News & Commentary

September 20, 2013

After the death of Washington D.C.’s proposed “living wage” bill, the Washington Post reports that Wal-Mart will open two hiring centers in the city next week. The centers will process applicants for the 300 positions expected to be staffed at each of the retailer’s two new D.C. stores.

Textile plants are returning to the U.S., according to a special feature in the New York Times, as companies seek to avoid the problems of worker safety, quality-control and transportation logistics posed by outsourcing. These reinvigorated factories differ from previous generations by relying heavily on automation, blunting their ability to spark  a resurgence in manufacturing jobs.

The Wall Street Journal reports that 21 Republican Senators are urging the Obama Administration to deny any special carve-out for union-sponsored healthcare plans from new Obamacare rules. Unions have been lobbying for months to change rules they say threaten the current health plans of millions of unionized workers but, as we reported last week, the Administration formally rejected the unions’ request in a letter from the Treasury Department which stated there was no “legal way” to protect the plans. Despite this, the GOP Senators are concerned that the Administration may seek an alternate route, through Department of Labor regulation, to achieve the unions’ goal.

The legal wrangling over Detroit’s bankruptcy continued yesterday. The New York Times covers the highly-charged hearing, with city employees asking Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes to reject a plan they say fails to protect their pensions and would push retired workers and their families into poverty.

Unions representing federal employees are mobilizing against a looming government shutdown for the third time in three years, according to the Washington Post.

At the crossroads of unions and electoral politics, the Washington Post covers the controversy in the race for Maryland’s next Governor, which could see only one candidate eligible for the coveted endorsement of the state AFL-CIO chapter.

The Washington Post reports that the same government contractor responsible for vetting NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden also conducted a background check on Navy-Yard shooter Aaron Alexis. Meanwhile, the Post’s Joe Davidson argues that federal employees and contractors should expect less privacy and more intrusive screening and surveillance in the wake of these two high-profile cases.

Economists are mystified by the United States’ third consecutive “jobless recovery”, according to the Washington Post.

An interview with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, carried in the L.A. Times, makes the case for a higher minimum wage and expanded unionization efforts to address growing income inequality.  The growth of U.S. income inequality is charted in this animated map from the Washington Post.

The New York Times’ Laura D’Andrea Tyson analyzes the job recovery numbers, and describes the “new normal” of stagnant growth for middle-class jobs.

The Washington Post’s Jean McGregor seeks an answer to the question: “What’s the right ratio for CEO-to-worker pay?”

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