Today's News & Commentary — November 23, 2015


Published November 23rd, 2015 - 11.23.1528


On Friday, the Obama administration petitioned the Supreme Court to reverse the Fifth Circuit’s ruling that blocked President Obama’s plan for more than four million undocumented immigrants to legally live and work in the United States.  The executive action known as DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), which was announced in November 2014, would allow eligible parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to apply for a program that would exempt them from deportation and provide them work authorization.  The New York Times reports that, in his brief petitioning for certiorari, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli emphasized the consequences for the American labor market: “Without work authorization, [those eligible for the program] are more likely to work for employers who will hire them illegally, often at below-market wages, thereby hurting American workers and giving unscrupulous employers an unfair advantage.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that the union representing Cal State’s 26,000 faculty members has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the university system’s management.  The California Faculty Association announced last week that it had filed a charge with California’s Public Employment Relations Board, alleging that Cal State and its Chancellor have been bargaining in bad faith in a dispute over salary increases that has stretched on for several months.  The faculty union has demanded a general 5% salary increase, but Cal State has refused to offer anything higher than 2%.  In the union’s interpretation, a state law, the 1979 Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act, requires that Cal State and its faculty reach an agreement on salary before sending a budget request to the state legislature.  Under this view, then, Cal State’s adoption of budgets for 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 that allocated funds for a 2% salary increase — without reaching an agreement with the union — violated Cal State’s duty to meet and confer in good faith.

United Continental and its pilots union have reached a tentative agreement to extend the group’s current contract until the end of 2019.  The Wall Street Journal reports that the pact adds to United’s “budding success in reaching new deals with its unionized workers.”  New management, which took over in September, has made labor relations with the company’s 85,000 workers a top priority, seeking to smooth the friction that has been present since United merged with Continental Airlines in 2010.  Once the union’s leadership considers the agreement and drafts the final language over the next few weeks, the contract extension would have to be approved by a majority of the airline’s 12,000 pilots.  The Journal notes that record profits in the airline industry have prompted pilots at other airlines to reject similar tentative deals despite provisions for large pay increases, so it is too soon to tell whether United’s hopes for a more positive relationship with its pilots will be realized.

How might the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurance be extended to dependent children up until age 26 affect the way these young people work and spend their time?  Lydia DePillis at the Washington Post reports on a new study by Gregory Colman of Pace University and Dhaval Dave of Bentley University that investigates this question.  Using data from the American Time Use Survey, the researchers were able to observe the shifts in how people in different age brackets spent their time between 2003 and 2013.  After the ACA was passed in 2010 and the number of young adults with health insurance through their parents’ plans grew, approximately 5% of them dropped out of the workforce.  How are they spending their time instead?  The study found that this group — out of the workforce but with health insurance through their parents — spend more time going to school, searching for jobs, socializing, and exercising.  The researchers also observed higher self-reported measures of satisfaction and wellbeing among young adults covered by their parents’ health insurance plan.  This suggests that, whether the ACA is giving young adults more freedom by lifting some of the pressure to find a job right away or whether the lower workforce participation is driven by employers who find it more expensive to hire workers under the ACA, young people themselves are feeling better off with the new option for health insurance coverage.

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