Today's News and Commentary – December 12

Published December 12th, 2013 -  - 12.12.131


The New York Times reports that JPMorgan Chase plans to unveil a “New Skills at Work” program, focused on filling the skills gaps in some of the largest United States and European job markets, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and London. The five-year, $250 million philanthropic initiative will have the company committing $50 million annually to research and training programs, such as Year Up and the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions. This program comes at a time when JPMorgan is facing unprecedented fines and regulatory scrutiny, including a $13 billion settlement over its questionable mortgage practices.

The Washington Post reports that District of Columbia Fire Chief finally achieved success in his long-running effort to change firefighters’ work schedules. Currently, firefighters in the city work 24-hour shifts, with three days off in between. The Fire Chief wants to change the schedule so that firefighters work three 12-hour day shifts, followed by three 12-hour night shifts, followed by three days off. The firefighters’ union says that this will result in fewer firefighters working longer hours, endangering city residents. The Fire Chief’s win came after the decision by a board that resolves labor disputes in the district government ruled that the work schedules are not subject to collective bargaining. The union plans to appeal the ruling.

The Wall Street Journal reports that labor economist Leo Troy has passed away. Mr. Troy was an institutional labor economist who studied the diminishing ranks of American’s private-sector unions and harnessed innovative research techniques that “virtually changed the way union membership numbers were reported.”

The Associated Press reports that a labor group that has been monitoring three Chinese factories that make Apple products say oppressive working conditions have steadily improved in the last 18 months, but more must be done to reduce the amount of overtime that employees work.

In additional news, the Associated Press reports that, in Louisiana, 600 State Revenue Department employees are getting a 4% pay raise, retroactive to October 1st. Also, BART and its two largest unions will be meeting again with a federal mediator over the key FMLA contract provision that has led to a lawsuit. 

On the second day of talks between Boeing and Machinist union leaders, the union reports that it presented a preliminary proposal for a contract that would mean much of the work on the company’s new jets would be done in the Puget Sound region, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

According to a report released Wednesday, the federal government awards billions of dollars in contracts each year to companies that routinely violate safety, health and wage regulations. More on this report and why it calls for stricter measures to hold federal contractors accountable, can be found in the San Francisco Chronicle

Finally, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells says he’ll spend a week keeping his food and transportation costs to the level of a minimum-wage worker. 

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