Today's News and Commentary–December 23
According to the New York Times, the United States has purchased uniforms and other clothing from overseas plants that break local labor laws. The Department of Labor insists that the United States has a “zero tolerance policy” for clothing suppliers who violate local laws. Nevertheless, audits of suppliers and interviews with workers suggest that the United States buys clothing from several overseas plants that “show a pattern of legal violations and harsh working conditions.” Some of these plants padlocked fire exits, used buildings at risk of collapse, employed children, and falsified wage records.
The Washington Post reports that, on January 3, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers will vote on a proposed contract with Boeing. The contract would secure work for Machinists in Puget Sound on Boeing’s new 777X airplane.
The New York Times describes the “staggering” impact of a labor arbitrator’s decision to double the average paycheck of 1, 375 employees at the Resorts World Casino in Queens. Before the decision was issued in October, many employees relied on food stamps and second or third jobs to make ends meet. The wage increase has allowed workers to leave their second jobs, pay medical bills, send their children to college, and buy Christmas presents.
Meanwhile, The Los Angeles Times observes that thousands of California teachers have been able to obtain pay raises, bonuses, and other benefits after California voters approved temporary sales and income tax increases. The new taxes will generate an additional $6.1 billion in school funding this year.
According to the Los Angeles Times, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones suggested that it would not be out of line to raise employer premiums for workers’ compensation policies by 6.7%. Some small businesses have expressed concern that this modest rate increase would jeopardize their ability to turn a profit.
In international news, the New York Times notes that Bangladeshi police have charged the owners of a garment factory and eleven of the factory’s employees with culpable homicide in the deaths of 112 workers; the workers were killed in a fire last year. This is the first time that Bangladeshi authorities have attempted to prosecute garment factory owners.
Finally, the Wall Street Journal reports that, for the past week, dock workers have been striking at the Douala port in Cameroon, demanding unpaid wages and better working conditions. At least 95% of the goods flowing into and out of Cameroon, Chad, and Central African Republic pass through the Douala port.