Today's News & Commentary — September 21, 2015

Published September 21st, 2015 -  - 09.21.151


Art for the masses?  Labor and fine arts collided as the United Teachers Los Angeles union protested the opening of the Broad, America’s newest contemporary art museum, reports the L.A. Times.  Eli Broad, the museum’s namesake and primary benefactor, is under fire for his plan to charter schools through the Los Angeles area.  Parents, teachers and students, all donning red T-shirts, who oppose the expansion, stole the spotlight from the billionaire philanthropist by  parading on the sidewalk of the museum.  The chant of choice was “You want art for the masses?” “Then fund more classes!”  Currently, about 16% of pupils living in Los Angeles attend charter schools.  Broad, who has invested upwards of $144 million in charter schools, has played an integral role in placing the now 100,000 students in charter schools.

A divided D.C. Circuit on Friday found that regional staff of the National Labor Relations Board retained the power to hold union elections despite the fact that the Board lacked a proper quorum, reports Reuters.  Last year in NLRB v. Noel Canning, covered in this post by OnLabor, the Supreme Court invalidated decisions handed down by the Board because three of its members had been improperly appointed.  For the D.C. Circuit, the same logic did not apply to regional directors during that same period.

The much-awaited visit of Pope Francis to the United States may sharpen America’s focus on “the dignity of work” writes Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Services Employees International Union (SEIU), writing in a guest post for Philly.com. She began by quoting Pope Francis, who had recently remarked that “in speaking about a serious, honest person . . . the most beautiful thing that can be said is, ‘He or she is a worker.’”  Galvanized by his words, Kay Henry intends to seize his visit as “a singular opportunity” to change the rhetoric surrounding the social inequality that besets American workers.  She hopes that his leadership and presence in these turbulent economic times will “lift up the truth of the dignity of work and humanity in a way that can change our discourse and our country fro the better.”

Reuters reports that Hyundai workers in South Korea plan to initiate a string of partial strikes this week, in response to failed negotiations between the company and the union regarding wages and pay-structure reform.  The workers plan to strike for four hours on Wednesday and six hours on Thursday and Friday.

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