POLITICO Morning Shift – June 23, 2017
Pizzella’s ties to Abramoff
By IAN KULLGREN and MARIANNE LEVINE
06/23/2017 10:00 AM EDT
PIZZELLA’S TIES TO ABRAMOFF: President Donald Trump’s nominee for deputy labor secretary, Patrick Pizzella, has old ties to Jack Abramoff, the infamous lobbyist who went to prison for corruption, Hassan A. Kanu reports in Bloomberg BNA. In the 1990s “Pizzella worked at the law firm Preston Gates on the Abramoff lobbying team,” Kanu writes. “The team worked on behalf of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to oppose the extension of federal labor and immigration laws to the U.S. territory, according to government filings and a former colleague of the two.”
Pizzella was never accused of any wrongdoing in his dealings with Abramoff, and the Senate twice before confirmed him for administration posts — as assistant secretary of labor for administration and management under George W. Bush, and as a member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority under Barack Obama, a post he continues to hold. But Pizzella’s role helping Abramoff shield the Marianas from the minimum wage and other U.S. labor laws may raise a few eyebrows. “Human rights groups alleged that foreign laborers were subject to sweatshop conditions, often as indentured servants, and were forced into the sex-tourism industry,” Kanu writes.
The White House defended its pick, telling BNA that Pizzella is a logical, bipartisan choice.“The president selects the highest caliber of individuals to fill positions in his administration, and Mr. Pizzella is no exception, having won the support of President Obama and Senate Democrats when he was nominated to the Federal Labor Relations Authority and confirmed via voice vote by a Democrat Senate,” a White House spokesman told BNA in an email. More here.
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IVANKA’S SLOW WINDUP ON PAID LEAVE: “After meeting this week with House and Senate Republicans, Ivanka Trump is no closer to finding a sponsor for her paid leave proposal than when it was proposed in the administration budget last month,” POLITICO’s Ian Kullgren reports. Ivanka, for her part, says she’s open to completely reworking her plan to require that employers provide new mothers and fathers six weeks’ leave. But congressional Republicans aren’t keen on any sort of mandate, preferring a voluntary plan that gives tax breaks to employers who grant paid leave or some sort of expanded child tax credit. Democrats, meanwhile, want to see a stronger mandate–they favor a plan that allows leave not just for new parents but for medical emergencies.
The White House and key Republicans in Congress emphasize that it’s still early in the process. “We know how hard it is going to be,” one White House official said. “Nobody has been able to get it done before, but we are committed to it.” More from POLITICO’s Ian Kullgren here.
COURT BLOCKS ICE ATTEMPT TO REMOVE IRAQI NATIONALS: A federal court issued a temporary stay Thursday halting an order from Immigration and Customs and Enforcement to deport Iraqi nationals. The Iraqis, who were arrested earlier this month as part of an ICE raid, requested that the court allow them to demonstrate that they would be persecuted, tortured or killed if they returned to Iraq. In his decision, Judge Mark A. Goldsmith said that the court would stay the order until it determined whether it had jurisdiction. In a statement, Michael Steinberg, legal director for ACLU Michigan, said that “it would be unconstitutional and unconscionable to deport these individuals without giving them an opportunity to demonstrate the harm that awaits them in Iraq.” The stay will last two weeks. Read the ruling here.
GAO INVESTIGATES JOB CORPS DATA: The Government Accountability Office identified 50,000 “safety and security” incidents that occurred in the Labor Department’s Jobs Corps program between 2007 and 2016, according to a report released Thursday — though an official for the agency told lawmakers the number is probably higher because of underreporting. Twenty-eight percent of all incidents were classified as “serious illness and injury,” and 19 percent (about 9,000 in total) were classified as assaults.
The report came in response to the brutal murders of two jobs corps students in 2015. In Miami, a participant was killed in a machete attack by two cohorts. In St. Louis, a student was shot to death while he slept. “Too many safety and security incidents occur at Job Corps sites, and this is cause for concern,” Cindy Brown Barnes, the GAO’s director of education workforce and income security, told the House Education and Workforce Committee. Read the report here.
UBER EMPLOYEES: BRING KALANICK BACK: Uber employees are circulating a petition asking the ride-sharing company’s board to allow former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick to return, reports Recode’s Johana Bhuiyan. Kalanick stepped down Wednesday at the request of board members. His resignation comes as the company faces allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination. “Nobody is perfect, but I fundamentally believe he can evolve into the leader Uber needs today and that he’s critical to its future success,” the petition reads. “I want the board to hear from Uber employees that it’s made the wrong decision in pressuring Travis to leave and that he should be reinstated in an operational role.” More here.
