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Zuckerman Law

Clark Law Group

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

October 5, 2015

W.Va. court considers immunity in ex-school chief's suit

Source: Pam Ramsey, Associated Press

The West Virginia Supreme Court is considering whether the state Board of Education can be sued by a former state schools superintendent over its decision to fire her. The board has asked the court to overturn a circuit judge's denial of its request to dismiss Jorea Marple's lawsuit. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the appeal on Tuesday.
Marple was fired in 2012. She sued the board and former board President Wade Linger last year in Kanawha County Circuit Court, alleging defamation and violation of due process rights. Both the board and Linger are entitled to qualified, or good faith, immunity for discretionary actions taken in terminating Marple's employment, the board's lawyers said in a filing with Supreme Court.
"It is unequivocal that the authority to select, appoint and retain a Superintendent at its will and pleasure is a discretionary function of the Board," the board's lawyers wrote.

Metro faces federal takeover

Source: Montgomery County (MD) Sentinel

Metro's safety problems are apparently so bad the federal government wants a more aggressive role in monitoring the subway's safety. The National Transportation Safety Board announced Wednesday that it is requesting that Metrorail safety oversight be monitored by a federal agency. For Metro oversight to be monitored by the Federal Railway Administration, the National Department of Transportation first must consider Metrorail to be a commuter rail system. The administration typically monitors above-the-ground rail trains. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is currently overseen by the Tri-State Oversight Agency. The TOC is not doing enough to address incidents of safety oversight in the case of Metrorail, NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said.

Scottrade says victim of hackers who targeted financial firms

Source: Diane Bartz and Jim Finkle, Reuters

Discount broker Scottrade said on Friday that it was the victim of a cyber attack from late 2013 to early 2014 that compromised client names and addresses in a database with information on some 4.6 million customers. The firm said it learned about the attack from federal law enforcement officials who were investigating the theft of data from Scottrade and other financial services firms. The company did not identify other potential victims. FBI officials could not be reached for comment. News of the attack comes a day after Experian Plc disclosed a breach that compromised sensitive data of some 15 million people who sought to open accounts with T-Mobile US Inc. The two incidents, announced on the first two days of the U.S. government's Cybersecurity Awareness Month, are a stark reminder of the challenges businesses face in getting ahead of hackers following a string of massive breaches in recent years.

October 2, 2015

US lab settles age discrimination lawsuit for $37.25 million

Source: Associated Press, Washington Post

A federal security research facility in Northern California will pay $37.25 million to settle a lawsuit brought by 129 older workers who say they were fired because of their ages. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory about 45 miles east of San Francisco announced the settlement Wednesday but denied any wrongdoing. The workers who sued were among 430 laid off in 2007 as the Livermore lab restructured, shifting its focus away from nuclear weapon development and toward other scientific research. Mike McElfresh said he was a 51-year-old physicist when he was laid off, finding himself in a long line of other soon-to-be former employees who were middle-aged, the Contra Costa Times reported

Nestle Waters faces law suit over gender discrimination against female employee

Source: Kaylan Kumar, International Business Times

Nestlé Waters North America is facing a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa division in late September, the lawsuit claims the Connecticut-based Nestlé Waters violated federal anti-discrimination law by refusing to promote a qualified female employee and then laying her off later. The EEOC petition asserted that the company's action stemmed from prejudice against the gender of the female employee, Dawn Bowers-Ferrera. The lawsuit alleged that even though Bowers-Ferrera had more than 20 years of experience with Nestlé Waters, she was sidelined for promotion in order to favour a less qualified male employee.

The lawsuit also highlighted that Bowers-Ferrera was the only sales zone manager of the company laid off during a consolidation of zone sales in the state of Florida, while 11 other zone managers, all men, were retained by the company. The EEOC said, it tried to settle the case out of court but that was not successful.

1,461 troops to get money for wrongful foreclosures

Source: Karen Jowers, Military Times

Nearly 1,500 additional service members will receive compensation for wrongful foreclosures on their homes, Justice Department officials announced. The new announcement brings to 2,413 the total number of service members who are eligible to share in a settlement of more than $311 million from five mortgage servicers: JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, GMAC Mortgage and Bank of America. Justice officials are wrapping up most of their work identifying the service members who will receive payments as the result of a 3-year-old settlement. The service members each will receive $125,000, plus any lost equity in their property and interest on that equity, if their mortgage was serviced by Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citi or GMAC Mortgage.

