News & Commentary

November 30, 2016

Hannah Belitz

Hannah Belitz is a student at Harvard Law School.

On Tuesday, the SEIU-backed Fight for $15 movement staged a nationwide “day of disruption” to demand, according to the New York Times and Politico, a $15-an-hour minimum wage, the right to form a union, and health benefits for low-wage workers.  The protests mark the four-year anniversary of Fight for $15, and thousands of workers across multiple cities took the streets.  The protests included retail workers, Uber drivers, fast food employees, and workers at hospitals and airports.

Donald Trump has chosen Elaine Chao, former secretary of labor under President George W. Bush, to serve as secretary of transportation.  The New York Times observes that she is “likely to be one of the more essential players” in the new administration, given that Mr. Trump has stated that infrastructure redevelopment will be a top priority of his first 100 days in office.

In October, the NLRB resolved an action against Bridgewater Associates, and the New York Times has now obtained a document about the agreement.  It is so heavily redacted, however, that it is “unclear what, if any, changes were made to Bridgewater’s employee rules and practices.”  This past summer, the NLRB challenged certain confidentiality provisions in the contracts that Bridgewater requires each of its full-time employees to sign.  The NLRB action was initiated after a former Bridgewater employee filed a sexual harassment complaint.  However, after Bridgewater and representatives of the former employee came to a private nonboard agreement, the NLRB withdrew its complaint.

In international news, BBC News reports that the introduction of a National Living Wage in the UK has not affected employment.  The Low Pay Commission, the body that monitors low pay for the government, stated that it has found “no clear evidence” of changes in employment or hours since the the introduction of a higher minimum wage in April.  In addition, it found that employment has continued to rise even in sectors “most obviously affected, such as cleaning, hotels, horticulture and retail.”  BBC News notes that although various economists and think tanks had warned that raising the minimum wage would hurt employment, the Low Pay Commision’s findings “contradict” those warnings.


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