Weekend News and Commentary – September 21-22

Published September 22nd, 2013 -  - 09.22.132


The Nation has an analysis of the changing role of domestic workers in major labor unions. As we reported, the Department of Labor recently announced domestic workers will be covered under he Fair Labor Standards Act. The article asks “What would real inclusion [for domestic workers] look like, not just on the celebration stage, but in the priority-setting meetings of the AFL-CIO[?]”

The New York Times economix blog presented an analysis of the lower-quality jobs as the “new normal.”  The Times states that “[t]he weakness of the labor market is manifest not only in the number of jobs created and the number of unemployed but also in the quality of jobs.”  During the recession, not only did employment decrease, but 60% of the net job losses occurred in middle-income occupations” whereas “low-wage occupations  . . . have accounted for more than of” of the gains during the recovery.

Similarly, the New York Times has a long feature on the return of textile plants to the United States, but unfortunately, these factories haven’t brought jobs with them.  Describing it as a “March of the Machines,” the Times reports that “[o]nly infrequently does a person interrupt the automation.”

The Washington Post has an in-depth historical look at food stamps in America.  At a time when more than 47 million Americans receive food stamps each month, Republican lawmakers in the both the House and the Senate have voted to reduce funding for the program.

In immigration news, the Los Angeles Times reports that two Republican Members of Congress have abandoned the house bipartisan working group.  Reps. John Carter and Sam Johnson, both of Texas, had been working with the bipartisan immigration group.  Their departure is another indication that comprehensive immigration reform is becoming increasingly unlikely to pass this house during this congress.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that he is pressing House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to move forward on immigration reform, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Zuckerberg is leading a group of technology executive who are pushing for comprehensive immigration reform, in part to address their need for more visas for high skilled foreign workers.  

In other immigration news, California announced that it will extend new protections to non-citizens in the state (whether documented or undocumented), according to the New York Times.  As the Times reports, California is “the leading edge of a national trend that includes granting drivers’ licenses and in-state tuition to illegal immigrants in some states.”  Many of the changes passed with “overwhelming support” in the state capitol, including from several Republicans. 

Following last week’s tragic shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C., Greg Russell, the president the union representing the Navy Yard’s civilian firefighters, said faulty radios hindered the firefighters’ response.  The Washington Post reports that, according to Russell, “the problems prevented firefighters inside the [the building] where the shooting occurred . . . from communicating with each other” and ultimately the firefighters had to rely on the “the radio system of local first responders.”

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