1,461 troops to get money for wrongful foreclosures

Source: Karen Jowers

October 1, 2015

Tobacco manufacturers revive lawsuit against FDA

Source: Richard Craver, Winston-Salem Journal

The Big Three tobacco manufacturers revived a lawsuit Wednesday seeking a permanent injunction against the Food and Drug Administration to prevent implementation of new packaging guidelines.
Altria Group Inc., Lorillard Inc. and Reynolds American Inc., along with subsidiaries, sued April 14 over rules for packaging labels that they consider too restrictive under the federal Tobacco Control Act of 2009. The FDA issued an interim enforcement policy May 29 on new tobacco products that appeared to be a response to the lawsuit.
The manufacturers agreed to drop the lawsuit June 2 based on the FDA's willingness to consider regulatory comments and delay enforcing the initial guidelines.

Tobacco manufacturers revive lawsuit against FDA

Source: Richard Craver, Winston-Salem Journal

The Big Three tobacco manufacturers revived a lawsuit Wednesday seeking a permanent injunction against the Food and Drug Administration to prevent implementation of new packaging guidelines.
Altria Group Inc., Lorillard Inc. and Reynolds American Inc., along with subsidiaries, sued April 14 over rules for packaging labels that they consider too restrictive under the federal Tobacco Control Act of 2009. The FDA issued an interim enforcement policy May 29 on new tobacco products that appeared to be a response to the lawsuit.
The manufacturers agreed to drop the lawsuit June 2 based on the FDA's willingness to consider regulatory comments and delay enforcing the initial guidelines.

Attorney general says no quota on excessive force cases

Source: David Porter, Associated Press

New state guidelines on investigating excessive force complaints against police officers should improve accountability and transparency but aren't necessarily intended to raise the percentage of cases that result in indictments, New Jersey's attorney general said Tuesday at a conference on improving relations between police and residents. Of 50 cases that were presented to grand juries in the last 10 years, two led to indictments, Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig said in response to a question during a panel discussion at the community policing forum "Building Trust: Strategies to Strengthen Police/Community Relationships." That number wasn't troubling to Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman, who said afterward that while the new guidelines implemented this summer could produce more indictments, that wasn't the aim.

September 30, 2015

Cleveland estimates police department reforms will cost $45M

Source: Northeast Ohio Media Group, Associated Press

City officials said it will cost Cleveland at least $45 million to implement a plan to reform its embattled police department as part of a recent settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Finance Director Sharon Dumas and Law Director Barbara Langhenry presented the cost analysis to City Council on Monday, Northeast Ohio Media Group reported. Dumas said two fiscal officers itemized the potential cost of every provision in the city's consent decree with the DOJ. Their analysis concluded that Cleveland will pay $13.2 million next year and at least $8 million during each of the following four years to reform the city's police department, which was accused of using excessive force too often.Officials said the two most expensive items are the monitor that will be hired to oversee compliance and training. The monitor will cost between $4.5 million and $12 million over five years, while training will cost $4.2 million over two years.

Citing WHO report, former farmhand sues Monsanto over glyphosate

Source: Ben Unglesbee, St. Louis Business Journal

A former farmworker who handled the herbicide Roundup extensively is suing its maker, Monsanto Co., in federal court on allegations that the company was negligent in presenting the risks of the crop chemical to the public. Enrique Rubio, a Colorado resident, filed the suit last week in California district court. According to his complaint, Rubio worked in fruit and vegetable fields in Oregon and California and weekly used pumps to spray fields with Roundup, Monsanto's branded version of the herbicide glyphosate. Rubio since was diagnosed with bone cancer, and his suit alleges that Roundup products were "a substantial and contributing factors in causing Plaintiff's grave injuries."

Suit alleges UPS unjustly fired Phoenix employee

Source: Lucas Robbins, Arizona Republic

A federal lawsuit accuses UPS of unjustly firing a Phoenix-based employee with medical issues as retaliation for seeking accommodations for her condition. The suit, filed Tuesday in federal court by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, says the employee, Desiree Barnabas, was forced into unpaid medical leave before her termination. The EEOC is alleging that UPS' conduct violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which prohibit employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities and retaliating against employees who attempt to use the ADA's protections. Susan Rosenberg, director of UPS public relations, said the company "has not received a specific complaint on this issue." "UPS has an extensive ADA accommodation process to ensure qualified individuals are reasonably accommodated in their current jobs or through reassignment in an available position for which they are qualified," Rosenberg said. "UPS will vigorously defend its process and ADA compliance."

