Weekend News and Commentary: March 8-9

Published March 9th, 2014 -  - 03.09.14


The National Labor Relations Board is currently accepting briefs from all interested parties on how it should approach deferral to arbitration awards in the future. As the NLRB notes, under its current standard (the “Olin/Spielberg standard”) the Board “defers to an arbitration award when (1) the arbitration proceedings are fair and regular; (2) all parties agree to be bound; and (3) the arbitral decision is not repugnant to the purposes and policies of the [National Labor Relations] Act.” Briefs of no more than 50 pages will be accepted through March 25, 2014. See the NLRB’s notice here for more information.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Boeing has frozen pension benefits for over 68,000 nonunion workers, and will shift those workers to 401(k) retirement savings plans in 2016.  Such plans generally shift risk of market-volatility to workers and away from the company itself. The changes follow a set of deals Boeing has struck with unionized machinists, which also move towards defined-contribution retirement plans.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the positive February jobs report bolsters “hopes the U.S. economy will break out of its recent slump as the spring arrives.” According to the WSJ, legal services fared more poorly than other sectors in the report, showing a drop of 300 jobs. Economist Jared Bernstein offers in-depth analysis of what the jobs report means for middle-class workers at the New York Times, cautioning the Federal Reserve against interpreting worker-gains as a sign of “inflationary pressures that must be stomped out by tighter monetary policy.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had included proposals to raise the city’s minimum wage in his election platform. The New York Times predicts that an across-the-board minimum wage raise will not be a policy priority for de Blasio’s office in the short term, and that it will take years to acquire the authority to raise wages broadly. In the short-term, observers await a promised executive order from the Mayor’s office, which would expand the reach of the City’s living wage law (regulating all business that receive city funds.)

In a speech at Brown University on Saturday, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez expressed support for President Obama’s proposals to raise the minimum wage to $10.10. The Providence Journal reports on the speech.

The White House is seeking an additional $2 million for the 2015 fiscal year to remedy perceived staffing shortages in the Department of Labor’s Office of Administrative Law Judges. The Center for Public Integrity, which released a report last year on the Department’s rising caseload and increased delays in adjudicating claims, discusses the budget proposal.

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