Today’s News & Commentary — September 10, 2015
The Washington Post reports that Republicans have introduced a new bill, the Protecting Local Business Opportunity Act, in an attempt to reverse the NLRB’s ruling in the Browning-Ferris Industries case. The Act, if passed, would restore the previous standard. In a joint statement, GOP lawmakers declared that “a reversal will prevent companies from being discouraged to contract work to smaller businesses and to enter franchising agreements.”
Seattle teachers have gone on the first systemwide strike in 30 years. According to the New York Times, a breakdown in contract talks over salary and staffing set the strike in motion on Tuesday night. The strike also comes amidst the backdrop of a “huge tangle” of recent court orders regarding state funding of public education. The Washington Supreme Court has ordered the state to be held in contempt for, according to the court, failing to meet constitutional obligations “to adequately and equitably fund education.” Last month, the court issued daily fines of $100,000 until lawmakers pass an acceptable education spending plan.
Unions may increase children’s economic mobility. Researchers at Harvard, Wellesley, and the Center for American Progress have released a report demonstrating a “strong relationship between union membership and intergenerational mobility,” and, more specifically, “areas with higher union membership demonstrate greater mobility for low-income children.” The effects are even more pronounced for children who grow up in union households.
President Obama announced $175 million in grants to fund apprenticeships in industries such as healthcare, IT, and advanced manufacturing, Politico reports. According to Labor Secretary Tom Perez, the investment in apprenticeship will provide an “on-ramp” to the middle class. In further efforts to increase economic mobility, Obama has created an independent College Promise Advisory Board “to promote and examine models that provide two years of free community college.”
At the Washington Post, Lydia DePillis covers a recent analysis showing that college students are shifting away from the liberal arts and towards science and technology majors. Since the height of the recession, the total number of college degrees has dropped, but that drop has come primarily from fields like education, English, history, and foreign languages. STEM fields, on the other hand, have witnessed enormous growth. “The overall picture,” DePIllis writes, “is one of students shifting to degrees more focused on getting specific jobs, rather than broad liberal arts majors — which seems to bear fruit, if you look at the majors in which graduates are most likely have a job offer before they graduate.”