September 29, 2015

Chief Justice John Roberts' Supreme Court at 10, defying labels

Source: Richard Wolf, USA Today

Three years into John Roberts' tenure as chief justice of the United States, the Supreme Court ruled by one vote that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep guns at home for self-defense. Seven years later to the day, the court ruled - again by one vote - that the 14th Amendment requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Leaning right on guns but left on gays, right on race and religion but left on health care reform, the Roberts Court reaches its 10-year anniversary this week at the fulcrum of American public policy, culture - and politics. From the court's landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision that allows unlimited corporate spending in political campaigns to its razor-thin ruling that upheld President Obama's signature health care law, the high court under Roberts has struggled to balance a strict reading of the Constitution and federal statutes against the pressures of politics and public opinion.

Target Expands List of Chemicals It Wants Out of Consumer Goods

Source: Lauren Coleman-Lochner and Shannon Pettypiece, Bloomberg

Target Corp. has expanded the list of chemicals it wants suppliers to take out of their products, stepping up pressure on its vendors to respond to consumer health concerns. The list includes almost 600 substances on Health Canada's roster of prohibited cosmetic ingredients, such as coal tars and bisphenol A. It also adds triclosan, an antibacterial ingredient that is under review in hand soaps and sanitizers by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and was banned from products in Target's home state last year. Target made the changes earlier this year without publicizing them, but a Washington-based advocacy group called Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families plans to spotlight the list this week. Though Target isn't prohibiting the ingredients outright, the move gives consumer-products companies fresh incentives to identify and eliminate controversial substances. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has a similar program for manufacturers, including a list of substances that the retailer doesn't post publicly.

Fifth Third Bank fined for discriminating against minorities seeking auto loans

Source: Jonnelle Marte, Washington Post

Fifth Third Bank agreed to pay $21 million to consumers to settle allegations that it discriminated against minorities seeking auto loans and used deceptive marketing techniques to sell credit card protection products. In a joint enforcement action from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Justice, the regional bank was asked to pay $18 million to consumers for allowing dealers to charge higher interest rates on auto loans for African-American and Hispanic borrowers, regardless of their creditworthiness. Because of the illegal pricing method, thousands of minority borrowers were charged over $200 more for their auto loans between January 2010 and September 2015. As a part of the action, Fifth Third Bank, which is headquartered in Cincinnati, will face new limits on how much dealers can mark up interest rates for consumers. In a statement, Fifth Third Bank said it already limits how much dealers can charge, and that it will be lowering those caps as part of the enforcement action.

September 28, 2015

Fight Erupts Over Protecting Rooftop Workers Many contractors refuse to comply with new rules on harnesses or nets.

A few months ago, Jose Olvera fell eight feet from the roof of a one-story home in Hereford, Ariz., a remote desert town near the Mexico border. Working without a harness or other systems that can stop falls, the 64-year-old veteran roofer died on the scene from a head injury, according to a county medical examiner. Mr. Olvera, like many other residential construction workers, had worked for decades atop Arizona's homes without protection to stop or prevent a fall. A previous tumble broke his arm so badly that a plate had to be implanted, said his stepdaughter, Yusbi Soriano. The family that runs Cochise County Roofing and Referrals, which employed Mr. Olvera, said it had never considered using netting, guard rails or safety harnesses for workers on one-story houses. "It was devastating," said manager Carla Reaves, referring to the worker's death. Many contractors say such protection is too expensive or can create new problems. But other contractors say such protection can saves lives. With a growing number of residential construction workers dying from fatal falls in recent years, the federal government has started requiring fall protection even for one- and two-story buildings as part of an initiative to address problems on residential construction sites.

Workplace violence: Know the numbers, risk factors and possible warning signs

Source: Greg Botelho, CNN

In Alabama, a recently fired man walks into a UPS facility he'd worked at, shoots dead two people, then takes his own life. In Oklahoma, another man -- also just after being laid off -- allegedly heads to his former food processing plant, beheads the first person he sees, then attacks another. In Illinois, police say, a man walks into his air traffic control center in the early morning, starts a destructive fire, then slices his own throat. In all three instances, all from this week, seemingly safe workplaces transformed instantly into danger zones. Why? How might these or other cases of workplace violence have been prevented? And are these events signs of a larger, growing possibility of death in the average Americans place of employment -- where many spend more waking hours, on a given week, than inside their own homes? While every case is different, a lot of work has been devoted to try to answer these questions and, ideally, prevent more such attacks from occurring. Workplace violence isn't new. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, FBI and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics -- the latter of which released a study on this topic earlier this month -- have all studied it extensively, providing statistics and guidelines about who is most at risk and what can be done about it.

