Weekend News & Commentary — March 21-22

Published March 22nd, 2015 -  - 03.22.152


USA Today reports that UN Women, a UN organization dedicated to gender equality, will not be partnering with Uber, despite earlier reports that the company had teamed up with the organization to create 1 million female jobs by 2020. According to a UN Women spokesperson, Uber’s involvement with the organization extends only to its sponsorship of UN Women’s 20th anniversary event and there are no current plans to expand the relationship. The announcement comes on the heels of a recent wave of critiques of Uber, whose cars now outnumber yellow cabs in New York City.

On Thursday, eleven Filipino workers sued the owners of L’Amande French Bakery in the Central District of California, alleging they had been lured to the U.S. by the owners’ promise of high wages, only to be forced to work 14-hour days for as little as $3 per hour under threat of deportation. According to the complaint, before the restaurant opened, the owners forced the plaintiffs to perform months of daylong manual labor at the owners’ personal residence and rental property for roughly $2 per hour, providing only the floor of a small laundry room in the owners’ house as a place to sleep. The plaintiffs are being represented by a nonprofit advocacy group, Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

ThinkProgress reports that two Wisconsin state lawmakers have proposed a bill that would eliminate the state’s requirement that companies give certain workers at least one day off every seven days. Wisconsin law currently mandates a 24-hour rest period every 7 days for employees in factory and mercantile workplaces. The state permits employees to request waivers through a state agency to work overtime; however, the proposed bill would allow workers to opt out of this rest period without going through the administrative process. The bill was proposed just a couple of weeks after the passage of Wisconsin’s controversial right-to-work bill, which will prevent unions from collecting fees for the costs of collective bargaining and contract administration from non-members.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, released a formal opinion on Friday denouncing two bills proposed by Governor Bruce Rauner. The first would allow voters to create “right-to-work” zones where union membership and dues would be voluntary; the second would permit local governments and school districts to opt out of prevailing wage agreements on public works projects. Madigan issued a formal opinion at the request of Democratic lawmakers, calling both bills illegal under federal and state labor laws. Madigan contended that the first bill would violate the federal National Labor Relations Act, which, according to Madigan, preempts the regulation of union security agreements in all instances that impact interstate commerce. Regarding the second bill, Madigan wrote that the legislature does not have the authority to allow “home rule” or “non-home-rule” units to opt out of compliance with its requirements by the adoption of an ordinance or resolution pursuant to referendum.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will implement changes to the “Section 3” federal program that directs jobs and training to low-income workers and connects businesses that hire them with HUD-funded contracting opportunities, Secretary Julián Castro announced on Friday. The changes aim to increase opportunities for businesses that hire local public housing residents for HUD-funded proejcts and will launch an online Section 3 business registry.

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