Regulatory Wrap-Up: Weekly review of retail-related legislative, judicial developments-July 15
U.S. Congress – House Democrats plan to bring the Raise the Wage Act to the floor for a vote this week. The $15/hr minimum wage measure which also includes an annual cost-of-living adjustment and eliminates the tip credit is expected to pass the chamber. However, some members of the Democratic caucus have voiced support for a regional or more graduated wage increase, especially in light of a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report last week that found the mandate would result in significant job losses.
New Jersey – In an effort to boost youth employment, state lawmakers are considering offering tax incentives to employers who hire teenagers.
Emeryville, CA – The city’s minimum wage rose to the highest in the country on July 1 (to $16.30/hr up from $15/hr). In May, the city council approved an amendment that paused the minimum wage increase for restaurants with less than 55 employees. Labor advocates responded by collecting enough signatures to force council to either repeal the amendment or place it on the ballot for the city’s voters to have the final say. The council is expected to review the amendment this week.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce – The U.S. Chamber sent a letter to members of Congress, expressing the organization’s support for a moderate increase to the minimum wage (under $10/hr) in advance of this week’s scheduled vote on the Raise the Wage Act.
Dallas, TX – The city held an information session for employers in advance of the Aug. 1 effective date of the city’s new paid leave mandate. The new law requires employers to provide eight days of earned paid leave per year. In the spring, state legislative leaders attempted, but failed, to pass a preemption measure that would have nullified the mandate. It’s also worth noting, a similar requirement in Austin has been blocked from going into effect by the courts. As of today, the new rule is slated to go into effect.
U.S. Congress – While the Raise the Wage Act has absorbed the most attention, Congressional Democrats also are expected to take up another piece of legislation this week, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act. The legislation is designed to make easier for unions to conduct organizing campaigns and among other provisions would reclassify many independent contractors as employees.
EEOC – The White House will nominate a Labor Department official, Keith Sonderling, to fill a Republican seat on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Democrat Commissioner Charlotte Burrows will be renominated to serve another term.
NLRB – The National Labor Relations Board issued a ruling that, in effect, makes it easier for an employer to get rid of a union. The ruling in Johnson Controls, Inc. now places the onus on unions to prove that they still maintain majority support through a ballot election if an employer submits a withdrawal of recognition within 90 days of the expiration of a contract.
ICE – The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids that President Trump announced at the launch of his reelection campaign are scheduled to occur this week. Raids are expected in a number of major metros around the country.
California – Independent contractor legislation advanced in the senate, following passage in the state assembly. The bill would codify in law a recent court decision (the Dynamex decision) that, in effect, would reclassify a large number of independent contractors in the state as employees, and potentially impact other business-to-business relationships.
New York – The governor signed legislation that mandates equal pay for comparable work. The bill also prohibits employers from inquiring about prospective employees’ salary history.
Amazon – Warehouse workers at the retailer are planning a six-hour strike on July 15, which is “Prime Day.” Workers hope to pressure the company into easing production quotas and to converting more temp jobs into full-time jobs.
- Labor Secretary Acosta’s resignation will shake up an agency that many, including the White House, have criticized for being too slow to accomplish important business community priorities, ranging from the apprenticeship program to the revised overtime rule. It’s difficult to see how this development won’t result in a further delay of those priorities. Looking back on the President’s first term, the time lost to the Puzder nomination as well as replacing Acosta may be viewed as significant setbacks that stunted the agency’s key priorities.
- Minimum wage is likely to be a major topic of discussion this week as Congressional Democrats push the issue to the forefront. While it’s unlikely that Senate Republicans will sign off on any minimum wage increase, the D.C. conversation continues to impact state and local policy debates. And, the U.S. Chamber’s recent announcement that it would be supportive of a moderate minimum wage increase further isolates organizations or companies that oppose any increase at all.
- The city of Emeryville serves as a cautionary tale for progressive policymakers who are intent on ignoring the real-world impacts of new mandates. The city council, which approved the highest minimum wage in the country ($16.30/hr) and also has been a leader on a variety of other issues, is trying to hit pause but local activists may not let them. The city council is concerned that the 50 or so restaurants in the city may not be able to absorb the $1.30/hr additional increase from the current $15/hr. Stay tuned because over the coming months, Emeryville may become a case study in the ongoing minimum wage debate.
Legislature Status for Week of 7/15/19
- The United States Senate is in session this week
- The United States House is in session this week
- Four state legislatures are in regular session:
- MA, MI, NC, NJ
Check out our Working Lunch podcast each week that includes further analysis into these legislative issues, policy, politics and much more. You can find Working Lunch on the Nation’s Restaurant News website, or by clicking here, and when you download the podcast and subscribe on iTunes here.
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