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Labor Report


Against what has seemed like an anti-union onslaught in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, the National Labor Relations Board, late last week, delivered what many are hailing as a victory for workers – especially those who earn their paychecks at fast-food restaurants.

McDonaldsThe NLRB essentially said that it’s unfair for companies within companies to eschew labor law simply because they say they are not the direct bosses of those employed by their sub-companies.

This means franchisees, in many cases.

The decision gives employees a fairer shake, and it also opens the door to the possibility of union representation.

As Huffington Post labor reporter Dave Jamieson wrote on Friday, “If a fast-food brand or a hotel chain can be deemed a ‘joint employer’ along with the smaller company, it can be dragged into labor disputes and negotiations that it conveniently wouldn’t have to worry about otherwise. In theory, such a precedent could even make it easier for workers to unionize as employees under the larger parent company.”

Why McDonald’s is being mentioned first as a possible victim of the new ruling is there are some pending NLRB cases against the fast-food giant.

“Unions and others who support the change say the decision is necessary to bring companies that indirectly control working conditions to the bargaining table, and to curb the use of ‘permanent temps’ who are paid less and do not get the same benefits as ordinary employees,” Reuters reported.

The NLRB’s decision dovetails nicely with the Obama administration’s efforts to increase worker protections in our changing economy, as The New York Times reported today:

“In the last two months alone, the administration has introduced a series of regulatory changes. Among them: a rule that would make millions more Americans eligible for extra overtime pay, and a guidance suggesting that many employers are misclassifying workers as contractors and therefore depriving them of basic workplace protections,” The Times’ Noam Scheiber wrote.

Minimum Wage Folly

Maybe this will be the last week we take a look at what’s Tim Worstall has to say about the minimum wage … because much of what he argues about is so, what’s the word, hysterical? No. Trite? That’s closer to the truth. Unsubstantiated? Okay, there are many words to describe his weekly banal opposition.

PaycheckCase-in-point this week: wondering why, if minimum wage increases were so good and beneficial, do they need to be phased in over time? Why aren’t they just implemented right away?

Um... because that’s just the way it works? That’s the way it’s always been done? It’s the fair and right thing to do?

The millions of us who support increasing the minimum wage have never disagreed that doing so is an increased cost, so it makes sense to phase in increases over time to help employers budget and prepare.

The benefits of a higher minimum wage outweigh the negatives. Always have; always will.

And minimum wage increases have always been phased in. My proposal, Senate Bill 195, and many of the other pieces of legislation that continue to await action by Republican leadership in Pennsylvania include incremental adjustments to Pennsylvania’s minimum wage.

My idea was to hike our $7.25 an hour to $8.67 an hour by July 1 and then to $10.10 an hour by Jan. 1. The one Republican proposal to increase the minimum wage – as lacking as it is – also seeks to inflate it in stages: 50 cents a year over three years until it hits – and stops – at $8.75.

While working to phase in a way overdue minimum wage increase for Pennsylvania’s frontline workers, we in Harrisburg also need to begin talking about – and voting on – budget proposals that are now before us.

Bye, Tim.

Labor Day

It’s been 133 years since America observed its first Labor Day (a few years longer since Pennsylvania enacted a bill recognizing labor’s benefits and contributions).

SweatshopWhile its emphasis seems to be changing, thanks to big money and corporate/political indignation about workers, Labor Day has traditionally meant the celebration of what we can accomplish when women and men are treated fairly and work together.

“The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy,” the U.S. Department of Labor says in its history of Labor Day website.

While parades and speeches still happen on Labor Day, the time is considered by many to be the “final weekend of summer.” The proof of that is in the number of people who are expected to travel.

AAA is thinking some 35.5 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles to soak in the Labor Day weekend.

“Another 2.6 million people are predicted to be flying to their destination, which is a 1.5 percent increase over last year’s air travel numbers,” reported this morning.

Many in labor today are facing serious uncertainty as mostly Republican lawmakers throughout the country force laws and regulations that aim only to dismantle unions and benefit corporations.

We don’t have to get caught up in that, however. Take some time this weekend to teach your kids about the reason we observe Labor Day. If you need some ideas, read this story by

I especially like Tip #1.

Have a safe, happy and educational Labor Day!