Today's News & Commentary — May 7, 2015

Published May 7th, 2015 -  - 05.07.1513


The New York Times writes about the working conditions of the city’s manicurists. New employees, most of whom are immigrants, begin by paying a “training fee.” Their employers often do not pay the manicurists at all for the first few months, and when the workers do begin to earn a paycheck, their wages fall far below minimum wage. The New York State Labor Department recently conducted a nail salon sweep, finding 116 wage violations in 29 salons. Employers have also docked the workers’ tips for minor incidents, prohibited them from speaking during their shift, and physically abused them.

Andrew Cuomo argues that New York should raise the wages of fast-food workers in an op-ed for the New York Times. “Nowhere is the income gap more extreme and obnoxious than in the fast-food industry,” he writes. Cuomo will direct the state labor commissioner this week to investigate whether fast-food workers’ wages are sufficient. Lydia DePillis, writing in the Washington Post, discusses Cuomo’s proposal, pointing out that it is unusual to focus on one industry but the political moment may be right.

A majority of the Senate decided that the legislative session was too busy to focus on overturning President Obama’s veto of a resolution blocking the National Labor Relations Board’s new union election rule, according to Politico. The Senate voted 96-3 to table the measure. 

Politico reports that the New Jersey Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday about whether Chris Christie broke the law when he cut public pension funds. In 2011 Christie struck a deal with labor unions, promising to pay billions of dollars into the state’s pension system if public unions agreed to a cut in benefits, NPR explains. Tax revenues did not grow as quickly as expected, Christie never made the payments, and the public unions sued. Christie’s lawyers will argue that the 2011 pension law he signed is unconstitutional.

German industrial giant Siemens will cut 4,500 jobs, the New York Times reports. The company cites the drop in oil prices, regulatory changes, competition, and regional overcapacities as contributing to its decision. Labor representatives, who by German law have half of the seats on the supervisory board, protested the job losses. In response, Siemens cut 400 fewer jobs than originally planned.

The Wall Street Journal reports that private jobs rose only slightly in April. The private sector added 160,000 jobs last month, according to a national employment report released by Moody’s Analytics and payroll processor Automatic Data Processing Inc.

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