Today's News and Commentary–September 30
The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal report that federal workers are bracing themselves for a potential government shutdown. These workers have already endured a three-year wage freeze, and months of furloughs forced by the sequestration.
At midnight tonight, the labor contract that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) negotiated for 55,000 Los Angeles County employees will expire. According to the Los Angeles Times, the County has offered to sign a new contract that includes a 6% wage increase over 30 months, but the Union contends that this wage bump would not cover the increasing cost of health insurance premiums. As a result, the employees are expected to rally for a better offer. Tomorrow morning, some county employees will walk of their jobs to take part in a “Day of Action.”
The Washington Post reports that the SEIU is set to endorse Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown in Maryland’s race for governor. Mr. Brown will be on the ballot in the Democratic primary this June. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal’s Steve Malanga suggests that, in New Jersey, many private sector unions have alienated their public sector counterparts by supporting Republican Governor Chris Christie’s bid for re-election.
The New York Times observes that the American textile and apparel industries are growing as textile companies demand “higher quality [products], more reliable scheduling and fewer safety problems than they encounter overseas.” However, textile companies are struggling to find American workers who can fill industrial sewing jobs. Meanwhile, the Washington Post notes that the increasing number of new restaurants in Washington, D.C. has created a shortage of trained workers in the local food service industry.
According to the Washington Post, a new report challenges the conventional wisdom that the recent recession did not affect the labor market in Virginia as severely as it affected labor markets in other parts of the country. The report explains that, while Virginia’s market for federally-funded jobs remained strong during the economic downturn, its market for jobs in other industries has been troubled.
In the opinion pages, The New York Times Editorial Board argues that courts should uphold the Obama administration’s rule requiring employer health plans to cover birth control without a co-payment. The Board explains that, in its view, “[a]llowing employees to make independent decisions to obtain contraceptives does not violate anyone’s religious freedom.”
Finally, in international news, the New York Times observes that the “backlash” against unpaid internships in the United States is beginning to spread to Europe. The Times also reports that Morocco spends about a quarter of its state budget on education, but new Moroccan graduates are struggling to find jobs. More than 20% of Morocco’s youth are unemployed.