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Articles on workplace-related issues from newspapers and Internet news sources around the country.

December 1, 2016

Carrier workers react to Trump's jobs announcement with skepticism, excitement

Source: Justin L. Mack, Indy Star

There are still questions about the details of the plan that could save the jobs of 1,000 Carrier employees in Indianapolis. Will some of the high-wage earners be affected? Will workers have to take on new roles? How exactly did President-elect Donald Trump pull it off? But even with those finer points unexplained, some workers who have been bracing to lose their jobs since February are now celebrating and breathing a sigh of relief.
Twelve-year Carrier employee Donnisha Taylor is skeptical of the announcement and tired of the back and forth between Carrier and its workers.

Not All Immigrant Labor Is Cheap Labor

Source: Alexia Fernández Campbell, The Atlantic

Of all the visa programs that allow foreigners to work legally within the United States, none seems to ignite more debate than H-1B. Meant to help companies recruit workers with hard-to-find skills, critics say the program allows employers to hire thousands of cheap IT workers to replace American workers. But proponents of the program say it’s necessary to draw the best talent from around the world. Both sides want the program to undergo some drastic changes.

Millions of workers in limbo after rule expanding overtime pay eligibility is put on hold

Source: Jonnelle Marte, The Washington Post

A federal judge in Texas ruled last week to halt an overtime rule that was supposed to take effect Dec. 1. The Labor Department rule, which would have made overtime pay available to more than 4 million additional workers, was challenged in court by business groups and some states. The judge ruled that the department exceeded its authority when it more than doubled the salary limit that determines which workers should be made eligible for overtime pay. “Now with the regulation on hold, their better paychecks and better work life balances are on hold, as well,” said Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit organization that advocates for workers.

November 30, 2016

After NLRB Gives Job Back To Worker Fired For Racism On Picket Line, Appeal Follows

Source: S. Laney Griffo, Forbes

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit is preparing to hear the appeal of a company being forced to rehire a striking employee who was fired for yelling racist comments at replacement workers. Cooper Tire and Rubber Company has appealed a National Labor Relations Board ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, asking that it reverse a decision requiring the company to rehire an employee it had fired.
An arbitrator had ruled for Cooper Tire after the firing, but the NLRB refused to accept that result.

More Law Degrees for Women, but Fewer Good Jobs

Source: Elizabeth Olson, The New York Times

Women currently occupy nearly half of all the seats in American law schools, gaining credentials for a professional career once all but reserved for men. But their large presence on campus does not mean women have the same job prospects as men. New research indicates that female law students are clustered in lower-ranked schools, and fewer women are enrolled in the country’s most prestigious institutions. Such distribution can make a significant difference in whether female law graduates land legal jobs that pay higher wages and afford long-term job security and professional advancement.

Carrier says it has struck a deal with Trump to keep nearly 1,000 jobs in Indiana

Source: Danielle Wiener-Bronner and Chris Isidore, CNNMoney

Carrier poses an early critical test for Trump, who promised during the campaign to keep American jobs from fleeing to Mexico. The company planned to send that work to Mexico starting next year, a move that would have saved it $65 million a year in labor costs, according to the union that represents the workers. United Technologies is a leading defense contractor that benefits from billions of dollars in federal spending, so it needs to maintain good relations with the incoming Trump administration.

November 29, 2016

LePage Asks Lawmakers For Changes in Minimum Wage, Education Ballot Initiatives

Source: Mal Leary, Maine Public

Gov. Paul LePage was a vocal opponent of two initiatives that Maine voters approved on Nov. 8. He continues to argue that Question 2, which would generate funding for public schools through a surtax on high-income households, and Question 4, which raises the minimum wage, would both hurt the economy. He’s asking the next Legislature to make changes in both laws, but some leaders in Augusta say they’re reluctant to second guess the will of the voters.

