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.
Despite the good news in some areas of the labor market such as a drop in the unemployment rate, there is still something that American workers are missing. That missing piece of the labor puzzle is an increase in wages. TCF policy associate Mike Cassidy announced in his recent article for The Fiscal Times that if wage growth had stayed constant over the past forty years, families would be making $51,000 more than the average income today.
While labor productivity depends on numerous factors, the primary explanations for the slowdown are weaker growth in business investment, employee educational attainment and technological innovation.
You can read Cassidy's piece here.
In Chattanooga, Tennessee, an unusual "minority union" arrangement has developed at the local Volkswagen plant. TCF fellow Moshe Marvit commented on the development and why a minority union is a step in the right direction for the plant.
“The sooner that the workers can get to organizing and demanding rights and having a voice in the workplace—even if that’s not the majority of the workers—I think that’s good,” says labor lawyer Moshe Marvit, a fellow at the Century Foundation.
Read more on the Volkswagen union in Bloomberg Business.
In the past few years, Republicans have continued to ramp up their ongoing war against unions. A recent piece by TCF fellow Moshe Marvit was used to provide commentary on how Justice Samuel Alito is supporting the battle from the Supreme Court.
Last June in the case Harris v. Quinn, Justice Samuel Alito led a 5-4 majority in the Supreme Court in deciding that home health care aids and other caregivers in Illinois paid via Medicaid didn’t have to pay. The ruling was relatively narrow, and didn’t apply to full-fledged municipal employees like teachers. But as The Century Foundation points out, Alito has been laying the groundwork to dismantle compulsory union dues for years. His Harris opinion was filled with language that questions the legitimacy of the 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that upheld a union’s rights to collect dues.
Read more on Republicans' efforts to fight unions in The New Republic.
As a guest on the Rick Smith Show, TCF fellow Moshe Marvit discussed the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case, which was recently submitted as an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. If successful, the case would affect tens of thousands of union contracts, forcing millions of public employees into a right-to-work model.
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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