News & Commentary

October 25, 2017

Melissa Greenberg

Melissa Greenberg is a student at Harvard Law School.

Yesterday, American Oversight, a transparency group, filed a suit in federal court “to compel compliance with the requirements of the [Freedom of Information Act]” and make the Department of Labor release documents related to the Trump Administration’s attempts to rollback the overtime and fiduciary rules.  Austin Evers, the organization’s executive director, explains, “[t]he public has a right to know why the Trump administration believes four million Americans should work for free, and why it’s okay for investment professionals to act in their own financial interests instead of their clients’.”

In an op-ed in the Guardian, Jose Garza, the executive director of the Worker’s Defense Project, describes the poor workplace conditions facing construction workers rebuilding Houston after Hurricane Harvey.  These poor conditions include low wages, withholding of overtime pay, and lack of benefits.  While construction workers face challenges across country, the conditions in Texas are particularly harsh.  “A construction worker dies on the job in Texas every three days,” and Texas does not require any type of workers’ compensation.  Garza states that undocumented immigrant workers are particularly susceptible to workplace abuse.  The Worker’s Defense Project has been organizing workers to realize wage increases and put in place safety precautions for construction workers in Texas.  Garza notes, “[a]s Harvey’s floodwaters recede, Houston will either become a poster child for the construction industry’s worst abuses, or it will emerge as a model for construction work as it could be. Until then, we plan on putting a lot more miles on our cars.”

The New York Times reports that the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report forecasting the state of the labor market in 2026.  The article states, “[a] decade from now, the American economy could look much the way it does today — only more so.  More dominated by the service sector amid the continued erosion of manufacturing jobs.  More polarized in both earnings and geography.  More tilted toward jobs that require at least a bachelor’s degree.”  While the Department of Labor projects that total job growth will be sluggish, fields such as alternative energy and health care will continue to show growth.  The report also predicts increased automation.  Read more here.

Yesterday, President Trump ended his Administration’s ban on new refugees entering the country.  The new executive order left in place an additional 90-day review of refugees from 11 unnamed nations.  Refugees from these 11 countries may be admitted on an individual basis.  The order was released soon after the Supreme Court vacated the decision in Trump v. Hawaii and remanded the case to the Ninth Circuit with instructions to dismiss the case as moot.  Read more here.

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