Proposal at DC Council Would Give Workers 11 Weeks Paid Family Leave

Source: Mark Segraves, NBC4

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson plans to propose a family leave bill that would provide up to 11 weeks of paid leave to workers in D.C. Mendelson’s new plan, which appears to have enough support to gain Council approval, would provide up to 11 weeks off for new parents and up to 8 weeks off for workers who need time to care for a family member.

Sticking points remain as MLB, union look to avoid lockout by Thursday deadline

Source: Barry Svrluga, The Washington Post

Since a strike of record length cost baseball the 1994 World Series and delayed the start of the following season, the sport has endured its share of controversy, led by a steroid epidemic that ate at the integrity of the game during the early part of this century. But even through that, baseball enjoyed two things – enduring labor peace and related prosperity. That record of uninterrupted peace is at stake this week as negotiators from both Major League Baseball and the players' union meet in Dallas in an effort to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement before the current pact expires Thursday.

November 28, 2016

Student Unionization Vote Count Will Extend Into December

Source: Leah Yared, The Harvard Crimson

The vote count for Harvard’s historic student union election will stretch into December, as University officials and union organizers worked through challenged ballots on Tuesday and will reconvene on Friday to continue sorting through the challenges. As a result, ballot boxes with student votes have remained sealed for nearly two weeks since the mid-November voting period, which is standard protocol until all of the questions surrounding challenges are resolved. The election is being supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.

'My Soul Feels Taller': A Whistle-Blower's $20 Million Vindication

Source: Gretchen Morgenson, The New York Times

Patricia Williams, 44, is a single mother of two grown children, as well as a grandmother. She is also a rarity: a whistle-blower who has succeeded in bringing to light abuses at a powerful corporation that wanted to keep them hidden. On Nov. 17, Ms. Williams won a four-year legal fight against her former employer, Wyndham Vacation Ownership, the nation’s largest time-share operator. A jury hearing her retaliation suit in California state court in San Francisco awarded Ms. Williams $20 million covering her lost earnings and emotional distress, and punitive damages. “My soul feels taller,” she said in an interview by telephone.

Local Governments Arrive on Schedule to Buttress Part-Time Workers

Source: Melanie Trottman, The Wall Street Journal

Proposed laws requiring employers to give workers more predictable and remunerative schedules are sprouting across the nation, drawing the ire of some employers as local governments wade into the debate over economic inequality. Largely aimed at part-time employees in the retail and food-service sectors that employ some of the lowest-wage workers in the country, the plans vary in scope but have common goals: give employees more notice of their schedules, more access to extra hours and extra pay for employers’ last-minute scheduling changes.

Uber Drivers Are Joining Nationwide 'Fight for $15' Protests on Tuesday

Source: Reuters

Drivers for ride service company Uber will join planned nationwide protests on Tuesday, when activists and low-wage workers renew their call for better pay and the right to join a union in the wake of Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential election win, organizers said. Hundreds of Uber drivers in two dozen cities, including San Francisco, Miami and Boston, for the first time will add their voices to the union-backed “Fight for $15” campaign that has helped convince several cities and states to raise starting pay significantly above the U.S. minimum wage of $7.25.

November 22, 2016

Former NFL players file civil suit asking NFL to recognize brain injury disease for workers' comp

Source: Paula McMahon, The Sun-Sentinel

Retired athletes from South Florida are trying to make the National Football League recognize a traumatic brain disease — linked to repeated head injuries — as an occupational hazard that would be covered by workers' compensation.

Lawyers for the former NFL players filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale against the league and NFL teams, including the Miami Dolphins, on behalf of more than 140 retired players who may have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE.

Thousands of airport, fast food workers across U.S. to strike for $15 minimum wage, union rights

Source: Adam Edelman, New York Daily News

Tens of thousands of airport and fast food workers across the U.S. will strike on Nov. 29 as part of a nationwide movement calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage and union rights, and protesting police killings and Donald Trump's "politics of divisiveness." "Fight for $15" is organizing the protests, which are being called the "Day of Disruption." The protests will affect 20 airports, including O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, and various fast food establishments, including McDonald's franchises from Detroit to Denver.

