GOP wants to make unemployment more humiliating
Timothy Noah notices some unpleasant provisions tucked away in the House GOP’s proposed unemployment insurance reforms: The GOP-sponsored House bill (text) reforms [unemployment insurance] by 1.) loosening requirements on how states spend federal unemployment funds, which flow through them; 2.) tightening the requirement that all benefit recipients look for work (mandatory job interviews, etc.); 3.) allowing states to require recipients to pass a drug test; and, 4.) if you lack a high school diploma or GED, enrolling in a GED program (”and making satisfactory progress in classes”). The GED requirement is a new way to communicate that if you lack a job you must be in some way deficient.
Gingrich challenge to child-labor law backed in state capitals
Newt Gingrich isn’t the only Republican who wants to relax U.S. laws that have restricted work by children for more than seven decades. Republican governors and state lawmakers, who succeeded this year in curbing union powers, are pushing to revise their child-labor laws to help companies such as groceries get workers. Wisconsin will let employers treat teenagers as adults in pay and hours, and Maine lawmakers want to let companies keep teens working longer hours.
Does Romney oppose discrimination against gays?
Romney gives examples of not discriminating personally against his employees for being gay, but that is not the same thing as opposing workplace discrimination as a political matter. Romney is saying, to his credit, that he doesn’t practice workplace discrimination. One would hope that would go without saying in this day and age, but since Romney’s former opponent Herman Cain pledged not to appoint Muslims it’s probably worth stating outright. However, a politician could choose not to discriminate in his own hiring practices while refusing to extend that protection to gays throughout the government, much less to the private sector.
In gilded city, living wage proposal still stirs fears
There is an indefinable something about a so-called living wage bill that puts New York’s leaders at risk of breaking out in socialist hives. Advocates have amended, sanded down and liposuctioned their bill in hopes of pleasing the mayor and the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn. But this bill strikes Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel, a former vice chairman of Goldman Sachs, as dire.
40% of state drilling regulators have industry ties
More than 40 percent of officials regulating oil and gas production in the top drilling states, records show, come from the industry they are charged with policing. It is a degree of self-regulation enjoyed by few other industries, if any. And it heightens suspicion among critics of the nation’s drilling boom that companies are allowed to damage the environment with impunity.
Editorial: To improve mine safety, prosecute rogue operators
Even as federal officials were heralding this month’s $209 million settlement in one of the worst U.S. mining disasters in history, the families of the 29 men killed in that explosion were wondering: Isn’t anyone going to be prosecuted for our loved ones’ deaths? Good question. At least for now, the answer is no — a sad and unsatisfactory climax after nearly two years of criminal investigations, along with two damning reports that found mine owner Massey Energy put profits above safety and was so lax that it laid the groundwork for what one study called a “preventable” explosion at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch Mine.
Pity the elf slaves of online shipping
It’s worth considering how the hell those goods get to you, so fast, and for free, when the company you bought them from is posting profits in the millions, or even, in the case of Amazon, billions. Chances are, it’s via the people who worked for the small businesses we ruined when we were saving $4 by buying stuff off the internet, people performing dangerously repetitive or otherwise ergonomically unsound jobs in a cold, shitty, emotionally abusive warehouse for very little money and very few benefits, the kind of conditions people endure only because it’s their last resort.
The new blue collar: Temporary work, lasting poverty and the American warehouse
Like nearly everyone else in Joliet without good job prospects, Uylonda Dickerson eventually found herself at the warehouses looking for work. The experience would change the way Dickerson saw the retail industry — particularly during the frenetic run-up to the holidays, when workers are under tremendous pressure to get products out the door and into stores. “I don’t think people know what the people in those warehouses have to go through to get them their stuff in those stores,” Dickerson says. “If you don’t work in a warehouse, you don’t know.”
OSHA gets a slight boost in federal budget
Despite predictions that lawmakers would cut OSHA funding back to 2006 levels, the agency will receive a slight increase during the remainder of the 2012 fiscal year, under the federal budget that has apparently been finalized by Congress. Aaron K. Trippler, Government Affairs Director for the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), said the agency will receive approximately $8 million more than it did in the previous budget.
Won’t you help LA Times editorial board decide on condoms?
A curious posting showed up on the Los Angeles Times’ website today. Titled “Condoms in porn? What should we do?” by “The Times’ Opinion staff,” it asks for public comment regarding what position the Board should take on the ballot initiative by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) that would require FilmLA, the agency that issues filming permits in the city, to withhold permits for adult producers unless they agree to the following language in the permit contract.