Today’s News and Commentary — February 13
Coverage continues of this week’s vote by workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee on whether to join the United Auto Workers union and establish a works council. The Wall Street Journal had multiple pieces covering the story yesterday. An editorial criticized Volkswagen’s role in the process, while an article described the potential breakdown of responsibilities between the UAW and the proposed works council should the union win the election. An interesting post on the Washington Post’s Wonkblog provides an annotated interview with Tennessee Senator Bob Corker in which he explains his opposition to unionizing the plant, with commentary from the interviewer.
In politics, House Democratic leaders are meeting in Maryland to discuss their strategy for 2014, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire reports. Although Democrats are not necessarily “holding [their] breath” for major initiatives from the Republican leadership, Democrats “will continue to push House Republicans to allow votes on a range of issues: raising the minimum wage, overhauling immigration laws, and restoring long-term unemployment benefits.”
An editorial in the New York Times today discusses the relationship between having a college degree and obtaining “good jobs.” Likely in response to the Pew Research Center study addressing the “wage premium” for having a college degree, which we covered yesterday, today’s editorial emphasizes that recent college graduates continue to face high unemployment and underemployment, and that many of the highest growth occupations do not require a college degree and offer low to moderate pay.
In international news, an op-ed in the New York Times by Israel’s economy minister, Naftali Bennett, discusses the challenge placed on the Israeli economy by the low labor participation of ultra-Orthodox Jews (particularly men) and Israeli-Arab women. Bennett describes his reform goals and proposals, which include “vocational training, small business loans and general business guidance.”
An article in the New York Times also describes the working conditions of Indonesian women who “fan out across Asia and the Middle East to live in the homes of local people and serve as their domestic helpers.” The article focuses on workers in Hong Kong, which, despite providing more legal protections for these workers than other countries, has “laws that govern [the workers’] living and working conditions [that] are discriminatory and foster an environment that can lead to abuse.”