News & Commentary

June 9, 2014

The New York Times reports that the frequency of noncompete clauses in employment contracts has been increasing in recent months.  Many “unconventional” jobs such as gardeners, camp counselors, and yoga instructors have reported a rise in noncompete clauses.  However, some states have begun taking legislative action against rampant noncompetes —  the Times reports that “because of workers’ complaints and concerns that noncompete clauses may be holding back the Massachusetts economy, Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed legislation that would ban noncompetes in all but a few circumstances, and a committee in the Massachusetts House has passed a bill incorporating the governor’s proposals. To help assure that workers don’t walk off with trade secrets, the proposed legislation would adopt tough new rules in that area.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Rep. George Miller (D-CA) is “urging Labor Department Secretary Thomas Perez to examine possible conflicts in the growing number of U.S. pension-plan consultants that also manage investments.”  In a letter to the Labor Department, Rep. Miller said the trend “appears to create significant and inappropriate conflicts” within the $6.5 trillion pension-fund industry.  More than 75% of pension-consulting firms registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission act as both investment managers and outside consultants for their clients.

Long Island Railroad (LIRR) workers may delay their threatened strike from July until September.  Two weeks after federal mediators issued their final report on the Long Island Rail Road contract dispute — and just six weeks before a possible strike — negotiators from the MTA and the LIRR’s unions have yet to sit down and talk, and have no plans to do so, officials from both camps said. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that “emerging-markets currencies climbed against the dollar on Friday after the U.S. jobs report, as traders bet improvement in the labor market in May wasn’t strong enough to push the Federal Reserve to an earlier increase in interest rates than expected.”   Higher U.S. interest rates could strengthen the dollar and draw cash out of emerging markets.

In immigration news, the New York Times reports that Italian authorities have “rescued about 5,200 people and recovered three bodies from overcrowded boats in the Mediterranean Sea since early Thursday.”  Most of the migrants come from Northern Africa, and because of the massive influx, Italian officials are petitioning the EU for more supportive immigration policies. 

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