Today’s News & Commentary — August 11, 2016
The Labor Department announced yesterday that employers advertised more openings and hired more people in June. The report shows the number of job openings rose 2 percent to 5.6 million from 5.5 million in May, and hiring increased 1.7 percent to 5.1 million. While these numbers represent somewhat of a leveling off of job openings this year, according to The New York Times, openings are moving at a healthy level. Additionally, the Treasury Department announced a deficit of $112.8 billion in July, the highest since February’s deficit of $192.6 billion but down from $149.2 billion in July 2015.
Canadian auto workers began contract negotiations with Detroit’s Big Three yesterday, hoping to preserve jobs in the manufacturing industry and stem investment from heading to Mexico. According to The Wall Street Journal, union representatives will push for terms including regular wage increases instead of bonuses, benefits for retirees, and plant investments, and are willing to strike if no progress is made. Factoring in exchange rates, Canadian auto workers are currently paid around $46 an hour in total compensation, but auto industry employment has fallen 27% since before the recession as much of the work has shifted to Mexico or lower-cost factories in the southern United States. The contracts currently expire at 11:59 p.m. on September 19.
A West Virginia Circuit Court judge issued a preliminary injunction against the state’s new right-to-work law. As reported by POLITICO and The Associated Press, the West Virginia AFL-CIO and other labor unions argue that because the law would require unions to bargain collectively for union members and non-members alike and frees non-members from their previous obligation to compensate the union, the law violates the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Chipotle was ordered to pay $550,000 to a former DC employee after a jury ruled she had been discriminated against and fired for being pregnant. The worker, whose boss restricted her access to drinking water, forbade her to take routine breaks, and fired her after she left work early to go to a doctor’s appointment, was awarded $50,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages. Chipotle does not plan to appeal. This case comes on the heels of a February case ordering Chipotle to pay three former general managers roughly $600,000 after a federal grand jury determined the company had discriminated against and fired the women due to their gender.