Today’s News & Commentary — March 8, 2018
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Department of Labor plans to roll out a new pilot program next month in which employers may avoid civil penalties for wage and hour violations in exchange for voluntarily reporting their infractions to the federal government. Under the program, which is expected to run for a six month trial period, employers would still owe any back wages to employees who were underpaid, and any employee who accepted back wages would waive their right to sue their employer for the violation. Although DOL has argued that such a program will encourage voluntary auditing by employers and facilitate compliance with the law, the program faces opposition from the National Employment Law Project; Judi Conti, the federal advocacy coordinator for NELP called it a “get out of jail free card” for employers.
The nation’s labor unions are finding themselves at the center of next week’s special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th District, according to the Boston Herald. The election will be the first of several in 2018 to test whether the Democratic Party can regain the support of working class voters such as those in the Distract, which Donald Trump won by 20 percentage points. President Trump will be speaking to the voters this Saturday, just days after he announced his plan to impose a steel tariff to save the domestic steel industry. Before Trump won the election in 2016, the region, which has over 17,000 steelworkers, had voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Yesterday, United Airlines announced that they would “press the pause button” on proposed changes to their compensation plan in response to an outcry from United employees who signed online petitions protesting the changes. Last week, United announced they would be replacing employees’ quarterly incentive payments with the chance to enter a lottery in which workers, selected at random, could receive cash or other prizes. United’s prior, incentive-based program, rewarded flight attendants, pilots, and gate agents for meeting certain goals, while the lottery based program would reward far fewer employees, selected at random from a list of those with perfect attendance.