News & Commentary

July 14, 2014

The New York Times reports that Volkswagen announced today that it will be manufacturing a new SUV at the Chattanooga, TN plant where the United Auto Workers will be sponsoring a “members-only” union. Professors Sachs and Goldsmith have discussed last week’s UAW announcement of this innovative model here, here, and here. The “members only” union local would have no dues, voluntary membership, and would not be formally recognized by Volkswagen.

In the Los Angeles Times, Randi Weingarten, President of the United Federation of Teachers, as well as other teacher union advocates publicly condemned Secretary of Education Arne Duncan during this weekend’s American Federation of Teachers convention for his support of charter schools as well as the recent Vergara decision, striking down California’s teacher tenure laws. More commentary available on Vergara from Prof. Noah Feldman here and SEIU 32BJ Associate General Counsel Andrew Strom here. On Saturday night, Alex Caputo-Pearl, the new leader of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), spoke to the conference, stating that he has already advised members to begin putting money aside in preparation for a strike. Los Angeles’s teachers have not received a wage increase in seven years according to the Los Angeles Times.

The New York Times features an article arguing that the Supreme Court has demonstrated restraint, to the frustration of conservative judges, in not overruling precedent this last term. Their analysis includes brief discussion of Harris v. Quinn.

In international news, Samsung has reported that they have found evidence of child labor at the China-based Dongguan Shinyang Electronics factory according to BBC News. Samsung announced that if they confirm the factory has used child labor, production would cease there.

In further coverage of the National Union of Machinists of South Africa’s (NUMSA) strike, Reuters reports Ford motor company has ceased production at one of its South Africa plants and Toyota plans to do the same. General Motors had closed a plant a week ago. The 220,000 striking NUMSA workers rejected a deal yesterday that would lead to between 9 and 10 percent increases in wages annually over the next three years. They are holding out for a 12 to 15 percent increase.

In the Economic Times, India’s government is planning on adding 50 days to the overall 100 days of guaranteed governmental employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Currently, MGNREGA guarantees 100 days of paid labor a year for a rural family whose members volunteer to engage in unskilled labor. 25 percent of rural households rely on this program. The expansion is being considered in light of subnormal monsoons in India that may culminate in drought conditions.

In commentary, John Aziz of the Week challenges the New York Time’s endorsement of a higher minimum wage, arguing it’s a 20th century solution to a 21st century problem. He states that rather than just be concerned about jobs shifting oversees, Americans must be preoccupied with automation and robotics in the service sector. Rather than rely on an increased minimum wage, he argues for a negative income tax or universal income.

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