Today's News and Commentary – August 29
The recession continues to hurt the performing arts world. Last year the Minnesota Orchestra cancelled its season due to a lockout, after the players refused to accept a 32% paycut. The New York Times reports that this year, the players and management have until September 15th to reach an agreement, otherwise they will have to cancel their Carnegie hall appearances. The Nashville Symphony, on the other hand, just agreed to a new contract with a 15% paycut for players, according to the Times.
Secretary of Labor Tom Perez announced new rules requiring most government contractors to hire more disabled workers and veterans, according to the Los Angeles Times. Federal contractors account for more than 20% of the nation’s workforce, so the new rules could have a major effect on employment rates for these groups. The new rules for veterans and disabled workers are “similar to those contractors have long used for women and minorities.”
The New York Times reports that in South Korea, working fewer hours may not make you happier. South Korea’s government changed its labor rules in 2004 to reduce its work week from 44 hours to 40 hours, but according to surveys, overall job satisfaction and satisfaction with life did not change.
The New York Times reports that French President François Hollande will propose a new pension reform bill. The bill will increase pension contributions from workers and slowly increase the number of years a workers must pay into the system from 41 years to 43 years before she or he can receive full benefits. This follows reforms in 2010 that also raised the length of time a worker must pay into the system, and that increased the minimum retirement age to 62.
The Los Angeles Times reports that unemployment rates decreased in “two-thirds of large U.S. metro areas in July.” The overall rate fell to 7.4 percent in July, a 4 ½ year low. Forty-one cities in July reported an employment rate of over 10%, as compared to sixty-seven cities in July of last year.
The Washington Post reports that the Fourth Circuit will allow the developer of a shopping center in Baltimore to pursue its lawsuit against a labor union for “using alleged ‘sham litigation’” to “keep the supermarket chain Wegmans out of a shopping center.”
In Washington State, the teachers union and school districts might be moving closer to an agreement before the start of school next week. However, teachers in one of the two districts that have not yet reached an agreement announced that they will go on strike on Saturday if they do not have a contract, the Washington Post reports.