Today's News and Commentary–August 26
The Wall Street Journal reports that, as groups across the nation observe the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, many are calling for immigration reform. The article notes that some advocates for immigration reform have drawn lessons and inspiration from the Civil Rights movement.
The Los Angeles Times discusses a dispute between United Steelworkers and the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, which represents several craft unions. The dispute arose when a state senator introduced a bill to replace many workers at California oil refineries with craftsmen who have graduated from state-approved apprenticeship programs. Proponents of the bill say that it will improve safety in oil refineries. In response, United Steelworkers and the oil companies argue that the bill is designed to help some unions expand their turf (to the detriment of other unions).
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that hundreds of lobbyists across 20 states are eligible to receive public pensions because they represent associations of counties, cities, and school boards. Several states are beginning to question whether lobbyists should qualify for these benefits.
The Wall Street Journal notes that, in a televised debate, the four leading candidates for New York City public advocate suggested that the next mayor should consider giving municipal-employee union workers retroactive raises. Mayor Bloomberg’s administration estimates that the raises would cost over $7 billion.
The New York Times editorial board observes that it is “hard to know whether to rejoice or lament” new and conflicting information about the costs of employer-sponsored health insurance. On one hand, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust found that premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance have increased moderately for the second year in a row. The survey results suggest that “health care inflation may finally be abating,” and that the costs of health care reform will not be too burdensome for employers or workers. On the other hand, United Parcel Service discontinued health care coverage for 15,000 spouses of its white-collar workers. The company said that its decision was driven by expected increases in the cost of employees’ health care and by costs associated with health care reform.
The Wall Street Journal’s Neil Shah suggests that stagnant wages are hampering economic growth. In more positive news, the WSJ reports that Seattle is leading the nation in job growth. Seattle’s unemployment rate has fallen to 5.9%.