Gleanings: June 15, 2016

Trump: Wage theft on a grand scale

A USA Today investigation published in the Enquirer found Donald Trump has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans–“carpenters, dishwashers, painters, even his own lawyers”–who say Trump or his companies refused to pay them.

“In some cases,” according to USA Today, “the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources. Some just give up the fight, or settle for less; some have ended up in bankruptcy or out of business altogether.”

Ky. workers’ comp under attack?

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that a Kentucky judge put a temporary hold on Governor Matt Bevin’s order to abolish and re-create the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Nominating Commission with his own appointees.

The commission nominates candidates for appointment by the governor to serve as judges in workers’ compensation cases.

In his order, the judge wrote, “…the power [the governor] has asserted could just as easily be misused by the next Governor to undermine statutory protections for workers, or employers…”

Ohio loses two voting rights suits and faces a third

Because it adversely affected African-American voters more than others, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson, a Republican appointee of former President George W. Bush, ruled that Golden Week–the week before the deadline for voter registration where Ohioans can register to vote and cast absentee ballots at the same time–should be restored, Howard Wilkinson reported for WVXU.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, “who despises Golden Week the way most kids despise cauliflower,” according to Wilkinson, will appeal.

In another case, the Columbus Dispatch reported that U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley, an appointee of Democratic President Bill Clinton, found that certain technical requirements for absentee and provisional ballots to be unconstitutional and in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Husted will also appeal this decision.

A third case, filed in U.S. District Court in May and supported by State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), seeks to restore an estimated 1.5 million Ohio residents to the voter registration rolls before the November elections, alleging their registrations were illegally purged because they voted infrequently or because they moved to a different address within the state.

Roughly 4 million managers may be due OT starting Dec. 1

In their Enquirer column, Tom Cooney and Crystal Faulkner explained the new federal regulations extending overtime pay protections to an estimated 4 million workers.

Until Nov. 30, workers who are paid by the hour or earn an annual salary of less than $23,660 ($455 per week) are eligible for overtime pay, while those with salaries of at least that amount who work in white-collar or management jobs generally aren’t.

Starting Dec. 1, the salary threshold, which has not been updated since 2004, will increase to $47,476 ($913 per week). Raising the salary threshold makes more workers eligible for overtime.

Infrastructure crumbles while Congress fiddles

The nation’s infrastructure needs are great, the labor force is ready, and borrowing costs are at historic lows, yet infrastructure spending as a percent of GDP remains at a 60-year low, the Brookings Institute reported.

In its Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers issued a grade of D+ due to delayed maintenance and underinvestment across most categories of infrastructure and estimated investment needed by 2020 at $3.6 trillion.

There is excess unemployment in the building trades. “Construction employment has recovered only half the loss it experienced between its pre-recession peak in 2006 and its post-recession low in 2011,” according to the institute.

Meanwhile, yields on the 10-year Treasury bond closed at 1.64 percent, its lowest level since 2012, and yields on the German 10-year bond closed below 0, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The effect of failing to invest in public infrastructure “is a fall in business sales, national GDP, personal income, consumer spending and jobs compared to what would otherwise be expected to occur,” ASCE claims in its report, “Failure to Act.”