Today’s News & Commentary — October 10, 2016

The Boston Globe reported Friday on a claim filed with the EEOC by Shannon Liss-Riordan, the attorney behind the Uber lawsuit, that alleges that Uber’s rating system is racially discriminatory.  Uber has argued that it should not allow passengers to tip drivers because it could incorporate customer bias into driver’s pay, with a result that white drivers will receive more tips than drivers of color.  If that’s true, argues Liss-Riordan, the rating system is also likely tainted by customer bias and that “[e]mployers have to serve as [an] intermediary force to ensure workers are not suffering discrimination based on customers’ preferences and biases.”

The prison strike, which affected as many as 29 prisons and involved an estimated 24,000 inmates missing work, has largely wound down.  The strike coincided with the 45th anniversary of the prison uprising in Attica, New York, and brought new attention to the conditions of prison laborers.  In an interview with Mother Jones, Heather Thompson, a University of Michigan professor and author of  Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, called the prison labor system “utterly exploitative” and said that it is “absolutely fair to characterize [prison labor] as slave labor.” Read the full interview here.

In a statement yesterday, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said that the labor market continues to recover more slowly than it historically has following a recession, prompting the Federal Reserve to hold off on its planned increase in interest rates.  The statement comes following the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s most recent jobs report which revealed a slight increase in unemployment.  In the statement, Fischer said that “[w]hile improving labor market conditions have led to higher household incomes in recent years, the key to improved living standards over the long haul will be a revival in productivity growth.”