December 8, 2016
Source: Katy Stech, The Wall Street Journal
The Supreme Court pressed lawyers for a closed New Jersey trucking company to explain why a legal settlement that left workers unpaid didn’t violate bankruptcy law’s strict repayment rules, which call for certain wages to be paid before other debts. Justices at a Wednesday argument session questioned whether the payout plan for Jevic Transportation Inc.’s final bills complied with bankruptcy law, which lays out repayment rules for a bankrupt company’s debts.
Source: Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch
A bill that started out ensuring cities couldn’t limit where pet stores purchase puppies grew Tuesday to also block cities from raising their minimum wages and provide an expedited process for AT&T to install equipment needed to bring next-generation 5G wireless connectivity to Ohio. The so-called Petland Bill, named because Petland pushed for its passage after Grove City officials approved a local ordinance to block it from buying dogs from large-scale breeders, was fattened up by GOP leaders with a handful of amendments. The House Finance Committee also added an amendment blocking cities from imposing minimum wages higher than the state’s rate, which will go to $8.15 next year.
Source: Noam Scheiber, The New York Times
President-elect Donald J. Trump is expected to name Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive of the company that operates the fast food outlets Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. and an outspoken critic of the worker protections enacted by the Obama administration, to be secretary of labor, people close to the transition said on Thursday. Mr. Puzder has spent his career in the private sector and has opposed efforts to expand eligibility for overtime pay, while arguing that large minimum wage increases hurt small businesses and lead to job loss among low-skilled workers.
December 7, 2016
Source: Ana Swanson, The Washington Post
Most metrics suggest the U.S. economy has snapped back substantially since the recession. In November, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent, a level not seen since August 2007. The economy has created an average of 180,000 jobs a month so far this year, far above what’s necessary to keep the unemployment rate stable. But it’s often the quality, not the quantity, of the jobs that is in question. Many Americans are still cobbling together a living with one or several part-time jobs. Overall, the number of people working part-time has risen 9.1 percent from 2002 to 2016, and now totals 26.4 million, according to government data cited by Golden. But the number of people doing “involuntary” part-time work — that is, people who would like to work full-time but can’t find such work — is up 44.6 percent from 2002, to 6.4 million Americans.
Source: Doug Finke, The State Journal-Register
A St. Clair County judge has issued a temporary order blocking the administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner from imposing contract terms on the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. Judge Robert LeChien issued the temporary restraining order Tuesday and said the administration had to rescind any contract provisions it has already implemented. LeChien said the administration's actions to impose its contract terms "without notice to and the agreement of the union" violated an agreement between the state and AFSCME in place while a new contract was negotiated.
Source: Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times
Trump has spent a lot of time talking about how he plans to reinvigorate the manufacturing sector. And yet the group of business luminaries he named on Friday to advise him on “job creation” was missing a key name: Mr. Musk, the real-life Tony Stark behind Tesla, the electric car company. In the last decade, Mr. Musk has created nearly 35,000 jobs among his various enterprises. His Tesla Gigafactory, a 5.5-million-square-foot battery factory under construction outside Reno, Nev., is expected to employ 6,500 people in manufacturing jobs by 2020. This is the future of manufacturing — much more so than the 1,000 jobs saved at the Carrier plant in Indiana last week.
December 6, 2016
Source: Dave Jamieson, The Huffington Post
On Friday, the New York Times reported that Trump is mulling Andrew Puzder to be his labor secretary. Puzder is the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's. Although Trump's cabinet is rapidly taking shape, the incoming administration hasn't made any formal announcements about the labor post, and a few other names have been kicking around. But if Puzder were plucked, it's safe to say he would be the first burger chain chief tasked with enforcing workplace safety laws and policing the nation's employers for wage theft.
Source: Jared Bernstein, Vox
Just days before it was to go into effect on December 1, a federal judge in Texas blocked the Obama administration’s update to overtime pay from taking effect. That means that millions of workers who should receive time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours a week are now at risk of losing that extra income. Cancelling the rule will lead to the loss of $570 million in earnings for affected workers in 2017 (and $2.6 billion between 2017 and 2022).
Source: Jeff Green and Shannon Pettypiece, Bloomberg
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. added insurance coverage for transgender workers this year, joining more than 500 companies taking a bigger role in advancing the rights of LGBT employees. Wal-Mart has been among those speaking out against anti-LGBT laws at the state level, helping defeat a 2015 rule in Arkansas. The largest private employer in the U.S. and the world’s biggest retailer has been trying to improve its image to appeal to more customers, particularly on the east and west coasts, where its reputation for low wages and poor benefits has hurt its ability to open new stores.
December 5, 2016
Source: Editorial, The New York Times
In his interview on “60 Minutes” shortly after the election, Mr. Trump said his victory was not a rejection of what Mr. Obama has stood for, but a “repudiation of what’s been taking place over a longer period of time.” Worker pay has lagged for a very long time. The Obama-era reforms help to make up lost ground. If Mr. Trump wishes to act in the interest of all working people, he will preserve those reforms.
Source: Arthur Delaney, The Huffington Post
President-elect Donald Trump tweeted on Thanksgiving Day that he was working to fulfill a campaign promise to save 1,400 jobs set to be eliminated from the Carrier Corporation’s factory in Indiana. On Tuesday night, Carrier tweeted that it had reached a deal with the Trump transition team to save “close to 1,000 jobs” at Carrier’s Indianapolis plant. Chuck Jones, president of the local chapter of the United Steelworkers union that represents workers at Carrier’s Indianapolis plant, had to go by the tweets. He was not a party to the deal.
Source: Rachel Sadon, DCist
As D.C. nears the possible passage of one of the most generous paid family leave laws in the country, one would expect to find labor activists happily cheering it across the finish line. Indeed, they are planning to show up en masse to Tuesday's markup of the Universal Paid Leave Act bill at the D.C. Council. But they are also deeply worried that the bill could come at a steep cost to other issues they care about. In announcing the latest details of the proposal, Chairman Phil Mendelson said in a release that he would support a two-year freeze on "similar bills."
December 2, 2016
Source: Greg Robb, Market Watch
Friday’s employment report is likely to show that young people are returning to the labor market after “vanishing” from payrolls in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Prior to the recession about 82% of people aged 20-45 were in the labor force. The percentage fell to a low of 79% at the worst of the recession, said Jim Glassman, economist at J.P. Morgan Chase.
Source: Ronald Blum, Associated Press
The Los Angeles Dodgers, Latin American teenagers and Cubans approaching their mid-20s were losers in baseball's new labor contract, which includes stiffer penalties for high-spending teams and a hard cap on signing bonuses for international amateurs.
Source: Melanie Trottman, The Wall Street Journal
The Labor Department is appealing an injunction that halted the Dec. 1 implementation of a sweeping overtime-pay regulation, advancing a federal court battle over a rule that could face an eventual challenge from President-elect Donald Trump. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and other department officials filed a notice of appeal on Thursday with the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to defend an Obama administration rule requiring employers to start paying overtime to workers earning salaries of less than $47,476 a year.
December 1, 2016
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.