Today's News & Commentary—February 22, 2016


Published February 22nd, 2016 - 02.22.1629


Has Maine achieved full employment?  Effectively, yes, says Charles Lawton, the chief economist at the Maine consulting firm Planning Decisions, speaking to the Portland Press Herald.  In December, only 5,602 of 197,201 individuals in the greater Portland area were seeking, but out of work.  That put Portland’s unemployment rate at just 2.8 percent, below the 4% that economists often deem as “full employment.”  “[F]ull employment is an economic concept that takes into account that some people aren’t good candidates for the jobs that are available, or are between jobs at any particular time.”   As for the rest of Maine, the unemployment rate has been below 4% since August.

Trump hotel workers in Nevada continue to demand that their employer recognize their right to collectively bargain, reports Think Progress.  After hundreds of employees at Donald Trump’s luxury Las Vegas hotel voted to unionize last December, Trump’s management lodged objections with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that the election results were the result of coercion.  Management pointed the finger at the Culinary Workers Union who allegedly “interfered with [the workers’] ability to exercise a free and reasoned choice.”  Although the hearing officer for the NLRB has since recommended that the “objections be overruled in their entirety,” Trump’s management has yet to recognize the union.   Unwilling to wait on management to come around, the workers now intend to take advantage of Donald Trump’s campaigning in anticipation of Nevada’s republican caucus to demand that the hotel come to the negotiating table.  They plan to hold a rally on Monday night and to take to the streets in front of the Trump International Hotel on Tuesday.

In Los Angeles, a labor-business coalition allied in opposing a new ballot proposal now find they are divided over affordable housing according to the Los Angeles Times.  Union and business leaders came together to defeat the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, a proposal aimed at halting “mega-developments,” which they believe threatens to stall new housing construction.   Yet now, in the wake of an announcement that union leaders have proposed an alternate measure requiring that new real estate projects include new hiring and affordable housing, the alliance has been threatened.  “It puts businesses in a tough spot because labor is probably the most important ally in fighting the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative,” says real-estate developer Mott Smith. “But if you are pro-housing production . . .you probably have to oppose this [the union’s] measure too.”  Competing or not, both proposals are still slated to appear on the Los Angeles’ November 8 ballot.  Time will tell if the coalition can collaborate despite their differences.

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