Some of the legal decisions that were made in 2015 didn’t do much to help workers. For example, Wisconsin was added to the list of Right-to-Work states this year. Many feel that these laws, which change how unions collect fees from the workers they represent, hurt unions and the middle class. In other disappointing news, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Integrity Staffing Solutions vs. Busk case, mandating that companies are not required to compensate workers for the time they spend in security-screening at the end of their shifts – or for any task that’s not an “integral and indispensable” part of their job, for that matter. But thankfully, the legal news for workers wasn’t all bad this past year. So, let’s focus on the good, shall we?
(Photo Credit: Senate Democrats/Flickr)
1. Minimum Wage Laws.
The push to Raise the Wage spread across the country in 2015, and many states responded by doing just that. At least a dozen states saw minimum wage increases this past year, and many have vowed to continue to increase these rates in the years to come.
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act was a big win for the program that millions of Americans have come to rely upon for their health coverage. Although many Republicans would love to dismantle the ACA, this was definitely a step in the right direction toward upholding the law and hopefully also a move that will lead to strengthening the still-imperfect program over time.
California blazed a trail this past year that hopefully a lot of other states will soon follow when Gov. Jerry Brown passed the state’s Fair Pay Act. The law mandates that men and women be paid equally for equal work, something that we unfortunately still need to discuss this far into the 21st century.
4. Finally, a strong 9/11 health bill.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act passed in 2015, extending healthcare coverage for 9/11 first responders by 75 years. In addition to guaranteeing coverage for anyone who suffers with an illness or injury from their 9/11 service, there will also be compensation for families of those who become ill or pass away in the next five years. Although the law is a long time coming, individuals and families are grateful for the support.
“It’s a very good day,” Joseph Zadrogo, whose son James died in January 2006 from health problems caused by his time spent at the scene of the attack, told the NY Daily News. “I always say it’s not a done deal until it’s a done deal. There were some bumps in the road, but we had some great support this time.”
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What other laws/legal decisions fell on the side of workers in 2015? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.