Today's News & Commentary – August 18, 2015

Published August 17th, 2015 -  - 08.17.1510


A Rhode Island Superior Court judge allowed an employment discrimination matter involving medical marijuana to go forward last week. The plaintiff, a University of Rhode Island student, alleges in the complaint that she was denied a job at a textile company because of her status as a registered medical marijuana user. Judge Richard Licht denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss in all respects on Wednesday last week. As ACLU’s Steve Brown, an attorney representing the plaintiff, remarked, “If the defendants have their way, any of the thousands of people in Rhode Island using medical marijuana for serious medical conditions would be forced to choose between taking lawfully this medication to relieve their pain or not having a job.”

Donald Trump revealed his immigration policy this past weekend, which Vox boiled down to a program of “push” factors, the construction of a border wall, a severe curtailment of benefits given to refugees and asylum-seekers, and a reduction in legal immigration. Insofar as the program relies on a strategy of attrition by enforcement, Trump’s policy is designed to make life unbearable for all undocumented immigrants, but especially undocumented workers. For instance, the Trump administration would, with Congress’ support, confiscate any money sent by undocumented immigrants back to their relatives. When pressed on where immigrants without a safe home country might go if deported under his plan, Trump responded, “They have to go . . . [W]e either have a country, or we don’t have a country.”

Amazon received bad press this past weekend for its unusually ruthless workplace culture. A New York Times profile by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld portrays the company as having a panoptic management strategy designed to milk workers for all they are worth. Kantor and Streitfeld note that the company appears to be “conducting a little-known experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers, redrawing the boundaries of what is acceptable.” Indeed, the authors interview one former employee who shares, “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

At Forbes, Liz Ryan argues, “[I]t’s all temporary employment now.” Ryan contends that careers are functioning increasingly like businesses, as ladder climbers take consulting positions over full time jobs to broaden the range of skills they develop, and as jobs become less secure. “We have hit the end of employment,” Ryan argues, because there aren’t enough jobs to go around and because workers are increasingly seeing themselves as entrepreneurs, rather than Organization Men and Women.

Gallup reports that nearly 6 in 10 Americans now approve of unions, up from 48% in 2009. In the last year alone, the approval rating for unions jumped five percentage points. This new upward trend comes after a long decline. Indeed, when Gallup first asked Americans about organized labor in 1936, 72% of Americans approved of unions. From that time to 2009, that figure steadily declined, reaching its lowest approval rating in 2009.

The Indian government has drafted a National Policy for Domestic Workers, which would provide a minimum salary per month for skilled full-time household helps, along with a host of benefits, such as social security cover and mandatory leaves, according to the First Post. The policy would also provide that domestic workers be given a right to pursue education, a safe working environment, and a grievance redressal mechanism.

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