Today's News & Commentary — March 12
In Wisconsin, the state AFL-CIO and two local unions filed a lawsuit this week arguing that Wisconsin’s new right to work law is unconstitutional, according to the New York Times. The unions argue that the law, which prohibits unions from requiring workers to pay the equivalent of dues, constitutes an unconstitutional taking of property. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he is confident the law will be upheld.
The City Council in San Jose voted today to support raising the state’s minimum wage from $9 to $13/hour, Politico reports. San Jose is the first City Council to endorse a state bill to raise the minimum wage. The city’s minimum wage is currently $10.30 an hour.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Illinois government and unions debated the constitutionality of a new pension law before the Illinois Supreme Court. The law raises the retirement age and suspends cost of living increases for retirees receiving pension benefits. Labor unions argue that the state constitution prohibits the government from impairing pension benefits. The state responds that police powers give the government discretion to modify benefits. A lower court ruled last year that the new law was unconstitutional.
Lydia DePillis, in the Washington Post, reports on the relationship between the firefighters union and the Republican Party. DePillis says, “firefighters are a special breed of union, serving as symbols of strength and valor—a helpful backdrop for politicians seeking to wrap themselves in the flag.” But “if Republicans are interested in the firefighters’ support, they had little to offer in the way of things they actually care about,” such as collective bargaining rights and strengthening the labor movement.
Politico reports that two ride-sharing cases will be heard in front of a jury. Uber and Lyft are facing separate lawsuits claiming that the companies misclassify their workers as independent contractors rather than employees. The plaintiffs in both cases are seeking class-action status and both cases are in district court in San Francisco.
In China, hundreds of employees at a Chinese shoe factory went on strike this week, the Wall Street Journal reports. The factory supplies global brands including Prada, Nike, and Adidas. Workers went on strike because they are not receiving benefits, like housing assistance. Activists say that the factory’s entire workforce of 5,000 employees went on strike. The company forced most of them to return on Wednesday, but many refused to work. A spokesman for the company who owns the factory said that only a few hundred employees went on strike.