Today’s News & Commentary — May 22, 2017
Over the weekend, over 35,000 AT&T workers in 36 states and DC went on strike in protest of AT&T’s failure to provide a satisfactory labor agreement. Major picket lines formed in New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Workers have alleged that AT&T has cut sick leave and disability benefits, and outsourced many jobs. Workers return back to work today.
Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron will meet tomorrow with union leaders to discuss labor reform. President Macron made liberalizing labor and employment regulations a large part of his election platform, including promising to swiftly use executive decrees to unilaterally change labor laws. Among his proposed changes include making labor negotiations occur on a company-wide rather than industry-wide level. French Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe, appointed by Macron last week, has stated that his government would “go fast” to implement the changes Macron proposes.
The New York Times has published an article on the mixed relationship between Pittsburgh city officials and Uber that’s developed ever since Pittsburgh opened its gates to Uber to make its streets the first testing center for driverless cars. Mayor Bill Peduto was criticized in the Democratic primary by competitors for being insufficiently demanding of Uber, not getting any commitments from the company to benefit the city in writing. Peduto previously had celebrated his good relationship with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick; the two personally communicated via text. But the relationship has gotten strained, with Mayor Peduto alleging that Uber has backtracked on a promise to make its driverless cars free to the Pittsburgh public. For its part, Uber claims that it has created 675 jobs in the greater Pittsburgh area.
In another article on labor-adjacent issues published yesterday, the New York Times reports on the labor shortage in Utah, where unemployment rates are among the lowest in the country. Companies are having trouble fulfilling customer demand with the labor shortage, despite offering relatively high wages. The labor shortage has also stunted Utah’s efforts to mimic Silicon Valley in being a hub for technology. Many companies have hired out-of-state workers and persuaded them to relocate to Utah to make up for the deficit.