Today’s News and Commentary – October 16

Published October 16th, 2013 -  - 10.16.13


Negotiations are continuing between BART and its two major unions and, as the San Francisco Chroniclereports, there will be no strike today.  “We don’t want to talk about a strike; we want to get a deal,” said Chris Daly, political director of the SEIU.

In political news, New Jersey voters are heading to the polls today for a Senate special election to choose the replacement of the late Frank Lautenberg (D).  The Wall Street Journal reports that Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) is relying on union volunteers to help turn out the vote and punch his ticket to Washington.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting on the ongoing legal wrangling at Chrysler.  Presently, the automaker is owned by Fiat SpA (58.5%) and a UAW-affiliated trust fund (41.5%), a capital structure that stems from Chrysler’s 2009 restructuring.  Fiat is currently negotiating to buy the trust’s stake, which the trust values at $3.6 billion.  If the parties can’t come to terms on price, Chrysler will have to move forward with an IPO.

In other auto news, South Korea’s Hankook Tire Co., maker of tires for familiar brands like the Ford F-150, is planning on investing $800 million to build its first US production plant in Tennessee. The Journal notes that Hankook is moving ahead even after learning of the UAW’s effort to organize VW’s plant in Chattanooga, something that state officials fear might chill auto and parts makers from investing in the state.

Over half of the nation’s 1.8 million fast-food workers are relying on public assistance totally $7 billion/year to make ends meet, according to a report by economists at UC Berkeley’s Labor Center and the University of Illinois.  The Washington Postoffers commentary on the study, which was sponsored by Fast Food Forward, a group that supports walkouts in the fast-food industry.

A federal minimum wage for Germany?  According to the New York Times, Germany’s center-left party is demanding that Chancellor Angela Merkel support a national minimum wage of 8.50 euros an hour ($11.55) in ongoing talks to build a coalition government after last month’s election.  Ms. Merkel supports the traditional German practice of letting industry leaders negotiate wages with trade unions representing workers in a particular sector.

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