Today's News & Commentary — November 25, 2015
A group of Disney workers is filing a complaint against Disney, alleging national origin and age discrimination, Politico reports. Earlier this year, Disney announced its plans to fire about 250 workers and replace them with guest workers on H-1B visas employed by a subcontractor. A group of at least 23 of these workers petitioned the EEOC to hear the case, evoking Title VII, and specifically emphasizing “hostile treatment in forcing the Americans to train their replacements.” Computerworld provides more details about the EEOC petition as well as the potential political and legislative ramifications of the case.
Nestle has admitted that fish in its global supply chains are the product of forced labor in Thailand, the Los Angeles Times reports. The laborers come from Thailand’s poorer neighbors Myanmar and Cambodia, and brokers charge them fees to get jobs, trapping them in jobs on fishing vessels and ports until they can pay back more money than they could possibly earn. Nestle disclosed that a self-policing internal investigation shows “virtually all U.S. and European companies buying seafood from Thailand are exposed to the same risks of abuse in their supply chains.” This comes months after the Associated Press reported on slavery in the seafood industry, which has led to the rescue of over 2,000 fishermen. Nestle has announced it will publish the reports and a yearlong solution strategy online as part of its efforts to protect workers.
The Massachusetts legislature has begun discussing creating a state-administered retirement plan for businesses without them, The Boston Globe reports. Earlier this week, Secretary of State William F. Galvin urged legislators to pass a bill that would apply to companies with over 25 employees, and give millions of workers an opportunity to save for retirement using payroll deductions. Following the launch of the Obama administration’s “myRA” program, as well as U.S. Department of Labor’s decision earlier this month to ease regulations to allow states to serve as fiduciaries for multiemployer retirement plans, states across the country are considering similar bills. The Massachusetts legislature’s session is official over for the year, so the earliest this bill will be considered is next year.
According to the New York Times, the UAW contracts with the Big Three, finally ratified last week, are the “most generous for workers in more than a decade.” On the other hand, the Times suggests automakers, including Ford and Fiat Chrysler, feeling pressure to keep profits high, might move low-profit car production to Mexico. The production in the U.S. will focus on pickups and sport utility vehicles, which could cause a problem if gas price increases temper consumer demand for such vehicles. Either way, the Times characterize the contracts—which agree to provide a defined path for every worker to earn the top union wage of $29 an hour—as illustrative of the automakers’ health only six years after government bailouts. In light of recent profits, the hope is the Detroit companies will be able to absorb these higher wages while maintaining profit margins.