Today’s News & Commentary — January 27, 2016


Published January 27th, 2016 - 01.27.1632


According to the New York Times, Lyft has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit with California drivers.  Under the terms of the settlement, Lyft will pay $12.25 million to the drivers represented in the suit.  The company has also agreed to adjust the terms of service that drivers agree to when signing up to work so that those terms are consistent with the definition of a contractor.  In addition, Lyft agreed to pay arbitration fees and other costs in claims initiated by the company or drivers, and the company will not longer be able to fire drivers at-will.  Uber has yet to settle the similar class-action suit in which it is involved.

A report on New York City’s pension system, covered by the New York Times, has found the pension system to be seriously deficient.  The report notes that the system, which includes $160 billion in retirement funds, lacks sufficient resources, staff, and many basic tools.  Some managers, for example, rely on fax machines to send and receive vital information.  According to the report, “operational risk is very high and an operational failure is likely.”  Although the report included recommendations for improvement, it concluded that the system currently “has little or no capacity to implement many of the recommendations of this report.”

Politico gives the rundown on Obama’s forthcoming budget.  According to National Economic Council Director Jeff Zients and Labor Secretary Tom Perez, the budget will include a number of proposals to increase access to retirement accounts.  Some of the proposals are new, like a measure that would fund pilot programs for nonprofits and States to make retirement benefits more portable.  Other parts of the proposed budget include ideas that President Obama has proposed to Congress on previous occasions, such as a federal auto-IRA program requiring employers that do not maintain a retirement plan to automatically enroll employees into an IRA.

French taxi drivers and air traffic controllers have gone on separate but simultaneous strikes, the New York Times reports.  The taxi unions called the strike to protest companies like Uber.  According to the taxi drivers, companies like Uber do not respect certain regulations and maintain an unfair advantage because they do not have to pay for costly taxi licenses.  The strikes were also part of a day of public sector protests that included strikes at hospitals and schools to draw attention to layoffs, low salaries, and education overhauls.

In further international news, an increasing number of those seeking asylum in the EU are economic migrants.  The Vice President of the European Commission stated on Tuesday that economic migrants now compose about 60% of the total asylum-seeking population.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the EU is struggling to deal with the greatest wave of migrants since the post-World War II era.  In 2015, over 1 million asylum seekers entered the EU, and thousands continue to arrive each week.

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