Today’s News and Commentary — January 5, 2017

Published January 5th, 2017 -  - 01.05.17


At Vox, Matthew Yglesias points out that President-Elect Trump has appointed protectionists to key positions in his administration.  On Tuesday, Trump announced his intention to name Robert Lighthizer to the post of U.S. trade representative (USTR).  Lighthizer, a former deputy USTR in the Reagan Administration and a practicing trade lawyer, has been a critic of recent free trade policies.  In addition to the appointment of Lighthizer, Trump’s appointment of Wilbur Ross to the post of commerce secretary and Peter Navarro to run the newly created National Trade Council signals a drastic shift in trade policy.  Under the Tariff Act of 1930, the Commerce Department has wide discretion to impose tariffs on countries the agency believes are “dumping.”  Yglesias contends that Navarro’s position will allow the Commerce Department to avoid the interagency process in implementing its protectionist trade agenda.  The interagency process has traditionally been coordinated by the National Economic Council.  Trump appointed former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn, who has historically been pro-trade, to head the National Economic Council.

Yesterday, the New York Times published a piece entitled “Why Men Don’t Want the Jobs Mostly Done by Women.”  While jobs performed mainly by men have been among those with the steepest job loss, jobs held mainly by women are among the fastest growing professions.  However, men have been hesitant to work these “pink collar jobs.”  Although these jobs offer relatively more job security than male-dominated work, these “pink collar jobs” pay less, and men in these professions report feeling stigmatized.  Read more here.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported on some of the final actions of the Obama Administration’s Department of Labor in its enforcement of workplace laws against federal contractors.  The Department moved to debar Restaurant Associates.  A debarment could affect the company’s ability to receive new federal contracts for up to three years.  In July, the Department of Labor announced an agreement with Restaurant Associates and its subcontractor Personnel Plus.  The agreement required the companies to provide $1 million to 674 workers who were unlawfully denied wages.  In late December, the Department of Labor also announced a settlement agreement with federal contractor Hormel Foods.  The company agreed to pay $550,000 in backpay to 403 prospective women employees and hire 37 women as part of a settlement obtained as a result of gender discrimination in hiring.

The Wall Street Journal published a piece this week on the ways in which apps are being used by workers to share information about their workplaces.  The piece looked at Shyft, an app that connects employees to swap shifts.  The piece also highlighted apps designed to facilitate collective action and report violations of workplace laws.  In particular, the Journal focused on Jornaler@WorkIt, and WorkerReport. Read more here.

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