Today’s News and Commentary — January 31
The New York Times reports that several prominent corporations have signed on to support President Obama’s effort to help the long-term jobless find work. Apple, Wal-Mart, General Motors, and Ford are among the approximately 300 companies that pledged to revise their hiring practices to avoid discriminating against applicants that have been out of work a long time. The President signed an executive memo today requiring the federal government to abide by the same practices. The initiative is meant to alleviate the unemployment of those out of work for a long time, which experts say remains high, even as the rate for those unemployed for a short time has returned to historical norms.
Today House Republicans released a one-page document detailing in broad strokes the party’s stance on immigration reform. As expected, the party’s “Standards for Immigration Reform” called for more resources dedicated to border enforcement, an electronic employment verification system, and an expanded temporary worker program. The plan promised a pathway to citizenship for children brought to the US who met certain requirements (referring to the DREAMers). It does not include a pathway to citizenship for older immigrants, instead promising them a type of legal residency, provided they meet certain requirements. The text of the plan is provided by the Wall Street Journal.
The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal report that key labor leaders are frustrated by what they view as the Obama Administration’s refusal to extend special protections to union health care plans in ACA rollout. The Treasury Department has determined that so-called Taft-Hartley plans, a special type of coverage jointly managed by unions and employers and particularly important for some union workers, cannot receive the tax break given to other self-funded corporate health plans. Several labor leaders predicted that this would exacerbate income inequality, and would make it more difficult for them to mobilize their members to support Democrats in the 2014 elections.
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez has been traveling around Washington, D.C., supporting the President’s plan to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10. According to the Washington Post Federal Eye Blog, Perez visited one hardware store that pays it workers more than $10 per hour and said that “paying folks a fair wage is the essence of growing a business,” since it puts money into the hands of workers who spend it in the local economy.