Today’s News & Commentary — October 4, 2018
On Tuesday, the Washington, D.C. City Council voted to overturn a recent referendum in which voters eliminated the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers. The referendum would have gradually raised this wage from $3.89 an hour up to the standard minimum wage by 2026. 56% of D.C. voters approved the wage hike, but the City Council buckled after intense opposition from the bar and restaurant industry, who argued that the increased wage would cripple their business.
At the Washington Post, Matt Bruenig argues that Democrats should learn from the recent news that Amazon will raise wages for its workers. Bruenig argues that the public pressure on Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, was instrumental in the wage hike, and he focuses particularly on the work of Bernie Sanders and Ro Khanna. The focus of many left-wing policymakers on reducing frictions in the labor market are insufficient, Bruenig says, and more direct action against employers – by promoting unionization, putting workers on corporate boards, and establishing industry-wide wage schedules – is necessary to combat increasing inequality.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in New Prime v. Oliviera, a case challenging the validity of arbitration agreements in contracts for independent contractors working in the transportation industry. After a series of decisions upholding arbitration agreements, even in employment contracts, the Supreme Court’s apparent reaction yesterday was surprising to observers, as the Justices expressed skepticism of New Prime’s argument that the independent contractors with whom it contracted were not covered by the Federal Arbitration Act’s exception for “contracts of employment” of those “workers” in the transportation industry.