Weekend News & Commentary – November 23-24

Published November 23rd, 2014 -  - 11.23.14


The New York Times profiled the successful efforts of a nonunion worker advocacy group, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, to organize a successful campaign to raise the minimum wage of hotel workers in Los Angeles to $15.37 an hour.  The article details how Laane planned the campaign, built a coalition of dozens of groups, and lobbied the Los Angeles City Council to pass the increase.  Laane next plans to build another coalition around a proposal to increase the Los Angeles citywide minimum wage to $13.25 an hour.

The Washington Post reports that both campaign organizers and Wal-Mart are preparing for coordinated strikes at Wal-Marts across the country on Friday. The strikers will be protesting low wages at stores on the busiest shopping day of the year.  The Making Change at Walmart campaign, financed and run by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, will organize the Black Friday protests for the third straight year.  Campaign organizers promise that this year’s protests will be the largest to date and will bring awareness of the fact that Wal-Mart employees can’t even afford to feed their families on their wages, while Wal-Mart contends  it treats its workers fairly.

The New York Times also published an extensive report on the effect of immigration on California in looking to predict possible effects of President Obama’s recent executive action.  In particular, the report notes how three different groups or immigrant workers will be impacted: foreign tech workers in the Silicon Valley, farmworkers in the Central Valley, and entrepreneurs in Los Angeles.

The White House’s Council on Economic Advisers released a report supporting President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration. The report found that the plan will increase wages for native-born workers, expand the size of the labor force, and raise the gross domestic product.  The report is expected to be criticized for its methodology.

According to a report released by the Department of Labor Friday, unemployment rates fell in 34 states and the District of Columbia in October compared with September.  The greatest decrease was in Kentucky, where the employment rate fell 0.5 percentage point to 6.2%.  The national average is 5.8%.

The Congressional Research Service published a report on state minimum wages, reviewing different state policies, minimum wage rates, and mechanisms of adjustment.  The report found that 29 states and the District of Columbia have wage rates above the federal rate of $7.25 per hour and two have rates below the federal rate. Five states have no state minimum wage, and 14 have rates equal to the federal rate.  The report also found that mechanisms for adjusting rates are typically either legislative or based on inflation.

The New York Times reports that innovations in cloud computing will have adverse effects on the employment of middle managers.  Experts say that the adoption of the cloud will lead to more collaboration, outsourcing and specialization. They also anticipate that workers will be organized into smaller, consumer-focused and analytics-driven work teams.

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