News & Commentary

January 23, 2014

Continuing our ongoing coverage of Harris v. Quinn, the Los Angeles Times agrees with Jack Goldsmith’s analysis: Justice Scalia may be the swing vote.  The Times writes, “[Justice Scalia] suggested he was not ready to switch course, noting the court has previously ruled that employees should not be allowed to reap the benefits of union membership without paying their fair share.”

In sports news, the Los Angeles Times reports some MLB players want Alex Rodriguez expelled from the players union after he sued the union.  This past summer Mr. Rodriquez was suspended for 211 games due to drug use; the union filed a grievance and the suspension was to 162 games (one full season) plus the post-season.  Last week, Mr. Rodriguez sued the union alleging a breach of its duty of fair representation.  Union staff have stated Mr. Rodriguez cannot be expelled for his lawsuit.

In France, the New York Times reports labor and management at the Goodyear plant north of Paris have reached an agreement to end the ongoing strike.  The plant is scheduled to close, but one of the unions, the C.G.T., has been occupying the facility to delay its closing.  The union stated that Goodyear agreed to pay three times the original severance offer for all employees.  This labor dispute has received widespread attention when two workers kidnapped Goodyear executives earlier this year.

In other international news, Human Rights Watch has released a new report detailing the terrible labor conditions and human trafficking in Qatar, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Qatar’s labor practices have received widespread condemnation, which we’ve previously covered, as the country builds facilities for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.  Human Rights Watch states that the Qatari government has “given ‘no indication’ that it is undertaking reforms.”

According to the Washington Post, United Airlines has announced it will offer 688 soon-to-be furloughed flight attendants jobs with Continental Airlines, which is owned by the same company.  For most flight attendants this will mean a pay cut and a loss of seniority – the furloughed flight attendants would count as if they were hired in 2014 by Continental, even if they had been hired by United as early as 2006.

Eduardo Porter at the New York Times presents an in-depth look at the lasting costs of the recession.  He writes that, according to an analysis by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, “[a]t a bare minimum the crisis cost nearly $20,000 for each American.”  He argues that given the costs, “even the most far-reaching measures might be justified to ensure it never happens again.”

On a similar note, the New York Times reports on states limiting the number of weeks that the unemployed can receive unemployment insurance payments.  The Times tells the story of Alnetta McKnight, a North Carolina resident, who found herself out of help when North Carolina cut its unemployment insurance from covering 73 weeks to only covering 20 weeks.  The Times explains that “the country’s safety net for jobless workers has undergone a sudden transformation, from one aimed at providing modest but sustained protection to workers weathering a tough labor market to one intended to give relatively short-term aid before spurring workers to accept a job, any job.”

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