A group of Uber drivers calling themselves Uber Drivers United staged a protest in San Francisco recently, driving slowly from the former Candlestick Park, to the airport, through the city, and eventually to Uber headquarters while honking their horns and disrupting traffic. The issue for the drivers, most of whom will not release their names, is they are earning less than half of what they earned when they joined the company, meaning that many now earn below the minimum wage.
On Monday, two Detroit public schools were closed following a second wave of sick-outs. Teachers are protesting over the condition of the schools. On January 20th, 91 percent of Detroit Public Schools were closed due to sick-outs. Over 800 teachers called in sick and more than 45,000 students were sent home.
The editorial board of the Orange County Register decided to kick off 2016 by going full 1916. How did a paper of record turn the clocks back so? By questioning the motives of professional cheerleaders who are seeking employee (rather than independent contractor) status. The Register suggests that “they receive the fringe benefits of being surrounded by men who earn on average $1.9 million in the NFL and $5 million in the NBA” and should thus shut their damsel traps.
In Kentucky, the inevitable fight for ideological control has begun with newly elected Republican Governor Matt Bevin at the helm. On Tuesday, the state legislature began its session with a bevy of political infighting as Democrats and Republicans battled for committee membership and leadership positions.
As the Supreme Court prepares to hear its most important organized labor case of the year, Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, a group of 21 state Attorneys General have announced a plan to officially support the labor union side. Among those taking the lead in the effort to file a brief in the case is New York AG Eric Schneiderman who, along with Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and a group of elected officials and many labor leaders, formally announced their plan on Sunday at New York City Hall.
Laborpress.org recently featured decorated war veteran and Ironworkers Local 361 apprentice Rob LeFurgy, whose shot at union membership was vital to him transitioning back into civilian life. LeFurgy began his career path after learning about the Helmets to Hardhats program. “This union turned my life around,” he said. “No one can relate to what I did over there, but these guys come really close.”
A recent Gallup poll shows that America’s support for labor unions has jumped 5 percent in the past year, bringing it to 58 percent. This is the highest such figure since 2008 when 59 percent approved. The poll was conducted between August 5th and 9th and is part of Gallup’s annual Work and Education survey. The numbers show an improving image of unions which had reached an all-time low in 2009 after the government bailout of the big three auto companies.
Over the weekend, bus drivers at Compass Transportation entered the Teamsters union hall in San Leandro, California and voted 75 to 0 to approve a three-year contract. It includes solid raises as well as improved schedules and benefits. The drivers joined Teamsters Local 853 in February and began negotiating the influential deal. Their victory is part of a larger movement — recently coined “Silicon Valley Rising” — in which labor unions, community groups, and churches have improved wages and conditions for the region’s service workers. The nearly 200 bus drivers employed by Compass provide shuttle services to companies such as Apple, eBay, Yahoo, Evernote, Genentech, Zynga, and Amtrak.
In The Daytona Daily News, professor Rick Sheridan touts apprenticeship programs arguing that they offer a vital alternative to college for those seeking a middle class lifestyle. Sheridan notes that while the average college student will graduate with $30,000 in debt, the average apprentice will earn solid wages while learning a craft debt-free. Globally, America is lagging in the apprenticeship department with respect to young people
Last week, French authorities took a strident step in their quest to crack down on UberPOP, the country’s equivalent to UberX, by arresting Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal and Uber Europe general manager Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty. The pair was charged them with several counts, including running an illegal taxi business.
Wisconsin Republicans have reached an agreement which will allow them to pass a budget for 2015-2017 after a week of contentious infighting over prevailing wage reforms and funding for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena. The budget deal will still need to clear the Senate, where a group of conservatives are using their budget vote to push for prevailing wage repeal. Even as he announced the budget deal, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald acknowledged that the votes aren’t there in the Senate to pass it.
A new study titled The Cost of Repealing Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Policy provides new data about the law’s true impact on total construction costs and economic activity. As we wrote earlier this month, despite the incredibly strong voter support for the current prevailing wage law, the state GOP is pushing a repeal agenda. The new study shows that repeal would kill jobs and hamper the state’s economy.
Boeing’s most recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing has revealed that CEO Jim McNerney will be paid $3.9 million a year in pension benefits for each of the next 15 years. This revelation follows the announcement that he will retire on July 1st but will remain as chairman until February of 2016.
FedEx has agreed to settle with over 2,000 past and present California workers who claimed they were misclassified as independent contractors. The $227 million settlement comes amidst a multitiude of long-running legal battles affecting FedEx drivers.
In Florida, the St. Petersburg City Council passed an ordinance, sponsored by council member Darden Rice, that will allow workers to file a wage theft claim with the city without having to hire an attorney or entering the legal system. After receiving the claim, the city is then charged with pursuing the employer. It is expected to take the program three months to be up and running, but it is the first program of its kind in the state.
Ever since former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to outsource major components of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge renovation to Chinese contractors, members of the labor community have expressed concern about quality and jobs being compromised in the name of cutting costs. In the end, no real money was saved and the project continues to experience cost overruns and delays.
A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judge recently ruled that T-Mobile U.S. is guilty of engaging in nationwide labor law violations. The ruling came after the NLRB rolled multiple complaints for illegal actions in Albuquerque, Wichita, New York City, and Charleston into one case.
In Oklahoma, a “paycheck protection” bill aimed at teachers unions narrowly passed the Senate General Government Committee on a 4-3 vote last week. HB 1749, written by Rep. Tom Newell, would prohibit automatic deduction of dues for groups engaged in collective bargaining with the state. It would go into action November 1st.
Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan has preemptively weighed in on anti-union legislation that is being promoted by Gov. Bruce Rauner which would allow local governments to create “Right-to-Work” zones and ban prevailing wage requirements. Her position? Both are unconstitutional.
In a brief letter to the editor of the New York Times, North America’s Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey explained that “Right-to-Work” results in a drop in skilled labor. He questions the idea of attracting businesses to Wisconsin by thwarting workers, suggesting, “Companies and whole industries from Texas to Florida are having to look North for the skilled craft professionals needed to get these projects done safely and efficiently, because the training infrastructure in that region has gone away.” The op-ed appears in its entirety below.