Today's News and Commentary – September 12

Published September 12th, 2014 -  - 09.12.141


The Associated Press reports that jobless claims climbed by 11,000 to 315,000 in the week ended Sept. 6, which included the Labor Day holiday.  The number of jobless claims is now at it’s highest point since since late June when employers were adding more than 200,000 jobs a month.  In contrast, employers added just 142,000 jobs in August, the fewest in eight months.  According to both Reuters and Bloomberg, the rise in new claims was unexpected, as economists had forecast that claim would slip to 300,000 for this period.

The union representing Hollywood actors and other performers, SAG-AFTRA, reached an agreement with the major studios on new contracts covering animated production according to the Los Angeles Times.  The agreement between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers comes after four days of negotiations.  While terms will not be disclosed until mid-October, the Times reports that the contract is expected to be modeled after the contract reached between these same parties in August with regard to movies and prime-time TV.

Apprenticeship programs have been slow to gain traction with United States based companies, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The programs, which have been modeled on successful German-style apprenticeships, have mainly drawn participants from companies based overseas – in particular, Germany.  The Obama administration, as well as the governors of South Carolina and Michigan, have created these programs to combat the “skills gap” among U.S. workers that many businesses blame for the slow labor-market recovery, as the businesses claim are simply not enough qualified candidates for open positions.  The Obama administration plans to double the number of apprentices within the next five years though a $100 million dollar investment to expand apprenticeship programs and vocational education nationwide, according to the report.

The nation’s largest public sector labor union has set its sights on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, based on reports from the Washington Post.  The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, is targeting Governor Walker in response to his 2011 legislation curbing the collective bargaining rights of public employees by preventing the automatic deduction of union dues in worker paychecks.  AFSCME plans to deploy 40,000 volunteers nationwide for the midterm elections, but will spend substantial resources in an effort to oust Walker, who survived a recall backed by AFSCME and other labor groups in 2012.

The Wall Street Journal reports that 900 unionized workers at a Bombardier Inc. manufacturing plant in northern-Ontario, Canada have reached a new labor deal, thus ending a nearly two month long strike at the facility.  The plant had stopped production on July 14th after contract negotiations broke down.  The Bombardier Inc. plant provides railcars for both subways and light-rail to 14 cities throughout North America.

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