Today's News & Commentary – October 3

Published October 3rd, 2013 -  - 10.03.131


The Federal government remains shut down for a third day.  The Washington Post reports Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, are bracing for a dramatic increase in applications for unemployment benefits due to federal workers filing claims.  Virginia and D.C. require workers to be out of work for at least week before receiving benefits; Maryland has no waiting period.

Federal workers continue to be concerned about receiving backpay for the period they were not permitted to work.  The Huffington Post reports that Republicans are split on whether to approve backpay for federal employees once the government reopens.  The Wall Street Journal reports the Prison Workers union, American Federation of Government Employees, is trying to bring attention to the issue.  The New York Times reports on the many ways federal employees have already experienced lower wages due to pay freezes and the sequester.

Some members of Congress are still trying to advance other legislative goals: on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi unveiled an immigration bill, according to the Washington PostIt includes the major elements of the bipartisan Senate bill that passed this summer: path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and increased border security.  Unlike the Senate bill, it does not propose new spending.  Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign a bill “adding California to the growing list” of states allowing undocumented immigrants to lawfully obtain driver licenses.

As the health care exchanges continue their rollout across the country, the New York Times reports that due to states refusing federal funding to expand Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act will “leave out two-thirds of poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of the low-wage workers” who do not have any health insurance across the nation.  Under the Act, the federal government will cover 100% of the Medicaid expansion costs through 2016, and 90% of the costs thereafter.

In a closely watched case in the 5th Circuit, a male iron-worker won his sexual harassment claim against his employer, according to the Wall Street Journal.  He alleged sexual harassment in the form of gender stereotyping, based on his employer’s frequent taunting that he was “not-manly enough” and use of anti-gay slurs.  The 5th Circuit’s opinion is available online.  An EEOC attorney stated the case was significant because “[i]t makes unquestionably clear to all employers that if they harass an employee because of gender stereotypes, they are breaking the law.”

On the other side of the Atlantic, a French court has ordered Ryanair to pay 8 million euros ($10.8 million) for breaking French labor laws, according to the Washington Post.  According the court, Ryanair failed to pay social security and pension contributions for its employees from 2006-2010.

Carnegie Hall cancelled its opening show on Wednesday at the last minute due to a stagehands’ strike, the Los Angeles Times reports.  The concert took place in the Waldorf Astoria instead.  The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local One called the strike over a dispute regarding the stagehands’ jurisdiction in Carnegie Hall’s education wing.  The New York Times reports that this is the first strike in Carnegie Hall’s history.

We’ve previously covered the Minnesota Orchestra’s ongoing labor dispute.  The New York Times reports that on Tuesday, Osmo Vanska, the orchestra’s director, resigned.  The players and management have been locked out for a year, due to their inability to agree on a contract.

Elsewhere in the performing arts world, the Times reports that the San Francisco Ballet and its dancers remain unable to reach agreement on their contract.  The contract expired on June 30; talks remain ongoing.  The dancers’ union filed an unfair labor practices charge with the NLRB this past Monday.

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