Today's News & Commentary — February 13, 2015
The Washington Post analyzed a recent study that had found that some newly unionized workplaces were more likely to close, employ fewer workers, and have lower wages. The Post found that the study was limited to the one year following a union election, and may not provide accurate information for later years, once the union is able to negotiate a contract. In fact, the Post’s analysis found that electing to unionize a workplace is, on the whole, economically beneficial for the employees at that workplace.
As the debate on a trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, continues on Capitol Hill, some Democratic supporters of President Clinton’s signature trade agreement, NAFTA, recently admitted that the trade agreement did hurt some U.S. workers, according to the Washington Post. In the 1990s, Democratic advocates for NAFTA argued that it would help the U.S. middle-class by increasing trade and jobs; labor unions argued that it would encourage outsourcing and hurt U.S. workers. The debate today over the Trans-Pacific Partnership covers much of the same terrain. A Democratic think tank, the Third Way, recently released a report admitting that the NAFTA skeptics were partially right, but arguing that trade agreements since then have done a better job or protecting U.S. jobs since then.
In international news, the pilots union that represents Lufthansa pilots at the company’s low-cost brand, Germanwings, went on strike on Thursday, according to Business Insider. The 48-hour strike is scheduled to end on Friday night. The strike is the next stage in a long-running dispute over the pilots’ pay, working conditions, and pensions. Last year, the pilots union staged 10 strikes. The union has asked management to participate in mediation talks over regarding Lufthansa’s planned expansion of low-cast flights.
In France, a debate is brewing over some of local labor rules that require businesses to be closed one day per week, according to the New York Times. Many regions in France require that bakeries be closed one day per week, so as to protect workers and prevent them from being “overworked and abused.” But some small bakery owners have recently argued that this hurts their business, and makes it harder to compete with large grocery store chains, that may remain open seven days per week.
Closer to home, on Thursday the Missouri House of Representatives passed a “right-to-work” bill that the governor threatened to veto, according to the New York Times. The Missouri Senate has not yet approved the bill, but the Senate is expected to do so. However, it appears that neither chamber would have the votes to overcome Governor Jay Nixon’s veto.