom half of Americans have less wealth than they did in 1989. And many, particularly families of color and older Americans, have not recovered the wealth they lost in the Great Recession. Ray Boshara, director of the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said, “Just because folks on Wall Street think things are fine doesn’t mean most Americans feel like things are fine. When every day is a rainy day for millions of families, things are not fine.”

Earlier this week, a federal court judge upheld Local 79’s right to use inflatable rat and cockroach balloons as part of its protest of Staten Island ShopRite stores owned by Mannix Family Market. Judge Nicholas Garaufis denied the employer’s request for a preliminary injunction that would bar the balloons on the basis that “Local 79’s peaceful use of stationary, inflatable rats and a cockroach to publicize a labor protest was protected by the First Amendment.” NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb has advocated for a reinterpretation of the NLRA that would classify union use of inflatables, including Scabby the Rat, as unlawful coercion. A Philadelphia case involving a Scabby the Rat inflatable is currently before the Board and may provide the NLRB with an opportunity to change the law on this issue.

In a campaign event in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren said that unions would have a voice in the transition to a public insurance system if she were elected President. Warren said, “I think what’s important is that the unions be respected in the work that they’ve done and be part of the negotiations, but we’ve got to transition to a system that works better for everyone.”

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