Weekend News & Commentary — January 28-29, 2017

President Donald Trump’s executive order banning entry from seven majority-Muslim nations has dominated the news over the past 48 hours.  Though a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York stayed large portions of the order Saturday night, news outlets continue to report on the ongoing implications of the ban, especially for the numerous workers from the targeted countries who had regularly traveled to and from the United States.  Politico and the Washington Post examine the effect the restrictions may have on employers—especially tech companies and those using H-1B visas—while the New York Times delves into the consequences the order could have for professional athletes.

In other news, the Center for Economic and Policy Research has issued a troubling new report analyzing the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data on union membership, which indicates that both public and private sector unionization rates dropped in 2016.  Despite union members continuing to earn a significant premium over nonunion workers, private sector union membership now consists of only 6.4% of workers.  This represents the lowest rate of union membership since statistics began being recorded by the government, with declines being particularly steep in recent right to work state states such as Wisconsin, which has lost 40% of its union members since a 2011 law barring most public sector collective bargaining.

Finally, the New York Times looks at the ongoing failure of the federal government to provide health care for soldiers exposed to dangerous levels of radioactivity while cleaning up after atom bomb tests on islands in the Pacific Ocean during the late 1970s.  Inadequate safety equipment and poor monitoring of radiation exposure may have contributed to elevated cancer rates among workers involved in efforts to restore the islands to suitability for human habitation.