Today’s News and Commentary – November 14

Published November 14th, 2013 -  - 11.14.131


Late last night in Seattle, a majority of Boeing workers voted against an eight-year contract extension that would reduce Boeing’s pension contributions and impose limits on pay raises to one percent every other year. While this controversial labor deal would have reduced compensation, it would have also kept the assembly of Boeing’s new jets in the State of Washington, a priority for the workers’ union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The New York Times reports that, because the labor deal has been rejected, there is an increased chance that Boeing will move its production away from the Seattle area. This failed labor deal comes shortly after the state legislature’s passing of a measure that extended nearly $9 billion worth of tax breaks to Boeing through the year 2040, in hopes of enticing the company to keep its manufacturing base in Seattle.

The Wall Street Journal repots that the New York City United Federation of Teachers union (UFT) has called for a ban on standardized testing of the state’s youngest students. Earlier this year, 36 schools were required to give tests to students in pre-kindergarten through second grade as part of a new teacher-evaluation system. Many parents had their children sit out of the tests. The president of UFT stated that it was “absurd” that he has to call for such a ban. The city’s chief academic officer is in agreement with the union, but stated that the city was “boxed-in” by a state-mandated evaluation system. However, the city plans to ask for flexibility and believes it will likely be granted. Every other district in the state has already reached an agreement with their unions on these new systems, whereby teachers’ job performance evaluations are based on students’ improvement on tests and on classroom observations by administrators, rather than standardized testing.

The incoming leader of IG Metall, the influential union representing Volkswagen workers in Germany, has warned VW that it does not agree with union avoidance at the German automaker’s plant in Tennessee, according to Reuters. The union stated that if the choice to enter the south was made in an effort to achieve low wages and union-free assembly plants, then that is not a model that the union will support, going so far as to liken that model to a North Korean approach. IG Metall supports the United Auto Workers (UAW) in their unionizing drive, advocating for VW to accept a German-style labor council. While VW’s labor leader has voiced opposition to UAW’s efforts, he declined to comment on IG Metall’s statements.

Bloomberg reports that Lockheed Martin, the largest U.S. government contractor, will cut 4,000 jobs and close several facilities due to decreased federal spending. By mid-2015, operations will close in Newtown, Pennsylvania; Akron, Ohio; Goodyear, Arizona; Horizon City, Texas; and Sunnyvale, California.

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