Weekend News & Commentary — January 17-18

Published January 18th, 2015 -  - 01.18.153


Writing in Bloomberg Businessweek, Claire Suddath discusses how the United States significantly lags in maternity leave relative to other Western countries and questions whether reform is politically possible.  She notes Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Family Act, which would “make employers offer new parents three months of paid leave at 66 percent of their salary,” has been stalled in Congress for more than a year.  Under current federal law, only three months of unpaid leave are mandated.  According to Suddath, Gillibrand’s bill represents the most workable first step for mothers who presently face significant difficulties returning to and advancing in the workplace because of inadequate maternity leave.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association adopted a new governance system that will allow schools to offer larger scholarships to athletes to reflect the full cost of college attendance, give athletes a greater role in decision-making, and give conferences of schools more autonomy to protect scholarships and improve long-term healthcare, according to The New York Times.  The reforms fail to assuage many critics, who believe that college athletes should be paid.

The Wall Street Journal published a review of Daniel DiSalvo’s new book “Government Against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences.”  DiSalvo argues that “unionization and collective bargaining in state and local government impose significant costs on society while providing few broadly shared benefits.”

Writing in The Upshot, David Leonhardt says that wage and income stagnation is the driving force behind President Obama’s new plan to cut taxes for the middle class.  According to Leonhard, “the events of the last few months have made clear that the wage slowdown has become the central force driving American politics.  It will continue to be until living standards begin rising at a healthy pace for Americans.”

Watchdog.org reports that a federal judge will hear challenges to recently announced rule changes by the NLRB that would allow for union elections to proceed more rapidly.  The new rules will come into effect in April unless a court or Congress blocks their implementation.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Friday invalidated an NLRB ruling regarding the wearing of “baseball hats” in the workplace. The Hill notes that the company policy in question did not violate worker’s rights according to the court because “although the hat policy restricts the type of hat that may be worn, it does not say anything about whether union insignia may be attached to the hat.”

According to a report in The San Francisco Chronicle, California health care giant Kaiser Permanente reached a tentative three-year contract agreement affecting 18,000 nurses and nurse practitioners, averting a strike originally called for this week.  The new contract provides for the hiring of new nurses, “new workplace protections, increased pay, continued pension plans, and new committees of nurses and nurse practitioners to address concerns over standard of care,” according to union leaders.

The New York Times reports that workers at New York’s Hunts Point Terminal Market tentatively agreed to a three-year contract that will avoid a strike that could have upset the market for fruits and vegetables in the New York area.  Under the new contract, workers will receive wage increases over the next three years but some higher-paid workers will begin contributing to their health plans.

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