Today’s News & Commentary — March 20
The LA Times reports that farmworkers in Baja California have vowed to continue striking after negotiations failed on Wednesday. Authorities arrested farmworkers during protests and have refused to release them. Baja California is located about 200 miles south of San Diego. Mexico has sent hundreds of soldiers and law enforcement officers to the region after protesters managed to shut down the main highway between the coastal agricultural fields and California export markets. Farmworkers, who currently earn about $8 to $12 a day, are demanding higher salaries and government benefits like social security. Union leaders also want the government to release those arrested and to lift arrest warrants for several union leaders.
Craig Becker, the General Counsel to the AFL-CIO, wrote a Letter to the Editor in The New York Times. Becker argues that right-to-work laws “make collective bargaining more difficult by requiring that union members pay for the representation of nonmembers.” Citing the decline in union representation over the past few decades and the International Monetary Fund, Becker argues that the decline has led to the “increasing share of income going to the top 10 percent instead of into workers’ pockets.”
According to The New York Times, a NYU professor has been barred from entering the United Arab Emirates possibly after criticizing the “exploitation of migrant construction workers” during the construction of NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus. Andrew Ross was told that he could not board his flight to U.A.E. because of “security concerns.” In an article in the Opinion page last year, Ross argued that if institutions like NYU are to “operate with any integrity” in such labor conditions, “they must insist on a change of the rules: abolish the recruitment debt system, pay a living wage, allow workers to change employers at will and legalize the right to collective bargaining.” In the meantime, NYU and the government of Abu Dhabi have announced that an international investigative firm will prepare a report on labor conditions on the campus.
Politco reports that the International Franchise Association (IFA) and the National Restaurant Association have decried a federal judge’s decision not to enjoin Seattle’s minimum wage law. The law is set to go into effect on April 1st. The IFA argues that the law is discriminatory toward franchisees because it classifies them as big businesses. Lydia Depillis of The Washington Post writes that the outcome of the legal struggle “could have massive implications for how easy it is to unionize — or at least how much care the franchisors take in making sure employees are treated lawfully.”