Today's News & Commentary – September 29

Published September 29th, 2014 -  - 09.29.142


A Los Angeles Times editorial analyzes the possible effects of Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) NLRB Reform Act, which would increase the size of the National Labor Relations Board from five to six members.  The new NLRB would consist of three Democrats and three Republicans, each nominated by the president after consultation with the Senate leader from the opposite party.  Board decisions would require four yes votes, “which in today’s hyper-partisan Washington means an evenly divided board of political appointees who would be unlikely to make any final determinations in politically freighted cases.”  The LA Times editorial board believes that this “gridlock” offer voters “a taste of what sorts of policies a Republican-led Senate might pursue.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Japanese companies are turning to Southeast Asia’s “frontier markets” in search of cheaper labor.  Japan is “stepping into territory that until now has been firmly in China’s sphere of influence,” but Japan is leveraging aid and investment in Southeast Asia to counterbalance China in the region.  Japan’s push is mimicking its strategy in Thailand in the 1980s and 90s, when Japan helped finance development of Thailand’s infrastructure.  Japanese companies now account for over two-thirds of foreign investment in Thailand.

The Detroit News reports that Michael Brecht, the head of Daimler’s works councils and as deputy chairman of the board, considers it “unacceptable” that the German automaker’s Mercedes plant in Alabama stands alone among the company’s factories around the world without union representation for its workers.  In a phone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Brecht said that he supports the United Auto Workers’ efforts to gain recognition at the plant located near Tuscaloosa.  “It should be normal that we have a union at each of our plants,” Brecht said. “In India we are in the process of founding a union for our plant there, and we have the support of the company that will happen.  But in the USA, in the South, it is being resisted.  It is unacceptable to me how the company is acting here.”

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