Today’s News & Commentary — May 13, 2019
Delta flight attendants and ramp service workers are trying to unionize with the Machinists union. In response, Delta has posted a series of condescending flyers, sparking outrage and mockery from workers and community supporters. One poster stated, “Union dues cost around $700 a year. A new video game system with the latest hits sounds like fun. Put your money towards that instead of paying dues to the union.” On twitter, a Delta customer wrote, “Guess I won’t be flying @Delta again any time soon…Union dues also buy me health insurance, a stronger network to find work and stay educated on current technology, and a 401k and pension. So. $700 well spent.” Union organizer James Carlson contextualized the flyers, saying, “Delta is probably one of the most anti-union companies in the world…They’ve hired consultants to run anti-union campaigns. The flyer you saw that caused so much hubbub is just the tip of the iceberg on the tactics that Delta uses.”
The Clark County Education Association, which represents teachers and school staff in Las Vegas and the surrounding towns, voted to authorize a strike in the 2019-2020 school year if the county school district carries out threatened of budget cuts. CCEA president Vikki Courtney noted that the state legislature could prevent such budget cuts: “We are hopeful that the Governor and Democrats and Republicans will work to ensure our students and educators receive the adequate funding we need in our schools now. Educators are at the tipping point and will not start another school year with larger class sizes, fewer resources, and another salary freeze. If funds reach our schools and educators, there will be no strike. If not, then we will be forced to strike until those funds are secured.” Teachers’ strikes are illegal in Nevada, as they are in several of the other states where teachers have recently gone on strike.
Bloomberg reports that union filings of unfair labor practice charges to the NLRB have fallen by nearly 11 percent since President Trump took office. Unions are filing fewer charges at least in part because they don’t want to allow the Republican-majority NLRB to establish anti-worker legal precedents. “We don’t want to go into a legal battle and set a precedent that would ultimately jeopardize the union rights of folks across the country,” said Megan Piccirillo, a spokesperson for SEIU Local 509. Some unions are also withdrawing representation petitions for similar reasons. For instance, last year undergraduate student workers at Grinnell College withdrew a representation petition out of fear that the NLRB would use the case to reverse the Columbia decision, which cemented student workers’ unionization rights. Similarly, non-tenure track faculty at Northeastern withdrew their petition out of concern that the NLRB would classify non-tenure-track faculty as managerial workers exempt from the NLRA.
Yesterday, on Mother’s Day, USA Today reported on how US mothers — and parents of all genders — struggle with a lack of paid leave and childcare. For instance, just 17% of American workers have access to paid family leave. As a result, almost half of US mothers take less than two months of parental leave, and nearly a quarter of mothers return to work within two weeks of giving birth. Moreover, childcare costs are rising rapidly; on average, childcare costs between $12,350 to $13,900 per year, and in some cities, average childcare costs double these figures. Some parents struggle to find childcare at any price; according to the Center for American Progress, over half of Americans live in neighborhoods that are classified as “child care deserts.” California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. have all enacted paid family and medical leave programs, and in February, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) reintroduced the FAMILY Act, which which would provide workers with up to 12 weeks of paid family leave. Also in February, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-M.A.) rolled out a plan for universal, affordable childcare.