News & Commentary

February 5, 2015

In immigration news, Congress and President Obama continue to fight over immigration reform. Senate Democrats blocked a Republican-backed bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security on the condition that none of the money go toward implementing President Obama’s executive action on immigration, according to the Los Angeles Times. The President’s executive action would “defer deportation for more than 5 million” undocumented immigrants. The President, meanwhile, hosted six “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who came here as children and have since been granted legal status, and pledged to veto any legislation that would roll back his immigration initiatives, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The New York Times reports that Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner used his “State of the State” address to announce his support for a state “right to work” law and to argue that political contributions from public employee unions should be banned. Governor Rauner is the first Republican in that office in twelve years. Roberta Lynch, the executive director of the local AFSCME union, said “public servants will be disappointed to learn that the governor is pursuing an aggressive agenda to undermine their rights[.]”

The Washington Post reports that Ford is moving 500 employees into a higher-paid tier of workers. Under Ford’s contract with the United Auto Worker’s union, only 20% of its workforce can be paid at the entry-level wage. Ford will hire 1,550 new workers this quarter to increase pickup truck production, and must move some workers into a higher wage tier to stay within the 20% limit.

In contrast to Ford’s recent hiring effort, the Washington Post reports on the increasing trend of companies shifting employees into freelance positions. The Post explains that converting employees into independent contractors “relieves [employers] of having to pay employees a fixed amount every month—not to mention health insurance, Social Security taxes or workers’ compensation.”

In budget news, the head of the National Treasury Employees Union, Colleen Kelley, argued that government agencies are on a “‘starvation diet’ that’s hurting their missions,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Ms. Kelley urged Congress to approve funding at the levels in President Obama’s proposed budget. The National Treasury Employees Union represents 150,000 employees across 31 agencies and departments.

Politico’s Morning Shift reports that “Labor Secretary Tom Perez and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers want the U.S. to import German-style works councils.” Former Secretary Summers recently released a report for the Center for American Progress calling for mandatory works councils.

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