Today’s News & Commentary — September 20, 2019
Over 80 Kickstarter project creators have signed onto a statement in support of the Kickstarter Union. As reported last week, Kickstarter fired two of its employees, Taylor Moore and Clarissa Redwine, both leaders in the unionizing movement at the company ostensibly for work performance issues. Another employee and union leader, Travis Brace, has now also been terminated. The Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 153 has filed charges with the NLRB on behalf of Kickstarter workers.
Yesterday, The New York Times’s Editorial Board criticized noncompete agreements. The Times highlighted a new study that shows that an Oregon law barring noncompetes for most workers led to wage increases of up to 21 percent. Illinois, Maryland, Washington, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island have now also banned noncompetes. And California has long restricted the use of noncompete agreements. In January, Marco Rubio introduced federal legislation that would ban noncompete agreements for low-wage workers. While The New York Times does not believe this legislation extends far enough, the Editorial Board supports the bill as “a rare opportunity for bipartisan agreement.”
Eugene Scalia, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Labor, had his confirmation hearing on Thursday. He was criticized by Democrats for expressing anti-LGBTQ opinions in the past and refused to give specific answers about whether these opinions had changed. The nominee did say he believed it was wrong for an employer to fire someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Scalia also stated that unions were “among the most effective advocates you will see for workplace safety and health.” The Senate panel is scheduled to vote on Scalia’s nomination on Tuesday.
Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary wrote this week on the power of unions. Singletary describes her own experience as a striking union member as well as the ongoing labor disputes at General Motors and Kaiser Permanente. Union approval is now at a near 50-year high with 64 percent of Americans supporting labor unions. The Post is currently soliciting comments on whether unions still matter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Denver is now considering a proposal to raise its local minimum wage. The proposal would increase the minimum wage to $13.80 per hour on January 1st, 2020 and then to $15.87 per hour on January 1st, 2021. The change would affect more than 100,000 workers in Denver. The statewide minimum wage will be $12 an hour in 2020, but a recent state law allows counties and cities to set their own rates. UC Health, one of the largest employers in Cincinnati, is also raising its minimum wage. Employees will receive at least $14 an hour starting in January 2020.