Today’s News & Commentary — March 9, 2015
The New York Times reports that Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has signed the “Right-to-Work” Bill passed by the legislature last week. This makes Wisconsin the 25th state to adopt a private-sector right to work law. According to Bloomberg, Gov. Walker stated as he signed the bill into law, “Our leaders here led. . . It was the leadership you see here who drove the train on this.” The National Review highlights the law as one more bullet point on Walker’s list of conservative bonafides, including: cutting $2 billion in state taxes, converting a $3.6 billion deficit into a $517 million surplus, expanding school choice, requiring voter ID cards, and terminating taxpayer subsidies for Planned Parenthood.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that teachers at Franklinton Preparatory Academy are still awaiting the results of last week’s vote to form a union. Of thirteen votes cast, five supported the union, four were against, a tenth was left blank, and three have been sealed. Teachers at Franklinton Prep would be the first educators at a startup charter school in Ohio to officially vote in a union. Teachers at forty conversion schools, schools that transition from being sponsored by school districts to charters, are already members of the Ohio Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union.
According to MassLive, the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), the largest teacher union in Massachusetts, has responded to Paul F. Ware Jr., Michael B. Keating, and William F. Lee’s plan to sue the Commonwealth to overturn the cap on charter schools. As profiled in the Boston Globe, these attorneys state that the cap denies urban students the right to quality education. MTA President Barbara Madeloni stated in response, “The real threat to our students — and to our democracy — is the two-tiered school system funded by public dollars that charter proponents will go to any lengths to expand.” Madeloni went on to say, the lawsuit “will represent just one more step in the effort to dismantle public education, put public resources into private hands, and undermine the schools in our poorest communities.”
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has called on state lawmakers to boost the minimum wage from $9.00 per hour to $10.10 per hour. According to the Associated Press, she discussed the increase today at a meeting of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 328. The General Assembly approved a $1.00 raise last year to $9.00 per hour.
ThinkProgress reports that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of five NFL teams facing fair wage lawsuits, reached at $825,000 settlement with two former cheerleaders. In the lawsuit, cheerleader Manouchcar Pierre-Val alleged that she and other cheerleaders were paid less than $2 per hour. The Buccaneers did not admit wrongdoing as part of the suit, but did begin paying their cheerleaders the minimum wage during the 2014-2015 NFL season.
The New York Times published a bio of Lawrence R. Scanlon Jr., former political director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) from 1995 until his retirement in 2012. Mr. Scanlon was killed in a car accident on February 27, 2015. Chris Policano, the former communications director of AFSCME described Mr. Scalon as “the Obi-Wan Kenobi of political activism.” Mr. Scalon was known for multiplying AFSCME’s political war chest by a factor of five and using the funds to combat Republican-sponsored, anti-public union initiatives.
In commentary, Saket Soni at the Nation describes a recent jury award of $14 million to H2-B guestworkers in damages against their employer, a Gulf Coast ship and oil-rig builder. The Indian guestworkers’ claims against the company included human trafficking, forced labor, discrimination, and racketeering. Soni relates the worker’s greatest fear, the fear of admitting to their loved ones back home that they had failed to achieve the American Dream, to his own experience becoming undocumented after graduating from the University of Chicago.