News & Commentary

September 27, 2018

Yesterday the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey voted to approve a minimum pay rate of $19 an hour for around 40,000 workers at JFK, La Guardia, and Newark Liberty International Airports.  The board was originally scheduled to vote on the proposal this summer, but the vote was moved to September in what some believed was hesitation by the board because of a potential legal challenge from companies that service the airports.  The minimum wage for the Port Authority has been set at $10.45 an hour, though workers at JFK and La Guardia make at least $13 under New York’s minimum wage laws.  Under the proposed plan, wages will rise incrementally until reaching $19 an hour by September 1, 2023.  32BJ SEIU, which has orchestrated airport worker organizing campaigns across the East Coast, championed the wage increase.

A new study from The Center for American Progress reveals that Washington, D.C.’s adoption of two years of universal, full-day preschool resulted in a large increase in maternal labor force participation.  The study finds that since the program began in 2009, mothers’ rate of participation in the labor market grew by twelve points, ten of which can be attributed directly to the preschool expansion.  Interestingly, participation increased among both low-income and wealthy families, while participation among middle-income families remained steady.  The study notes that while universal preschool has numerous educational and socio-emotional benefits for children, it also can help working families secure more stable employment and increase their earnings, while also boosting the economy overall.

Gizmodo reports that last week Amazon-owned Whole Foods circulated an anti-union training video to the grocery chain’s Team Leaders amidst news that workers were starting to organize.  The video aims to equip managers with the tools they need to detect signs of union activity in their store early, telling Team Leaders to listen out for words like “living wage” and “steward” and to take notice when employees who previously have not interacted suddenly appear to have a connection.  The video also encourages managers to speak out against unions while warning them against threatening employees.

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