June 24, 2005
Slate on the Supreme Court
Slate.com discusses possibles nominees to a potential vacancy in the Supreme Court - The Supreme Court Shortlist By Emily Bazelon and David Newman
"Anticipation of the resignation of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, which has been building since his cancer treatment began last fall, will climax next week when the Supreme Court's term ends. The Bush administration has telegraphed that it would like him to step down this summer—before November's congressional elections—and has floated names for his replacement. What views have the president's shortlisters expressed, on and off the bench? In order of our best guess as to the likelihood that they'll be chosen, here's a guide to the prospective nominees' records. (Bush's choice could be selected for the post of chief justice or associate justice, depending on whether he decides to elevate one of the current associates to the top job.)"...
June 23, 2005
More on the AFL-CIO
A crack in Big Labor's armor (The Washington Times' Editorial, June 23, 2005)
"As AFL-CIO President John Sweeney prepares his labor federation for its national convention in Chicago next month, he and his fellow delegates will no doubt be recalling two important anniversaries.
Fifty years ago, with organized labor representing 35 percent of the U.S. labor force, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) consummated a merger that joined two extremely powerful labor factions. The other anniversary offers less celebratory memories. Seventy years ago, at the 1935 AFL convention, John L. Lewis split the labor federation when he and his United Mine Workers left the AFL to form the CIO. Unlike the AFL, which mostly organized skilled workers according to their crafts, the CIO concentrated its organizing efforts on entire industries, such as autos and steel. At next month's convention, Big Labor will fondly recall its heyday in 1955, but the Chicago confab will more likely resemble the explosion of 1935...."
June 22, 2005
Labor Peace in the NBA
League, Union Reach Accord (by Thomas Heath and Michael Lee, WashingtonPost.com)
"The NBA and its players' union yesterday agreed to a new labor contract that raises the minimum age at which players are eligible for the draft to 19 and averts a potentially destructive lockout.
The six-year agreement slashes the length of player contracts and implements a tougher drug policy while guaranteeing the percentage of league revenues paid to players." ...
June 21, 2005
Internal Labor Markets and Older Workers
Intersting editorial by John Tierney in today's NYT. Tierney raises some questions about the norms and assumptions about career paths. According to Tiernery:
"We need to rethink the old assumption that employees keep getting raises throughout their careers.
This seniority system was built on what economists call an implicit contract with workers: we'll pay you less than you're really worth when you're young, but stick with us and we'll make it up to you by paying you more than you're worth later in your career. Employers kept giving raises to workers even after their productivity started to decline, which typically occurs around age 50, says the economist Vegard Skirbekk (whose finding I shouldn't be publicizing now that I'm 52).
The system made economic sense when employers and employees stuck by the contract. Now they each feel free to abandon the other, but the old assumptions linger and interfere with older workers' attempts to find comparable jobs after they have been downsized.
Some workers refuse to consider a lesser job, and even if they're willing to take a cut in pay and status, employers fear they'll be frustrated and find the new job beneath them. So these workers are retiring earlier even though they're living longer, forcing younger people to work harder to support them.
It would be fairer to redistribute some of this free time so that young people, like harried parents, could enjoy it instead of waiting to get it all as one lump sum. As Ron Lee, a demographer at the University of California, Berkeley, asks, "Why not restructure our life cycles so that we take more leisure when we most need it, earlier on, and less later in life?"...
June 20, 2005
Music at Work
"From classical to electronica, rock 'n' roll to world music and country, workers across corporate America are plugging into their own portable music players and tuning out loud co-workers, office boredom and other workplace distractions. With the portability and popularity of iPods and other personal music devices, anecdotal evidence suggests more American workers are bringing their music to work.
"Employees are bringing their own music to work far more than in years past, simply because of the high-tech, portable players now available," said Laura Stack, a Highlands Ranch productivity expert, author and trainer who consults for companies nationally. "A radio sitting on a desk is fast becoming a rarer sight."...