Weekend News & Commentary — December 16-17, 2017

Published December 17th, 2017 -  - 12.17.1710


On Thursday, the F.C.C. voted to repeal net neutrality rules that prohibited broadband providers from charging more for better service or content, and from blocking access to certain content.  The repeal is likely to radically change the online landscape.  The F.C.C.’s decision also has far-reaching labor implications.  Small business owners have continuously expressed concern about the impact of a net neutrality repeal.   Small e-commerce startups worry that they would not be able to compete with larger, established businesses that could afford to pay-to-play if broadband providers decide to charge more for better service.  Remote workers of all kinds who rely on the internet are in danger of facing prohibitively high costs for adequate service.

The Communications Workers of America, a union representing approximately 20,000 AT&T employees, struck a tentative agreement with the company after a months-long stalemate.  The four-year agreement is said to offer significant job protection and salary increases for 20,000 employees in 36 states and D.C.  Unionized employees had been without a contract since February, and went on a short strike in May.  Under the tentative agreement, which the union will vote on in January, AT&T will increase the number customer service calls routed to American call centers, where many of the unionized employees work, and commit to giving employees new jobs in the event call centers or retail stores close.  In exchange, the union has offered its support for AT&T’s proposed $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, which the Department of Justice is challenging.

Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Koch Industries chairman and CEO Charles Koch penned a joint op-ed in the Washington Post urging Congress to take action to protect the immigration status of the 690,000 undocumented immigrants enrolled in DACA.  Cook and Koch assert that it is imperative that Congress act to provide security for dreamers before the end of the year.  The op-ed placed emphasis on the fact that both companies employed undocumented immigrants who have been extended work visas under DACA, and lauded these employees as integral parts of any creative, innovative workplace.  Apple, which hires approximately 200 employees who are affected by DACA, has been a vocal advocate of dreamers.  Charles Koch and his brother, David Koch, have also been vocal about preserving DACA.

In the U.K., British employers are being to feel the effects of Brexit.  In the wake of Brexit, foreign workers are beginning to leave the U.K as it eyes an exit from the European Union.  While the agriculture industry has been hit particularly hard, the effects have been felt across many industries.  The construction sector has faced setbacks, as has the hospital industry and academia.  Even as employers have tried to entice workers from the rest of Europe to seek employment in the U.K., workers are still choosing to stay away.  The foreign workers who are still coming to the U.K. are older and less skilled.  Further compounding the problem, efforts to recruit workers from the U.K. have been unsuccessful, particularly in the agriculture industry, because of the location of farming regions and the lack of competitive wages.

 

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