Recently, many prominent Democrats have spoken out in support of collective bargaining and organized labor. TCF fellow Amy Dean takes a look at this "warm embrace" of unions and why political rhetoric alone will not be enough this election cycle.
Part of the reason for the Democrats’ praise for labor is the recent spotlight on the ever-growing levels of economic inequality in the United States. Another reason is political expediency: With the 2016 election campaign looming, politicians are pandering to a base that they normally take for granted.
But Democrats cannot afford to pay only lip service to organized labor when the moment is convenient. Unless they take real measures to shore up employees’ rights to collectively organize, the Democratic Party will be courting a major crisis, as will America’s working families.
Check out the rest of Dean's piece at Al Jazeera America.
In California, a court case addressing whether or not teacher union members should be able to opt out of paying dues destined for political purposes has been filed by Sacramento-based StudentsFirst, a national school-privitization organization. In an article discussing the legal battle, TCF fellow Moshe Marvit comments on similar cases involving dues disputes, discussing in particular Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case that is now on appeal to the Supreme Court.
“Friedrichs is sort of attacking [Abood] head-on,” labor attorney and Century Foundation fellow Moshe Marvit told Capital & Main, “saying that it should be overturned, that the whole agency fee or fair share provision model that Abood sort of formalized in the public sector should be deemed unconstitutional. Bain is not attacking Abood in the same way. It’s saying that a fair share balance should be struck, not necessarily in favor of a right to work, but more in favor of the idea that nonmembers should get all the benefits of membership.”
Read more at Capital & Main.
In Pennsylvania, Republicans are accusing a ballot that is being circulated to the state's independent home-care workers of being a union ballot, calling the move an "ambush." Labor experts like TCF fellow Moshe Marvit, however, have noted that the ballot is about representation of these workers and not unionization, which is a key distinction to make as the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act effectively prohibits home-care “domestic” workers from organizing.
“It’s actually a pretty important distinction,” said Moshe Z. Marvit, a labor law expert and a fellow with The Century Foundation, a liberal New York City policy group. “And it is a distinction that has been very well developed under the law in America.”
Read more on this story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
On March 23, TCF senior fellow Rick Kahlenberg participated in a debate with his colleague Daniel DiSalvo of City College of New York–CUNY during which they discussed Public Sector Unions. Watch the debate here:
Read more about Kahlenberg and DiSalvo here.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed the "right-to-work" bill into law on March 9, but the state is already facing another challenge to workers' rights. As TCF fellow Moshe Marvit reports, two Wisconsin Republicans have drafted a bill to repeal the weekend for workers across the state.
The new bill, which is being sponsored by Republican Van Wanggaard in the State Senate alongside Born in the Assembly, would add a provision to the “day of rest” law that could effectively nullify it. The bill would create an exemption that would allow employees to “voluntarily choose” to slave away for seven days in a row without at least twenty-four hours of rest.
For more on this story, see Marvit's article in The Nation.
While Silicon Valley may have one of the highest living wage ordinances in the country at a minimum of $19.06, economic inequality still persists in this area where a small portion of high-paying jobs has driven the cost of living through the roof. TCF fellow Amy Dean discusses her own experiences as the chief executive officer of the South Bay Labor Council (SBLC) from 1994-2003, along with why collective bargaining and good public policy is needed for California's tech corridor to foster widely shared prosperity.
Last month, the Capital and Main website released a series of articles on inequality in California. The state “is the home to more superrich than anywhere else in the country,” the authors noted. “And it also exhibits the highest poverty rate in the nation, when cost of living is taken into account.”
The report added that Silicon Valley’s digital innovation has led to “unprecedented” rise in productivity levels. “But virtually all of the economic benefits went to those at the top," it said.
Dean's article can be found in Al Jazeera.
In recent decades, and especially since 2000, the richest Americans have enjoyed soaring income and wealth while the rest of the population's living standards have stagnated. The Century Foundation was one of the first institutions to raise serious concerns about these trends and propose ideas for improving economic conditions for all Americans- not just the fortunate few.
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