Weekend News and Commentary: December 14-15

Published December 15th, 2013 -  - 12.15.13


The Associated Press reports that federal workers’ pensions are being targeted in the new budget deal. For workers hired before 2012, the retirement programs at stake are notably generous compared to the norm in the private industry. Most federal civilian employees hired beginning in January will contribute 4.4% of their pay to pension plans under the House-passed budget bill, which the Senate is expected to approve this week. Government workers hired in 2013 will continue paying 3.1% of their gross pay. Those on the federal payroll prior to 2013 will continue to pay 0.8%. The policy director of the American Federation for Government Employees has said that it is “insane [government employees] should be expected to fund government”.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the University of California has reached a tentative labor agreement with the union that represents more than 12,000 technical employees, researchers, and health care professionals. The agreement will be voted on this week by employees, who will be asked to contribute extra money into their pension fund while receiving cumulative raises of up to 13 percent between now and 2013.

The Associated Press reports that a labor court in Brazil halted construction in part of the World Cup stadium where a man fell 115 feet to his death while working on a roofing structure. The decision was announced after public prosecutors requested the immediate interruption of work in all areas where laborers need to be high above ground. Work will resume only after constructors show that all safety measures are in place. The court said contractors would be fined daily if they don’t abide by the decision.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the publicly owned transit system in Monroe, Louisiana could be shut down or privatized after the City Council decided not to renew a contract with the company that manages the bus system. The council’s concerns included labor negotiations, the reliability of buses, and the fact that the management company is not locally owned.

The Associated Press reports that Amazon.com distribution centers recruit RV owners as seasonal workers to help fill holiday workers. Known as the “CamperForce”, hundreds of campers are assigned packing, sorting, and collection duties at Amazon warehouses in Kentucky, Kansas, and Nevada. Amazon began this practice in 2010. The job lasts three month on average.

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