News & Commentary

June 17, 2015

Yesterday, a week after a parallel bill passed through committee in the Senate, the House Education and Workforce Committee held a hearing on legislation that would prohibit the NLRB from asserting jurisdiction over Native American employers on reservations, according to Politico.  This legislative activity follows the NLRB’s recent decision to decline to assert jurisdiction over the Chickasaw Nations, and the Sixth Circuit’s ruling granting the NLRB jurisdiction on labor relations over the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.  On Monday, the Supreme Court granted cert in a case deciding whether Dollar General must face a tribal court in a sexual assault case filed by a former intern and Native American.  Many legal experts anticipate the Supreme Court will take this opportunity to decide the sovereignty question as it relates to the NLRB.

The New York Times reports the Dominican Republic, where there are an estimated 524,000 foreign-born migrant workers—about 90% of whom are Haitian—is giving undocumented workers until today to register their presence in the country to avoid being deported.  These Haitian workers generally cross the border to cut sugar cane, clean homes, and babysit.  The migrant workers who have registered so far have been granted a 45-day grace period during which they can complete the documentation process.  Many believe the relative silence from other countries, like the United States, reflects the “troubled relationship” these countries have with migrant workers themselves.

Despite a law requiring children under 14 to be in school full time, according to the Los Angeles Times, millions of boys and girls in India still hold jobs.  India has declared it wants to end child labor, and last month, attempting to strike a balance between promoting childhood education and supporting the Indian economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet approved amendments to a child labor law.  The amendments would allow children to work in “family enterprises” outside school hours, but bar them from mining, manufacturing fireworks, and other dangerous professions.  Trade unions support the law, but many nonprofits worry this government proposal might actually push more children into the workforce, with the “family” loophole providing legal cover for many employers; all they have to do is claim to be a distant uncle.

According to TIME Magazine, Cardinal David Wuerl spoke in Washington on Monday at a conference cosponsored by the Catholic University of America and the AFL-CIO.  Marking the first time in recent years that Catholic leaders spoke at the AFL-CIO, the event broadcast the hope that Pope Francis’s September trip to the U.S. will bring renewed hope to the labor movement.  The speakers stressed a moral and theological foundation for raising wages for laborers.  This is the latest in a series of steps by the labor movement to use Pope Francis’s visit to support workers, following last week’s lobbying efforts in the Holy See to address income inequality, race relations, and immigration reform in his visit.

Last week, according to Lydia DePillis at The Washington Post, Hand in Hand, which advises employers on how to treat in-home helpers better, spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative, announcing the “Fair Care pledge,” a voluntary commitment by employers to pay living wages—varying by area—and two weeks paid time off.  Hand in Hand works with the National Domestic Worker Alliance (NDWA) and, an employment website that connects caregivers for the aging with employers, to support the caregivers in America—the Census Bureau counted 726,000 in 2010, but this number grows every year due to the country’s aging population—who the NDWA has found to be extremely underpaid.

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