May 17, 2013
Nissan Motor Co.’s Mississippi plant is on track to receive more state aid and tax breaks than what state and company officials have previously revealed … continue
12 May 2013
By Mark Gruenberg
|WASHINGTON – A close reading of the draft comprehensive immigration reform bill, which the Senate Judiciary Committee began to work on starting on May 9, discloses provisions to bring undocumented workers under labor law coverage.|
|And while it does not baldly name the labor laws that would immediately cover undocumented workers in the U.S., an immigration law specialist who concentrates on workers rights tells Press Associates Union News Service that such coverage is there.
Not only that, adds Yvette Cho of the National Employment Law Project, but the draft Senate bill also overturns a prior U.S. Supreme Court decision that denies net back pay to undocumented workers whom employers illegally fire for union activities.
Whether labor law covers the undocumented workers is important to all workers, documented or not. That’s because, as unions repeatedly discover, venal, vicious, law-breaking employers manipulate the presence of the undocumented in two ways.
First, employers exploit the undocumented by hiring them at low wages and impossible conditions, secure in the knowledge the workers can’t fight back for fear of deportation. Second, firms threaten other workers with firing and being replaced by the undocumented unless the other workers agree to cuts in wages and working conditions.
So bringing the undocumented workers under labor law coverage is a key goal of unions campaigning for workers’ rights under the comprehensive immigration reform.
The key provisions that imply that labor laws – including the National Labor Relations Act, wage and hour laws and the Occupational Safety and Health Act – cover the undocumented workers are Sections 2101 and 2102 of the draft Senate bill. Section 2101 lists rights available, and what rights are not, to undocumented workers once they become “registered provisional immigrants,” the first step on the legal road.
“A noncitizen granted registered provisional immigrant status under this section shall be considered lawfully present in the United States for all purposes while such noncitizen remains in such status, except that the noncitizen is not entitled to the premium assistance tax credit” in the Affordable Care Act to help pay for health care coverage, or any other benefits of the 2010 health care law, it says.
That leaves all other legal protections open for the undocumented workers, once they register, including labor law protections.
“Undocumented workers are under the protection of labor laws, and it fixes Hoffman Estates, too,” says Cho, referring to the High Court ruling denying the workers net back pay.
“There isn’t any particular phrasing that says when the undocumented workers shall be covered by, and employers subjected to, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the National Labor Relations Act,” she continues. “But there is sufficient jurisprudence out there saying that they’re protected.”
An undocumented worker who enters the immigration legalization process would be eligible for “all rights and remedies provided under any federal, state, or local law relating to workplace rights,” section 2102 of the Senate’s draft bill adds.
And the effective date of such protections is when the immigration overhaul would be signed into law, Cho adds.
Section 2102 continues: “A court may not prohibit an employee from pursuing other causes of action” – lawsuits – “giving rise to liability, except any reinstatement remedy prohibited by federal law, on account of (and) including but not limited to back pay, are available to an employee despite” the “employee’s status as an unauthorized alien, either during or after the period of employment by the employer, or the employer’s or employee’s failure to comply with the requirements” of the immigration overhaul law.
The Hoffman Estates ruling said the NLRB could find firms guilty of labor law-breaking when they illegally fired undocumented workers, but the agency couldn’t levy the remedy – ordering the worker get net back pay – if the worker is undocumented.
Section 2102 also says that if the employer illegally fires the worker, citing the immigration law as the reason, “reinstatement shall be available” to the worker “who is authorized to work” in the U.S. or who “lost employment-authorized status due to the unlawful acts of the employer under this section.”
There is at least one other section in the Senate-proposed draft that also apparently backs up workers’ rights for the undocumented. It says that “records of a labor union, day labor center, or organization that assists workers in employment” are among the evidence an undocumented worker can present to show continuous work in the U.S.Mark Gruenberg writes for Press Associates, Inc., news service. Used by permission.
12 May 2013
|FRIDLEY – In mid-April, UNITE HERE Local 17 appealed to supporters for immediate phone calls and e-mails to help save the jobs of four longtime cafeteria workers at the BAE plant in Fridley.|
|For decades, Local 17 had a contract with ARAMARK, which operated the cafeteria there. But recently Cassidy & Turley, the real estate management company for the facility, decided to bring in Taher Food Service to replace ARAMARK.
The four cafeteria workers delivered a letter April 10 to Tom Veirling, site manager for Cassidy & Turley, who reportedly told Taher not to hire them: “All of us have families and struggling through these rough economic times has been difficult, but now they will become a lot more difficult as we lose our incomes and health insurance. How do you separate decent behavior and kindness to others with this heartless act you are committing?”
Thursday, April 11 was the last day on the job for the four cafeteria workers, who worked at the cafeteria 8 years, 13 years, 16 years and 33 years respectively.
Local 17 distributed flyers about the cafeteria workers’ plight on the windshields of the cars in the parking lot at the BAE plant. The workers “don’t deserve to be tossed out like paper cups,” the flyer read.
Local 17 flyers, together with a Labor Review story on the Workday Minnesota website, helped generate phone calls and e-mails to Cassidy & Turley and to Taher.
The union helped place three of the four workers in new positions, Local 17 senior Vice President Martin Goff reported April 17. (The fourth worker, for personal reasons, planned to take some time off.) “They were scared but they know their union took care of them,” Goff said.
Reprinted from the Minneapolis Labor Review.
6 May 2013
|ST. PAUL – With a vote expected in the state Senate Wednesday, the Minnesota AFL-CIO and its affiliates are urging union members to call Senators and tell them to back a House measure that raises the wage to $9.50 per hour.|
|The House bill, passed Friday, increases the state minimum wage to $9.50 per hour over three years and institutes automatic future increases based on inflation.
The Senate, in contrast, is considering legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.75 per hour.
Minnesota has one of the lowest state minimum wages in the country, at $6.15 an hour. However, most workers qualify for the higher federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. An increase in Minnesota’s minimum would give all minimum wage earners a boost, as the higher state standard would pre-empt the federal law.
“The Minnesota House took a huge step forward today in ensuring better wages for hundreds of thousands of hard working Minnesotans. The minimum wage has continued to lose value over the last 40 years; this legislation would begin to restore some of its buying power,” said Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson.
“By passing a meaningful minimum wage increase, like the one authored by Rep. Ryan Winkler, low-wage workers can be part of Minnesota’s economic recovery. For every $1 dollar increase in the minimum wage there is a boost in consumer spending by a low-wage workers’ household by $2,800 over the following year.
“The Minnesota AFL-CIO has made a meaningful increase in the minimum wage a top legislative priority this session. We are proud to be part of a diverse coalition of labor unions, faith groups, non-profit organizations, and small business owners advocating for a higher wage. We strongly urge the Minnesota Senate to significantly improve its minimum bill before passage.”
Governor Mark Dayton has indicated he supports a minimum wage of between $9 and $9.50 an hour.
May 1, 2013
Indexes Get Interrogated
Study: State "Business Climate" Rankings Based on Flawed Data, Have No Policy Value
Washington, DC–Prominent studies that purport to measure and rank the states’ "business climates" are actually politicized grab-bags of data. They have no predictive value and should not be used to inform public policies.
Those are the main conclusions of a new study published today by Good Jobs First. "Grading Places: What Do the Business Climate Rankings Really Tell Us?" is authored by Dr. Peter Fisher, an economist who has written extensively on economic development.
"When we scrutinized the business climate methodologies, we found profound and elementary errors," said Fisher. "We found effects presented as causes. We found factors that have no empirically proven relationship to economic growth. And we found scores that ignore major differences among state tax systems."
Read the complete report here.