ICYM: A roundup of worker news

“Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the Koch Brothers are funding a right-wing network that is behind a new secret initiative attempting to discredit teacher walkouts while harming teachers’ unions,” says an April 13 report in PoliticusUSA.

 

For tipped workers, the federal minimum wage hasn’t risen above $2.13 an hour since 1996. That means when business slows down, worker wages get plunge 50 percent or more for the same time worked. “My landlord doesn't care that we have construction behind the restaurant,” said waitress Tracy Brasseur to CNBC. “They want their rent money.”

 

In a little-noticed case, the US Supreme Court recently did a favor to the Chamber of Commerce: It further narrowed the pool of workers eligible for overtime. And this portends further restrictions. Said Andrew Strom in onlabor, “Even for the Chamber, it isn’t easy to enact legislation, but it appears that the Chamber can now get the Court to effectively rewrite existing laws.”

 

French President Emmanuel Macron is determined to gut the country’s enlightened labor laws. But unions and their supporters are proving just as determined to thwart him, as a series of strikes and protests attest. As Reuters noted, “Though nowhere near as potent, the various protests come as France prepares to mark the 50th anniversary of the student-led riots of May 1968, which gridlocked the country and led to the adoption of more progressive social policies.”

 

As if Puerto Rico hadn’t suffered enough from Hurricane Maria, the island has to continue to battle a ferocious effort to reduce and privatize the public school system. In her blog, former New York City school administrator Diane Ravitch observed, “There are 450 affected communities, over 8,000 displaced teachers and thousands of families and students whose lives were interrupted without foundation.”


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