TODAY'S FAIR SHOTS
1-Opponents of Legislative Attacks on Undocumented Immigrants Lay Down Powerful Markers in House Debate
2-Is the Overtime Rule Going to Face 'Repeal and Replace'?
3-AFL-CIO Notes Big IAM Victory at Red River Army Depot
4-Mother Jones Article by Undercover Private Prison Worker Wins Major Award
5-Sign the Petition to Support Call Center Legislation That Helps Consumers, Builds Good Jobs
6. Stand in Solidarity! March on Mississippi - Sat., March 4th
1. The Texas House today gave final passage to a pair of bipartisan bills aimed at protecting foster children and children in other Texas programs, HB 4 and HB 5. The Senate is nearing final passage of SB 11, its version of a foster care bill, with unanimous support in a preliminary vote.
The buzz from yesterday's debate arose over an amendment that would have excluded undocumented children from the protection of one of the bills.
Common Sense Immigration Texas kindly posted the relevant portion of the debate on the amendment. It's not my habit to post video of floor debates, which on some days is the best cure for insomnia I know. But this excerpt is beautiful to see. For opponents of the myriad efforts in this legislative session to ratchet up enforcement of federal immigration law, the debate lays down powerful markers.
After the remarks you will see, the amendment was ultimately pulled down.
The representatives on the video who speak from the heart are Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, followed by Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana:
2. Bloomberg BNA posted an update on the status of the federal overtime rule, suggesting a "repeal and replace" tactic might be used to reduce a long-overdue improvement in overtime rights for salaried workers.
The Texas AFL-CIO has sought to intervene in the case on the belief that the Trump White House will not continue advocating for an Obama-era Labor Department rule on overtime eligibility. That legal motion is pending:
The debate over how the Trump administration should handle the Obama Labor Department's overtime rule offers a couple of likely options: repeal and replace the wage-boosting regulation or drop it altogether.
The future of the rule-intended to make some 4 million workers newly eligible for time-and-a-half pay-is in doubt following a judge's November decision to temporarily block it. It's not clear how the White House and labor secretary nominee Alexander Acosta want to proceed, but Justice Department delays of filing briefs in the case suggest the administration is considering dropping its defense of the rule in court.
One increasingly discussed scenario involves the DOL issuing a more modest rule, which could render the pending litigation moot. The signature wage-and-hour regulation of President Barack Obama doubled the salary threshold below which workers qualify for overtime wages to $47,476. Some Republicans and employers have discussed a new level in the $35,000 range as more appropriate.
"I think it would be cleaner just to do a new notice of proposed rulemaking," Alfred Robinson, acting administrator of the DOL's Wage and Hour Division under President George W. Bush, told Bloomberg BNA. "It helps the judicial branch and it helps the executive branch."
Attorneys familiar with Acosta say it's more likely he would withdraw the rule entirely, without an immediate plan of action for revising the current salary threshold below which workers qualify for overtime wages ($23,660 per year).
"If their litigating position is we don't want to defend the rule as written, that can become the law, because they can simply publish a notice in the Federal Register saying this rule never became effective and we're withdrawing it," Gregory Jacob, DOL solicitor for the final 14 months of the George W. Bush administration, told Bloomberg BNA.
"I think there's a reasonably good chance" they withdraw the rule and then consider whether to issue a new rule, Jacob said, drawing on his friendships with Acosta and current acting DOL Solicitor Nicholas Geale. "I know the kind of lawyers that both Nick and Alex are; I know it will be a fulsome process but taking the criticism of the district court seriously," said Jacob, now a partner representing employers with O'Melveny & Myers LLP in Washington...
"A president who campaigned on a promise to help regular Americans you would think would not be eager to take hard-earned overtime away from them, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the new Department of Labor will do with this rule," Justin Swartz, a partner at plaintiffs' firm Outten & Golden in New York, told Bloomberg BNA.
"In the end, I think that there will be an increased salary basis because it's just hard to justify calling a $40,000 a year employee exempt," said Swartz, who was co-chair of the wage-and-hour practice group at the National Employment Lawyers Association from 2011 to 2016.
3. The AFL-CIO national blog today included the Machinists' good news about 700 jobs saved at the Red River Army Depot in Texarkana.
At the center of the article was Gerry McCarty of NFFE-IAM Local 2189:
"We circled the wagons and went at it with all we had, contacting elected officials in several states and planning protests at several key locations," McCarty said. "We were prepared to leave no stone unturned in order to keep these people at work, whether they were union members or not."
4. When Mother Jones published an undercover article in which reporter Shane Bauer worked as a private prison guard, in part he opened a window to the variety and scope of what makes those jobs miserable.
Today, Mother Jones won the 2017 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting for the article.
It's still worth a read if you haven't seen it:
5. Do something! Our Brothers and Sisters in the Communications workers of America relayed this request for help asking members of Congress to approve a bill aimed at keeping call center jobs in the U.S.
Among the authors: U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston. It's easy to take action and sign:
Today, the "U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act" was introduced in both the House and Senate, to protect workers and consumers and to curb the off-shoring of American jobs.
The legislation requires that U.S. callers be told the location of the call center to which they are speaking, offer callers the opportunity to be connected to a U.S.-based center if preferred, and makes U.S. companies that off-shore their call center jobs ineligible for certain federal grants and taxpayer-funded loans.
The legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) with cosponsors Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and in the House by Reps. David McKinley (R-WV) and Gene Green (D-TX).
Congressman Green joined a CWA media teleconference to talk about the bi-partisan bill. The media call also announced a new CWA report, "Why Shipping Call Center Jobs Overseas Hurts Us Back Home."
"We must do everything we can to protect American jobs and consumers and to ensure that Americans have access to good jobs that provide decent wages and benefits," said Rep. Green. "This bipartisan bill will help stem the tide of American jobs being shipped overseas. Along with fellow sponsor Rep. David McKinley, we are committed to working with our Democratic and Republican colleagues and the Trump Administration to move this legislation forward and to protect American workers and consumers."
"This call center legislation is just common sense," said Jennifer Szpara, a consumer consultant with Verizon in Pittsburgh, PA, and a member of Local 13500 who has been with the company for 17 years. "It would help keep good call center jobs here in the U.S. It would give customers who are connected to an overseas call center the right to be transferred back to the U.S. And it would mean that companies that do send good jobs overseas wouldn't be rewarded with taxpayer-funded grants and loans. It's a win for customers, workers, our communities, and our employer."
The CWA report highlights examples of why the continued trend of off-shoring call center jobs is bad for American workers and harmful to the security of U.S. consumers' sensitive information.
"The off-shoring of call center jobs is a trend that is bad for American workers and communities and, as this new report shows, harmful to the security of U.S. consumers' sensitive information," said CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson. "At a time when voices across the political spectrum are emphasizing the dangers of off-shoring and the importance of prioritizing American workers, there should be strong support for bipartisan legislation like the new 'U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act.'"
CWAers are mobilizing to keep good call center jobs in the U.S., and are signing this petition calling on Congress to take action: http://bit.ly/2my8wdu
6. March on Mississippi: Bernie Sanders, Danny Glover to Lead March With Nissan Workers
There is an amazing Nissan organizing campaign happening right now in Mississippi, and this Saturday March 4th, Sen. Sanders, actor Danny Glover and others are joining Nissan workers for a rally and March in Canton.