Weekend News & Commentary – November 15-16

Published November 16th, 2014 -  - 11.16.14


The Wall Street Journal reports that the International Franchise Association is preparing a “major public campaign” to fight a recent National Labor Relations Board determination that could hold them responsible for the labor practices of their franchisees.  The trade organization is seeking lobbyists and public relations firms to craft a campaign to fight the NLRB’s legal determination in July that McDonald’s could be treated as a joint employer with its franchisees.  The International Franchise Association plans to try to defeat city and state initiatives that would apply the joint employer standard at the local level, to lobby Congress to overturn the NLRB’s determination, and to recast the decision as a “comprehensive attack” on businesses, according to a request for proposals sent to various firms that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The Allied Pilots Association, which represents 15,000 pilots at American Airlines Group, said Friday that it is preparing to counter to the company’s recent offer for a new combined five-year labor contract.  The union, the bargaining agent for about 10,000 American Airline pilots and 5,000 U.S. Airways pilots, claimed that the offers “are seriously lacking on various fronts” and elicited “overwhelmingly negative” feedback.  The union’s main criticism centered on the fact that other airlines’ pilots receive profit-sharing that adds 15% to their annual earnings, but American’s proposed deal does not offer this benefit.

In immigration news, President Obama’s planned changes to the American immigration system could “offer legal documents to as many as five million immigrants in the country illegally, nearly double the number who received protection from deportation under amnesty legislation in 1986,” reports the New York Times.  President Obama  decided to take the measures after an immigration overhaul passed by the Senate stopped in the Republican-controlled House.  His plans to act unilaterally have “infuriated Republicans, who say they earned a chance at the polls to write their own immigration legislation in the Congress they will control next year.”  In response to the President’s announcement, New York Times opinion columnist Ross Douthat writes that Americans “now have a clearer sense of just how anti-democratically this president may be willing to proceed” due to the President’s unilateral decision to change immigration policy.    

In her “The Way We Work” column, Lydia DePillis writes that public-sector unions in Illinois are “bracing for more attacks by ascendant GOP governors and undergoing a period of soul-searching to figure out why they have lost so much public support — and how to get it back.”  As Democratic state governors cut public-sector unions’ pensions and drive a wedge between public-sector and private-sector unions, public-sector union officials are attempting to educate the public and oppose Republican candidates’ reforms going forward.

Protesters at a Los Angeles-area Walmart were arrested Thursday after they blocked traffic at a Pico Rivera intersection during a protest that began with a sit-down strike inside the local Walmart.  The sit-in strike, which took place earlier that morning and went on for two hours, resulted in no arrests.  With more planned protests ahead, members of OUR Walmart — the “Organization United for Respect at Walmart,” a nonprofit group supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers union — have “focused their message.”  They want consistent, full-time hours, with a minimum wage of $15 an hour. And they want to end retaliation against workers who speak up for better conditions.

The New York Times reports that though many large companies are monitoring the gender pay gap, few are taking actionable steps to change it.  A majority of large companies in North America say they have dedicated teams running these pay equity analyses, but only 46 percent of them think their approach is statistically robust.  “Even fewer say they have a formal process to fix any inequities, according to a recent report by Mercer, the consultant, which examined 164 (mostly large) companies in 28 countries, employing more than 680,000 women.”

For the first time since 2006, the unemployment rate for men in the United States has fallen below the unemployment rate for women — 5.6 percent for men and 5.9 percent for women in the month of October.  The New York Times reports that men suffered most in the recession because “occupations that are dominated by men were hard hit,” but the unemployment rate of prime-age men, 25 to 54 years of age, is now lower than that of women, and the rate of younger workers is the same for both sexes.

French labor unions held protests to voice their anger at the government’s plans to legalize the opening of shops on Sundays.  Many businesses are currently closed in France on Sundays, but Paris city government believes opening them up is expected to give a boost to the country’s economy.  French labor unions, however, are opposed to the decision by the government, saying they will continue their strikes and protests until their demands are met.  “All the studies on the benefits of opening businesses on Sundays showed that it does not really help the economy,” said Eric Scheveret, from the National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions, adding that the plan will fail to “create jobs.”

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