Weekend News and Commentary — July 22, 2018
800 adjunct and non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty at Fordham University reached their first contract with the university earlier this week. Fordham NTT faculty — represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) — won 67%-90% raises for most adjuncts; a minimum salary of $64,000 by end of the contract for full-time NTT faculty; longer-term appointments; just cause protections; and professional development support.
Following recent news of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountain’s attempts to overturn a vote in favor of unionization (as covered by OnLabor here), Erin Hager writes in Rewire, “Planned Parenthood Has a History of Trying To Beat Back Labor Unions.” Hager explains that “out of 56 Planned Parenthood affiliates across the United States, only five are unionized,” and that at a number of regional Planned Parenthood branches, management has attempted to shut down union efforts or has refused to bargain with workers after they won a union election.
On Thursday, President Trump signed an executive order creating a “Council for the American Worker,” which will consolidate existing federal job training initiatives and expand apprenticeship and retraining programs. The New York Times reports that, as part of this new initiative, “companies and trade unions have committed to funding nearly four million slots for apprenticeships” over the next five years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently slightly more available jobs than there are unemployed workers available to fill those jobs. While companies continue to complain that they can’t find qualified workers to fill open positions, many people have challenged the skills gap theory. These researchers and commentators arguing that stagnant wage growth demonstrates that companies — often benefitting from increasing monopsony power — are refusing to raise wages to attract qualified workers.
In cultural news, ‘Sorry to Bother You,’ Boots Riley’s “anticapitalist black comedy,” is winning increased popular attention and critical acclaim. This film follows Cassius Green, a young black telemarketer in Oakland, who struggles between joining his friends and coworkers on strike and using his “white voice” to ascend the corporate ranks in order to sell weapons and slave labor. Derek Robertson writes in Politico that ‘Sorry to Bother You’ is “2018’s Sharpest Political Satire.” Eileen Jones writes in Jacobin, “Boots Riley’s ‘Sorry to Bother You’ captures the crude madness that we live in every day under capitalism.” Patt Morrison interviewed Boots Riley for the Los Angeles Times, and Cady Lang interviewed Boots Riley for Time.