Today's News & Commentary – March 30

Published March 30th, 2015 -  - 03.30.157


The New York Times published letters in response to a March 18 editorial on “E-Verify” and H.R. 1147, a proposal in Congress that would require that every new hire in the United States be electronically verified.  Gabriel Camacho, the Immigration Programs Coordinator at the American Friends Service Committee, writes that “E-Verify would harm employers, workers and the economy,” while Kerry Martin, an intern at Migrant Justice, writes that “[t]he proposal is more valid as a potential opportunity for bipartisan consensus than as an actual solution to unjust, unrealistic immigration policy.”

The Boston Globe writes that NBA Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts is “optimistic that not only a new deal [between the NBA players and the League] could be reached without another work stoppage, but perhaps prior to the current CBA expiration.”  When asked whether a deal could get done before 2017, Roberts said, “Sure. Wouldn’t it be great for everybody, the players, for the owners, and God knows the fans, if we could say these were the major issues that we knew we had to deal with and we saw no reason to wait until 2017, so we got them done? Not only is there not going to be any opting out, but we’ve agreed to these new terms and an extension of the CBA. Wouldn’t everybody just be delighted? It would be great for the game.”

This weekend, thousands of Italians marched through Rome to protest Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s labor market reforms.  Reuters reports that the march was organized by Italy’s main engineering union, the FIOM, whose leader Maurizio Landini is trying to unite the fragmented political left into a “social coalition” against Renzi.  Renzi, who has said that he wants to “revolutionize Italy with institutional and economic reforms,” has thus far “shown scant regard to numerous strikes and protests against his year-old government by workers, students and opposition parties.”

The Hill reports that on Monday, a NLRB administrative law judge will begin weighing whether McDonald’s should be responsible for “what employees say are poor working conditions and low pay at many of its franchise restaurants.”  As covered previously by On Labor, this decision could be the first time that a major franchisor would be found culpable for labor violations at individual chains, following a finding last year by the NLRB’s lead attorney that McDonald’s should be treated as a “joint employer.”

The New York Times highlights the “bumpy road” that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing in his attempts to ban credit checks for job applicants.  Mayor Bill de Blasio voiced support for a ban on employers denying jobs to applicants with poor credit histories, though “he signaled he might consider exemptions.”  The policy-making and coalition-building under de Blasio’s administration is seen by the New York Times as “pragmatic” while still embodying a “liberal agenda” to “improve the lives of ordinary working people.”

NPR featured a story on the current state of the workers’ compensation system in America, highlighting how some employees find it difficult to get or keep the medical treatment their doctors prescribe because of recent workers’ compensation reforms.  A ProPublica/NPR investigation of a decade of changes in American workers’ compensation laws shows that these ten states have given employers and insurance companies more control over medical treatment decisions, with insurers and employers able to bring in “outside doctors who can challenge and, in some states, over-rule the workers’ physicians.”

Dairy farmers in Upstate New York are disappointed at lack of Federal immigration reform, reports the Los Angeles Times.  Farmers are “in a quandary.”  On one hand, dairy farms have grown because of popularity of yogurt in recent years and drought in other milk-producing countries, but at the same time, farmers are “battling to find the reliable, year-round labor that 24/7 milking operations require.”  The article states that “[l]ocals won’t do the dirty, manual jobs, farmers say, and immigration laws limit farmers to importing only seasonal agricultural employees,” instead of the year-round full-time workers that dairy farms need to thrive.

The Los Angeles Times writes about the farm crisis in India, which has been compounded by recent drought and a “dearth of government aid” to farmers.  The lack of farming forces former farmers to become migrant laborers, with villages in the western state of Maharashtra losing almost their entire workforce as farmers leave to find work.

The San Jose Mercury News writes that family members of labor leader Cesar Chavez led a march in his honor Saturday in San Jose, and some supporters are using his birthday celebrations to revive a movement to make Chavez a Catholic saint.  “This is the beginning of a campaign to canonize Cesar Chavez.  When you look at Cesar’s life — and all the lives he touched — that’s a miracle,” said Rudy Chavez Medina, Chavez’s nephew.  The process of officially declaring someone a Catholic saint requires a long, complicated investigation by the Catholic Church, usually to prove that the person miraculously cured physical ailments.  But as Dave Cortese, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, said “Social transformation qualifies as a miracle.  It doesn’t need to be just physical healing.”

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