Today’s News & Commentary — November 29, 2015
Walmart protests this weekend were short and sweet, thanks to a split in worker organizing. The OUR Walmart campaign, launched by the United Food and Commercial Worker Union to agitate for better conditions and higher pay, has drifted from the UFCW. Rather organize Black Friday protests, the UFCW focused on advertisements calling out problems with the company. The Huffington Post noted that, in spite of the relatively few protesters, Walmart’s PR team was outside its Washington, D.C. store, ready to pride Walmart on the benefits and wages it offers.
Native American leaders are lobbying to exempt casinos from the National Labor Relations Act. The National Indian Gaming Association argues casinos provide a crucial part of tribes’ budgets, and those tribes cannot afford labor disputes. The AFL-CIO opposes the measure, seeking the same protections for the 600,000 casino employees as in other workplaces. Unite Here has already reached labor agreements with some individual tribes. According to the Wall Street Journal, President Obama said he would support the measure if tribes were forced to adopt regulations with standards equivalent to the NLRA.
Contractors for the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority are demanding higher wages, writes the New York Times. Employees at a calling center that links people with disabilities to rides from the city’s transit service earn between $9-11 per hour. Although they work for a state agency, as employees of the calling center, they will not receive the $15 minimum wage promised to state workers. In addition to low wages, the workers allege unfair firing of hundreds of workers, discrimination, and sexual harassment. Last year, the workers voted to join Transport Workers Union Local 100.
Thailand’s labor woes continue. Shortly after facing allegations of slavery in the Thai seafood industry, a major Thai poultry producer has been found to violate labor rights. Finnwatch and Swedwatch, two corporate responsibility groups, released a report alleging forced labor, exorbitant recruitment fees, and confiscation of documentation at six poultry processing plants. According to the Associated Press, Thai food manufacturers have preemptively released statements condemning worker exploitation in recent weeks.