Weekend News & Commentary — August 31-September 1, 2019
Presidential candidate and Former Vice President Joe Biden is hearing frustrations from a key union in his backyard: the AFL-CIO’s Philadelphia branch. According to NPR, the AFL-CIO is holding a forum in mid-September, and seven presidential candidates have committed to attend—but not Biden. “He always calls himself a Pennsylvanian at heart. . . . But his folks haven’t found the importance of coming together and talking to our workers,” said AFL-CIO Philadelphia Council President Pat Eiding. NPR notes that the AFL-CIO’s leadership has felt slighted by the Biden campaign since its first day, when Biden traveled to Philadelphia for a high-dollar fundraiser organized by the executive vice president of Comcast but did not engage with the labor movement. However, Biden’s campaign has emphasized his ties to labor and pointed out in a statement that Biden’s first campaign rally was held at a Teamsters hall in Pittsburgh. “Joe Biden has fought for working people his entire life, and . . . as president he would strive every day to build ‘an economy that rewards work, not just wealth,'” said a spokesperson for the Biden campaign.
More from Pennsylvania: a group of Pittsburgh-based contract workers for Google have voted to move forward with an effort to unionize with the United Steelworkers. The contractors, who are employed by HCL America, analyze data and perform other technical roles for Google. The HCL organizers released a statement noting that they “work side-by-side with those of the giant corporation for far less compensation and few, if any, of the perks.” Google has a large workforce of temporary and contract workers, which outnumbered full-time employees 121,000 to 102,000 in March.
Bloomberg reports that Eugene Scalia, the president’s choice for labor secretary, signed an ethics agreement committing to sit out matters involving companies that are clients of his current law firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, for one year after joining the Department of Labor. This recusal means that he could be sidelined from a large number of investigations and regulatory matters, which Bloomberg speculates would mean leaving many key agency functions to current acting Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella.
Finally, The New York Times reports that the burden of caring for aging relatives is changing the lives of millions of Americans. “The boomer generation is turning 70 at a rate of 10,000 per day and living years longer than when the safety net was originally built,” said Ai-jen Poo, a co-director of Caring Across Generations, a coalition of advocacy groups. The Times notes that the need for caregivers is pushing many women out of the workforce in their prime earning years and weighing down the American economy. The percentage of women in the workforce stalled twenty years ago, and economists say the need to care for relatives has played a role. Some states are considering legislative solutions—last spring, Washington became the first state to create a program of long-term-care insurance, which would cover expenses like nursing home fees and meal delivery and even reimburse family members for the care they provide.