News from the Daily Kos Labor
- Disneyland’s non-union workers are getting a big raise … thanks to unions
August, 13 2018
Disneyland recently negotiated a $15 minimum wage for thousands of its unionized workers, and now it’s announced that a $15.75 minimum wage is coming for its non-union workers. Yay for workers getting raises, but there’s a lot going on here!
First, many of Disneyland’s union workers, in particular members of UNITE HERE, continue to have an $11 minimum wage, which is far from a living wage in southern California. So Disney is willing to give its non-union workers a raise while it continues to resist negotiating the same amount with at least one of its unions.
Second, note that while some of the unions got a $15 minimum wage, non-union workers will get a $15.75 minimum—in both cases to start in January. Isn’t that interesting?
“Whenever the unions get something good, the company tends to bump up the non-union workers as well because it keeps them from wanting to unionize,” said Artemis Bell, a Disneyland janitor who served as an SEIU United Service Workers West contract negotiator. “They essentially ride our coattails.”
Just one more way unions help workers beyond their own membership—by making capitalists anxious.
- Missouri wasn’t the only good news this week, despite the continuing war on workers
August, 11 2018
The war on workers is unrelenting under Donald Trump, but there are still bright spots, and this week in particular had a few of them.
● Let’s start by once again celebrating that Missouri voters turned back an anti-union law—and it wasn’t even close. While that was a fight to keep Missouri workers from being dragged backward and down, it was a fight that the union movement won, even in a red state.
● Officials in Washington, D.C., were going to offer special treatment for white supremacists—until union workers said no and killed the plan.
● New York City is putting limits on Uber and Lyft:
The legislation passed overwhelmingly by the City Council will cap the number of for-hire vehicles for a year while the city studies the booming industry. The bills also allow New York to set a minimum pay rate for drivers.
- Missouri voters overwhelmingly reject anti-union law
August, 8 2018
Missouri voters decisively rejected an anti-union law on Tuesday, rejecting the state’s Proposition A by a 67.5 to 32.5 margin. The vote was on whether to affirm a so-called “right to work” bill signed in early 2017 by now ex-Gov. Eric Greitens, and voters were not having it. The big Republican loss came despite Republicans having put the measure on the ballot in the relatively low-turnout—and therefore more Republican—primary rather than November’s general election, in an effort to tilt the vote.
The Missouri vote shows—again—that the anti-union laws Republican legislators love so much are not necessarily popular with voters. As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, the vote shows “How out of touch the Republican legislature in Missouri is, how out of touch the Supreme Court is.” But at the same time, as Washington University sociologist Jake Rosenfeld pointed out to the New York Times’ Noam Scheiber, this is a big win for unions simply by preventing a big step backward. It doesn’t move worker power forward. Additionally, unions spent heavily to get the win, and it remains to be seen if voters will punish the Republicans who passed the anti-union law in the first place. (And, thanks to the Republican strategy of holding this vote on primary day, the decision whether to punish those Republicans will be separated from the policy vote by nearly three months.)
Still, it’s good to win, especially on a law so much at the center of the Republican anti-worker agenda.
- Students screwed once by for-profit colleges being screwed again by Trump’s Education Department
August, 7 2018
Limiting the damage predatory and fraudulent for-profit colleges can do to students was the single best thing former President Barack Obama did on education, so naturally, Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is determined to dismantle that good. It’s a perfect fit for DeVos: she gets to reverse Obama’s achievements and screw over the little people who had to borrow money to attend college. If it’s sometimes hard to keep track of all the ways DeVos is making life worse for students and alums of predatory for-profit colleges, Mother Jones’s Edwin Rios has rounded up the key attacks on decency here.
DeVos is reportedly going to eliminate the gainful employment rule, which—if it had ever gone into effect—would have forced colleges to show that their degrees were actually worth something and that students were getting jobs and paying off their loans. If schools couldn’t show that, they wouldn’t have been eligible for federal student aid, which for-profit colleges rely heavily on. That rule change comes on top of DeVos moving to make it more difficult for students who have already been defrauded to get debt relief. Now, instead of showing that their schools engaged in illegal deceptive practices, students would have to show that their schools intentionally defrauded them—a much higher bar to clear—and DeVos would allow colleges to enforce mandatory arbitration, keeping students from even getting to court:
Proving a school’s intentions, especially outside of court, would be incredibly challenging for defrauded students. Under the Obama administration, they could simply show that a school had made misleading statements and misrepresented its job placement or graduation rates. Now, Ament says, students would have to meet an “insurmountable” standard—without the power to obtain internal records through litigation. “How would a student have access to internal emails between executives?” Ament asks. “In nearly all the cases that we’ve seen that the department’s granted, it’s rare that the student has been able to access that sort of evidence.”
The alternative for students would be going into default and then applying for debt relief—which means that the precondition to applying for relief would be risking your future credit rating.
On top of these proposed rule changes, DeVos has slashed the Education Department unit charged with investigating fraud from 12 staffers to three, and those three have other duties as well. If for-profit colleges are defrauding students, Betsy DeVos does not want to know about it. And if someone brings it to her attention, she does not want to do anything about it. And if young people are suffering under the burden of student loans they took out based on illegally deceptive practices, DeVos does not want to help them out.
- Transit union forces D.C. officials to scrap special treatment for white nationalists
August, 6 2018
Late last week, the Washington, D.C. transit authority floated the idea of providing reserved train cars for white supremacists on their way to what’s intended to be Charlottesville 2.0—the new “Unite the Right.” Officials were quoted saying it was to prevent violence between white supremacists and counter-protesters, but seriously, give us a break here. The idea was quickly scrapped after the union whose members operate the trains said they would not enable special treatment for white supremacists:
“Local 689 is proud to provide transit to everyone for the many events we have in D.C. including the March of Life, the Women’s March and Black Lives Matters” rallies, ATU Local 689 president Jackie Jeter said in the statement.
“We draw the line at giving special accommodation to hate groups and hate speech,” Jeter said. “We find it hypocritical… to make these unprecedented special accommodations for a hate group.”
The union said that people of color make up “more than 80 percent of Local 689’s membership … the very people that the Ku Klux Klan and other white nationalist groups have killed, harassed and violated. The union has declared that it will not play a role in their special accommodation.”
It’s a good thing to have workers empowered enough to say “hell no” to terrible ideas.