Category Archives: Labor

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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‘A Day Without a Woman’ general strike

Today is International Women’s Day, which has been observed for decades as a celebration of women’s achievements across the globe and a call for gender equality.

Some of the same folks who brought you the Women’s March on Washington in January are planning a general strike for this Wednesday called “A Day Without a Woman.”

In an op-ed at the New York Times Phoebe Lett writes, Why Women Are On Strike:

On Wednesday, protesters around the world will celebrate International Women’s Day by showing their economies what a day without women’s work, paid or unpaid, is like.

Inspired by two strikes last October — one successfully quashing a Polish parliament bill banning abortion, the other drawing tens of thousands to protest violence against women and girls in Argentina — organizers in more than 50 countries have coordinated a day of global action, including strikes, rallies and other gatherings.

The United States strike will focus on “broadening the definition of violence against women,” says Sarah Leonard, spokesperson for the strike. In addition to protesting domestic, sexual and physical violence against women, Tithi Bhattacharya, a member of the strike’s organizing committee, says the strike on Wednesday focuses on rejecting the “systemic violence of an economic system that is rapidly leaving women behind.”

“This is the day to emphasize the unity between work done in the so-called formal economy and the domestic sphere, the public sphere and the private sphere, and how most working women have to straddle both,” says Ms. Bhattacharya. “Labor is understood to be work only at the point of production, but as women we know that both society and policy makers invisibilize the work that women do.” The strike calls for women to withhold labor, paid or unpaid, from the United States economy to show how important their contributions are.

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AZ Supreme Court to consider Prop. 206 Minimum Wage appeal

The Arizona Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments by Chamber of Commerce organizations that the new voter-approved minimum wage, Prop. 206, violates the state’s Constitution. State Supreme Court agrees to take up minimum wage case:

The Arizona Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction of the case and announced Tuesday afternoon it will hold a hearing on March 9. At the heart of the issue, which the court will hear, is the claim that Proposition 206 violates the Constitution’s revenue source rule. The case was brought by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and other business groups and supported by Gov. Doug Ducey and Republican legislative leaders.

Justices had declined to block the minimum wage from taking effect on January 1, spurning an appeal from those same business groups after their initial complaint was struck down in Maricopa County Superior Court. Now attorneys will again argue that Proposition 206 violates a requirement in the Arizona Constitution that any new voter-mandated spending designate a funding source to cover its costs. The funding stream may not come from the general fund.

Attorneys for the chamber had offered up other legal arguments against the law in Superior Court, but the Supreme Court will only hear arguments concerning the revenue source rule. Opponents of the minimum wage hike contend the state is forced to increase spending for services through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, which contracts with service providers to ensure people have access to care.

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The technology tsunami is replacing ‘good paying jobs’ that are not coming back

Those voters in Appalachia who convinced themselves that a con artist and grifter, Donald Trump, was going to bring back “good paying jobs” by bringing back 20th Century jobs in coal mining and manufacturing are going to be sadly disappointed and badly disillusioned.

Businesses have no financial incentive to bring back labor intensive jobs when they have modern technology — computerization, automation, robotics and now artificial intelligence — to replace human labor.  Tax laws and accounting norms make it easier to invest in robots and equipment than in people.

Ed Hess, professor of business administration at the Darden School of Business at University of Virginia and co-author of the new book, “Humility Is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age” writes at the Washington Post, Coming technology will likely destroy millions of jobs. Is Trump ready?

American manufacturing job losses to China and Mexico were a major theme of the presidential campaign, and President Trump has followed up on his promise to pressure manufacturers to keep jobs here rather than send them abroad.

What he hasn’t yet addressed — but should — is the looming technology tsunami that will hit the U.S. job market over the next five to 15 years and likely destroy tens of millions of jobs due to automation by artificial intelligence, 3-D manufacturing, advanced robotics and driverless vehicles — among other emerging technologies. The best research to date indicates that 47 percent of all U.S. jobs are likely to be replaced by technology over the next 10 to 15 years, more than 80 million in all, according to the Bank of England.

Think back to the human misery in this country during the financial recession when unemployment hit 10 percent. Triple that. Or even quintuple it. We as a society and as individuals are not ready for anything like that. This upheaval has the potential of being as disruptive for us now as the Industrial Revolution was for our ancestors.

Techno-optimists tell us to relax — don’t worry, technology will produce lots of new jobs just like it did during the Industrial Revolution. History will repeat itself, they say. Well, not so fast.

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Repeal of ‘Obamacare’ would cause job losses and a ‘$5 billion hole’ in the Arizona economy

Whenever you talk about healthcare in the United States, keep in mind that it currently makes up 17 percent of the nation’s GDP, and represents the fastest growing sector of the economy. Healthcare to Become the Largest Employment Sector of the U.S. Economy: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare jobs and industries are “expected to have the fastest employment growth and to add the most jobs between 2014 and 2024.”

An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 6.3 million of the 11.5 million Americans who used the ACA marketplace to buy their insurance last year live in Republican Congressional districts.

Policy analysts say that a rollback of the ACA would hurt older and rural Americans — the two populations that favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. Trump Voters Stand to Suffer Most From Obamacare Repeal:

Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters are likely to be hit the hardest if he makes good on his promise to dismantle the Affordable Care Act[.]

“I think you’re going to get a disproportionate impact on people who supported Donald Trump but maybe don’t realize that his policies may end up hurting them instead of helping them,” said Michael O. Moore, a professor of economics and international affairs at George Washington University.

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Legislative Whirlwind Part 4: Lettuce & Birds (video)

Lettuce in Yuma

Here we can see miles of fields of Romaine lettuce with crews of migrant workers in the distance. In the foreground are 1000s of discarded outer Romaine lettuce leaves. Workers severely trim lettuce heads down, so they can be sold as “Romaine hearts”. The leaves will be plowed back into the ground for nutrients, but still, the waste was surprise to someone like me who heard “waste not want not” many times while growing up.

During our Yuma Legislative Tour in December, we saw miles and miles of lettuce, cotton, broccoli, seed crops, and more. We got muddy and trudged around the Romaine lettuce fields with migrant workers, and we also toured a cotton gin. (More photos are here on my Facebook page.)

After our first day of touring Yuma’s agricultural areas, we heard multiple presentations at a hosted dinner paid for by different growing/ranching industry groups and served up by 4H and JTED youth. The presentation by Paul Brierley, director of the University of Arizona Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture, stuck out in my mind. He talked about using engineering technology to help growers in the Yuma area. According to the UA website, “The [Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture], based in Yuma, is a public-private partnership (PPP) between the college and the Arizona and California desert agriculture industry, dedicated to addressing ‘on-the-ground’ industry needs through collaboration and research.” The website continues on to say: “More than two dozen industry partners from Yuma and Salinas, California, have invested in the center, together committing more than $1.1 million over the next three years.”

Brierley is an affable engineer who grew up on a large farm. According to Bierley, the primary problem that industry partners wanted the PPP center to tackle was “productivity”. He talked about different ways to boost productivity by using technology. For example, Brierley said that the date palms needed help with pollination. He showed a photo of a migrant worker pollinating date trees using a machine that looked like a leaf blower strapped on his back. This human-assisted pollination worked, but to improve productivity, the UA and Yuma growers began experimenting with drones. They found that drones to be more efficient pollinators than people. Technology to the rescue: mechanical birds. (For some jobs, this is the future: people being replaced by machines.)

Another problem area that had been identified as a hindrance to productivity was birds.

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