Today’s News & Commentary — March 13, 2017

The confirmation hearing for President Trump’s Labor nominee, Alexander Acosta, has been rescheduled due to scheduling conflicts.  The hearing is now set for March 22.  In the meantime, Acosta has been meeting one-on-one with senators to drum up support for his nomination.  Several Democrats have still not made up their mind on Acosta, Bloomberg BNA reports, and will continue to scrutinize his reputation.

That reputation is mixed, according to The New York Times.  Some — including immigration advocates and his colleagues at Florida International University — believe that Acosta is “a fair leader” who won’t let his conservative values affect his decisions.  But former colleagues claim that during his time at the Justice Department, Acosta sometimes acted out of political expedience, hiring candidates based on political connections instead of merit.

Can an employee be punished for refusing to participate in genetic testing?  Maybe, if a new bill — H.R. 1313, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act — becomes law.  The bill, which secured House committee approval last week, would allow employers to collect genetic information on employees who participate in workplace wellness programs (read our previous coverage of corporate wellness programs here).  The Washington Post has more.

In gig news, Uber is stepping up its efforts to block unionization in Seattle, The Wall Street Journal reports.  Under a Seattle ordinance that took effect in January, drivers now have the right to vote to organize.  But Uber is campaigning hard against unionization, sending its drivers podcasts and messages encouraging them to remain “partners.”

And lastly, while commentators continue to debate back and forth over the risk of automation to human jobs, Fast Company looks at another potential (and immediate) use of machine learning: as a tool to ferret out supply chains that involved forced labor.