Today’s News & Commentary — September 23, 2015
The Los Angeles Times reports that a coalition of unions representing over 20,000 Los Angeles city employees has voted to support a proposed contract with the city. According to union officials, they secured pay raises and a commitment to hire thousands of new workers. In addition, union members will not have to pay any added out-of-pocket costs for healthcare premiums and pension plans will be kept in place for existing employees. The agreement does reduce the retirement benefits offered to new hires, however, and it also holds off on raises until summer 2017. The proposed contract, which follows over a year of bargaining, is expected to go to City Council for approval in October.
Health insurance deductibles are outpacing wage increases, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation and reported in the New York Times. Kaiser estimates that, since 2010, deductibles have risen over six times faster than have workers’ earnings. Kaiser’s chief executive said that many of the insurance policies rely on high deductible to keep premiums low, and some employers have also increased their deductibles to defray the higher costs associated with the federal health care law. This coincides with a stagnation of wages, leaving many workers unable to pay for the healthcare services they need.
Politico weighs in on Walker’s exit from the GOP presidential primary, cautioning that Walker’s political career may not be truly over. IAFF President Harold Shaitberger had a different perspective, however. “I think this ends his national political career, and maybe his political career,” Shaitberger said. “I can’t imagine anyone considering him for anything in national politics, much less a place on the ticket.” AFSCME President Lee Saunders used Walker’s withdrawal to warn Republican presidential candidates against nominating Supreme Court justices who would “further rig the rules for the wealthy.” Politico notes that Saunders was probably referring to Friedrichs.