Weekend News & Commentary — August 13-14, 2016

United Airlines announced on Friday that it had reached new agreements with the unions representing its flight attendants and mechanics, moving forward the continued integration of Continental Airlines, acquired by United in 2010.   Though terms of the mechanics’ deal have yet to be finalized, flight attendants will receive raises of between 18 and 31 percent by the end of the year.  The agreements end contentious negotiations and protests by flight attendants that outside analysts suggest compromised the airline’s reliability.

This morning, Neil Gross of the New York Times examines how a stronger labor movement might have prevented the rise of Donald Trump.  Drawing on Seymour Martin Lipset’s 1959 study of blue-collar workers’ political attitudes and more recent looks at American and European elections, Gross suggests that union membership actively pushes working class voters away from far-right political movements, even when those voters otherwise closely resemble movement participants demographically.

The Post-Tribune examines elements of that thesis in the context of the Indiana gubernatorial race, reporting on Democratic candidate John Gregg’s outreach to union steelworkers in the Republican-voting Demotte, Indiana.

Following up on earlier reporting about Labor Department efforts to boost state and local paid family leave programs through a $1.1 million grant program, the Washington Post compares paid maternity leave policies around the world.  According to the Post, the United States is one of only nine countries to guarantee no paid leave, and by far the most advanced economy lacking such a program.