News & Commentary

August 15, 2017

The Wall Street Journal reports on a “rare instance of agreement between immigration-rights activists and the Trump administration”: activists are applauding the DOL’s suit against an Arizona farm employing H-2A visa-holders.  DOL alleged minimum wage violations and substandard living conditions, winning a preliminary injunction in May.  Proposed legislation threatens to loosen federal oversight over the H-2A program, either by shifting enforcement from DOL to the more pro-industry Department of Agriculture or by ceding some control to the states.

In Canada, protections for temporary workers are already decentralized, with the territories and provinces shouldering responsibility for overseeing health, labor, and safety.  This set-up has created uneven standards and enforcement.  Home country consulates create a second challenge in the Canadian system.  A consulate is responsible for advocating on behalf of its country’s workers, but also has an incentive to maintain good relations with employers so that the country continues to receive temporary work visas.  The New York Times reports.

Unionized charter school teachers in Chicago voted in June to merge with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU).  Soon the question of merger will be put to CTU’s 30,000 members.  Reuters reports that apprehension about the Trump Administration’s approach generally—and Secretary of Education Betsey DeVos’ declared interest in vouchers in particular—strengthen the CTU leadership’s interest in merger.

Mexican negotiators are coming to Washington this week to start renegotiating NAFTA.  The LA Times reports that Mexican negotiators seek to avoid additional tariffs and bring energy, finance, and telecom within the ambit of the trade deal.  (These sectors were excluded from the original deal because they were nationally controlled.)  Opposition to tariffs also flows from American businesses—like Big Ass Fans, profiled in the New York Times,—who fear that increased input costs and limited sales opportunities may directly and indirectly result from higher tariffs.

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