News & Commentary

August 18, 2016

Melissa Greenberg

Melissa Greenberg is a student at Harvard Law School.

Today, in the Upshot, Quoctrung Bui reports on new research on older workers conducted by economist Matthew Rutledge.  Rutledge describes how for workers 55 and older the options available to them contract.  As a result, these workers are left with what Rutledge calls “old-person” jobs.  These jobs tend to be either high-skilled or low-skilled service work.  Opportunities are especially limited for low-skilled older workers who have found themselves increasingly shut out of manufacturing jobs. Workers age 55 to 64 are one-fourth as likely to find work as a machine operator and 58 percent less likely to find work as a metal worker than younger workers.  The study also found that some jobs tend to preference older workers, but these jobs pay 6 to 11 percent less than jobs which preference younger workers.  Read more here.

The Wall Street Journal examined the work of the Freedom Foundation, an organization which is part of a larger effort to undermine public sector unions.  Spending $3.4 million dollars in 2015, the group goes door-to-door convincing members to stop paying their dues.  Based in Washington and Oregon, the organization’s more than 100 anti-union activists target mainly health-care and child-care workers by telling them they will save as much as $600 a year by leaving their unions.  Freedom Foundation has also begun focusing on teachers.  The head of the group, Tom McCabe, claims that the number of child-care workers who are part of a union has declined by almost 60 percent since his efforts began.

The New York Times published an article titled, “Beyond Coal: Imaging Appalachia’s Future,” yesterday.  The piece describes efforts in technology, craft agriculture, and energy efficiency to revitalize coal country.  Almost 13,000 coal jobs have been lost in Kentucky since President Obama was inaugurated.  Other efforts to revitalize this area include organizations such as Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), founded by former Republican Kentucky congressman, Harold Rogers, and Steve Beshear, who was the Democratic governor of the state when the group was created, and Appalshop, an organization with roots in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty.  Read more here.

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