Today’s News and Commentary–November 26
The Washington Post reports on unprecedented levels of economic insecurity among American workers in a recent Washington Post-Miller Center poll. More than six in 10 workers worry that they will lose their jobs to the economy, the highest level in surveys dating to the 1970s, and “nearly one in three, 32 percent, say they worry ‘a lot’ about losing their jobs, also a record high.” Eighty-five percent of low-wage workers “fear that their families’ income will not be enough to meet expenses, up 25 points from a 1971 survey asking an identical question.”
The Washington Post also reports that Wal-Mart announced that longtime executive Doug McMillon will be the company’s new CEO. McMillon most recently served as the head of Wal-Mart International, which has 823,000 employees in 26 countries, and is being investigated for allegations of bribing foreign officials, particularly in Mexico.
The New York Times reports that, in response to a heckler at a speech in San Francisco, President Obama insisted he does not have the legal authority to issue an executive order to stop all deportations. Instead, he argued for Congress to quickly enact comprehensive immigration reform.
Also in California, the New York Times reports that millionaire and prominent conservative Ron Unz is using his own money to support a campaign for a ballot measure to increase the state minimum wage from $8 an hour to $10 an hour in 2015 and $12 in 2016. Unz “argues that significantly raising the minimum wage would help curb government spending on social services, strengthen the economy and make more jobs attractive to American-born workers.”
In Southern California, the New York Times reports that the Los Angeles City Council is considering banning organizations from providing free meals to homeless people in public spaces in response to complaints from homeowners and others in the community. Los Angeles County now has about 53,800 homeless people, a 27 percent increase over last year and second only to New York.
More broadly, in the Los Angeles Times, David Lazarus criticizes efforts by Republicans in Congress to cut food-stamp benefits by a further $40 billion over the next decade, especially in light of a $5 billion reduction that already took place earlier this month. The latter cut alone “means a loss of roughly 21 individual meals a month.”
In the Midwest, the Associated Press reports that the Illinois House will convene for a special session next week on the state’s roughly $100 billion pension crisis.
Finally, Salon reports on worker unrest at Amy’s Bread, an organic bread company popular with celebrities and which sells its products in major retailers like Whole Foods, Dean and Deluca, and Zabar’s. Yesterday, employees delivered a petition to the company calling for a living wage, affordable healthcare and respect at work in the face of subpar conditions. The workers are backed by the non-union labor group Brandworkers and the allied union the Industrial Workers of the World, but instead of seeking formal union recognition from Amy’s Bread, they hope to transform the company through worker activism and public pressure without collective bargaining.