News & Commentary

November 6, 2013

Yesterday was Election Day around the country. Here’s a sampling of results: “Audacious Liberal” Bill De Blasio won in a landslide to become Mayor of New York City, and former labor leader Martin Walsh beat fellow Democrat John Connolly to become Mayor of Boston; Republican Chris Christie was re-elected as Governor of New Jersey “by a crushing margin,” while former DNC chairman Terry McAulliffe was elected Governor of Virginia in a narrow victory over tea-party favorite, Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli; New Jersey voters approved a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage by $1 to $8.25 per hour, with automatic annual cost-of-living increases; proponents of a ballot initiative in Seattle are optimistic of victory in their bid to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for workers in and around the Sea-Tac International Airport, with yes votes leading the early results; and Massachusetts voters rejected a proposal to bring a $1 billion resort casino to East Boston.

An op-ed by University of Pennsylvania professor Michael Katz in the New York Times today seeks to draw attention to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s extensive antipoverty program during his tenure, despite the Mayor’s reputation as a “champion of the rich.” The programs focused their attention primarily on three particularly at risk groups:, “the working poor, young adults between the ages of 16 and 24, and families with children below age 6,” and have served as a model for experiments and programs in cities around the country.

Airplane manufacturer Boeing reached a tentative deal with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and state officials to build Boeing’s 777X in Washington State, the Wall Street Journal reports. The deal with the union would run to 2027, and Governor Jay Inslee is calling for the legislature to pass a package of tax breaks and incentives for Boeing valued at approximately $18.7 billion.

President Obama met with business leaders on Tuesday, urging them to press the House of Representatives to support immigration reform this year, according to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. The President observed that broad support exists for immigration reform, including from former President George W. Bush.

In international news, the Wall Street Journal reports that Greece’s two largest labor unions called a nationwide general strike on Wednesday to protest ongoing austerity measures. The strike comes as representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary fund arrived in Athens to discuss a potential deal to provide further aid to the country.

The New York Times today chronicles the efforts of Ford to close plants in Europe, and the steep price the company is paying to do so. According to the company, it will cost $1 billion to close three plants, one in Belgium and two in England. The high cost is partly the result of severances being paid to workers, who are protected by more favorable labor and employment laws in Europe than they are in the United States. The company hopes that the downsizing will allow it to once again become profitable in Europe. Yet the plant closings are likely to cause “economic devastation” to the communities where the plants are located if production shuts down.

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