Today’s News & Commentary — June 1, 2018
Las Vegas casino workers are preparing for a massive, citywide strike — the first in three decades — after contracts affecting about 50,000 union workers expired at midnight last night. The contracts govern work at some of Vegas’ biggest names, including MGM Resorts, the Bellagio, and Ceasars Palace. Management and the union have been unable to agree on a new contract amid disputes over wages and workplace safety, as resort operators object to the 4 percent wage increase over 5 years sought by workers. The Culinary Union, which includes bartenders, servers, and kitchen workers, voted to authorize the strike by an overwhelming 99 percent majority last week. Striking is powerful leverage for the union: according to estimates from the Culinary Union, the two biggest resort operators in the city could lose over $10 million a day if workers walked out.
A new report documents the stark pay gap between mothers and fathers — and finds that, on average, Latina, black, and Native American mothers with young children make about half as much as white fathers with young children. Overall, a mother working full-time, year-round is paid just 71 cents to a father’s dollar. According to the analysis from the Center for American Progress, the so-called “motherhood wage penalty” is harshest for mothers with young children, but persists even as those children age: on average, black mothers with older children make only 56 percent what white fathers with similarly-aged children make. While the report only analyzed earnings for full-time, year-round workers, it notes that mothers are more likely to work part time than fathers — so analysis including part-time workers would show an even wider gap.
A unit of Boeing South Carolina technicians voted to unionize yesterday, the first in the company’s North Charleston factory. According to Bloomberg, the union will represent over 170 flight-line workers, a subset of about 7,000 mechanics in the South Carolina plant. Boeing immediately announced plans to challenge the election, and has already filed a motion objecting to what it calls micro-unit organizing. In mid-May, the NLRB Regional Director, John Doyle, ruled that the group of flight-readiness technicians and inspectors “share a sufficiently distinct community of interest” to be a valid bargaining unit; Boeing’s appeal will now go to the Republican-majority NLRB, which acted on so-called micro-unit organizing last December. Despite the challenge, the vote is a significant win in a right-to-work state extremely hostile to unions. South Carolina has the lowest union participation rate of any state in the country and former Governor Nikki Haley personally campaigned against unionization.
Most Uber and Lyft drivers in Los Angeles drive full time, but still struggle to make ends meet, according to new study from UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. About half of Uber and Lyft drivers surveyed said that driving is their only job and about two-thirds said it was their main source of income, undermining the common narrative that ride-sharing apps are a flexible side-job for people seeking to supplement another salary. The survey also found that roughly half of drivers struggle to pay for vehicle maintenance costs, like gas.
The U.S. Supreme Court was just asked to consider whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In a landmark victory in the legal battle for LGBTQ rights, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in February that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is banned by Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination. In Zarda v. Altitude Express, the Second Circuit joined the growing consensus that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the Civil Rights Act because LGBQ workers face discrimination for defying sex-based stereotypes.