Weekend News & Commentary — February 11-12, 2017

Following up on our reporting yesterday about state efforts to undermine labor unions in Wisconsin and Iowa, the New York Times looks at the impact of one-party rule in the 25 states where Republicans now control both houses of the state legislature and the state executive.  Of note are initiatives in the four states (Missouri, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Kentucky) where Republicans took control of a previously Democratic governorship or upper legislative chamber last November.  Lawmakers in those states have moved quickly to enact right to work laws, limit collective bargaining by public employees, and implement school choice laws generally viewed as reducing the strength of teachers’ unions.

The Times also reports on decreasing gender disparities in workplace participation rates among workers in their 60s and 70s, with the number of women working past the age of 65 doubling over the past thirty years.  Interestingly, most of the gains appear to be among women with higher levels of education and in higher economic strata.

Workers at Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner plant in South Carolina will vote Wednesday on whether to unionize.  South Carolina now has the lowest rate of unionization in the country, with the already slim number decreasing by almost a quarter in the past year.  In the lead up to the vote by the approximately 3,000 workers employed at the plant,  The State catalogues the history of unionization in the area and some recent tentative successes.

Two weeks ago, President Trump signed an executive order potentially beginning a military buildup over the next several years that could increase by 30% the number of ships in the U.S. Navy.  Politico Magazine explores the potential human costs of that buildup, detailing years of safety violations by private shipbuilding firms and highlighting the gaps in legal protections for workers that prevent systemic negligence from being remedied.