Today’s News & Commentary — September 20, 2015
Details are out on the proposed four-year contract between Fait Chrysler Automobiles and the United Automobile Workers union. According to the New York Times, the changes include wage increases for all hourly works in the United States, and narrow the hourly pay rate between novice and veteran workers. The deal also includes a signing bonus for all workers, and a new model for healthcare spending, including a health care cooperative. The agreement may become a template for the industry, as the union prepares to negotiate with G.M. and Ford. In spite of the positive news for the UAW, the Wall Street Journal reports that Fiat Chrysler plans to cut costs by moving some car production to Mexico.
After a labor battle more than two decades, and an administrative hearing with testimony lasting 105 days, an administrative law judge ruled in favor of the United Farm Workers against California’s largest peach grower. The UFW will continue to represent the workers at Gerawan Farms. In 2013, Gerawan workers signed in 2013 to end their union representation, but the workers’ votes were never counted. According to the Los Angeles Times, the judge found that “Gerawan Farms unduly influenced the 2013 decertification effort by giving preferential treatment to workers organizing the [decertification] campaign.” Although this is a big victory for the UFW, the union faces an uphill battle: the California Supreme Court is reviewing the current contract between Gerawan and the UFW, reached through a mediated process that allegedly violated Gerawan’s constitutional rights.
In a break from headlines about European governments rejecting immigrants, the New York Times writes that Germany “sees the migration wave as not only a challenge but an opportunity.” Although Germany has placed tight controls on its border, Chancellor Merkel is mounting a campaign, in concert with the country’s largest businesses, to fast track refugees for jobs. Fast-tracking may address Germany’s labor shortage and offset concerns about an aging population. Critics fear that fast-tracking jobs for refugees will raise ethnic tensions, or displace current German residents from their positions.
Target is the latest target for union organizing. Pharmacy employees in a Brooklyn store formed the first union at the company in its 50-plus years. Target, a known opponent of unions, has already challenged the vote with the National Labor Relations Board. The vote has limited impact, since the pharmacy employees will soon be CVS members. (CVS is buying Target’s pharmacy business.) Nonetheless, Gawker writes that this is “a pretty big symbolic victory for the movement.”