Today’s News and Commentary – April 2

Published April 2nd, 2014 -  - 04.02.1410


According to a report released by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service and major consulting firm Booz Allen, the federal government could face a serious crisis if it doesn’t correct how it manages the nation’s more than 2 million civil servants.  As Politico explains, the report marks the culmination of over a year of research into the issue, including discussions with labor unions, government agencies, and private sector representatives.

Ed O’Keefe and Joe Davidson at the Washington Post are covering House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget proposal, which was introduced yesterday.  The Ryan budget would reduce federal spending by more than $5 trillion over the next decade, and includes cuts to the size and retirement benefits of the federal workforce.

Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel has begun an effort to get city workers to pay more for their retirement benefits and raise property taxes to fund what the New York Times describes as one of the most poorly funded pensions among the nation’s major cities.  Last month, Moody’s downgraded the city’s credit rating, noting that Chicago’s pension debts “threaten the city’s fiscal solvency absent major revenue and other budgetary adjustments adopted in the near term and sustained for years to come.”

Electric automaker Tesla is looking for a site to build a multi-billion dollar electric-car battery factory in the Southwest.  The plans have generated excitement among state officials, who know that an investment by the Silicon Valley-based firm would bring thousands of jobs.  But, as the Journal reports, the plan has been met with some skepticism from industry experts and rival executives, given that the still-small electric vehicle market and has plenty of battery suppliers.

The New York Times offers a primer on the efforts of the Northwestern University football team to unionize, an issue we’ve covered extensively. Writing in the Times’s op-ed page, Patrick T. Harker, president of the University of Delaware and a member of the board of NCAA, Division I, offers an argument that “[p]layer unions would be a disaster for universities, for college sports fans and, most important, for student athletes themselves.”

The Wall Street Journal is reporting on Southwest Airline Co’s efforts to renegotiate its union contracts to contain costs.  Gary Kelly, Southwest’s longtime CEO, says Southwest will seek savings by enhancing the flexibility of workers’ contracts, rather than pursuing pay cuts.

In international news, the Wall Street Journal reports that Nokia Corp.’s factory workers in India held a hunger strike earlier this week to protest threats by the Finnish phone maker to downgrade the factory to a contract manufacturer.   Nokia is considering this move in order to facilitate the planned sale of its device and services unit to Microsoft, a multi-billion dollar deal. 

 

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