Today’s News & Commentary — March 19, 2019
The Maryland State Senate just approved a $15 minimum wage by 32 to 15 — with enough votes to override a possible veto by Republican Governor Larry Hogan. Hogan has instead proposed raising the minimum wage to $12.10 an hour in 2025, and Senate Democrats believed he was likely to veto the bill. The state House of Delegates also passed the legislation by a large majority, virtually guaranteeing that the state will phase in a higher wage. The bill now heads to a conference committee to reconcile differences between the Senate and House bills, most notably over the Senate’s slower schedule for raising the wage. The House bill would gradually raise the minimum wage for all employers to $15 by 2025, whereas the Senate would include a slower increase for businesses with fewer than 15 people, which would not have to pay a $15 minimum until 2028.
The White House’s budget proposal would cut the NLRB’s budget by 12 percent, funding the agency at just $242 million for fiscal year 2020. The proposal also includes massive cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and SNAP, an end to the student Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and a ten percent cut to the Department of Labor’s discretionary funding. But with Democrats in control of the House, the President’s budget plan “will likely have a short lifespan in Congress,” Vox explains.
More than 10,000 nurses at three of New York City’s largest hospitals may got on strike in early April. The New York State Nurses Association submitted a 10-day notice for a strike at the Montifore Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital systems, as contract negotiations continue. Nurses voted overwhelmingly — 97 percent to 3 — to authorize a strike earlier this month. In particular, nurses are demanding increased staffing: union officials say that patient care is suffering because of nurses’ high caseload. Union officials told ABC that staffing levels have left nurses caring for up to 19 patients at a time. Unless hospitals reach an agreement with the union, nurses will go on strike on April 2.
Sacramento teachers voted to authorize a potential strike — with over 90 percent of the Sacramento City Teachers Association voting in favor. Sacramento will be the third major California district to face a teachers strike, following walkouts in Los Angeles and Oakland that secured pay increases and more school support staff, including nurses, counselors, and speech therapists, for students.
Beloved labor economist Alan Kreuger passed away this weekend. Krueger, who was known for his high-impact research about labor, first gained prominence in the 1990s for overturning the conventional wisdom that increases in the minimum wage would gut job growth. Krueger, along with his co-author David Card, analyzed the effects of minimum wage increases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania — and found, “contrary to the central prediction of the textbook model of minimum wage,” no evidence that increasing the minimum wage reduced employment at fast-food restaurants. The paper began a renewed debate over the minimum wage. More recently, Krueger co-authored a paper showing the growing threat posed by so-called “no-poach agreements,” in which fast-food franchises prohibit workers from going to work at other fast-food establishments. Krueger was the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors under President Obama and the James Madison Professor of Political Economy at Princeton University.