News & Commentary

January 9, 2014

As we move out of the holiday shopping season, there are several reminders that the economy is still struggling: According to the New York Times, Macy’s announced on Wednesday that it plans to lay off 2,500 employees.  The most recent round of large-scale lay offs at Macy’s was in 2009, when Macy’s laid off 7,000 employees.  In other lay off news, a the Resorts World Casino in Queens, New York closed its restaurant and laid off approximately 175 employees, according to the Times.  In late October, the casino had been involved in a labor negotiations with the Union, resulting in a labor arbitrator ordering that the casino nearly double its workers’ salary.  The casino stated that this week’s lay offs were unrelated to the October ruling.

In immigration news, House Speaker Boehner announced that House Republicans are preparing to release their initial principles for reforming immigration in the New Year, according to the New York Times.  House Republicans report that they hope to release the document before the President’s State of the Union.  In 2013, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

The Governor of Maine, Paul LePage, released a statement on Tuesday that state child labor laws were hurting Maine’s economy, according to the Washington Post.  Governor LePage is proposing that those laws be loosened.  In the past two years Idaho, Wisconsin, and Michigan, have all eased their child labor laws.

In international news, Abu Dhabi is reacting to concerns about poor labor conditions for construction workers, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Abu Dhabi is “planning to move 80,000 low-wage workers” to new “labor cities” outside of the city center.  Abu Dhabi is currently building major new cultural institutions such as a campus of NYU and a Louvre museum on Saadiyat Island. In the past two weeks, the U.K. newspaper The Observer has reported that construction workers in Saadiyat were living in unsanitary conditions and had their passports confiscated.

President Obama announced late Thursday that he will nominate Chris Lu, a White House aide, to be deputy secretary of the Department of Labor, according to the Washington Post. Mr. Lu would be the first Asian-American that President Obama has appointed to a deputy secretary level position.

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