Today’s News & Commentary — August 21, 2017
Good Jobs Nation, a coalition launched in 2013 to pressure the Obama administration on trade and wage issues, today launches a two-week tour throughout the Midwest. The tour is one of a number of efforts by labor leaders to pressure the Trump White House to deliver on jobs and trade, reports the Washington Post. Although Trump ran on a working-class platform, his administration has undone a number of Obama-era regulations that labor supported and instead teamed up with congressional Republicans to promote business-friendly policies.
This week, the French Labor Ministry will publish part of President Macron’s plan to reinvigorate the French economy, which is the outcome of months of negotiations with union and company representatives. Bloomberg reports that unions and other worker groups are concerned about some of the potential changes, including one that would limit the amount of compensation workers would be able to claim in court and thus make it easier for companies to fire illegally and skip rules to pay more in overtime.
An opinion piece in Monday’s New York Times discusses the harms of alcohol and substance abuse in the restaurant industry. The industry, which is the second-largest private-sector employer in the United States, currently has the highest rates of substance use disorder according to a 2015 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (17 percent of restaurant industry workers). Without union representation, these jobs do not come with sufficient pay, consistent schedules, or medical insurance. Therefore, when substance abuse interferes with job performance, workers can be easily and immediately replaced. The opinion writer advocates for increased education and providing insurance with access to mental health care.
Paul Krugman penned a column arguing that although Trump has suffered a number of legislative failures, administrative policies made by federal agencies have the potential to do significant damage to American workers. “[P]rogressives shouldn’t celebrate too much over Trump’s legislative failures. As long as he’s in office, he retains a lot of power to betray the working people who supported him.”