News & Commentary

January 24, 2019

The unions that represents American air traffic controllers issued a statement yesterday warning of the dire effects of the ongoing government shutdown. Air traffic controllers have been working without pay for over a month and will miss their second paycheck tomorrow, and the unions have begun to worry about safety and security issues, as members feel the stress and financial burden of lost wages. The unions noted that air traffic control facilities are already understaffed, and the shutdown has forced the closure of their training academy for new recruits. The letter is the unions’ best way of exercising public pressure to end the shutdown, as air traffic controllers and TSA agents are forbidden by law from striking.

Researchers at the London School of Economics published their findings on the successes and failures of the labor movement in appealing to millennials. Unsurprisingly, their data show that increasing economic insecurity among young people has prompted a renewed interest in unions, and that alliances with other civil society organizations proved important in expanding union membership. Additionally, the researchers found that unions must seek to strike a balance between providing backing and support for young worker groups while maintaining sufficient autonomy to allow millennial members to undertake independent initiatives. Lastly, the authors noted the importance of leadership training provided by unions. which allow for mentorship and youth empowerment.

 In a hopeful sign for human workers, a so-called “robot hotel” in Japan has eliminated half of its robot employees after they turned out to create more work for the hotel’s human staff. Included in the layoffs were voice-activated digital assistants that had trouble with simple guest questions and robot luggage carriers that had trouble passing each other in the hallways.

This list of the 50 best jobs in the U.S. evaluated not just pay, but also projected job growth over the next ten years. The list is quite technology- and medicine-heavy. Lawyers rank 42nd, behind cartographers and groundskeepers.

As the Yellow Vests movement continues to simmer in France, President Emmanuel Macron has begun a listening tour in depressed regions of the country as a way of easing citizen anger over low wages, decreased public services, and high taxes. Macron’s image as a privileged technocrat will be difficult to overcome, though the worst of the riots and violence in France have subsided and his popularity has improved somewhat in opinion polls.

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