News & Commentary

December 3, 2018

Martin Drake

Martin Drake is a student at Harvard Law School.

General Motor’s recent plant closings may be a warning of things to come for salaried workers, the Associated Press reports.  The cuts included many workers with college degrees, reflecting that in this era of rapid technological change, jobs once thought secure are not necessarily insulated from the kind of layoffs factory workers have been experiencing for decades.  In fact, the Associated Press found that since 2008 roughly a third of major U.S. metro areas have lost a greater percentage of white-collar jobs than blue-collar jobs.

Federal employees have been warned that making or displaying statements at work about impeaching or resisting President Trump are likely to amount to illegal political activity, the New York Times reports.  The warning was issued as part of a guidance released last week by the Office of Special Counsel, the independent agency that enforces the Hatch Act.  The guidance asserts that arguments about Trump’s policies or impeachment prospects are effectively statements in support or opposition to his 2020 campaign, and therefore illegal under the Hatch Act.

French President Emmanuel Macron is considering a state of emergency after a series of protests over Macron’s pro-business economic reforms, which many see as anti-worker, the Wall Street Journal reports.  This past weekend marked three weeks of the “yellow vest” protests in France, which have been fueled by anger over policies including higher fuel taxes, the elimination of France’s wealth tax for all assets except real estate, reduced job protections for workers, cuts to housing aid and Macron’s opposition to increasing the minimum wage.  The protests turned violent this weekend, as some protesters smashed storefronts and burned cars.

Amazon is testing its cashierless technology for bigger stores, the Wall Street Journal reports.  The system tracks what shoppers take from shelves and charges them automatically when they leave the store, but it has so far been successfully used only in small-store formats, with lower ceilings and less products.  The cashierless technology is represents another front in ongoing push of automation in the service industry and beyond, and is currently in use at seven Amazon Go convenience stores in Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco.

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