Weekend News & Commentary — June 3-4, 2017


Published June 4th, 2017 - 06.04.1734


Last week, the Illinois State Senate voted to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2022.  The bill provides for an incremental wage increase over the course of five years.  Currently, the state’s minimum wage is $8.25.  Many low wage workers have praised the bill, but many smaller employers have expressed concern.  While the bill would initially provide tax credits for small businesses to help them transition to paying higher wages, some business owners worry about how much the wage increase will impact profits. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner must now decide whether or not he will sign the bill into law.  The governor has criticized the bill, claiming the measure would have detrimental impacts on job creation and small businesses.  If the bill becomes law, Illinois would be the third state to raise its minimum wage to $15.

On Thursday, the Second Circuit issued an opinion in Whole Foods Market Group Inc v. NLRB, No. 16-0346, a case involving a Whole Foods policy that prevented employees from making video or audio recordings at work.  The court held that the policy is unlawful because it violated provisions of the National  Labor Relations Act.  In a unanimous opinion, the three-judge panel determined that “the Board reasonably concluded that the policies’ overbroad language could “chill” an employee’s exercise of her Section 7 rights because the policies as written are not limited to controlling those activities in which employees are not acting in concert.”  The Second Circuit’s ruling upheld a 2015 National Labor Relations Board ruling, which determined that Whole Food’s policy was so broad that it could be construed to prevent employees from engaging in activities protected by federal labor laws.

According to the Washington Post, Walmart has begun asking its employees to deliver online orders on their way home from work.  Executives claim the program, similar to ride-sharing services like Uber, would make the fulfillment process less expensive by cutting transportation costs.  Walmart executives also hope the service will help the retailer compete with popular e-commerce platforms like Amazon.  Currently, Walmart is testing the delivery program in three stores.  The program is voluntary, and employees who participate would be paid extra and offered overtime pay for the deliveries.  The company has not specified how employees who participate in the program would be paid.  Some labor experts have raised concerns about the potential risks employees could incur, and the ways in which Walmart could abuse the policy.

 

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