Today’s News and Commentary — December 5, 2016

Democratic lawmakers in California are seeking to pass measures to protect undocumented immigrants, including the provision of legal assistance during deportation proceedings and in criminal court as well as limiting local cooperation with federal immigration authorities.  The bills, which will be voted on next month and, according to the New York Times, are likely to pass, are aimed at resisting some of the campaign promises and rhetoric of President-elect Trump, who has said that he plans to deport two to three million undocumented immigrants upon taking office.  Jessica Karp Bansal, the litigation director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, has said that “The state is taking concrete steps to protect its residents, including by making sure its resources and personnel are not being used to deport its residents. These are broad first steps to address the threats that are already out there.”

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents about 2,600 workers at jet-engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, has approved a five year contract with the manufacturer, avoiding a potential labor dispute, reports the Wall Street Journal.  The contract will provide a 2.5% wage increase as well as a pension increase for some workers, but changes the pension plan for workers hired after January 1. Pratt & Whitney’s parent company, United Technologies Corp., has recently made national headlines for their agreement with President-elect Trump to keep jobs at their Carrier plant in Indiana.

Since the federal rule increasing the number of workers who would be eligible for overtime was recently blocked by a Texas judge, the Washington Post reports that many employees and employers face uncertainty with regard to future wages and hours.  The rule, which doubled the salary cap for employees eligible for overtime, was set to take effect December 1st, but was halted after the judge held that the move exceeded the Department of Labor’s authority.  Although the Labor Department is appealing the ruling, some groups are concerned that the case will be dropped by a new Labor Department under President-elect Donald Trump.

Despite a decrease in unemployment seen in last week’s jobs report, Business Insider notes that the news is not all positive, with the labor force participation rate decreasing from 62.8 to 62.7% this November.  This decrease follows a general trend of Americans leaving the workforce that has continued since the 2008 financial crisis, but stands in contrast to recent months where the participation rate has stayed constant or increased.  According to the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, about half of the drop since the Great Recession can be accounted for by demographic factors including the large amount of baby boomers leaving the workplace, while the other half can be accounted for by workers becoming discouraged and exiting the job force.