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CBO: $15 minimum wage bill would cost employers $48 billion a year

  • April 25, 2019

CBO: $15 minimum wage bill would cost employers $48 billion a year

Rep. Bobby Scott‘s $15 minimum wage bill would cost private businesses $48 billion a year; the Congressional Budget Office said this week.

The CBO’s analysis of the Raise the Wage Act, H.R. 582 (116), which would phase in a $15 minimum wage over five years and index it to inflation after that, also says that state and local governments would have to pay an additional $3 billion to workers each year.

The analysis does not address the question of job losses, saying only that higher wages “could include reducing hiring, among other responses.” A 2014 CBO report concluded that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would eliminate 500,000 jobs but increase real income by $12 billion for families near the poverty line.

Scott, in a statement to POLITICO, said the overall effect of his bill on business would be negligible.

“According to the CBO, gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 over six years — and providing a raise to nearly 40 million workers — will increase employers’ costs by just one-half of one percent (0.5 percent) of total private-sector wages by 2025,” Scott said. “Predictably, opponents of the minimum wage are attempting to twist this report to vilify a policy that a majority of Americans support. But the evidence is clear: Gradually raising the minimum wage is good for workers, good for businesses, and good for the economy.

Scott’s bill has been a subject of intense internal debate among Democrats. More than a dozen moderate members favor a competing proposal by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) that would allow for lower wages in rural areas, an idea that prompted a backlash from the party’s more liberal wing.

Top Labor Boss Talks Politics, Trade

  • April 23, 2019

Top Labor Boss Talks Politics, Trade   

The two articles shared here are provided to CUE as part of our subscription with POLITICO PRO.  The article on the new AFL-CIO political candidate endorsement process was written by Ian Kullgren.  The article on labor standards reform in Mexico was written by Doug Palmer.

AFL-CIO president details new endorsement process for 2020

The AFL-CIO will require Democratic candidates to get their hands dirty if they wish to receive an endorsement from the nation’s largest labor federation in 2020, president Richard Trumka said today.

Trumka, speaking to the Economic Club of Washington, detailed a new endorsement system that will involve candidates working with union members for several hours in order to receive an invitation to a larger forum later this year.

“We’re asking candidates to come out and actually work on the job with our members for half a day,” Trumka said.

Those who do will then meet with a panel of workers to take questions.

“If they do that,” Trumka said, “then we will invite them to a forum later in the year, probably in mid-September this year, where workers will ask questions and be able to do follow up.”

The new system speaks to the more cautious approach unions are taking after 2016, when portions of their membership who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) felt burned by early union endorsements of Hillary Clinton.

The AFL-CIO, by contrast, didn’t endorse Clinton until June 2016, after the contest was essentially over. In 2020, Trumka suggested that the labor federation may not endorse a candidate at all in 2020.

“I guess it’s possible that we would not endorse a candidate,” Trumka said. “No matter how I answer that question it’s going to get misconstrued.”

Trumka: AFL-CIO needs proof Mexico will eliminate ‘sham union’ contracts

Union workers will need proof that Mexico will follow through on a promise to hold votes to potentially eliminate about 700,000 collective bargaining agreements before backing President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the head of the largest U.S. labor group said Tuesday.

“They have four years to eliminate all 700,000 protectionist contracts,” Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO said during an on-stage interview at the Economics Club of Washington. “That’s about 175,000 a year, and we haven’t seen them having the ability to do that.”

Trumka’s statement shows the problem Trump continues to have in persuading Democratic members of Congress to support his new trade deal.

In one positive for labor, the U.S. International Trade Commission’s recently estimated that the USMCA’s provisions could increase wages in Mexico by 17.2 percent.

“The agreement, if enforced, would strengthen labor standards and rights, including those related to collective bargaining in Mexico, which would promote higher wages and better labor conditions in that country,” the ITC said.

Trumka said Mexico needs to demonstrate they have the “infrastructure” in place to conduct those votes on the 700,000 collective bargaining agreements before the AFL-CIO can support the USMCA.

Mexico’s existing union contracts were negotiated by “sham unions that were actually part of the government,” Trumka said. “The sham union would go in with the government, negotiate an inferior low-wage contract, and workers didn’t even know they had a contract or were part of a union.”

The Trump administration says it has worked hard to address the AFL-CIO’s concerns in the new pact.

“What Mexico is doing on labor reforms is really revolutionary,” a senior U.S. trade officials told reporters last week. “Mexico’s agreed to go back and have verified secret ballot votes on all 700,000 existing collective bargaining agreements in their country. That’s not a small thing.”

The congressionally mandated ITC report also details many ways that the USMCA is an improvement over the 25-year-old NAFTA, which relegated labors provisions to an unenforceable side agreement.

In contrast, “USMCA labor provisions are subject to the same dispute settlement mechanism as other provisions in the agreement,” the ITC said.

USMCA also prohibits the three countries from eliminating or weakening their existing labor regulations to attract more investment and trade, the ITC said.

Union workers need proof on the ground that Mexico is capable of following through on that promise, starting with the adoption of new labor legislation, Trumka said.

The union chief said he would resist any appeal from the Trump administration to trust that they would take care of his concerns after USMCA is approved by Congress.

“I was born at night, but not last night,” Trumka said.

Trump administration moves to invalidate Longshoremen’s union election

  • April 19, 2019

Trump administration moves to invalidate Longshoremen’s union election

This is a very interesting development related to labor issues tieing into Latin America, something that seems to be on the rise with recenet labor unrest in Mexico.

The Trump administration asked a federal judge to invalidate key results of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s 2018 election, arguing that the union did not count nearly 2,000 ballots from members in Panama.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California, the Labor Department asked the judge to require a new election for ILWU president, vice president, secretary-treasurer and the international executive board officer for Panama. The margins of victory for those positions were less than the 1,970 Panamanian votes that were not counted, DOL said.

Willie Adams, the first black president of ILWU, won by 393 votes. The union board voted 15-6 in October 2018 to certify the results despite the uncounted ballots from Panama, according to news reports. A union spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

A postage mix-up prevented 1,970 dock workers and ship pilots in Panama from mailing their ballots to the U.S. More than 1,000 of those ballots were shipped in a box and arrived in time to be counted, but the union board “decided to disqualify the ballots because they were not voted in accordance with” its bylaws, according to the complaint. In addition, the instructions were not “fully or accurately” translated to Spanish, DOL said.

DOL argues that ILWU violated the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, which requires unions to provide every member the opportunity to vote.

ILWU represents port workers in the U.S. and Canada, and in 2011 joined with dock workers and ship drivers along the Panama Canal. The union reportedly sought to increase its bargaining power, worried that a planned widening of the canal could siphon business from West Coast ports.

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