Today's News and Commentary – October 22

Published October 22nd, 2013 -  - 10.22.131


The Wall Street Journal reports that the BART strike, which has paralyzed the San Francisco transit system for the last four days, ended this morning. Details about the terms of the deal will not be released until union members approve it. BART officials hope to have full service restored by this afternoon.

Yesterday, a Dane County circuit court judge held that the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) was in contempt of court, according to the Associated Press. Judge Colas found that WERC had ignored his ruling last year in which he held that a 2011 law severely restricting public sector workers’ right to bargain collectively was unconstitutional. In addition to finding WERC in contempt yesterday, Judge Colas issued an injunction prohibiting it from enforcing the terms of the 2011 legislation against any public school or municipal worker union.

BBC News reports that the Scottish government is looking for a buyer for the Grangemouth refinery, a crucial oil and gas supplier for Scotland and northern England. The refinery has been shut down since last week when Ineos, the owner of the factory, locked workers out in response to a strike threat. Ineos offered to re-open the refinery if workers accept a pay freeze and a downgrading of their pensions, but according to the union, so far about half of Grangemouth’s 1,350 workers have rejected the company’s offer.

A new poll reveals that 82% of surveyed Americans believe the shutdown damaged the federal workforce’s morale, according to the Washington Post. While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the shutdown “a two-week paid vacation for federal employees,” federal workers characterize the period as highly stressful and said it undermined their faith in elected officials.

The New York Times reports that a new paper by researchers involved in the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment may shed some light on the likely effect on the labor market of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. The paper, which examines the effects of expanded Medicaid coverage in Oregon, found that, contrary to the predictions of many, Medicaid has little short-term effect on labor-force participation or earnings.

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