Today’s News and Commentary — November 22

Published November 22nd, 2013 -  - 11.22.132


Democrats are trying to renew a measure that extends unemployment benefits to the jobless, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act was first passed during the recession in 2008 and has been renewed every year since. Democrats claim that if the program is not renewed, “roughly 1.3 million Americans searching for jobs will lose these benefits and another 1.9 million would lose benefits in the first half of 2014 as their benefits expire.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that more employers are starting to prefer workers’ uniforms without pockets. According to the article, some employers are concerned about employee theft, such as casinos and organizations that work with sensitive information. Others seem to be motivated by safety concerns, since they claim that pockets can pose a danger in some industrial settings. The issue is apparently widespread: one report confirms that pockets have been a “source of union-management friction for years” between the UAW and Ford Motor Co.

The Wall Street Journal writes that a construction trade group is suing the Department of Labor, seeking to exempt construction companies from certain requirements that they show they are taking affirmative steps to hire disabled workers. The group argues that the new DOL regulation will be burdensome, since it will require data collection of federal contractors’ hiring practices; it also claims that the regulation will push many companies away from competing for government contracts.   

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers rejected a new contract with Boeing this week, refusing to accept pension and wage concessions as a precondition for manufacturing a new line of planes. The Wall Street Journal criticized the union for this move, alleging it was married to a “nostalgic past of lifetime guarantees and 30-year pensions,” especially since Boeing told the union that refusal to accept the contract could put 20,000 jobs in jeopardy.

The Wall Street Journal reports that OSHA recently employed a rarely used tactic to sanction a company for exposing its workers to unsafe chemicals. OSHA fined the employer for exposing its workers to a high level of a chemical called styrene, even though the factory was within OSHA’s approved limits. Instead OSHA cited the company for “allegedly violating a more general OSHA standard requiring workplaces to be safe from known hazards.” According to the article, “it is rare for OSHA to take enforcement actions in which its so-called “general-duty” standard trumps its more specific guidelines. [This] case appeared to be the first time in many years the agency took such an approach to chemical-safety enforcement.”

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