Today’s News & Commentary — June 23, 2015
The Daily Beast published an extensive story on the efforts of Cablevision and its executive James Dolan to fight the Communications Workers of America in the three years since some Cablevision employees voted to join the union. Noting that the National Labor Relations Board accused Dolan and Cablevision of violating federal labor law by committing unfair labor practices previous to an agreement with the union signed in February, the story highlights that Cablevision must appear before an Administrative Law Judge today to address back pay claims by workers who were fired and reinstated during the unionization campaign. The three years of fighting between the CWA and Cablevision are covered in detail.
General Electric has “reached tentative agreement with its two biggest U.S. unions on a four-year national labor contract after three weeks of talks,” Reuters reports. The agreement is with the IUE-CWA and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, who together represent 16,500 of GE’s 136,000 U.S. workers.
Reuters also notes that some of the last striking workers in the United Steelworkers refinery labor dispute over pay, benefits and safety policies are voting on a tentative agreement. While a national agreement was reached March 12, previously covered by OnLabor, workers at some refineries continued striking while negotiations continued over local issues. The local agreement being voted on concerns more than 1,000 workers at Marathon Petroleum Corp’s Galveston Bay Refinery.
The Wall Street Journal reports that union negotiations in South Africa’s mining sector are underway. The negotiations between gold mine operators, who bargain through the Chamber of Mines of South Africa and employ 94,000 workers, and the unions, which represent over 80% of those workers, have thus far been over wage increases and employment conditions.
According to Marketwatch, major German airline Lufthansa was given a deadline of June 30th by the union that represents 19,000 flight attendants to propose an acceptable contract proposal or face the possibility of a strike. The union, UFO, and the airline have been in arbitration per a previous agreement.
In a New York Times op-ed, business consultant Fran Sussner Rodgers discusses the anticipated adjustment to the federal overtime salary threshold and “the clash between the finite amount of time employees actually have versus the desire of employers to treat time as an inexhaustible resource,” which she believes impacts everyone irrespective of whether they are covered by federal overtime law. Rodgers argues that Americans do resent long hours spent on work that is of little value and that employers have little incentive to reduce hours despite inefficiencies. She concludes that “this summer’s change in overtime rules can be an opening round in a long-overdue examination of how our finite time is used and compensated.”
Writing for The Upshot, Claire Cain Miller discusses the growing momentum for a federal paid sick and family leave law, recently covered by OnLabor. She notes that the United States is the “only industrialized country that doesn’t provide workers with any sort of paid leave as part of government policy” and that studies have shown the lack of such a policy hurts the American economy. Miller predicts that “paid leave now seems most likely to follow a political path similar to the one that minimum-wage increases and preschool expansions have taken in recent years,” with changes primarily at the state and local level. She also highlights positions taken by economists, corporations and Democrats.