Today's News & Commentary — October 16
In fast food news, the Washington Post has a story on retail jobs’ perception problem (including fast food jobs) and what the National Retail Federation is doing to counteract this issue. According to the Post, the NRF will announce Retail Jobs Week, during which the organization will release research that it says will demonstrate the impact of the industry’s jobs on state and regional economies. Further, it released a study from the University of Georgia yesterday that found that retail wages are “highly competitive” with those in other sectors. The campaign is aimed at lawmakers as part of ongoing battles over the minimum wage. You can read Ben’s post on new leadership at the National Retail Federation here.
In health news, the nurses union at the Dallas hospital that treated a patient with Ebola has released a statement condemning inadequate training and procedures at the hospital, according to CBS. National Nurses United is the largest nurses union in the country and represents nurses at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. After treating a patient with Ebola last week, two nurses who provided care to that patient have since been diagnosed with the virus. The nurses union contends that poor training and procedures for handling infectious procedures led to these nurses—and potentially other patients and healthcare workers—being exposed to Ebola. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Department of Health and Human Services is investigating their complaint. According to the Los Angeles Times, the union wrote a letter to the President requesting that he “mandate uniform standards” at all hospitals to ensure that health care workers don’t become infected.
In Philadelphia, battles continue over deep cuts in the education budget, according to the New York Times. Last week, the School Reform Commission “unilaterally and abruptly” cancelled the union contract with teachers, and increased the teacher’s monthly health care premiums. This is part of the school system’s ongoing struggle to raise money and cut budgets. Earlier this year, schools almost didn’t open on time due to budget cuts.
In other education news, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations released a preliminary finding that a teacher in Holyoke, Massachusetts, was fired for raising a concern that a school policy violated the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, according to Salon. Author Sarah Jaffe argues that this shows the value of teacher of tenure—it lets teachers advocate on behalf of students without fear of reprisal. This teacher, Agustin Morales, protested his school’s new policy of posting students’ test scores on the classroom walls. Shortly after he voiced his objections, his normally stellar performance reviews turned quite negative, and he was fired.
The American Prospect has an in-depth analysis of whether labor unions and environmentalists have inherently contradictory policy goals, or whether they can form an alliance. Although tensions between the two coalitions have been high recently over the Keystone XL pipeline project, some labor leaders say “[p]itting jobs versus the environment is a false choice.”