Promoters added to class action suit vs. TelexFree

Source: Beth Healy, Boston Globe

A class action lawsuit against TelexFree Inc., the bankrupt Marlborough company that prosecutors allege was an illegal pyramid scheme, was amended this week to pursue profits allegedly taken by the firm's promoters. The lawsuit, amended in federal courts in Arizona and Worcester, has added to its list of potential defendants high-profile TelexFree promoters like Sann Rodrigues, who is already facing civil fraud charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Kiersten Taylor, an attorney with the Boston law firm Brown Rudnick who is corepresenting the alleged victims in the case, said there could be thousands of people who both made profits on the investment scheme and received funds from other people they brought in to participate.

September 25, 2015

EEOC files first transgender discrimination lawsuits

Source: Kathryn Varn, Miami Herald

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed its first two transgender discrimination lawsuits Thursday, including one against a Florida eye clinic. The lawsuits claim that by firing employees because they identify as transgender, Lakeland Eye Clinic and Detroit-based R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits gender discrimination. The Lakeland case, based on a complaint filed to the commission's Miami division, involves a woman name Brandi Branson, who was hired in July 2010 as director of hearing services after the clinic decided to add a hearing division, according to a copy of the lawsuit. Less than a year later, she was fired.

Texas Roadhouse Age Discrimination Lawsuit Could Affect Hiring Practices

Source: Patrick G. Lee and Carol Hymowitz, Bloomberg

Maria DeSimone was 40 when she applied for a server job at a Texas Roadhouse in Palm Bay, Fla., in 2009. Her family needed more income, so the wife and mother of two, who had two years of restaurant experience, decided to return to work. A manager said he'd get back to her. He never did, and when she called to follow up on her application, DeSimone was told the restaurant wasn't hiring. She later learned that the 19-year-old daughter of a friend, who'd never worked in a restaurant, got the job. DeSimone is among 55 women and men named as claimants in a lawsuit against the Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

September 24, 2015

GrubHub, DoorDash and Caviar face lawsuits over worker misclassification

Source: Tracey Lien, Los Angeles Times

On-demand food delivery services GrubHub, DoorDash and Caviar were slapped with lawsuits Wednesday alleging that they misclassified their delivery drivers as independent contractors. The complaints were filed in San Francisco Superior Court on behalf of the delivery drivers by Boston attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan, who is also representing plaintiffs in similar lawsuits against on-demand transportation companies Uber and Lyft. A federal judge in San Francisco certified the lawsuit against Uber for class action last month.

Former employees sue Kraft Heinz Co. over discontinued charity program

Source: Matthew Santoni, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Three former H.J. Heinz employees are suing the Kraft Heinz Co. because the company ended a program that would have made large donations to charity in those employees' names.
The H.J. Heinz Co. in 1989 offered the Key Employee Charitable Award Program, in which eligible top employees could donate money each year for five years to the H.J. Heinz Company Foundation. In exchange, the Heinz Co. would make a posthumous donation of up to $3 million in the employee's name to a charity of his or her choice, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.
Last year, about a year after Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital purchased the company, participants were told the program was ending, and the charities they had picked would get about 40 percent less than what was promised when they signed up, according to the lawsuit.

September 23, 2015

Minnesota-Duluth: Ex-coaches expected to file gender discrimination lawsuit

Source: John Shipley, Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Shannon Miller and two other former University of Minnesota-Duluth coaches have received right-to-sue letters from the U.S. Department of Justice and are expected to announce a lawsuit Monday against the school. Miller, the Bulldogs' national-title-winning hockey coach from 1999-2015, will join former softball coach Jen Banford and women's basketball coach Annette Wiles at a news conference Monday in Eden Prairie. Miller's lawyer, Dan Siegel of Oakland, Calif., declined to announce a lawsuit Tuesday but said all three women have received right-to-sue letters from the DOJ as well as the Minnesota Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Volkswagen emission scandal widens: 11 million cars affected

Source: Nathan Borney, USA Today

Volkswagen's emissions scandal ballooned Tuesday as the company admitted that software designed to fool regulators affects 11 million vehicles worldwide and could cost more than $7 billion to address, threatening to undermine its new position as the world's largest automaker. The automaker's deception immediately qualifies as one of the most expensive automotive scandals in recent memory and could jeopardize CEO Martin Winterkorn's job as his contract comes up for renewal. The company's crisis dragged down stocks in Germany, undermined Volkswagen's claims of environmentally advanced diesel engineering and threatened to reverse the automaker's sales gains on Toyota as the world's biggest vehicle maker - a title it seized in the first six months of 2015.

