Today’s News and Commentary — January 3
The New York Times reports several promising economic indicators from December that suggest the economy is poised for stronger growth in 2014. The number of Americans filing for unemployment fell again last week, the nation’s factory activity remained near a two-and-a-half-year high in December, and construction spending hit its highest level in nearly five years.
The Department of Labor is considering an end to the practice of “media lockups” for newly published unemployment data, whereby figures are released to journalists but cannot be published until an embargo has been lifted. While lockups were originally intended to give journalists time to digest new data before writing about it, DOL is concerned that some media outlets immediately send the information to “high-speed investors who can make trades on the data before members of the public can react.” The Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune report that the recommendation to end the lockups came in a report from DOL’s Inspector General.
According to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Boeing’s top union is set to vote today on an eight-year contract that would guarantee that Boeing’s new 777X line would be produced in unionized factories in Washington state. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents more than 32,000 Boeing employees, rejected Boeing’s previous offer, “with many criticizing Boeing’s demands for deep concessions such as changes to the wage structure and a shift of future retirement earnings from the current defined-benefit pension to a 401(k) system.” That move prompted the company to solicit bids on the 777X line from 22 other states. Over the objections of the local union, the union’s president called for the second vote, which is scheduled for today.
The Wall Street Journal Review & Outlook page argues that OSHA is overstepping its bounds is regulating family farms. While federal regulators do not have jurisdiction over “farming operations” with 10 or fewer employees, the column argues that OSHA is “rewriting the definition of farming” by “re-categorizing small farms as commercial grain operators,” which allows regulators to inspect the farms’ grain storage bins.
In our continuing coverage of the ongoing BART negotiations, the BART Board of Directors recently voted to approve a new four-year contract with workers, ending several months of strikes and negotiations. Both sides acknowledged the harsh feelings resulting from the extended negotiations.