Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Paul Krugman criticizes the use of non-compete agreements to trap workers at low wage levels with no opportunity to pursue comparable employment - as well as the Republicans' insistence on pushing employer-based health care which further limits workers' options:
At this point, in other words, noncompete clauses are in many cases less about protecting trade secrets than they are about tying workers to their current employers, unable to bargain for better wages or quit to take better jobs.

This shouldn’t be happening in America, and to be fair some politicians in both parties have been speaking up about the need for change (although few expect the Trump administration to follow up on the Obama administration’s reform push). But there’s another aspect of declining worker freedom that is very much a partisan issue: health care.

Until 2014, there was basically only one way Americans under 65 with pre-existing conditions could get health insurance: by finding an employer willing to offer coverage. Some employers were in fact willing to do so. Why? Because there were major tax advantages — premiums aren’t counted as taxable income — but to get those advantages employer plans must offer the same coverage to every employee, regardless of medical history.

But what if you wanted to change jobs, or start your own business? Too bad: you were basically stuck (and I knew quite a few people in that position).
You might say, with only a bit of hyperbole, that workers in America, supposedly the land of the free, are actually creeping along the road to serfdom, yoked to corporate employers the way Russian peasants were once tied to their masters’ land. And the people pushing them down that road are the very people who cry “freedom” the loudest.
- Jim Edwards highlights how in the wake of deliberate attacks on workers' bargaining power, low unemployment rates aren't producing the wage gains which would normally be expected. And Linda Gorman's look at global corporate savings makes it clear that the extra money kept in corporate hands is being hoarded rather than put to productive use.

- Geoff Dembicki points out how Canada's overheating real estate markets are more the result of domestic speculation than foreign investment - even if the political response has been oriented almost solely toward the latter. 

- Ashley Martin reports on the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour's call for employers to ensure that work requirements don't trap people suffering domestic violence. And L.E. Reimer points out how the Saskatchewan Party's shuttering of STC will be particularly hard on women with low incomes who will lose a needed means of transportation.

- Finally, the Star's editorial board calls for Ontario's provincial government to finally reverse a multi-decade trend of reduced access to music and arts education in public schools.

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