Tuesday was, unquestionably, a very bad day for public-employee unions and not just for the reason that got most of the attention, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's success in fending off an attempt to oust him through a recall election.
The Wisconsin recall election might have failed, but it succeeded in sending an ominous message to pro-labor forces across the nation — especially in the Midwest, where a handful of legislatures are pushing to roll back collective bargaining and other union rights.
The vote against Republican Gov. Scott Walker was prompted by his support for a law limiting collective bargaining for some public sector employees. His victory Tuesday night could embolden governors in states such as Ohio, Indiana and Missouri to push back harder on labor rights.
With US Airways breathing down its neck, making nice with its unions as well as its creditors, American Airlines came to New York City on Monday to ask a federal bankruptcy judge for relief. Mostly, American wants relief from its unions — 13,000 jobs would be eliminated under its reorganization proposal. American has been hemorrhaging money for years and wants to lower its costs to compete.
NPR's business news starts with labor woes at AT&T.
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MONTAGNE: AT&T and union officials have agreed to extend contract negotiations, preventing a mass walkout by some 40,000 unionized workers. The deadline to agree on the new contract had been yesterday. AT&T is seeking concessions from its workers, including cuts in pension contributions, and also an increase in health care premiums. The union is calling those concessions unrealistic.
Italy's technocrat prime minister, Mario Monti, came to office less than five months ago as the country's finances were in a tailspin. And now he could be facing his toughest challenge yet — pushing through changes to labor regulations.
Italian labor rules ensure job security for older workers but can condemn the younger generation to a series of insecure, temporary jobs.
Since taking office, Monti has pushed through a round of tough austerity measures, budget cuts, pension reform and some deregulation.