By Ted Hesson | 05/18/2017 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Marianne LeVine, Mel Leonor and Ian Kullgren
NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said Wednesday he'd accepted an appointment as assistant secretary at the Homeland Security Department. The pugnacious lawman and vocal Trump supporter told the host of an AM radio show that he will work in the Office of Partnership and Engagement, which coordinates outreach to law enforcement agencies around the country.
The appointment won't require Senate confirmation, and that's a lucky break for Clarke. He's faced severe scrutiny over four deaths in the Milwaukee County Jail between April and November of last year, including the death of a newborn baby. In one of these cases, a 38-year-old mentally ill man was held without water or a mattress for seven straight days before he died of "profound dehydration." Earlier this month, an inquest jury found probable cause of a crime, but Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has not pressed charges.
The sheriff has decried the "hateful, violent ideology" of the Black Lives Matter movement, a group he's referred to as "cop-hating slime." (Clarke is African American.) He's called Planned Parenthood "planned genocide." Even during a week dominated by Comey and Russia, word of the appointment raised eyebrows. "Sheriff David Clarke's unconscionable record makes him unfit to serve," tweeted Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). "This appointment is a disgrace." Harvard Kennedy School lecturer and CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem tweeted: "Clarke is taking my old position under Obama. I am floored. And feel for my career staff." Did we mention that Clarke called two years ago for the suspension of habeas corpus?
GOOD MORNING. It's Thursday, May 18, and this is Morning Shift, POLITICO's daily tipsheet on employment and immigration policy. Send tips, exclusives, and suggestions to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @tedhesson, @marianne_levine, @melleonor_, @IanKullgren, and @TimothyNoah1.
IS OFCCP TO EEOC FUBAR?: Next week's Trump budget document may include a proposal to move the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That proposal, if included, won't sit well with civil rights groups nor with - and here's a surprise - the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has "very serious concerns" about such a move, Randy Johnson, senior vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits, told Morning Shift. "OFCCP and EEOC have different primary missions," Johnson explained. OFCCP's job is "to advocate affirmative action and diversity," while the EEOC is focused on non-discrimination.
Like the EEOC, OFCCP pursues discrimination claims, but that's "a secondary purpose," Johnson said. Johnson also said OFCCP and the EEOC have "very different procedures and remedies" and that "there is a fear in the business community that this newly formed grouping might result in the worst of all worlds from both agencies."
Emily Martin, general counsel at the non-profit National Women's Law Center, also opposes the idea. "EEOC is primarily complaint-driven," she said, and "OFCCP works with federal contractors on the front end to ensure that they meet higher standards for workplace fairness and opportunity." Jillian Rogers, a spokesperson for the Labor Department, neither confirmed nor denied whether the merger will be in DOL's budget..
FIREPOWER FOR ICE: The House Judiciary Committee today will mark up four immigration-themed bills to beef up the Trump administration's deportation efforts. The Davis-Oliver Act, introduced this week by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), is named after two law enforcement officers killed in 2014, allegedly by a Mexican man in this country illegally. The bill would empower U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to pursue deportations more aggressively, including through a provision that could make it harder for localities to ignore detainer requests from ICE. (These are requests in which ICE directs local jails to hold a suspected undocumented immigrant for 48 beyond release time.) On the personnel side, the measure calls for the hiring of 12,500 additional ICE officers. The bill would also allow officers to carry M-4 rifles and equivalent weapons. HuffPo's Elise Foley has a roundup of the other measures under consideration here. Watch the markup here.
TODAY: RETIREMENT REGS: A House Education and the Workforce subcommittee will hold a hearing today on retirement regulations, including the Obama Labor Department's fiduciary rule. The rule requires broker dealers to consider only their client's best interest - and not commissions or fees - when providing retirement advice. One big question is whether Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta will further delay the fiduciary rule's applicability date, now set for June 9. (In February, the White House issued a memorandum that directed the Labor Department to review the rule; opponents of the rule say DOL hasn't had sufficient time to do so.)
Open multiple employer plans may also come up at the hearing. "Open MEPs" would allow multiple employers to pool their retirement assets into a single 401(k) account by removing a legal requirement that the businesses demonstrate a "common interest." The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in Rayburn 2175. Watch it here.
