Los Angeles Times, By Lisa Mascaro, June 22
President Obama’s fast-track trade bill is poised to clear a procedural hurdle Tuesday in the Senate, all but ensuring it will win final passage this week and be sent to the White House for his signature.
Despite deep reservations from many in the president’s party, enough Democratic senators appear ready to join most Republicans to finish the legislation, which has sputtered in Congress but is a top White House priority.
“With just a little more trust, a little more cooperation, and simply voting consistently, we’ll get there,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday. “We shouldn’t let this opportunity for significant bipartisan achievement slip past us.”
Fast-track, or trade promotion authority, would allow the president to assure potential trade partners that the deals they negotiate with the U.S. will be presented to Congress for a yes-or-no vote without amendment.
The administration is wrapping up talks on the emerging 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest deal of its kind, and fast-track authority would cover it and future pacts for the next president.
Fourteen Senate Democrats voted for the fast-track bill last month as part of a broader package that also included funding to continue a worker retraining program for employees who lose their jobs to overseas trade.
But their support is no longer guaranteed after the worker retraining legislation was split off by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who faced resistance from Republicans who view the Trade Adjustment Assistance program as government waste.
Harpers: Nonsense Brokers, June 12
Reuters, By Noah Barkin, April 18
Berlin – Thousands of people marched in Berlin, Munich and other German cities on Saturday in protest against a planned free trade deal between Europe and the United States that they fear will erode food, labor and environmental standards.
Opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is particularly high in Germany, in part due to rising anti-American sentiment linked to revelations of U.S. spying and fears of digital domination by firms like Google.
A recent YouGov poll showed that 43 percent of Germans believe TTIP would be bad for the country, compared to 26 percent who see it as positive.
The level of resistance has taken Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government and German industry by surprise, and they are now scrambling to reverse the tide and save a deal which proponents say could add $100 billion in annual economic output on both sides of the Atlantic.
Sputnik News: Some 22,000 Participated in Anti-TTIP Protests Across Austria – Organizers
RT, April 15
Thousands of fast food restaurant employees walked off the job on Wednesday in order to rally for higher wages as part of a coordinated series of demonstrations held across the United States and the world.
As sit-ins and other acts of civil disobedience continue from coast to coast, local reports from mid-Wednesday suggested that planned protests had so far been largely well attended in cities including New York, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Demonstrators had announced previously that they’d be rallying across the US on Wednesday, April 15, to push for increasing the nationwide minimum wage to $15 an hour.
More than half of American fast-food employees depend on public assistance to make ends meet, according to a 2013 report by the UC Berkeley Labor Center, and researchers there said in a report published this week that the majority of Americans who survive off of government assistance are nevertheless members of working families.
A judge has thrown out large sections of T-Mobile’s employee handbook for having a chilling effect on union organizing.
Washington Post, By Lydia DePillis, March 19
Carolina Figueroa works at a T-Mobile call center in Albuquerque, N.M., in the bilingual retention section, trying to talk Spanish-speaking customers out of canceling their accounts. She likes her job, and the pay is decent — $18.50 an hour after eight years working there, plus health coverage, which covers the bills for her and her young daughter.
There’s only one problem: the employee handbook, which covers some 40,000 employees across the country. As long as she’s worked there, workers at the call center have been discouraged from discussing wages and working conditions, through provisions that bar things like disclosure of employee information, making disparaging statements about the company and pursuing wage complaints through anyone other than human resources. Employees can be disciplined or fired for violating any of the rules.
Al Jazeera, March 18
A federal judge on Tuesday cleared the way for Seattle’s new minimum wage law to take effect as planned next month, rejecting claims by franchises of big national chains that it discriminates against them.
In his 43-page decision Tuesday night, U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones rejected all of the arguments brought forth by the International Franchise Association, which represents national chains ranging from fast food joints to hotels.
“Although plaintiffs assert that they will suffer competitive injury, loss of customers, loss of goodwill, and the risk of going out of business, the court finds that these allegations are conclusory and unsupported by the facts in the record,” he wrote.