2nd Circuit says NLRB misapplied 'micro union' test

Source: Daniel Wiessner, Reuters

A U.S. appeals court on Monday became the latest to approve the National Labor Relations Board's test for certifying bargaining units that include only certain groups of workers, but said the agency erred in applying it to a so-called micro union of winery employees.

November 21, 2016

How Apple Empowers, and Employs, the American Working Class

Source: Vindu Goel, The New York Times

Apple’s overall contribution to the American economy is significant. Beyond the 80,000 people it directly employs in the United States, it says 69 supplier facilities in 33 states manufacture parts that go into its products. Hundreds of thousands of software developers also write apps for iPhones and iPads. Apple’s rapid growth here in central Texas, where it now employs about 6,000 people, up from 2,100 seven years ago, provides a window into the vast constellation of jobs at the world’s largest technology company and their economic impact. At Apple’s sparkling new complex in northwest Austin, workers who are spread throughout seven limestone-and-glass buildings field about 8,000 customer tech-support calls a day, manage the company’s vast network of suppliers and figure out how to move around millions of iPhones a week to ensure they get into the hands of customers when they want them.

Many For-Profit College Graduates Earn Less Than Minimum Wage

Source: Shahien Nasiripour, Bloomberg

About a third of recent for-profit college graduates attended career-training programs whose typical graduate annually earns less than the federal minimum wage. Vocational programs, common at community colleges and for-profit schools, are meant to help graduates land well-paying jobs.
But of Americans who graduated from such programs at for-profits from 2008 to 2012, some 32 percent attended programs in which a typical graduate made less than $14,500—what a full-time worker making the federal minimum wage would earn—in 2014, even as they incurred student debt.

Right-to-Work Backers Plan Push for Laws in Three States

Source: Rhonda Smith, Bloomberg BNA

Lawmakers in three states plan to introduce right-to-work bills in 2017 based on recent Republican election victories in Kentucky, Missouri and New Hampshire, a proponent of such laws said.

November 18, 2016

Uber and Houston Make Temporary Peace as Super Bowl Approaches

Source: Kia Kokalitcheva, Fortune

Uber has temporarily agreed to have its drivers in Houston fingerprinted, marking a limited truce in a tussle that threatened to sideline the ride hailing service during the city’s upcoming Super Bowl celebration in February. Houston had enacted rules in 2014 that required drivers for services like Uber to meet a long set of requirements. Although Uber continued to operate, it has been pushing the city to change its regulations, even threatening to cease to operate if it doesn’t.

If You Are Being Mansplained to in Sweden, You Can Now Call a Hotline to Report It

Source: Dayna Evans, New York Magazine

The largest union in Sweden, Unionen, has instituted a new phone number for women to call if they feel they are being inappropriately mansplained at work. It will run Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be available to the 600,000 private-sector employees that the union represents. Women are permitted to call in and express their frustrations, and in return receive advice for productive action against those who are mansplaining.

DOL Persuader Rule Blocked by Federal Judge

Source: Lawrence E. Dube, Bloomberg BNA

A rule that would have increased disclosure requirements for employers that use advisers, such as law firms, to help them fight unionization drives was permanently stopped. The Labor Department’s “persuader rule” is inconsistent with the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act and therefore unlawful. The National Federation of Independent Business and other challengers were entitled to permanent, nationwide injunctive relief.

November 17, 2016

Factories that made clothes for Forever 21, Ross paid workers $4 an hour, Labor Department says

Source: Natalie Kitroeff, Los Angeles Times

Forever 21 is one of several companies that have been supplied by independent Southern California factories that pay workers much less than the state minimum wage, the Labor Department announced Wednesday. The department said that from April to July, it investigated 77 local garment companies that were supplying some of the biggest clothing stores in the nation. Investigators uncovered labor violations in 85% of the cases, the department said, and found that the companies cheated workers out of $1.1 million. The retailers with ties to companies that had the most offenses were Ross Dress for Less, Forever 21 and TJ Maxx.

