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Monday, September 04, 2006

Should Newspapers Have a Labor Section?

I've often wondered; since there's a business section in the newspaper, why isn't there a labor section? Most of americans are hourly or salaried, so why not have a section devoted to news for workers?

If there were a labor section, action on a minimum wage increase (or lack thereof) would probably be a major issue. Health insurance would also be an issue. As we are now, labor news is basically seen as something that only concerns the 'special interests' (i.e., labor unions). But, since most of us are workers, wouldn't those special interests include most of us?

When was the last time you heard the term 'outsourcing'? This Associated Press story didn't make the front page, but it would've been page one news in a labor section:

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi urged colleagues in July to vote against a trade agreement with Oman, proclaiming that Democrats' first order of business if they win control of the House this fall will be stopping companies from moving jobs overseas.

Her counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Harry Reid, also said the deal with Oman should be rejected. "I have heard a lot of people lament the decline of bipartisanship in trade policy," he said. "I think if you were to date this decline, it would have started in 2001," the year President Bush took office.

The agreement with the Arabian Sea nation of 3 million eventually passed in late July, after an uncomfortably close 221-205 vote in the House.

For critics of U.S. trade policy, it was further proof that the Bush administration's winning streak in getting Congress to go along with trade agreements may be in trouble, particularly if Democrats make the gains predicted in November's elections.

"It's clear that the U.S. public and Congress have had it with our trade status quo," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. "We have witnessed a dramatic shift in U.S. trade politics."

Free trade agreements have been a bonanza for business, but a disaster for labor. It forces the US labor market to compete with working conditions that would be illegal in the US. How good is it for americans to compete with child labor making pennies an hour? It doesn't help the US and it doesn't help those child laborers. If government preferred goods that were produced using american labor standards, it's hard to argue that this wouldn't be good for everyone.

Maybe it's time for a labor section, so these stories don't get buried in the back of the paper.


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BenMerc said...

I won't hold my breath on that one...and if it does come about, it will be a glass of warm milk.

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