Today's News and Commentary — August 19

Published August 19th, 2013 -  - 08.19.132


The New York Times and the Washington Post report that today is the deadline for filing formal objections to Detroit’s eligibility for bankruptcy protection. The New York Times explains that “unions, creditors and retirees” are expected to file objections before the deadline passes. The City must respond to these objections by September 6. A hearing on the eligibility question is set to begin on October 23.

The New York Times also discusses disparities in federal benefits available to the families of firefighters who die on the job. While firefighters with different backgrounds and employers often work together, the benefits available to their survivors depend on whether they work full or part time and whether they are employed by local, state, or federal governments, or by private contractors.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that there has been a push to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour in Seattle. So far, the City Council and some mayoral candidates have agreed to consider the idea. Minimum wage in the state of Washington is currently $9.19 an hour.

In other local news, the Wall Street Journal reports that hundreds of job-seekers spent last night on a Manhattan street, waiting on line for a chance to participate in a carpenters’ union training program. 

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that top Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) managers receive compensation packages that are “on the high side of average” for senior transit managers. BART management is currently involved in contract disputes with labor unions.

Pensions & Investments discusses U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez’s clash with California officials over provisions in California’s 2012 public pension reform law. Secretary Perez has expressed concern that the pension reform law diminishes the rights of unionized transit workers.

In international news, the Los Angeles Times describes the struggles that recent college graduates face in China. By some accounts, the unemployment rate for Chinese college graduates between the ages of 21 and 25 is 16%. This figure is almost four times the unemployment rate of blue-collar workers.

An editorial in the New York Times argues that F.B.I. background checks are “woefully flawed, often based on fallible and incomplete data submitted to the bureau by state and local law enforcement.” As a result, these background checks have damaged the employment prospects of workers who have never been convicted of a crime. The piece concludes that “[a]t the very least, the F.B.I. should be held to the same standards as private background-check companies, which are required to follow procedures for weeding out inaccurate information.”

The Times’ Editorial Board also criticizes the Bangladeshi government for its delay in compensating the families of the roughly 1,100 factory workers who died in a building collapse four months ago.

Finally, the Wall Street Journal reports some of the creative perks that employers are using to keep their workers motivated. The perks range from “Free Beer Fridays” to providing insurance coverage for employees’ parents.

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