“This is a great day for Seattle’s fast food franchise workers,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement Tuesday night. “This ruling ensures that on April 1st, the minimum wage will go up for everyone in our city.”
After over a year of tense negotiations, a tentative agreement is a major win, and the result of a renewed push to mobilize the Manhattan campus.
The American Prospect, By Kate Aronoff, Macrh 13
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Graduate Students Organizing Committee of the United Autoworkers, or GSOC, reached a historic, tentative agreement with administrators at New York University, averting a strike that was scheduled to begin just hours later. After over a year of tense negotiations, the agreement is a major victory for graduate students and the result of a renewed push to mobilize the Manhattan campus.
As GSOC member-organizer and sixth-year sociology Ph.D. candidate Daniel Aldana Cohen put it, “We definitely have the feeling that organizing is working right now.”
Under the prospective new contract, NYU will cover 90 percent of graduate workers’ health premiums, and provide basic dental insurance along with wage increases for Ph.D. students. The agreement further includes a 75 percent subsidy for child care, plus bonuses and back pay for some workers.
Last spring, the administration’s “basic offer was to take the situation that already existed at NYU and put the word contract on it,” according to Cohen. The agreement remained largely unchanged until early Tuesday morning, when—after five hours of negotiation—NYU representatives agreed to a compromise.
Bloomberg, by Lynn Doan & Barbara Powell, February 21
The United Steelworkers, which represents 30,000 U.S. oil workers, called on four more plants to join the biggest strike since 1980 as talks dragged on with Royal Dutch Shell Plc, negotiating a labor contract for oil companies.
The USW, with members at more than 200 refineries, fuel terminals, pipelines and chemical plants across the U.S., asked workers late Friday at Motiva Enterprises LLC’s Port Arthur refinery in Texas, the nation’s largest, to join a nationwide walkout on Saturday, and issued notices for three other plants to go on strike in 24 hours.
This brings the work stoppage — which began on Feb. 1 at nine sites from California to Texas and expanded to two BP Plc refineries in the Midwest a week later — to 12 refineries and 3 other facilities. The union has rejected seven contract offers from Shell, which is representing companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp.
An agreement would end a strike at U.S. plants that account for almost 20 percent of the country’s refining capacity. It’s the first national walkout of U.S. oil workers since 1980, when a work stoppage lasted three months. The USW represents workers at plants that together account for 64 percent of U.S. fuel output.
Previously: US oil workers on largest national strike since 1980
Reuters, By Brendan O’Brien, February 20
Milwaukee – Wisconsin Republicans plan to call an extraordinary session to fast-track a right-to-work bill in the state legislature next week, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said on Friday.
Governor Scott Walker, a potential Republican candidate for president in 2016, supports the policy and will sign it into law if the bill makes it to his desk, a spokeswoman said Friday.
So-called right-to-work laws prohibit workers from being required to join and financially support a union – such as by paying dues – as a condition of their employment.
The announcement drew immediate criticism from Democrats and a union leader in Wisconsin, where Republican lawmakers in 2011 approved restrictions on collective bargaining for most public-sector unions except police and fire amid large demonstrations.
And remember how they supported unions, the (informed) workers supported unions, and hell, most of America wanted to see those plants opening up here because, jobs? And it was only a small handful of conservative morons who were all Socialism!!!!!, which of course neglects the fact that the same “socialism” was expanding production into America?
I meant to blog about this when the baseball season opened in April but it slipped my mind. Thankfully I have a second chance to:
CHICAGO — New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy and his family will be guests at the White House on Monday for a discussion about the state of working dads.
Murphy received talk-radio backlash after choosing to take paternity leave and miss the team’s first two games of the season to be present for the birth of his first child on March 31. Murphy’s wife Tori gave birth to 8-pound, 2-ounce son Noah about an hour before the first pitch of the Mets’ season.
The White House Summit on Working Families will be held in the South Court Auditorium of the White House. It aims to advance talk about how fathers play a role at home, discuss the challenges of balancing a career and family, and advocate for rights such as parental leave from work.
Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Jason Furman will participate in the discussion along with Murphy.