Weekend News & Commentary — August 5-6, 2017
Nissan workers on Friday voted to reject a bid to unionize. More than 60 percent of the 3,500 Canton-based workers voted to oppose unionizing, ending a long effort by the United Automobile Workers to unionize the plant. The New York Times suggests that “basic economics combined with a fear of change may have carried the day.” Plant workers feared that Nissan might close the factory, or that they might loose their jobs, some of which pay $26 per hour – well above average in Mississippi. The NLRB had filed a complaint against Nissan for unfair labor practices, including threatening retaliation against workers leading the unionization efforts. The fight to unionize the workers has been long and fraught with controversy, including racial overtones, as previously documented by this blog here.
The Labor Department reported that the U.S. added 209,000 jobs in July, with the unemployment rate returning to a 16-year low of 4.3%. However, while in theory wages should be growing because of the limited supply of workers available, Business Insider contends that stagnant wages are in part due to lower worker productivity and a decline in unionization.
In the wake of President Trump’s series of tweets declaring that transgender service members would no longer be allowed to serve in the military, some local law enforcement officials have said transgender service members would be welcome in their police departments. The New York Times reports that several cities, including Houston, Austin, Aurora, and Cincinnati have encouraged transgender individuals to apply, especially if they are dismissed from military service. From The Times:
“If you are dismissed from our military because of who you are, know that you are welcome in the city of Cincinnati and our police department,” Chris Seelbach, a city councilman, said at a protest last Wednesday in response to Mr. Trump’s announcement.
Concerns also linger as to whether and how transgender service members would be discharged. If given dishonorable discharges, service members would be stripped of access to critical veterans’ benefits.
The Washington Post, in partnership with the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, reports that since 2006 at least 1,881 police officers have been fired from 37 of the nation’s largest departments, but that departments were forced to reinstate 451 of those officers after appeals required by union contracts. The Post highlights a number of cases in which the union arbitration process forced departments to rehire officers after they were fired for sometimes-violent behavior. Union officials argue that the arbitration process saves officers who were fired for arbitrary and capricious reasons, or who were fired due to public pressure. However, one police chief said that he looses 80 percent of his arbitration cases. He stated: “Officers know all they have to do is grieve it, arbitrate it and get their jobs back.”
Mexico, China, Canada are looking to capitalize on President Trump’s immigration policies by wooing high-tech workers away from Silicon Valley. The New York Times reports that these countries are specifically setting up new visa programs and marketing themselves as open and welcoming. Gov. Aristóteles Sandoval is the Governor of Jalisco State, also known as Mexico’s Silicon Valley. Referring to Trump, Gov. Sandoval said, “He’s helping us a lot! He’s put us on the world’s agenda.”
On Thursday, Avon Products announced that CEO Sheri McCoy would be stepping down, highlighting a string of recent departures of women from C-suite positions and corporate boards. The New York Times takes a look at the glass ceiling for women in business.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Uber knowingly leased defective cars to drivers in Singapore. Uber bought more than 1,000 cars that had been recalled by Honda in April 2016, and leased them to drivers without warning them of the potential dangers.
In commemoration of “Equal Pay Day” for Black women, which was on July 31, over at Bustle, Senator Kamala Harris proposed three way to help close a pay disparity at the intersection of gender and race: (1) Congress should pay the Paycheck Fairness Act, (2) the country needs to prepare Black women for better jobs – especially those in STEM, and (3) Congress should raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour to support the Black women in “service occupations.”