News & Commentary

June 5, 2015

The workers of Gawker Media have voted to unionize, and will join the Writers Guild of America-East. The Washington Post discusses several reasons why this fast-paced union campaign was unique: the staff could use the Gawker platform to debate the merits of unionizing; Gawker’s ownership immediately declared neutrality; and Gawker is considered one of the more profitable and stable digital media companies. Bernie Lunzer, president of the Newsguild, told the Washington Post that it’s a harbinger of things to come” in digital media.

For more than three months, the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits has been at a historical low, reports the New York Times. Almost 2.2 million Americans receive unemployment benefits, the fewest since November 2000. Economists expect May’s jobs report to show a trend in employment growth, a decrease in layoffs, and a rebound in productivity after a harsh winter. Economists are divided, however, over whether recent slowing in productivity growth is a short- or long-term concern.

Last fall, Walt Disney World laid off about 250 tech employees, and then required them to train the new workers hired to take over their jobs. The New York Times reports that Disney transferred these jobs to immigrants contracted with an outsourcing firm based in India, which brings workers to the United States on temporary H-1B visas. The workers at Disney reflect a broader political debate about the 85,000 H-1B visas issued each year, and whether the visas allow companies to fill unmet needs for advanced science and computer skills or if they are used to hire immigrants for less money than the Americans already working in tech jobs.

Democratic presidential candidates Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley each spoke to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) this week, with an eye toward endorsement from the organization. According to Buzzfeed, the AFT president said that Clinton addressed key issues—including testing, evaluations, and the Common Core—in a detailed way. Buzzfeed reports that AFT events “marked the first formal endorsement meeting[s] of [their] kind by a union or interest group in the 2016 Democratic primary.”

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