News of the Week: California Sanctuary laws upheld

July 17th, 2018

Each week we share articles on subjects that are important to NUHW and its members. Here are several must-read stories over the past seven days:

A major U.S. defense contractor quietly detained dozens of immigrant children inside a vacant Phoenix office building with dark windows, no kitchen and only a few toilets during three weeks of the Trump administration’s family separation effort. The Center for Investigative Journalism reported that the building is not licensed by Arizona to hold children, and the contractor, MVM Inc., has claimed publicly that it does not operate “shelters or any other type of housing” for children.

A federal judge upheld the coreof California’s sanctuary laws Thursday, restricting state and local cooperation with federal immigration agents, and sent a terse message to the Trump administration: Solutions to the immigration impasse must come from Congress, not the courts. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that U.S. District Judge John Mendez of Sacramento halted enforcement of one new state law that penalizes private employers who allow immigration agents into their workplaces. But he said the state was not interfering with U.S. immigration policy in its main sanctuary law, which prohibits police and sheriff’s offices and state authorities from notifying federal agents of the upcoming release dates of undocumented immigrants in local custody.

The Supreme Court’s recent landmark ruling on union fees was not even a day old when public school teachers in Rochester, New York, received a related email through their work accounts, HuffPost reports. The subject line read: “New York Union Members Now Have a Choice in Paying Dues.” The message came from the Mackinac Center, a Michigan-based conservative group that has pushed “right to work” and other anti-union legislation over the years. It steered recipients to an online opt-out form they could use to leave their union, which is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. The email, which AFT shared with HuffPost, is a sign of what faces organized labor as conservative groups around the country work to dry up the revenue streams for public sector unions.

Despite the low unemployment and struggles to find workers, companies still appear hesitant to significantly raise pay in many industries, the Washington Post reports. Average hourly earnings are 2.7 percent higher than a year ago, a lackluster pace compared to past eras of healthy job growth when wages were rising at 3.5 percent or more a year.

The Trump administration is freezing payments under an “Obamacare” program that protects insurers with sicker patients from financial losses, a move expected to add to premium increases next year, The New York Times reports. At stake are billions in payments to insurers with sicker customers. The latest administration action could disrupt the Affordable Care Act, the health care law that has withstood President Donald Trump’s efforts to completely repeal it. The so-called “risk adjustment” program takes payments from insurers with healthier customers and redistributes that money to companies with sicker enrollees. Payments for 2017 are $10.4 billion. The idea behind the program is to remove the financial incentive for insurers to “cherry pick” healthier customers. 

Made up mostly of women and Latino members, the powerful Culinary Workers Union has proven that organized labor can thrive where it’s supposed to fail, Huffpost reports.