Report: These big businesses offer no paid family leave, or keep it secret

Source: Ashley May, USA Today

More than half of America's 60 biggest employers offer no paid family leave or will not disclose family leave policy, according to a study released Wednesday by Paid Leave for the United States (PL+US).PL+US confirmed paid leave policies at 29 of the companies it surveyed. Other companies would not make policies available, according to the report. (Note: During the study conducted June through October, HP acquired Electronic Data Systems and Marriott International acquired Starwood Hotels.) Eight companies, Boeing, FedEx, Honeywell International, HP, Infosys Limited, Marriott International, TJX and Walgreens, specifically wrote to PL+US to decline sharing leave information.

Laid-off UCSF tech workers allege discrimination in suit

Source: Bob Egelko, SF Gate

It was bad enough for 80 tech workers at UCSF Medical Center to learn in July that they were being laid off at the end of February. It got even worse when they were told one of their last jobs would be to train their replacements, a group of young men from India. “It was a little bit awkward training them to take over our jobs,” Kurt Ho, 57, of Walnut Creek said Wednesday as lawyers announced a discrimination lawsuit on behalf of 10 workers who received layoff notices. “The university is making a big mistake just to save money.” This is the first time a U.S. university has outsourced the jobs of permanent employees to India, said Gary Gwilliam, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. While outsourcing employment abroad isn’t illegal by itself, he said, UCSF’s hiring of a group of uniformly young male workers from India runs afoul of laws forbidding bias based on national origin, gender, age and race.

November 16, 2016

Wal-Mart Tells Workers: Don’t Download Labor Group’s Chat App

Source: Sarah Nassauer

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is discouraging store workers from downloading a smartphone app designed by OUR Walmart, an organization that advocates for higher pay and other benefits, as the battle between employers and labor groups increasingly shifts to social media. The app, released on Android phones Monday, allows Wal-Mart store employees to chat among themselves and receive advice on workplace policies or legal rights, said leaders from OUR Walmart on a conference call. Wal-Mart has instructed store managers to tell their employees that the app wasn’t made by the company and described it as a scheme to gather workers’ personal information, according to a document viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The number of workers joining the gig economy has slowed dramatically, says study

Source: Harriet Taylor, CNBC

Growth in the number of workers joining the gig economy has slowed and wages for these jobs have declined in the last two years, according to a new study from the JPMorgan Chase Institute. Slowing growth is happening both at companies that let people sell or lease assets — like eBay and Airbnb — as well as ones that connect workers with part-time jobs — like Uber, Lyft or TaskRabbit — the study found. For the average worker, dwindling paychecks are the new reality.

Sleepy's drivers ruled employees; OT decision is next

Source: Jane M. Von Bergen, Philly.com

Are Sleepy's mattress-delivery drivers eligible for overtime? A decision by a federal judge in a closely watched New Jersey case has paved the way for an answer in a lawsuit filed six years ago. In March 2010, a handful of drivers who delivered mattresses in New Jersey filed a lawsuit in federal court saying they were not paid overtime because they were wrongfully classified as independent contractors. U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton determined on Oct. 25 that the plaintiffs were actually employees.

November 15, 2016

NLRB Orders Wang Theatre To Bargain

Source: Ted Hesson, Politico

The National Labor Relations Board issued a decision last week ordering Boston's Wang Theatre to bargain with a union that represents musicians who perform at the theater. Union representation and elections for performers can be complicated, since they're typically employed by show producers, not the theater itself. The Wang maintained that it was not the musicians' sole employer, and therefore could not bargain with them because they come and go with passing shows. But the board disagreed, writing that the theater had failed to prove it was not the musicians' employer during the representation case, and did not present any new evidence to its point in the current case.

UPS air maintenance workers vote 98 percent to authorize strike

Source: Nick Carey, Reuters

Air maintenance workers at United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N) have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against the world's largest package delivery company as contract talks remained deadlocked over health-care benefits, the workers' union said on Monday.

