Today's News & Commentary— May 16, 2016
The Massachusetts Teachers Association has dedicated over $9 million to combat the ballot initiative that would lift the current cap on charter schools throughout the Commonwealth, reports The Boston Globe. Over 1,600 of the union’s registered delegates voted to earmark the funds over the weekend at an annual meeting held at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center. They also used the time to reelect Barbara Madeloni to another two-year term as president. Madeloni says that the money will be used to catalyze a grass-roots movement that will “reclaim public education from corporate interests.” Yet whether there is the momentum for that movement remains unclear. According to a recent Globe poll, more than fifty percent of likely voters said they would support lifting the charter schools cap, while thirty-three percent said they were opposed and sixteen percent undecided.
The New York Times featured Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and his call for “conscious capitalism” in an article over the weekend. The Times caught up with Secretary Perez while he was in New York City promoting companies, like Union Square Hospitality Group and Managed by Q, that are raising wages, increasing employees perks, and embracing other socially-responsive policies, all without government direction. Secretary Perez told the Times that the key to improving working conditions for America’s workforce is to convince more companies in the business community that it is actually in their self-interest to help their employees. “It’s not a zero-sum world where you either take care of your workers or you take care of your shareholders,” he told the Times. “You can do good and do well, too.”
An Uber passenger-turned-driver describes her disillusionment with the company, and with ride-sharing more generally, in an Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times. Enticed by stories of drivers making $4,000 to $6,000 a month playing cabbie, Sandra Vahtel joined the Uber ranks when she found herself short on cash. But for Vahtel that promised payday never came. On one of her first days on the job she grossed just $11 an hour before gas, insurance, and income tax. Yet the take home pay was not the only problem for Vahtel. Because Uber threatens to deactivate drivers’ accounts if their rating falls below 4.6 stars, Vahtel found herself under constant stress as disgruntled passengers docked her for behavior that was unintended or simply out of her control. She laments, now, for having patronized ride-sharing services at the expense of traditional full-time taxis. “I’ll join the half of rideshare drivers who quit within a year and go back to being a passenger — one who no longer complains about an $18 fare to get across town.”