Weekend News & Commentary — August 1-2, 2015

Published August 2nd, 2015 -  - 08.02.15


In the past quarter, labor costs showed their smallest increase in 33 years, according to the New York Times.  The small gain reflects diminished worker commissions and bonuses.  Experts believe the the small growth in labor costs is a temporary setback and the result of the economy nearing full employment.  As the labor market tightens, economists expect wages to increase in turn.

Politico reported on Hillary Clinton’s plan to consolidate labor support for her presidential bid.  As the AFL-CIO plans to hold off on an endorsement until later in the cycle, the Clinton campaign has actively pursued the support of individual unions, securing the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers and ramping up efforts aimed at AFSCME and the SEIU.  While Clinton remains mum on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, she has spoken cautiously, yet positively, of efforts to raise the minimum wage to $12.  And while she supports local efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15, she has cautioned that that approach “may not work in other places,” according to Buzzfeed.

ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer, seeks to roll back or hold the line on its labor contracts, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Despite a large increase in quarterly profits, the company claims that Chinese companies glutting the market have put pressure on it to cut costs.  Leaders of the United Steelworkers have told the union’s members that the company has proposed pay freezes, compensation cuts, and employee healthcare contributions.

The NLRB appears poised to decide whether football players at Northwestern University can form a union, according to the Wall Street Journal.  If the Board rules in favor of the players, many expect unionization drives to expand to other private schools and eventually public universities, since state labor boards often follow NLRB precedent.  Ramogi Huma, who helped organize the drive, said that his organization had no “option to try and unionize at another private school” if the Board decides against them.  “This is a big domino to fall one way or the other,” he added.

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