** A message from SIFMA: The Department of Labor must delay its harmful fiduciary rule, until the review directed by President Trump is completed. Up to 14.7 million consumers could face significant changes to their retirement and financial advice and lose up to $109 billion over 10 years. Protect retirement savers. Delay the DOL Rule. https://t.e2ma.net/pages/1780301/1131. **
CRA TO BLOCK IRA RULE: Trump signed a Congressional Review Act resolution on Wednesday to block an Obama Labor Department regulation that made it easier for states to create their own "auto-IRA" programs. Finalized in August, the regulation granted some regulatory relief to states that created auto-IRAs to enroll automatically private sector workers whose employers didn't offer them pensions. (Workers were allowed to opt out.)
FEDERAL WORKERS: WE'RE WORTH IT: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing today to discuss a recent CBO report that found federal employees made 17 percent more than their counterparts in the private sector. In anticipation of the hearing, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association sent a letter to the committee that made the case for federal employees to receive "adequate compensation" and challenged the accuracy of the CBO report, which they said "suffers from several limitations and analytical flaws." Read the report here and the letter here.
HOLIER THAN THOU: An NLRB regional director ruled Wednesday that graduate student employees at Boston College can form a union, save for those in the school's theology department. It's the latest in a series of rulings in which the NLRB - following a precedent set in a 2014 case involving Pacific Lutheran University - has ruled that the National Labor Relations Act doesn't provide a blanket exemption for religious institutions (Boston College is a Jesuit school), but only for employees directly involved in religious teachings.
"I find that Boston College has demonstrated, pursuant to the test articulated in Pacific Lutheran, that the petitioned-for graduate workers who work in its Theology Department are exempt from the board's jurisdiction," NLRB regional director John Walsh wrote. "I find that Boston College has failed to demonstrate that Boston College is an exempt institution with respect to the graduate students who are employed in its other departments and schools." Read the decision here.
$1 AN HOUR FOR IVANKA GOODS? "Ivanka Trump's apparel brand is facing criticism from a labor-rights group for relying on Chinese factories that it says force some employees to work long shifts at the equivalent of about a dollar an hour," Bloomberg's Stephanie Wong and Lindsey Rupp report.
"The nonprofit organization China Labor Watch said it investigated two Chinese factories that produce goods for Ivanka Trump's brand," according to Bloomberg. "It then shared its findings in a letter sent to the first daughter, saying employees are forced to work at least 12 1/2 hours a day and at least six days a week - at a monthly salary of about 2,500 yuan ($363)."
"The letter didn't provide evidence for the claims, and the group declined to identify the factories and the items they make, saying its probe was still underway," Wong and Rupp report. China Labor Watch said it didn't receive a response to its letter, dated April 27, according to Bloomberg. More here.
JOBS, JOBS ... LAYOFFS: "Ford Motor said Wednesday that it would cut 10 percent of its salaried jobs in North America and Asia as part of a cost-saving move aimed at increasing sagging profits and propping up its stock price," Neal Boudette writes in the New York Times.
"The news comes less than a week after its chief executive, Mark Fields, faced criticism at the automaker's annual shareholder meeting for its lagging performance," Boudette reports. "The cutbacks, totaling 1,400 positions, are part of an effort aimed at 'reducing costs and becoming as lean and efficient as possible,' the company said in a message to employees."
The layoffs trail an announcement in late March that the company would create 130 jobs at a plant in Michigan. "Big announcement by Ford today," Trump tweeted. "Major investment to be made in three Michigan plants. Car companies coming back to U.S. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!" The move will not impact factory jobs, according to the Times. More here.
MORE CISCO LAYOFFS: "Cisco Systems Inc. said it would lay off another 1,100 employees and forecast a drop in quarterly revenue as the networking company contends with market shifts, including customers favoring software over hardware," The Wall Street Journal reports. "The fresh round of cuts expands a previous restructuring plan announced last August to cut 5,500 jobs, or 7% of Cisco's workforce at the time." More here.
RIDE-SHARE RUMBLE, UBER, JUNO EDITION: "Ride-hailing service Juno promised a more worker-friendly alternative to the zero-sum labor practices of Uber and Lyft - it offered drivers a piece of the company itself," Patrick Kulp reports in Mashable. "But that dream died last month when Juno suddenly jettisoned drivers' part-ownership agreements following a $200-million sale to rival Gett."
Now, Uber's quasi union wants to swoop in and defend Juno drivers. "The Independent Driver Guild (IDG) - the industry's first labor group to receive employer recognition - filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday calling for an investigation into Juno's alleged deception over the program." More here.
CURE WHAT AILES YOU: "In the clearest sign yet that Fox News wants to sweep out the old, the network announced plans to gut the offices recently occupied by disgraced former CEO Roger Ailes to create a state-of-the-art open newsroom as part of a renovation of its New York City headquarters," Brian Flood writes in the Wrap. "21st Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch gathered Fox News employees on Wednesday morning to unveil designs for the new space on the second floor of its building in midtown Manhattan, with construction to begin in July."
