Today’s News & Commentary — June 20, 2017

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, youth in Illinois face an unemployment rate of 70% nearly 16 times the state-wide average. These job disparities widen when considering race, as 85% of African American youth and 81.5% of Latinx youth are unemployed as compared with 73.4% of Caucasian youth. Moreover, a recent analysis suggests this level of unemployment will cost the state over $9 billion in lost tax revenue.


After President Macron’s victory in France and his majority in the French parliament, unions have lost many of their allies in government. Unions are unsure whether they will still have a voice in government or whether President Macron will simply ignore their demands. One looming question is whether various unions can mend their differences and work together to achieve policy reform.


Google has revamped its search tool to include job posts from Monster and LinkedIn. Users can now search for “jobs near me” and filter through jobs based on various criteria. Google product developer Nick Zakrasek commented: “With this new experience, we aim to connect Americans to job opportunities across the U.S.” Importantly, Google will not allow companies to directly post jobs on its platform; instead, it will simply pull job posts from other websites.

Weekend News & Commentary — August 22-23, 2015

According to The Detroit Free Press, the United Auto Workers union is trying to radically reshape worker health plans as part of its contract negotiations with the Big 3 automakers.  The UAW has proposed the creation of a single health benefits co-op that would include General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler employees, with the hope that it would both save the companies money and avoid union contract concessions.  According to the story “the new health care purchasing pool…would be independent and could represent  800,000 to 900,000 people, gaining leverage with insurance companies, hospitals, clinics and health care providers to get better care at more affordable rates.  The idea is that a co-op of active workers, both unionized and salaried from all three companies, would work with the group that manages retiree benefits.  While they would be separate entities, their combined purchasing power would benefit with the ability to strike better deals for care.”  The proposition is considered risky, but automakers are open to it.

The Los Angeles Times reports on the NLRB’s pending joint employer decisions that address “whether a big company should share responsibility for the workers with intermediary hiring firms”, including Browning-Ferris.  Worker advocates believe that finding joint employer relationships exist will help protect workers and place responsibility where it belongs, while anti-regulation groups believe that finding such a relationship will “upend American business practices.”  The rulings would implicate large franchisors like McDonalds and their ability to “use franchise arrangements to obscure their role as the ultimate employer.”

Writing in The New York Times, Joe Nocera reviews Amazon’s Darwinian treatment of workers and founder Jeff Bezos’ unrelenting defense of the culture he created.  Nocera frames the decisions made by Bezos as designed to maximize the amount of work performed by “fundamentally fungible human beings,” whereas previous generations of Americans relied on a social compact with employers promising mutual loyalty.

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