Today’s News & Commentary — December 29, 2016

One of the nation’s largest labor unions is preparing to respond to Trump with less.  Writing for Bloomberg Businessweek, Josh Eidelson reports that an internal memo shows the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is planning a 30 percent budget cut over the next year.  The memo cites fear that a Republican-controlled federal government will enact policies that impede collective bargaining.  The SEIU represents 2 million workers nationally and has been spearheading the Fight for $15 movement.

Trump’s chosen Secretary of Labor similarly inspires concern that the federal government will be hostile to workers outside of the collective bargaining relationship.  Accoring to Mother Jones, a review of old interviews shows that Andy Puzder has previously complained on the record about overtime rules and protective regulations, calling workers “overprotected” and questioning the need for mandatory breaks.

Workers in New York State can at least have confidence in their state government.  The National Law Review reports that the New York State Department of Labor has amended minimum wage regulations to increase the salary basis threshold for executive and administrative employees, irrespective of the status of a similar planned increase of the federal threshold.  The new thresholds in New York depend on employer size and whether the employer is located in greater New York City .

A new government report stresses that automation of jobs, driven by improvements in artificial intelligence, is poised to accelerate.  As summarized in The Motley Fool, the report notes that “accelerating AI capabilities will enable automation of some tasks that have long required human labor.  These transformations will open up new opportunities for individuals, the economy, and society, but they will also disrupt the current livelihoods of millions of Americans.”  The full report can be found here.

In Bangladesh, Al Jazeera reports that “garment manufacturers have dismissed at least 1,500 workers after protests over pay led to a week-long shutdown at dozens of factories, which supply clothes to top Western brands.”  However, “the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation put the number of dismissed workers at 3,500, adding that dozens of protest organisers had been forced into hiding.”