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Latest News - November 2014

November 21, 2014
How will wages change after Obama's immigration move? - Ex-Massey CEO pleads not guilty - NLRB vote coming after holiday
Source: POLITICO
By:
Brian Mahoney

OBAMA’S BIG IMMIGRATION ORDER: SMALL IMPACT ON WAGES? — President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration is expected to boost wages for undocumented immigrants. But don’t count on it boosting them very much. The reason for caution is the temporary nature of the executive order. The five million undocumented immigrants who will benefit from the order will enjoy its protections only so long as President Obama or a successor who agrees with him on this issue occupies the Oval Office. A successor who disagreed with him could end the program with the stroke of a pen. In addition, the beneficiaries have to renew their status every three years.

“If the Republicans are campaigning against this thing for the next two years,” said Daniel Costa, director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit partly funded by labor unions, “and if there are any [government] shutdowns over it, [employees] might be afraid it could go away.” Pros can read more from Marianne LeVine:

BLANKENSHIP PLEADS NOT GUILTY— Ex-Massey CEO Don Blankenship entered a not-guilty plea in West Virginia federal court yesterday over allegations of criminal conspiracy arising from the death of 29 miners killed in the explosion of a Massey mine in 2010, reports the Charleston Gazette’s Ken Ward, Jr.

“The 43-page indictment does not specifically allege that Blankenship caused the mine disaster. But it alleges he conspired to commit violations of mine safety rules — such as those requiring proper ventilation and control of highly explosive coal dust — that four government and independent investigations said led to the disaster,” Ward writes.  “‘Blankenship knew that UBB was committing hundreds of safety-law violations every year and that he had the ability to prevent most of the violations that UBB was committing,’” Ward continues, citing the indictment. “Yet he fostered and participated in an understanding that perpetuated UBB’s practice of routine safety violations, in order to produce more coal, avoid the costs of following safety law, and make more money.”

COMMITTEE VOTE ON NLRB PICK EXPECTED AFTER THANKSGIVING — HELP Committee chairman Tom Harkin said yesterday the committee will likely vote on the nomination of Lauren McFerran to the National Labor Relations Board sometime after Thanksgiving. Harkin’s remarks came during McFerran’s relatively uneventful confirmation hearing yesterday. McFerran is the HELP committee’s chief labor counsel, so few experts expected fireworks at the hearing, despite Republican irritation with the NLRB’s recent rulemakings and rulings.

U.S. IS A LOW-WAGE MANUFACTURER —“While the typical production job in the manufacturing sector paid more than the private sector average in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s,” Nelson D. Schwartz and Patricia Cohen write in the New York Times, “that relationship flipped in 2007, and line work in factories now pays less than the typical private sector job. That gap has been widening — in 2013, production jobs paid an average of $19.29 an hour, compared with $20.13 for all private sector positions.” More here:

RICK BERMAN: CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE “INEFFICIENT”— Anti-union advocate and public relations executive Richard Berman made headlines last month when he was caught on tape detailing his morning ritual to a group of energy executives.  “I get up every morning and I try to figure out how to screw with the labor unions,” Berman said. Now, though, the union-buster commonly referred to as “Dr. Evil” is expressing doubts about a tool favored by many of his allies in the school reform movement: charter schools.

“Charter schools quite frankly are set up by people who are nice people,” Berman tells POLITICO. “They aren't confrontational people and rather than just take on the unions directly and improve the public school system, they decided to detour around the existing system and set up charter schools, which is expensive, long term and it’s a very inefficient way of addressing change."

American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten wouldn’t respond directly to Berman’s skeptical comments about charter schools. She writes Morning Shift in an email: “Again, Rick Berman is showing his true colors as a hired mercenary out to eliminate the voice of working families. He doesn't even pretend to care about serving kids. But given the fact that he won't disclose his donors, we're still left asking: Who is he working for?"

WHY NOT JUST CALL IT THE C. MONTGOMERY BURNS BUILDING? — Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Tx, yesterday introduced legislation that would rename the U.S. Department of Labor headquarters after National Right to Work Committee founder Reed Larson, according to a Tweet he posted yesterday. At the moment, the Labor building is named after Frances Perkins, the first woman ever to serve in a presidential cabinet and the longest-serving Labor secretary.  Mr. Burns did not return calls seeking comment.

L'HOMME EST NÉ LIBRE ET PARTOUT IL EST DANS LES FERS — A new survey out from the AllState/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll shows that 25 percent of Americans will be required this year to work on either Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Day.  The survey also shows that 81 percent of Americans say that they are required to be in contact with their employer even outside of normal working hours. A whopping 56 percent of American says that they were in contact with their employers during vacations. Jean-Jacques Rousseau did not return calls seeking comment.

BUS DRIVERS IN DIAPERS — The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries is expected to issue a report decrying insufficient access to bathrooms for some King County Metro bus drivers, Crosscut reports. The problem, which stems largely from a paucity of  work breaks, has gotten so bad that Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 587 representative Neal Safrin told Crosscut that King County Metro has to replace 60 driver’s seats per year because …. Well, you get the idea.  ATU President Larry Hanley says that some transit workers have taken to wearing adult diapers on the job.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: TOM PEREZ ON OVERTIME— Labor Secretary Tom Perez spoke with POLITICO Labor Policy Editor Timothy Noah yesterday about a wide-ranging set of issues facing the American worker. Perez said his agency will issue a proposed regulation on overtime in the new year, and strongly hinted DOL will raise substantially the threshold that currently limits overtime to workers making $23,000 a year. “Our regulations and our wage and hour laws have not kept pace with inflation, and they have not kept pace with the realities of the workplace,” Perez said. “People are understandably concerned about wage stagnation and that’s why the president has instructed us … to use every tool in our toolbox, and the overtime regulation is one of them.” Perez also addressed the issue of worker misclassification. “I call it what it is,” he said. “It’s workplace fraud.” View the full video of POLITICO Pro’s Labor & Employment launch event here:

PORT NEGOTIATIONS PUT OFF TILL AFTER THANKSGIVING— Longshoremen at ports in Tacoma, Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Long Beach won’t resume major negotiations over their next contract until after Thanksgiving weekend, the Pacific Maritime Association said in a statement Thursday night. “We have made it abundantly clear that we believe these negotiations are of the utmost importance and should continue at full strength until the Thanksgiving holiday,” said PMA spokesman Wade Gates. But the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said it wants to focus on talks at the individual port, or subcommittee, level. “Subcommittees focused on specific tasks and problems are the fastest way to make progress on a number of issues that require attention so that further progress can be made by the full committee. The talks are continuing and negotiations are underway this afternoon,” ILWU spokesman Craig Merrilees told the Journal of Commerce on Thursday.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles: Port drivers at three companies — QTS Inc., LACA Express, and WinWin Logistics — ended a strike after “productive confidential dialogue” between the Teamsters and the companies, according to a statement from Justice for Port Drivers.

COULD GOOGLE BUS DRIVERS BE THE NEXT TO UNIONIZE? — Facebook bus drivers’ decision to join Teamsters Local 853 may persuade Google and Apple drivers to take similar actions. Rome Aloise, international vice president and secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 853, said prior to the Facebook vote that if the vote were successful and a good contract were negotiated the union would seek to organize drivers for other Silicon Valley tech companies. Jimmy Maerina, the lead organizer for Facebook’s drivers, told USA Today that Google and Apple bus drivers have contacted him about joining.

 

 


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