News & Commentary

December 19, 2016

Emily Miller

Emily Miller is a student at Harvard Law School.

The Wall Street Journal reports that while U.S. factories are producing close to their pre-recession output, jobs for factory workers have not sprung back in the same way.  In fact, the Journal reports, about 1.5 million– approximately 20%– of manufacturing jobs lost in the recession have not returned. While the number of open manufacturing jobs is at a 15-year high, those jobs are mostly for well-trained workers, while lower skilled workers struggle to get back to work.  Experts expect the share of U.S. workers to continue to fall from its current 8.5% as workers are replaced by technology.  These projections call into question President-elect Trump’s plans to increase manufacturing jobs as President.

The labor group Change to Win has filed a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau claiming that T-Mobile sets unrealistic targets for the sales employees which pressure them to mislead customers or enroll them in services they haven’t asked for.  According to the Washington Post, the employees state that they face “daily pressures” to meet sales targets, both through rewards given to employees with the highest sales and possible discipline for those who fail to meet their targets.  To meet these targets, according to the complaint, employees are encouraged to present bundled services in vague terms, including optional services customers did not explicitly consent to buy.  A spokesperson for Change to Win said of the complaint, “we want T-Mobile to behave ethically and truly align customer service goals with consumers’ best interests.”

In international news, thousands of workers in Spain marched on Sunday to protest the government’s labor policies as the country emerges from an economic downturn, following sixty smaller protests led by unions across the country over the last few days.  Union leaders claim that the government’s cuts to public spending and labor reform, which has made it easier for companies to fire workers, have been damaging to workers’ rights and should not be maintained in next year’s budget.  Although recent period of economic recovery has brought unemployment down from 27% to just under 20%, that figure is still the second-highest in the European Union.


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