Paid Family Leave Could Be a Reality in Trump’s America

Source: Josh Levs, Time

Advancements at the state level could make a difference more quickly. In Massachusetts, the state senate passed paid family leave, a big step forward. In New Hampshire, a promising campaign is under way, bolstered by a poll showing that nine-in-10 women and three-in-four men statewide support paid family leave. In Oregon, a growing campaign is expected to pick up steam next year as well. In Washington, D.C., hopes are growing for paid family leave to pass by the end of this year.

November 14, 2016

Women No Longer Have To Pick Between A Paycheck And Escaping Abuse In These 2 States

Source: Melissa Jeltsen, The Huffington Post

If you’re a victim of domestic violence, you’re likely to have to skip work on short notice ― to seek medical attention, to talk to police and prosecutors, or even to relocate for your own safety. But missing work means losing money, or even worse, your job, at a time when financial independence is key. Victims in Arizona and Washington may not have to worry about that anymore. On Tuesday, voters in both states approved ballot measures that require employers to offer paid sick leave and paid “safe leave” to workers, as well as raise the minimum wage.

Unions brace for pro-business shift in labor policy under Trump

Source: Timothy Aeppel, Reuters

Unions in the United States face sweeping changes to labor law and regulations under a new Republican administration that is expected to tilt policy toward employers.

Sexual harassment prevalent among tipped workers in Boston

Source: Katie Johnston, Boston Globe

Tipped workers, nearly 70 percent of whom are women in the Boston area, are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment because they depend on gratuities for the majority of their income, according to Restaurant Opportunities, which surveyed 500 workers at fast food, casual, and fine dining establishments in and around Boston.

November 11, 2016

Autism in the workplace – an opportunity not a drawback

Source: Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, The Guardian

People on the spectrum may struggle with certain workplace activities and interactions, but increasing numbers of companies are recognising how recruiting “neurodivergently” – actively seeking out people whose brains could be said to be “wired” differently – can bring a whole range of skills and abilities to a workforce. GCHQ’s neurodiversity programme is a prime example

Here's How Labor And Employment Might Change Under Trump

Source: Lydia Dishman, Fast Company

Looking ahead, the labor and employment landscape could get a radical makeover in the hands of a Republican majority Congress and a Republican President whose economic plan calls for trade, tax, energy, and regulatory reform.

No Court Delay of Overtime Rule, Labor Solicitor Predicts

Source: Kevin McGowan, Bloomberg BNA

The Labor Department’s new regulations requiring employers to pay overtime unless a salaried employee is paid $47,500 or more annually will take effect Dec. 1 as scheduled, Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith predicted.

November 10, 2016

How Scott Walker’s Law Crushing Unions May Have Helped Trump Win Wisconsin

Source: Daniel Marans, The Huffington Post

Donald Trump’s victory in Wisconsin defied all expectation ― or pre-election polling. He even notched a rare loss to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the state’s Republican primary in April. But Grover Norquist, founder of the anti-tax lobby Americans for Tax Reform, put forward a theory: Act 10, Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011 law stripping Wisconsin’s public-sector unions of their collective bargaining rights, made the Badger State fertile ground for Trump.

Job Gains at Startups Are Way Down and That’s a Bad Sign

Source: Anna Louie Sussman, The Wall Street Journal

Job gains from new firms are at the lowest share of employment in over 20 years, another sign of the declining role entrepreneurship plays in the U.S. economy. Job gains from opening establishments as a percentage of overall private-sector employment dropped to 1% in the first quarter of 2016, the lowest level recorded since the Labor Department began the data series in 1992, and half what it was at its peak.

Strippers’ Arbitration Protest Redressed

Source: Jon Steingart, Bloomberg BNA

A strip club can’t push a wage-and-hour lawsuit by exotic dancers out of federal court in Pennsylvania and into arbitration, an appeals court ruled.