CLOCK STOPS ON OVERTIME ATTACK
In a victory for the labor movement, the U.S. House withdrew a bill scheduled for a floor vote that would have allowed businesses to offer comp time instead of overtime to an estimated 80 million workers. The AFL-CIO ran a major opposition campaign, helping workers send more than 230,000 appeals to Congress. Currently, companies are barred from offering comp time as a substitute for overtime under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, which covers 80 million of the 150 million workers in the U.S. Professionals, administrators and executives are not covered.
FCC EXPANDS MEDIA GUIDELINES
On June 9, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved new media ownership regulations that will allow a greater percentage of ownership of television stations, newspapers and broadcast outlets (see story on page 5).
The new regulations will:
- Raise the television audience cap to 45 percent of U.S. households from 35 percent.
- Largely end a ban on joint ownership of a newspaper and a broadcast station in the same city.
- Allow one company to own three television stations in the nation’s biggest markets as long as there are eighteen stations in the market. This is estimated to cover the nine biggest markets.
- Allow one company to own two stations in markets with five or more stations. This is estimated to cover 124 markets.
- Retain the ban on mergers among the four major television networks: ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.
- Retain the regulation that considers the UHF market to be 50 percent of the VHF market.
- Change the definition of a local radio market to correct a problem that has allowed companies to exceed ownership limits in some areas.
ANTISMOKING LAWS SHOULDN’T BE WEAKENED
Local 802 is opposing legislation that would weaken the new antismoking laws by creating exceptions and making the laws harder to enforce. The proposed legislation (S5191) would create an exemption to the Clean Indoor Air law for owner-operated bars or food service establishments. The legislation would also allow the creation of “separately ventilated smoking rooms” that employees would be prohibited from entering. The proposed legislation also grandfathers in facilities constructed in accordance with outdated local laws that may provide for “smoking rooms” without even the pretense of separate ventilation.
PROTECTING CHILD PERFORMERS
State legislation has been introduced to protect the financial interests of child performers in New York. The Screen Actors Guild and theatre owners are advocating for the Child Performer Education and Trust Act of 2003 (A07510/S4696). This legislation ensures that child performers who work in the state are provided with adequate education and that a portion of a child performer’s earnings are kept in a trust account until the age of majority.
UNEMPLOYMENT CONTINUES TO RISE
Unemployment rose to 6.1 percent last month according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the highest level reached thus far in the current weak recovery and the highest level since July of 1994. Payroll employment fell slightly, by 17,000, with larger losses in government and manufacturing. The share of the population employed is historically low, and long-term unemployment remains stuck at recessionary levels, suggesting that the jobless recovery is persisting. Manufacturing employment declined by 53,000, its 34th consecutive month of job loss and retail trade employment fell slightly last month, by 14,000, and is down 358,000 over the recession, suggesting recent reports of increased sales by retailers are not yet showing up in hiring. On a positive note, the Bureau notes that the revised data show that the pace of job loss has slowed. Pre-revised data showed payrolls down by 525,000 between January and April of this year; revisions reduced this loss to 272,000.