Today’s News and Commentary–November 13

Published November 13th, 2013 -  - 11.13.131


The Wall Street Journal is reporting on an interesting development in the longstanding debate on the role that worker interests should play in corporate governance.  Many for-profit employers like Ben & Jerry’s are advertising their receipt of a B corp logo—a seal verifying their social and environmental bona fides—in their efforts to draw socially minded talent.  The B corp logo is offered by B Lab, a non-profit that weighs a company’s treatment of its employees in deciding whether to award the seal.

Microsoft is overhauling how it evaluates employees.  Previously, the software powerhouse used the once-popular “stack ranking” system that called for managers to rate employee performance on a scale of 1-5 and award compensation accordingly.  The Journal reports that Microsoft is moving to a more qualitative evaluation system amid employee complaints that stack ranking “resulted in capricious rankings, power struggles among managers, and unhealthy competition among colleagues.”

Unionized workers at Boeing are voting today on whether to approve an 8-year contract that would take effect after their current labor agreement ends in 2016.  The Journal is reporting on the stakes of the vote: the contract seeks, among other things, pay scale reductions and a shifting of health-care costs in exchange for a promise by the manufacturing giant to build its planned 777X jet with union labor.  Boeing has threatened to produce the 777X in nonunion facilities if the vote fails.

Also in voting news, the UFCW, who represents nearly 17,000 Giant and Safeway employees in the DC area, will delay a vote on a new labor contract originally scheduled for today.  As the Washington Post notes, this marks the second time the vote has been delayed as negotiations remain tense and focused on rising health-care costs.

As the Obama administration works to lower trade barriers with Pacific Rim nations, the President has received letters signed by almost half of the House expressing opposition to granting the President fast-track authority for any deal.  The New York Times explains that the lack of fast-track authority would inject uncertainty into negotiations, as any deal struck may have to be modified to win Senate consent.  The Representatives opposing fast-track come from across the political spectrum and are concerned that, among other things, the deal might hurt American workers and businesses, particularly in the auto industry. 

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