Today’s News & Commentary — September 29, 2015
Chrysler’s recently-announced pact with the United Auto Workers, approved by union leaders and intended to serve as a model for Ford and General Motors, might be in jeopardy. The New York Times reports that voting at plants began Monday and several rejected it outright, with voting at the largest plants to begin today. Opponents of the deal argue that it disadvantages lower-tier workers at the expense of veterans. According to Reuters, “labor experts say they cannot remember a full national contract ever being rejected.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon has joined the gig economy. Through the new “Amazon Flex” service, independent contractor drivers in the Seattle area will be paid $20 an hour to make deliveries from mini-warehouses to customers’ homes. Amazon is aiming to cut down on shipping costs and increase control over deliveries. While the service is currently only operational in Seattle, it will eventually be extended to the 12 other cities where “Prime Now” service is available. In categorizing drivers as independent contractors, Amazon opens itself to the worker classification criticism prevalent in the gig economy. Notably, despite the classification, “Amazon said the company generally assumes liability for the products Flex drivers deliver, but will also closely monitor workers’ performance and could suspend them from the program if multiple problems occur.”
USA Today notes that national supermarket chain Whole Foods Market is cutting 1,500 jobs. The jobs lost represent 1.6% of the company’s workforce and come after it added 9,000 jobs in the past year. No details were released as to where the layoffs would occur.
AGWeb highlights new protections for farm workers proposed by the EPA and Department of Labor. The new rules require that workers be 18 years old to handle pesticides, increase the required training education for workers handling pesticides, and broaden “exclusion zones” for outdoor areas treated with pesticides. The proposed rules exempt family farms.
According to Politico, the National Education Association, which represents 3 million teachers, plans to endorse Hillary Clinton in the upcoming 2016 presidential election. The union’s political arm will reportedly schedule an upcoming vote “recommending Hillary Clinton for the presidential primary.” There is considerable dissent within the union, as many support the candidacy of Bernie Sanders.