News & Commentary

December 30, 2015

Hannah Belitz

Hannah Belitz is a student at Harvard Law School.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Democrats and unions are at odds over a $1 trillion pension gap.  As a result of the pension gap, a number of Democratic politicians “are increasingly supporting more aggressive overhauls of government pensions.”  Since 2009, 25 of 34 states with Democratic governors have scaled back retirement benefits for public workers.  Still, Republican governors have often pursued more drastic measures like completely eliminating traditional pensions and replacing them with 401(k)-like plans similar to those in the private sector.  Public-sector unions, on their part, have responded by filing lawsuits to block the pension cuts, and have prevailed in several states.

At the Washington Post, Lydia DePillis announces seven themes to watch in the working world in 2016: continued wage increases (or lack thereof), worker-friendly policymaking, the success of the TPP, the fate of public sector unions in Friedrichs, growth in the labor movement, lawsuits over the status of employees in the gig economy, and the NLRB’s suit against McDonalds.

The New York Times reports on a Canadian town that rallied to save a tomato plant from shutting down.  In 2013, a group of investors — 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet’s company — bought Heinz and announced plans to close the plant and issued layoff notices to its 740 workers.  Thanks in part to a 54-year-old Canadian regulation that bans using tomato paste to make tomato juice and requires the use of fresh tomatoes, locals were able to convince Heinz to keep the plant in operation.

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