Today’s News & Commentary — March 25, 2019
Writing in Salon on Saturday, former Department of Labor Secretary Robert Reich urged workers to join and form unions. Reich asserted that since the 1980s, anti-worker corporations and politicians have been allied in a fierce fight against worker organizing. Reich also argued that, due to declining unionization, middle-class incomes are shrinking and corporations have tremendous power over our lives, and he posited unions as the answer to a technologically evolving workplace where up to 60 million non-union workers have interest in joining a union.
In an article last week, the Wall Street Journal editorial board highlighted recent strike authorizations by workers at both the SEIU and the AFL-CIO to suggest that unions are exploiting their employees. The Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) argues that SEIU has “SEIU spent $21.6 million outsourcing work to non-union consultants in 2017, much of which should have been done by union workers.” SEIU worker are also concerned about the union’s push to undermine tenure protections. Additionally, OPEIU has gotten a trike authorization from workers at the AFL-CIO, where it has also filed a claim for unfair labor practices with the NLRB.
Vice president and New Jersey district director of 32BJ SEIU Kevin Brown wrote yesterday in the New Jersey Star-Ledger that the REAL ID Act, soon to be implemented in New Jersey, will significantly increase barriers to obtaining driver’s licenses for New Jersey residents. According to Brown, these increased barriers will be particularly stark for people from marginalized communities who are more likely to have limited or lost documentation, such as the formerly incarcerated, undocumented immigrants, victims of domestic violence, and low-income individuals. The article advocates for standard drivers licenses, that would be available regardless of the applicant’s ability to prove lawful residency, as a solution to the implementation of the REAL ID Act.
Graduate students went on strike last week at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reports. Leaders of the Graduate Employees Organization, which represents more than 1,500 graduate student university workers, said that their members are living close to poverty, “despite being highly educated professionals providing skilled labor for a multibillion-dollar institution.” The workers’ previous contract expired in September, and 99.5 percent of members formally authorized a strike in February. The union is seeking a 24 percent increase in pay over three years, plus increased tuition waivers.