Weekend News & Commentary – July 19-20

Published July 20th, 2014 -  - 07.20.14


Italy’s three largest unions called for a one-day strike on July 29 to protest the Eni’s decision to shut unprofitable refineries.  The strike against Eni, an oil and gas company, will come two days before Eni’s CEO Claudio Descalzi presents a new strategy for the company that unions say they have been told will include plans to close as many as five of its six Italian refineries.  Unions say that as many as 6,000 jobs could be at stake if Eni were to close these five refineries.  Eni employs more than 80,000 people world-wide.

In an article for The Nation, Moshe Marvit writes that “workers and unions may have also won an important victory in a case that on its face had nothing to do with them.”  Marvit believes that the First Amendment rights secured by pro-life protestors in McCullen v. Coakley will help to ensure the rights of workers to picket, strike, and boycott.  “The [Roberts] Court has so expanded the notion of speech that it is getting much harder to maintain the fiction that strikes, labor pickets, and boycotts are not as expressive as money or anti-abortion pickets.”

The New York Times highlights a labor struggle at the grocery store chain Market Basket, where employees are seeking the reinstatement of their former boss, Arthur T. Demoulas, who was ousted last month as president by a board of directors led by his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas.  On Friday, over 2,500 employees and supporters rallied here during the workday in the parking lot of Market Basket’s headquarters.  The New York Times reports that Market Basket management “rebuffed the employees and on Thursday, in advance of Friday’s rally, issued a warning: ‘If you choose to abandon your job or refuse to perform your job requirements, you will leave us no choice but to permanently replace you.'”

In international news, the New York Times reports that Germany’s booming economy and job market needs additional workers, “especially for jobs requiring high levels of training and education, a problem likely to be exacerbated in the long run by its low birthrate.” Thus, “Germany, once a relatively homogeneous society that long struggled to assimilate immigrants and refugees from Turkey and other relatively poor countries, is competing more aggressively with the United States, Britain and other nations to attract and keep educated people from abroad who can help crucial industries.”

In immigration news, The Wall Street Journal reports that President Obama “walks a tricky line” in negotiating and implementing a border immigration plan.  The debate is complicated by the fact that Obama’s immigration plan is “much closer to that of congressional Republicans than Democrats” — the WSJ writes that “The Hispanic caucus has been clear that it doesn’t support changing a 2008 law that requires that children who arrive unaccompanied from countries other than Mexico or Canada have their cases heard in immigration court. Congressional Republicans say they will attach that change to the emergency funding.”

The New York Times reports that there has been “backlash” in Texas to housing children who come across the Mexican border.  Two Texas counties — Tom Green and Galveston — have passed resolutions “barring any immigrant from being housed on an emergency basis.”  Though some resolutions cite to lowering the potential for diseases such as scabies and tuberculosis, Amelia Ruiz Fischer, a lawyer at the Texas Civil Rights Project, believes that “the whole disease thing is just another link to the xenophobia.”

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