SPEAKING OF UBER: Kalanick’s resignation offers Uber an opportunity to repair its relationship with its drivers, whom it does not classify as employees. Earlier this week, the company said that it would allow all drivers in the United States to receive tips. “Jim Conigliaro Jr., the founder of the Independent Drivers Guild, said that he was happy with the changes the company had announced and that Mr. Kalanick’s departure would give Uber a chance to refocus attention on the people who actually make the company money: drivers,” according to the New York Times’ Kevin Roose. More here.
NEW JERSEY LAWMAKERS MOVE TO EXPAND PAID LEAVE: The New Jersey State Assembly passed a bill, 49-23, to expand paid family leave to 12 weeks from six. The program, which is funded by employee payroll contributions, allows workers to take time off for various reasons, including the birth of a child or the need to care for a sick family member. Thursday’s bill would expand that provision to allow workers to use their leave to take care of a victim of domestic violence or sexual attack, according to the AP. The bill now goes to the state Senate. Even if the bill passes both chambers, it’s unclear whether Gov. Chris Christie will sign it. More here.
MISSOURI JUDGE SAYS NO TO PETITION TO STOP RIGHT TO WORK: A Missouri Circuit Court judge rejected Thursday a petition to overturn the state’s right-to-work law. Earlier this year, Missouri became the 28th state to free union non-members from paying fees to a union that bargains collectively on their behalf. In response, the AFL-CIO circulated a petition for a ballot initiative that would allow voters to decide whether the state should go right-to-work. Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft approved the petition, but Judge Daniel Green ruled its language unfair and misleading Celeste Bott reports in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. More here.
MAYORS PUSH FOR AIRLINE UNION: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray are set to introduce a resolution today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in support of airline workers’ right to unionize. The resolution urges airlines to “ensure that contracted airport workers are paid a living wage with benefits and freedom to form a union.” More here.
RHODE ISLAND HOUSE APPROVES MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: The Rhode Island House of Representatives voted Thursday to increase the state minimum wage to $10.50 by January 2019, up from the current $9.60, the AP reports. The bill now goes to the state Senate, and, if approved, will head to the desk of Gov. Gina Raimondo,, who is expected to sign it. More here.
ATLANTA RAISES MINIMUM WAGE FOR CITY EMPLOYEES: Workers for the City of Atlanta will see their minimum wage increase to $13 an hour starting July 1, up from the current $10.10, according to the AP. The workers’ minimum wage will rise subsequently to $14 by July 2018 and to $15 by July 2019. More here.
LAYOFF WATCH: BOEING: Boeing announced Thursday that it will cut nearly 200 jobs at a South Carolina plant that President Donald Trump visited earlier this year, Danielle Paquette reports in the Washington Post. “Our competition is relentless, and that has made clear our need as a company to reduce cost to be more competitive,” Boeing said in a statement. “We are offering resources to those affected by layoffs to help them in finding other employment and ease their transition as much as possible.”
“The company has yet to notify the affected employees — who work in operations management, engineering, quality control and training, among other roles — and represent a tiny sliver of its workforce in the state. Boeing would not say how many, exactly, could lose their jobs and when the dismissals will begin.” More here.
SEVENTH CIRCUIT AFFIRMS CLASS CERTIFICATION IN FLSA CASE: The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Thursday an attempt by a foundry operator to decertify two classes of iron foundry workers. The workers allege that the foundry operator violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by neglecting to pay them for their time showering and changing clothes on site. They argued that this was compensable activity because exposure to foundry dust can cause skin irritation and lung disease. But the foundry operator argued that the health effects were different for each worker and therefore that the classes of workers should not be certified. The appeals court disagreed. In the court opinion, Judge Richard Posner wrote that “the district court did not err in concluding that the plaintiffs have produced common evidence tending to prove their common assertion.” Read the opinion here and more from Law360 here.
REPORT: SAN FRANCISCO NEEDS TO ENFORCE SCHEDULING LAW: The City of San Francisco is not doing enough, according to a report from the Center for Law and Social Policy and Young Workers United, to enforce a 2014 law that required employers in the retail industry to provide workers with their schedules two weeks in advance or pay them a “predictability pay” penalty. The report found that about 30 percent of survey respondents said they still received their schedule less than two weeks ahead of time, and that only 20 percent of those workers who received last-minute changes got predictability pay. More here.
— “The National Labor Relations Board is alarmingly unfazed by 2016,” from The Hill
— “Chinese eatery owners to pay millions in wage-theft case,” from the Associated Press
— “When Helicopter Parents Hover Even at Work,” from The New York Times.
THAT’S ALL FOR MORNING SHIFT.