News & Commentary

April 22, 2014

The New York Times editorial board called for action on wage theft yesterday. The authors note that although wage theft is commonly associated with low-wage workers, it is a problem that affects workers across the board. For example, software engineers employed by Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe allege that they were robbed of up to $3 billion in wages between 2005 and 2009 when their employers colluded not to recruit one another’s employees in order to suppress wages. The authors call for better funding for the Labor Department and a more active Justice Department.

According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration will announce a new rule on coal dust exposure tomorrow. The rule, which has been in the making for 2.5 years, will aim to reduce miners’ exposure to coal dust, which causes black lung. 

The Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear an appeal of a Ninth Circuit decision barring enforcement of a section of Arizona’s controversial SB 1070, the Associated Press reports. The section of the law at issue permitted police to arrest people who harbored undocumented immigrants. Two challenges to Arizona’s immigration law are still pending in federal court. 

CNN suggested yesterday that there may be some movement on immigration reform in June or July this year. Although “conventional political wisdom suggests that immigration reform in a midterm election year has a snowball’s chance in July of getting any traction,” many analysts believe that these midterm elections may be different. House Republicans are concerned that if Congress does not act by this summer, President Obama will use his executive power to overcome Congressional gridlock. That fear may drive Republicans to get serious about immigration reform.

Inspections of factories in Bangladesh by the two consortiums of Western retailers created last year continue, the New York Times reports. The two groups – the European-dominated Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety, and the American-dominated Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, are moving quickly to conduct hundreds of inspections of factories where their products are produced. While the Alliance has conducted more inspections thus far than the Accord, the Accord believes its inspections are more thorough. Both groups have found serious safety problems in some of the factories they inspected. Of the 400 factories the Alliance has inspected thus far, it has ordered one closed and asked the Bangladeshi government to close four more. The Accord, for its part, has shut down four of the 300 factories it has inspected, and has asked the government to close another four. 

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