St. Louis, MO - Advocacy groups including Show Me $15 and Missouri Jobs with Justice announced the formation of a “Save the Raise” campaign. The campaign will encourage employers in the city to maintain the $10/hr rate passed by the city prior to the statewide preemption law being enacted. On Aug. 28, the state wage will revert back to $7.70/hr and employers are entitled to honor that rate. The campaign will negatively highlight those employers that choose to go back to the old rate, or any rate lower than the $10/hr.
San Diego, CA - The left-leaning Center on Policy Initiatives, partnering with San Diego State University and the Employee Rights Center, released a study questioning the city’s alleged lack of enforcement of the recently passed wage increase. The study urges the mayor to increase funding for targeted investigations at work sites and increase educational outreach to the construction and restaurant industries which, according to other national studies, typically have the highest rates of non-compliance with wage laws.
Albuquerque, NM - Following a judge’s decision to mandate that the Healthy Workforce Ordinance be placed on the upcoming Oct. 3 ballot, business advocates successfully lobbied the City Council to approve an additional, competing question. The new measure would “signal” to the City Council that voters support a sick leave proposal but would not mandate legislative action. Paid leave proponents argued the city council is attempting to confuse voters. The Council also voted to place the entire language of the HWO on the ballot, as opposed to a short summary of the proposal. If the Healthy Workforce Ordinance was passed by the voters, employers would be obligated to provide sick leave to all employees and be subject to onerous record keeping mandates.
Wisconsin - The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision refusing to overturn the state’s right-to-work law that passed in 2015. The law allows workers in a unionized shop to opt out of joining the union and paying the requisite dues. Twenty-eight states have right-to-work laws on the books.
NLRB - The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committee held a confirmation hearing this week for Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel, President Trump’s nominees to fill two open seats on the National Labor Relations Board. Aside from the expected pro-labor pushback from Democrats on the committee, the hearing was relatively uneventful and committee approval and full Senate confirmation are expected soon.
Joint Employer - The House Committee on Education and Workforce held a hearing this week exploring the various economic threats imposed by the expanded definition of joint-employer under federal labor laws. The employer community is seeking clarity on the definitions of what is and what is not a joint employer relationship. Legislation seeking to roll back the NLRB’s 2015 Browning-Ferris decision has yet to be introduced this Congress but is likely to be rolled out in the coming weeks. Separately, the House Appropriations Subcommittee passed the Labor, Health and Human services, and Education appropriations bill and included language to defund the joint-employer provision.
Airport Strike - In its first major, national action in months, the SEIU planned to hold a strike this week at Newark, JFK, and LaGuardia airports over ongoing contract negotiations. That strike was temporarily averted as unions announced they would return to the bargaining table. The episode demonstrates that the SEIU is less committed to the brinkmanship strategy it has pursued in years past through its Fight for $15 campaign.
San Francisco - City officials passed an ordinance barring employers from asking job candidates about their salary histories. The mayor is expected to sign off. The law aims to close the wage gap between women and men, and applies to both private employers and city agencies and contractors. According to the San Francisco Examiner, women in San Francisco earn 16 cents less on the dollar than men, African-American women earn 60 cents less and Latinas, 55 cents, citing U.S. Census figures. San Francisco is now the tenth jurisdiction to pass a pay equity measure.
Chicago - The Illinois appellate court upheld the temporary restraining order issued last month to enjoin the county’s sweetened beverage tax. The tax was supposed to go into effect on July 1. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association, lead plaintiff in the case, is asking the lower court to rule on a preliminary injunction until a final decision is released on the legality of the ordinance. Another hearing is scheduled for next week.
Senate ACA Repeal - Senate Republican leadership revealed an updated version of its previously released ‘Better Care Reconciliation Act.’ The tweaks were designed to appeal to conservatives and contain provisions that allow for insurers to offer health plans that do not comply with ACA regulations, as long as they also sell plans that do. The updated bill reinstates the taxes on higher earners that were cut in the previous version and keeps the structure of ACA tax credits.
The Medicaid cuts that were previously contemplated largely remained intact as well as the increases in opioid prevention funding. Two Republican senators, Susan Collins (ME) and Rand Paul (KY), quickly announced their opposition and intent to block the bill from consideration. Republican Senator John McCain (AZ) announced his intent to offer amendments and still others reportedly expressed concerns with the updated legislation.
With Democrats united in their opposition, Republicans can only lose two votes to maintain the 51 vote threshold needed to pass legislation. The bill maintains the employer-focused language which zeroes out the employer mandate penalties and allows more options for reporting information to employees. The bill still does not address the 30-hour work week nor the IRS reporting requirements.
Indiana - NetChoice and the American Catalog Mailers Association, two trade associations representing online retailers, filed a complaint asking a trial court to strike the state’s recently passed ‘economic nexus’ legislation. Several other states have passed similar laws in an effort to overturn the existing ‘physical nexus’ precedence.
Wyoming - Attorney General Peter Michael (R) filed litigation seeking a declaratory judgment requiring five vendors with no physical presence in Wyoming to collect sales taxes. The action follows recently enacted legislation that establishes an economic nexus threshold for sales tax collection compliance.
The defendant companies are notable online retailers; Newegg Inc., Overstock.com Inc., Wayfair LLC, Systemax Inc., and Fanatics Inc.. The action mimics South Dakota which has a similar case currently before the state’s Supreme Court. Both states are seeking a Supreme Court decision that would overturn the current physical nexus standard.
South Korea - U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer officially conveyed to South Korea the Trump administration's request for a special session of a U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement joint committee, calling for the deal to be modified rather than renegotiated. Following the official statement, President Trump spoke to reporters and restated his intent to fully renegotiate the deal, creating an important, and confusing, distinction within the administration. South Korea has repeatedly stated its openness to a modified update, but has objected to the need for a wholesale renegotiation. Following Lighthizer’s communication, the two countries will likely begin holding official talks next month.
G20 - Following challenging negotiations at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, all members of the G20, including the United States, finally agreed on language for a trade communiqué that calls for ‘collective solutions’ to tackle the global steel overcapacity issue and included a call to fight protectionism. The announcement established a November deadline for a ‘substantive report’ with ‘concrete policy solutions.’ This development is a notable response to the ongoing discussions with the U.S. Administration regarding their threat of bilateral action to counter the steel dumping issue. Several countries have registered their concern, and the European Union recently stated its intent to ‘react within days’ should the U.S. take action.
Transportation and Logistics
California - Advocates successfully blocked an effort to include statewide freight facility emission caps (Indirect Source Rules or ISRs), which could include warehouses and distribution centers, in the cap-and-trade and air quality legislation championed by the governor and key democrats. The legislation contains new air quality initiatives but specific ISR language was not included in the bill language. The vote on the overall package has been delayed until this week, and ISR language could be reinserted in response to pushback that the bill does not go far enough to improve air quality.
The Regulatory Wrap-Up is presented by Align Public Strategies. Click here to learn how Align can provide your brand with the counsel and insight you need to navigate the policy and political issues impacting retail.