Weekly Labor Wrap-Up / Dec. 8 2017
Tips Could Become Property of Employers Under Proposed Trump Administration Rule
It's Official: NLRB Will No Longer Automatically Enforce Obama-Era Precedents
AFGE Protests Under-Staffing at Kerrville VA Hospital
AP: Charter Schools Foment Segregation
AFL-CIO VP Tefere Gebre Accepts Prestigious Peace Prize
Texas Protest Against Tax Bill Makes MSNBC
The Trump Labor Department may be about to take a big bite out of the "Fight for 15."
The Economic Policy Institute reports the threat comes in the form of a proposed rule that could allow employers to confiscate tips so long as tipped employees are making at least the minimum wage.
The proposed rule would give a renewed blessing to "tip pooling." Under that practice, if you tip, say, a restaurant server, the tip essentially goes into a giant jar for sharing with other non-tipped employees in the restaurant. EPI says, however, the rule does not appear to require employers to distribute pooled tips to employees at all.
We have seen tipped-worker issues in recent contexts. A bill by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, and others seeking to declare tips the property of the person being tipped cleared a House committee but did not reach the floor earlier this year. In Las Vegas, unions have fought, with mixed success, against efforts to deal management in on tips. For example, dealers at Blackjack tables have been asked to surrender a portion of their tips to pit bosses, who patrol tables and are considered part of management.
Federal and state laws allow restaurant owners to pay servers as little as $2.13 an hour out of their own pocket. In Texas, tips are supposed to complement the $2.13 and yield a wage of at least $7.25 an hour; if they do not, the employer is supposed to make up the difference, a requirement we hear is often ignored in actual practice.
The trade-off for this incredible bargain for employers has been that servers get to keep their tips. If servers do well, they have a prospect of making a decent, if not always consistent, income. The proposed rule discussed by EPI would give servers the worst of each side of the trade-off: abysmally low employer responsibility for their livelihoods and, potentially all benefits to the employer when the server does a good job.
One would think employers know that confiscating all tips would leave minimal incentive for working people to provide the best service they can. But in 2017, as in 1917, basic decency in the employment relationship is lacking in too many quarters. This proposed rule is outrageously unfair to working people.
The rule is now in a 30-day comment period. That gives you an opportunity to write in and OPPOSE the rule.
Tell the government that tips should be the property of the person who earns them and that leaving them to the discretion of employers deceives customers and cheats working people.
The Trump National Labor Relations Board has made explicit what was implicit in the result of the 2016 elections: Worker rights stemming from the Obama White House are now inoperative.
Huffington Post reports the General Counsel of the Labor Department has made it clear to NLRB employees across the nation that they may not automatically rely on Obama-era precedents that help working people.
This is a terrible development for working people who want to speak up together on the job. But it is the fruit of the Electoral College. President Trump is carrying out precisely what candidate Trump indicated he would do on the labor front.
Zeke MacCormack of the San Antonio Express-News reports in detail on the ongoing benign neglect of the Veterans Administration hospital in Kerrville, a long-running story that is taking on new dimensions in the Trump presidency.
The "benign" part is the palaver you hear from most any politician about how veterans are everything to our nation. Absolutely. Veterans deserve excellent health care, especially when they face conditions that are related to their service. But the truth is that Washington, D.C. looks the other way when problems like the ones raised for decades by our Brothers and Sisters in the American Federation of Government Employees come to the fore.
This fine article localizing a national action by AFGE quotes, among others, Texas AFL-CIO Executive Board member Cheryl Eliano.
More and more, the "laboratories" of charter schools have re-discovered more old problems than best practices. Charter schools, on average, do not perform as well as traditional neighborhood public schools academically in the first place. (That is especially true when one factors in the greater resources that some charter schools enjoy.)
Now we are finding out that one of the old problems that charter schools have re-discovered is segregation. Hat tip to Texas AFT for passing along this item from AP.
The Texas AFL-CIO congratulates AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre on receiving the Roving Ambassador for Peace price from the World Peace Prize Awarding Council.
Father Sean McManus, president of the Irish National Caucus and chief judge of the WPPAC, spoke about why Gebre was chosen for the award:
I have the honor of being the Chief Judge of the World Peace Prize Awarding Council (headquartered in Seoul, South Korea) and was pleased to be able to propose Tefere Gebre on the basis that if one works in solidarity for justice for working men and women, one is, indeed, working for peace. I was delighted that our 14-member panel of international and interfaith judges unanimously agreed. We strongly believe that the labor movement should be recognized as powerfully contributing to world peace-based on solidarity, equality and justice for all.
Ethiopian-born Tefere became the first immigrant, political refugee, black man and local labor council leader elected as a national officer of the AFL-CIO. That is a significant, compelling narrative and a timely metaphor for today's America and for today's world-making him a most worthy recipient of the 2017 World Peace Prize "Roving Ambassador for Peace."
This MSNBC video report on national protests around the job-killing tax bill, which is entering a House-Senate conference committee to resolve differences in the two versions of the bill, takes very quick note of the protest in Denton at around the 1:50 mark.
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