Today’s News & Commentary— May 17, 2016
A rift developed in organized labor after building trade unions objected to the AFL-CIO’s partnering with environmentalist and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer to create a new super pac called For Our Future designed to drive voter turnout in key states, according to the Washington Post. Members of the building trade unions object to the alliance because Steyer had opposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that the builders’ unions hoped would create jobs. Under the agreement, Steyer has pledged to match all contributions made by the unions–a move that bolsters organized labor’s political clout as its own membership and funds have waned.
The New York Times explored anti-union tactics deployed by Amazon to prevent workers at its warehouses or “fulfillment centers” from organizing. The article noted that warehouse employees’ concerns centered mainly on termination and disciplinary protections rather than pay and benefits. Workers interviewed by the Times reported being fired after promoting union membership and reprimanded after questioning management about bonuses. In one colorful case, an Amazon manager told workers an emotional story about a union abandoning his family after his father died. Research into the claims revealed inconsistencies in the story, including that the manager’s father had worked in insurance for three decades and had been a partner at an agency when he died.
The Department of Labor’s new rule expanding overtime eligibility is expected to be unveiled as early as this week, according to USA Today. The rule would change the current maximum salary bar for administrative and professional workers from $26,660 to $47,000, according to individuals familiar with the final version. The expansion would cover approximately $5 million more workers and include a mechanism to automatically raise the maximum salary restraint in the future.