News & Commentary

April 1, 2018

Just weeks after a battle between West Virginian teachers and state legislators resulted in teachers receiving a pay raise to end a state-wide strike, teachers in Kentucky could go on strike to protest a bill currently before Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin that would overhaul public employees’ retirement benefits. Teachers in Oklahoma are staging their own protest on Monday. “Oklahoma is among the bottom three states for teacher salaries, where educators often work about 10 years before reaching the $40,000 salary mark. And they haven’t gotten a raise from the state in 10 years.”

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez argues in his new book that employers are increasingly using their workers as lobbyists, and that is bad for workers’ free speech rights. For example, Hertel-Fernandez reports that “workers at Murray Energy were required to attend a rally (without pay) for 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney.” The increasingly grey line between employer beliefs and job requirements is bad for democracy. While there is no First Amendment right to free speech in the private sector, Hertel-Fernandez suggests that states should consider passing “legislation protecting workers from political pressure on the job.”

The ACLU filed a complaint with the EEOC on Thursday on behalf of Tracy Plummer, a nonunion dockworker who argues that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union discriminates against pregnant workers. The ILWU has approximately 42,000 members, but has thousands more on standby as a “casual” labor force for when needed. About 800 women are in the casual labor force. “The filing says workers are credited for lost hours when they are absent for a variety of other reasons, but not when they are pregnant.”

The New York Post looks at how employers are increasingly giving workers non-salary benefits, and how this helps the employers bottom line, but may also align with what workers say they want.

The New York Times has an article examining how the Nafta renegotiations are affecting railroad and shipping companies – specifically Union Pacific.

“Effectively, it’s factory North America, and the administration is threatening to build a wall in the middle of the factory,” said Emily Blanchard, an associate professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College who studies trade.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act goes into effect today, April 1,  in Massachusetts.


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