Today’s News & Commentary—May 9, 2017

Published May 9th, 2017 -  - 05.09.179


New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio signed a bill on May 3rd banning employers from asking prospective employees for their prior wages as part of their hiring process. The bill is a measure designed to reduce gender pay inequity.  As women’s pay has historically trailed behind men’s, the use of women’s prior pay to determine their present pay could unjustifiably reproduce past disparities, stunting progress on pay equity.  A week prior, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district judge’s order denying a defendant employer’s motion for summary judgment in an equal pay case, holding that the use of prior pay history could be a permissible “factor other than sex” if employers used such history reasonably and in a way that effectuated a business policy.

In an interview with CNBC over the weekend, investor Warren Buffett discussed the potential of Watson, an artificial intelligence unit proprietary to IBM and past Jeopardy! contestant, to one day replace human labor.  Though Buffett also explained that he did not believe Watson presently had such capacity, and that in fact he had sold 30% of his IBM stock in 2017, he expressed hope that Watson would eventually be able to displace workers.  “I would think the biggest value will come in when it actually replaces human labor, and machines don’t come round annually and ask for higher wages, and they don’t need health care, and maybe a little maintenance,” Buffett said.  “It should replace people in a big way, unless some other products do the same thing.”

AFL-CIO ordered yesterday the removal of leaders of the San Diego Imperial-Counties Labor Council and put the Council under receivership.  The Council’s former secretary-treasurer Jerry Butkiewicz will take over as trustee of the council and a national representative of AFL-CIO, Keith Maddox, will serve as deputy.  The decision to take over the Council was AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s.  In response to the takeover, several local unions have left the Labor Council to form a new entity, the San Diego Working Families Council.

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