News & Commentary

March 24, 2015

The United Auto Worker’s Special Convention on Collective Bargaining kicks off in Detroit today. The two-day convention, which occurs once every four years, is a key platform for members to express opinions, and for the UAW to consolidate its negotiating position. An activist group within the UAW, the Autoworker’s Caravan, has noted it believes the number one priority should be eliminating two-tier and multi-tier pay structures. Contract talks with the three major Detroit auto manufacturers begin this summer.  The Detroit Free Press reports.

A federal district court has denied the International Franchise Association’s challenge to Seattle’s new minimum wage law. The IFA had argued that Seattle’s law violated First Amendment rights by imposing additional costs on franchise marketing. The court denied the IFA’s call for a preliminary injunction, with Judge Richard Jones writing that plaintiff’s position required believing that “any regulation that impacts a franchisee’s operation costs implicates the First Amendment because it would necessarily reduce funds that would otherwise be available for ‘coordinated marketing and advertising’ and other forms of commercial speech. Plaintiffs, however, cite no case to support this expansive theory of First Amendment rights.” The opinion can be found here – the IFA is currently appealing this decision.

This morning, the NLRB’s Chairman (Mark Gaston Pearce) and General Counsel (Richard Griffin) testified before the House Appropriations Committee’s labor subcommittee. Pearce and Griffin discussed how the Board was still catching up on cases in the wake of Noel Canning, which invalidated over 100 decisions the NLRB had made. A number of House members present criticized the NLRB’s recent rule seeking to expedite union elections. The “ambush election” rule was blocked by Congress last week, and more background from OnLabor is available hereThe Hill reports.

Last night, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill lowering minimum wage for certain tipped workers. Under the new law, employers could pay tipped staff $8/hour if tips brought their pay up to $12/hour. Just last year, Minnesota had passed its first minimum wage law in in nearly a decade, increasing the wage to $9.50/hour. The Associated Press reports.

At the Wall Street Journal, David Wessel asks why many unions have taken such a strong stance against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and trade deals in general. Many labor leaders, Wessel argues, assign “a very large share . . . of the blame for stagnant wages and inequality to recent trade agreements.” Though “trade and globalization have meaningfully increased inequality in the U.S.,” Wessel argues that trade agreements are less to blame than general technological change.

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