Today's News and Commentary – December 30
The New York Times reports on the Democratic Party’s plans to focus the 2014 election season on raising the minimum wage at both federal and state levels. Raising the minimum wage is believed to be popular amongst voters in both parties, with a recent poll showing that even 57 percent of Republicans support increasing the minimum wage. President Obama plans to give a series of speeches around the country on the issue. The Washington Post similarly reports that Democrat gubernatorial candidates plan to campaign around raising the minimum wage.
Starting this Wednesday, workers in Rhode Island will be able to, by State law, take several weeks of paid family leave every year to care for a newborn child or seriously ill relative, reports the Washington Post. The new Rhode Island law was passed by wide margins in July. Only California and New Jersey have similar laws offering workers paid family leave that is paid out of a pool of employee paycheck contributions. The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that has no national policy allowing paid family leave.
The New York Times Editorial Board calls on the federal government to stop buying clothes from sweatshops. According to an earlier report in the New York Times, factories in Bangladesh, Haiti, Cambodia and elsewhere make uniforms for federal workers in conditions that violate basic labor standards. The Editors urge federal agencies to disclose the names of factories they use, and requests that Congress order investigations into violations at these facilities.
In related news, the Wall Street Journal reports on the use of underage workers in Cambodian factories, in part fueled by labor shortages forcing factories to scramble for workers.