Weekend News & Commentary — December 31, 2016 – January 1, 2017

Published January 1st, 2017 -  - 01.01.1729


At midnight, a new law in France went into effect granting workers the “right to disconnect,” requiring  companies with more than 50 employees define hours when workers will not be required to check their email or remain available for work communications.  Though the law includes no sanction for noncompliance, French unions strongly backed the measure as a way to begin negotiations over new norms for connectivity.

In the United States, the new year brought overnight increases in the minimum wage in 19 states, with two more states and DC set to follow in the coming months.  The largest gain will be among workers for firms with at least ten employees in New York City, where the minimum wage will rise from $9 to $11.  Close behind is Arizona, where the minimum wage will rise from $8.05 to $10.

In the New York Times, Gretchen Morgenson looks at an effort by a nonprofit called the Teamsters Alliance for Pension Protection to conduct one of the first worker-funded reviews of a troubled pension fund.  The study revealed potential claims for mismanagement against the current trustees, and the workers hope the information will influence the United States Treasury’s review of  a recent proposal by those trustees to substantially reduce benefits. 

The Washington Post follows up on the potentially job-saving deal President-elect Trump announced last month with Carrier, finding that the agreement has yet to be finalized and that the Indiana state agency overseeing it continues to refuse to release any details.  That agency has also refused to release evidence of Trump’s actual involvement, if any, in the negotiation of the agreement.

On Friday, we covered a recent district court order regarding the pleading standards for minimum wage violations in a case against Uber.  These questions often decide whether workers have access to the courts, and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law’s Clearinghouse Community recently featured a detailed look back on cases from the Supreme Court’s 2015 term implicating such issues.

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