Murdoch also announced plans to hire new journalists across all Fox News platforms, according to the Wrap. Of course, Fox News likely will need more than a new floor plan and some new staff to change the organization's culture. In the past year, multiple sexual harassment allegations against Ailes and former host Bill O'Reilly have led to questions about the company's reliance on mandatory arbitration to settle employee complaints quietly. No word on that changing anytime soon. More here.
ELITE BENEFITS: Paid family leave remains unavailable to 94 percent of low-income workers, according to an analysis by the advocacy group Paid Leave U.S. The report, released this week, found that those who made more than $75,000 were twice as likely to receive paid leave than those who make less than $30,000.
Paid-leave advocates note that disparities exist even among workers employed by the same company. Starbucks, the report says, has one of the "most unequal" policies. "They provide 18 weeks of fully-paid leave for new mothers and 12 weeks fully paid for new fathers in corporate headquarters, but only six weeks for birth moms who are in-store employees (like baristas) and nothing for dads or adoptive parents in this employment category." More here.
HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Even as state marijuana laws have eased, many employers still require drug tests as a condition of employment - and find it increasingly difficult to locate workers who can pass them, Danielle Paquette reports in the Washington Post.
"Job applicants are testing positive for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine and heroin at the highest rate in 12 years, according to a new report from Quest Diagnostics, a clinical lab that follows national employment trends," Paquette writes. "The most significant increase was in positive tests for marijuana ... Positive tests for the drug reached 2 percent last year, compared with 1.6 percent in 2012." More here.
NO SEX ON THE COMPANY'S DIME: "A Swedish town council rejected a local official's paid sex leave proposal designed to boost a tiny town's dwindling population and improve relationships," Megan Cerullo writes in the New York Daily News. "In February, Per-Erik Muskos, an Overtornea council member, suggested a weekly one-hour break for municipal staff to go home and get busy with their partners."
The council shot down the proposal, with council member Tomas Vedestig reportedly citing concerns that it could embarrass people without partners or with prohibitive disabilities. "I do not think employers should be involved in determining when workers should have sex," he said. More here.
SLOW TO RECOVER: "Nearly a third of U.S. cities and their suburbs haven't regained all the jobs they shed during the last recession, according to a new report by the nation's mayors, highlighting uneven gains despite years of employment and economic growth," Jeffrey Sparshott writes in The Wall Street Journal.
"The U.S. is now deep into the third-longest economic expansion in its history - one notable for sluggish growth as much as dogged endurance," he writes. "Even after 95 months, pockets of the country remain mired in long-term decline." The Journal cites a new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors that shows some Midwestern cities haven't had much of an economic recovery. Of 23 metro areas with lower employment today than in 1990, 18 were in the Rust Belt. Read the report here and more from The Journal here.
-"Full employment confronts Trump, Fed with tougher trade-offs," from The Wall Street Journal
-"Illinois' unpaid bills reach record $14.3 billion," from Reuters
- "Uber can deliver your McDonald's now," from BuzzFeed
-"In a driverless future, Uber and Lyft will sit in the passenger seat," from Fast Company
- "How Uber and Waymo ended up rivals in the race for driverless cars," from The New York Times
-"Texas moving to exclude 'dreamers' from college work-study," from the Associated Press
-"Atlanta immigration detainee dies," from CNN
-"New York's Housecleaners Become Collateral Damage in Airbnb Crackdown," from Fortune
-"U.S. judge blocks federal move against immigration lawyers," from Reuters
-"Top Mexican official promises funds to provide legal defense to immigrants," from the Dallas News
THAT'S ALL FOR MORNING SHIFT.
** A message from SIFMA: The Department of Labor's fiduciary rule is harming retirement savers and it must be delayed. Financial professionals helping millions of American households save for retirement urge the DOL to delay its harmful fiduciary rule for a minimum of 180 days. Recently, the DOL proposed a rule to provide a 60-day delay of the fiduciary rule, which temporarily helped prevent further service changes, customer confusion and market disruptions. However, this is not enough time to fully review the consequential impact of the entire rule, as requested by the president. American investors saving for retirement deserve better. DOL needs to take the time to get this right and review the entire rule. A 180-day is needed to conduct the review and protect retirement savers from additional harm and turmoil. DOL must delay the rule. https://t.e2ma.net/pages/1780301/1131. **
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