Today's News and Commentary – January 13
The Supreme Court hears oral arguments today for the recess appointment case National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning (explained here). The L.A. Times Editorial Board urges the Court to reject the appeals court’s “extreme view” that recess appointments can be made only between formal sessions of Congress and only for the tiny number of vacancies that arise during a recess.
The Wall Street Journal reports on the recent political protests and strikes in Cambodia, suggesting that the violent police response to the strikes is evidence that Cambodia’s authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen sees the recent alliance between the labor unions and the political opposition as a serious threat to his 28-year rule. In response to tens of thousands of workers walking off the job on December 24, police fired upon a crowd of striking workers, killing at least four of them. Amid numerous arrests, protests in the capital have been banned indefinitely.
The New York Times Editorial Board urges President Obama to issue executive orders banning discrimination by federal contractors based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Editorial Board also calls on Obama to use the government’s contracting clout to combat sweatshops overseas by issuing an executive order to develop and enforce a code of conduct for factories in foreign countries (including Cambodia) that make uniforms and other clothing for the government.
In the New York Times, Professor Nancy Folbre makes the case for increased worker ownership, noting that the idea was supported by eminent figures in American history like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Moreover, she argues that increasing worker ownership could improve employment stability over the business cycle, increase productivity, and decrease inequality.
The Washington Post reports on the plight of the 230,000 federal wage-grade (WG) workers who were not included in the 1 percent pay raise granted to the federal government’s General Schedule (GS) employees at the start of the new year. Blue-collar WG workers are not covered by the federal law that allows the president to set pay raise amounts for white-collar GS employees. Wage-grade workers rely on Congress to pass wage increases, usually in appropriations bills.