Category Archives: Labor

Nevada Becomes 36th State to Ratify ERA. Is Arizona Next? (video)

Pamela Powers Hannley on ERA

“Arizona, I’m looking at you” to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, says Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley on the occasion of Nevada’s passage of the ERA.

Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was proposed in eight states in 2017: Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Missouri, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina and Illinois. On March 22, 2017– the 45th anniversary of Congress starting the ratification process in 1972– Nevada became the 36th state in the US to ratify the ERA.

To make the ERA the next amendment to the US Constitution, we need two more states to ratify it and the Congress to extend the deadline, which they have done before.

On the Floor of the Arizona House on Wednesday, when I announced the ERA’s success in Nevada, I said, “Arizona, I’m looking at you.”

Arizona women deserve equality and equal pay for equal work. We won’t get that until we pass the Equal Rights Amendment because the ERA puts teeth in the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

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AZ Supreme Court unanimously upholds Prop. 206

The Arizona Supreme Court unanimously ruled against a challenge brought by our corporate overlords in the Chamber of Commerce organizations to the voter-approved Prop. 206, the minimum wage initiative, raising the state’s minimum wage and providing for paid time off regulations. The Arizona Capitol Times  (subscription required) reports, Supreme Court upholds minimum wage law:

The justices rejected arguments by a group of plaintiffs, led by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, that Proposition 206 led to an unconstitutional mandate for the government to spend money. Attorneys for the chamber argued that expenses caused by Prop. 206, which raised the minimum wage to $10 per hour on January 1, violated the Arizona Constitution’s revenue-source rule.

Adopted in 2004, the rule requires ballot initiatives to identify funding sources for any new government spending.

Chief Justice Scott Bales announced the ruling in a brief order released Tuesday afternoon. A lengthier written opinion will be released at a later date.

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February jobs report: economic ‘mess’ inherited from Obama continues to produce good jobs report

Think Progress reports that The economic ‘mess’ Trump says he inherited continues to add jobs:

The economy added 235,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate fell slightly to 4.7 percent, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s the first job report to measure the economy under President Trump.

While Trump has said he “inherited a mess,” February’s job report marks the 76th straight month of job creation, the longest streak since 1939, with 2.2 million jobs added over the course of last year.

(Last month was also the 17th consecutive month the rate has been at 5% or lower).

Trump retweeted a Drudge Report headline touting the number of jobs added in February that said, “GREAT AGAIN.” But the economy added 238,000 jobs in the last report of Obama’s presidency.

As Steve Benen points out in his monthly jobs report, New jobs data shows 2017 is off to a strong start:

If recent political developments are any guide, Trump and his supporters will tout the encouraging jobs data as evidence of his economic prowess. And while everyone should always be glad to see good news, it’s worth noting that these boasts continue to be misplaced. Trump didn’t actually implement any meaningful economic policies in February, and the president’s repeated claims about his accomplishments fall apart under scrutiny. Trump keeps claiming he’s created U.S. jobs since Election Day. Not so.

FebruaryJobs

Indeed, the question for the White House and congressional Republicans remains difficult to answer: how can the job market remain so healthy with all of those nasty Obama-era policies – the Affordable Care Act, environmental protections, Wall Street safeguards, et al – in place? Why are the February 2017 numbers nearly identical to the February 2016 and February 2015 numbers?

As Steve Benen says, “It’s increasingly difficult to believe Donald Trump inherited an economic ‘mess.'”

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Public policy is failing to address the economic disruption from rapidly advancing technology

Back in December I posted about a New report on automation and AI replacing human labor.

The New York Times editorialized in February that No, Robots Aren’t Killing the American Dream. As evidence, the Times cites “the data indicate that today’s fear of robots is outpacing the actual advance of robots. If automation were rapidly accelerating, labor productivity and capital investment would also be surging as fewer workers and more technology did the work. But labor productivity and capital investment have actually decelerated in the 2000s.”

Sarah Bauerle Danzman, assistant professor of international studies at the School of Global and International Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, and Jeff D. Colgan, the Richard Holbrooke associate professor of political science at the Watson Institute of Brown University, respond today at the Washington Post. Robots aren’t killing the American Dream. Neither is trade. This is the problem.

Unfortunately, [the Times‘] argument leads many people to conclude that globalization and liberalized international trade must be what’s hurting U.S. manufacturing. That’s the argument that Alan Tonelson, a campaign adviser to both Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), made in a more recent Times op-ed. According to Tonelson, the U.S. economy needs protectionist policies to revitalize it.

But they’re wrong. Worse, those arguments distract us from implementing the policies that could most help the American worker. Here’s why.

1) Automation is reducing employment in key industries.

The U.S. economy has steadily lost manufacturing jobs since the late 1970s. In 1970, manufacturing employed close to 25 percent of the workforce; but today employs only about 8.5 percent of working Americans. At the same time, the real median household income for people with high school diplomas but not college degrees fell 27.8 percent.

One key piece of evidence is that the United States shed 5 million manufacturing jobs from 2000-2014, even as output over the same period rose. That suggests that automation is the primary reason for the loss. If international trade were the chief culprit, we would also expect U.S. manufacturing output to decline.

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(Update) AZ Supreme Court oral argument on Prop. 206, Minimum Wage Initiative

It looks as if our corporate overlords at the Chamber of Commerce organizations seeking to overturn the will of the voters on Prop. 206, the Minimum Wage Initiative — and by extension to eliminate your constitutional right to pass laws by citizen initiatives — had a bad day in court on Thursday.

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, AZ Supreme Court skeptical of minimum wage challenger arguments:

Arizona’s Supreme Court justices spent time March 9 imagining a world in which the state’s voters may never get to pass laws by the ballot again.

Justices repeatedly posed that scenario to Brett Johnson, an attorney representing the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other plaintiffs in their challenge to a higher minimum wage approved overwhelmingly by voters in November.

Johnson argued that parts of Proposition 206, including new mandates for benefits such as paid sick leave, are a direct mandate for the state to spend money, which violates the Arizona Constitution’s revenue source rule. That rule is a measure adopted in 2004 that requires ballot initiatives to identify funding sources for new government spending.

Chief Justice Scott Bales opened the hearing with a question that cut to the case’s potentially dramatic implications: If even indirect expenditures are sufficient to violate the revenue source rule, is there realistically any initiative that could be proposed that wouldn’t violate the Constitution?

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AZ Supreme Court to hear oral argument in Prop. 206 Minimum Wage initiative appeal

The case of Chamber of Commerce et al v. Hon. Daniel Kiley/State of Arizona et al., (Arizona Supreme Court No. CV-16-0314-SA) is set for oral argument today before the Arizona Supreme Court.

This is the case brought by our corporate overlords at the Chamber of Commerce organizations seeking to overturn the will of the voters of Arizona in voting for Prop. 206 last year, the Minimum Wage Initiative from Arizonans for Fair Wages and Healthy Families.

On February 14, 2017, the Arizona Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction of the Petition for Special Action and asked the parties to address a single issue: Whether Proposition 206 violates the Revenue Source Rule, and, if so, what relief would be appropriate? This is the only issue before the court today.

Howard Fischer reports, Business relief from Arizona minimum-wage hike looking more remote:

The state’s business community brings its last-ditch effort to kill a voter-approved minimum wage hike to the Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday.

But it remains to be seen whether the business groups led by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry can get the relief from having to pay their workers more — even if their lawyers win.

That’s because the justices told the attorneys the only issue they want them to debate now is whether Proposition 206 violates a provision of the Arizona Constitution. It says if an initiative forces the state to spend more money, it also must include a source for those dollars.

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