Today’s News & Commentary — August 30, 2017

Published August 30th, 2017 -  - 08.30.175


A new Gallup Poll finds that 61 percent of Americans reported that they approve of labor unions.  This approval rating is five percentage points higher than last year’s approval rating and the highest approval rating since 2003.  39 percent of Americans believe that labor unions should have more “influence” in politics.  However, the poll’s findings are not all positive.  46 percent of Americans think union power is declining.

The Wall Street Journal reports that labor activists and representatives from the United States and Canada plan to utilize the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement to pressure Mexico to increase wages.  Labor supporters argue that Mexico’s paltry wages are hindering its economic growth and creating an uneven playing field for the United States and Canada.  The Mexican minimum wage is just $4.50 a day.  Despite the existence of laws aimed at protecting workers, labor advocates argue that these laws are ineffective because of  inadequate enforcement.  The United States plans to ask for better enforcement and increased protections for workers, including better protection for union organizing and strikes.  The article points to numerous factors that contribute to the country’s low wages, but labor advocates emphasized the role of weak Mexican unions in contributing to Mexican workers’ low pay.

Yesterday, the British government revealed its plan to curb the disparity between executive compensation and the average worker’s pay through increased transparency.  While this disparity is not as great in Britain as in America, the average CEO of the FTSE 100—Britain’s leading stock exchange— earned 129 times the pay of a “regular employee.”  The government’s plan includes a requirement that all public companies publicize the ratio between their CEO’s compensation and their average employee’s pay and mandates the creation of “a register that ‘names and shames’ firms that faced shareholder opposition over executive pay levels.”  The New York Times has more here.

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