Union members in Florida are making a final push to get out the vote for Joe Biden, CBS News reports. The unions are attempting to reach infrequent voters who are registered but have not yet cast a ballot in a state where 7.8 million people have already voted. Polls show Biden and Trump virtually tied in the state. Most of the 34,000 Florida workers represented by UNITE HERE were laid off in March. Now, about 300 of them are working as full-time paid canvassers and 500 as volunteers to reach over 100,000 low-propensity voters. The SEIU has spent $150 million to reach minority voters in Florida, and its canvassers have knocked on 519,000 doors. In addition to voting for Joe Biden in the Presidential election, the unions are also encouraging Floridians to vote yes on Amendment 2, the state’s ballot proposition that would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Unions are also discussing plans for how to react if President Trump refuses to concede defeat, including some that are considering a general strike, Steven Greenhouse writes in The Guardian. So far, local labor federations in Seattle, western Massachusetts, and Rochester, New York have endorsed consideration of a general strike if Trump tries to subvert the outcome. Labor leaders who support the resolutions say they are intended to promote discussion and prepare unions for how to respond to Trump’s actions after the election. The last general strike in the United States was in 1946 and was limited to Oakland, California. Nevertheless, the idea has gained some traction in recent years such as when Association of Flight Attendants president Sara Nelson encouraged a general strike as a way to end the December 2018 government shutdown. Other labor leaders worry the concept is more of a slogan than a sound political strategy. Proponents of the conversation acknowledge that as a general matter organized labor is not currently in a strong position to call a unilateral general strike, but they suggest that circumstances often change quickly in moments of political crisis.
As many as 12 million Americans still haven’t received a $1,200 CARES Act stimulus payment, according to an analysis by ProPublica. About 9 million people entitled to the benefit have not received it automatically because their income was so low that they were not required to and did not file tax returns. The IRS set up a portal in April for those who had not filed a return, but it is marred by technical issues. The IRS budget has shrunk 20% since 2010, leaving it with more limited resources to reach those entitled to the stimulus payment who have not received it. Many who did not file a tax return, including homeless people, have not applied for the benefit in part because they believe it is only for taxpayers. Those entitled to the benefit have until November 21 to claim the money or risk losing out on the payment and any subsequent payments Congress may include in a future stimulus package. Meanwhile, the IRS is taking the position that about 2 million inmates of prisons and jails are not eligible for the payment, even though the CARES Act does not explicitly carve them out. U.S. citizens who filed joint tax returns with their undocumented spouses are excluded as a result of the CARES Act’s denial of benefits to filers who used an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number rather than a Social Security number. Finally, the IRS has taken the position that the estates of decedents who died after filing their tax returns are not entitled to the payment despite this category being included in a similar stimulus in response to the 2008 recession.
Clove Lakes Health Care and Rehabilitation Center in Staten Island, New York, one of the nursing homes worst hit by COVID-19, has recently laid off dozens of workers, an in-depth story by The New York Times recounts. During the height of the outbreak in New York, about 40 residents of the nursing home died from the COVID-19 virus in just over a month. Workers at the facility put themselves and their family members at risk as well, including one whose husband died of the virus. Now, the home faces a budget shortfall due to a number of factors. Most importantly, the cancellation of elective surgeries has meant that the home does not have the steady stream of short-term residents who had accounted for most of its revenue. People understandably fear to choose the home for care due to the spring’s outbreak even with the infection rate now close to zero. Costs also exploded at the height of the outbreak as providers competed for scarce supplies. Some family members are unable to pay their resident’s costs due to their own financial difficulties, and the stimulus funding to nursing homes did not distinguish among them based on the severity of the impact of COVID-19. More than half of nursing homes say they are operating at a loss, and nearly three-quarters say they cannot last another year under current conditions.
7-Eleven owners in Australia have paid more than $173 million (AUD) to staff and made more than $10 million in improvements since an investigation into wage theft began five years ago, ABC News Australia reports. An inquiry by the Fair Work Ombudsman in response to a media report had found that several store owners deliberately falsified wage records to hide underpayment. 4,043 current and former employees have recovered unpaid wages, interest, and superannuation since 7-Eleven entered into a Compliance Agreement in December 2016. The company has also improved stores’ wage payment systems by putting in place a biometric time recording system, requiring all employees to be paid electronically, establishing an Internal Investigations Unit, and adding an employment conditions chapter to the Franchisee Systems Manual. The Ombudsman encourages other franchisors to take note and prioritize compliance with workplace laws.