Broward Health's $70 million settlement leaves risk of criminal charges

Source: Dan Christensen, Miami Herald

Court documents describe the massive healthcare fraud that led Broward Health to pay $69.5 million to settle a whistleblower's lawsuit last week as an illegal "scheme of mutual enrichment" between the hospital system and its physicians. Was it a criminal scheme? Justice Department attorneys who handled the case aren't talking. "As a general policy, the Justice Department does not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation," said Nicole A. Navas, a department spokeswoman in Washington.

September 22, 2015

Delaware North sues park service over Yosemite dispute

Source: Stephen T. Watson, The Buffalo News

Delaware North accuses the National Park Service of breach of contract in a lawsuit filed last week in the U.S. Court of Claims, the latest fallout from the service's decision this summer to award the lucrative Yosemite National Park concessions contract to another vendor. The suit brought by the Buffalo-based hospitality and tourism giant argues the park service should have required Aramark, which won the new Yosemite contract, to purchase the names of park attractions and other intangible assets from Delaware North, as Delaware North was obligated to do when it took over park operations in 1993, according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by The Buffalo News.

In the U.S., one state is ground zero for tobacco suits

Source: Jonathan Berr, CBS News

The family of a deceased Air Force veteran who died of lung cancer at the age of 50 recently won a $34 million verdict against R.J. Reynolds, a unit of Reynolds American (RAI), from a jury in Pensacola, Florida. It was one of thousands of legal challenges the industry faces in the Sunshine State. Lawyers for the tobacco company unsuccessfully argued that Garry O'Hara knew of the dangers of smoking but choose to partake anyway before kicking the habit at age 35. They also argued that the evidence wasn't clear that the cancer originated in his lungs.O'Hara's attorney Mark Avera and Jones Day partner David Monde, who represents Reynolds, the nation's second-largest tobacco company, didn't respond to requests for comment. Brian D. Hatchell, a spokesman for Reynolds American, declined to comment for this story. The company's brands include Newport, Camel and Pall Mall.

September 21, 2015

VW cheated on U.S. pollution tests for 'clean diesels'

Source: Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times

Volkswagen called them "clean diesels," branding them as the fun-to-drive alternatives to hybrids as it dominated the U.S. market for the engine technology. Turns out the increasingly eco-conscious buyers of the sporty German cars have been unwittingly pumping smog into the air - because of software VW installed to cheat on U.S. emissions tests. The world's largest automaker has admitted selling 482,000 such diesels since 2009, California and U.S. regulators announced Friday. The scandal could cost the company billions of dollars in fines and lawsuit judgments and threatens to stunt the development of all diesel vehicles.

Bratton Tries a Community Policing Approach, on the New York Police

Source: Al Baker, The New York Times

After years of aggressive, centralized enforcement of its most minor rules, the New York Police Department is changing the way it disciplines its officers. Police Commissioner William J. Bratton is giving his commanders in the field far more authority in deciding how - or whether - to punish minor infractions, like misplacing a memo book or being late for court. Mr. Bratton still comes down hard in politically combustible cases, as he did this month in placing a plainclothes officer on desk duty for mistakenly arresting the retired tennis star James Blake with the kind of aggression that many black New Yorkers, particularly young men, say they endure frequently, and with far less attention.

Researchers find evidence of CTE in 96% of deceased NFL players they tested

Source: Nate Scott, USA Today

Researchers published findings this week that 87 of 91 deceased NFL players tested were found to have evidence of the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The study was conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University and found that 96% of former NFL players tested had evidence of the degenerative brain disease, with 79% of all football players tested - who played at all levels - showing signs of the disease. The researchers tested the brains of 165 former football players who competed at the high school, college, semi-pro or professional level. Of those tested, 131 showed signs of CTE.

September 19, 2015

Applicant, Beware! The 10 Biggest Lies Headhunters Tell You

Source: Roger W. Feicht, Business.com

When you're looking for a new job, you spend a lot of time working with headhunters and recruiters. Sometimes these words are used interchangeably, but there is a difference. A recruiter works for the company for which she's hiring while a headhunter works independently. A business hires a headhunter to fill specific positions, and they only get paid when the position is filled. A recruiter gets paid no matter what. This distinction is very important when you're looking for a job. While most headhunters are awesome, there are a few bad apples in all professions. And there are a few things that the headhunter doesn't have control over or even insight into. After all, they are independent professionals who contract with businesses. They aren't privy to the day to day operations of the company you want to work for.

Gender Bias Suit Will Soon Shine a Harsh Light on Microsoft

Source: Katie Moussouris, Wired

Microsoft faces A class action lawsuit from former employee and noted computer security researcher Katie Moussouris. The suit claims that during Moussouris's seven years at Microsoft, she and other women were unfairly discriminated against on the basis of their gender, passed over for raises and promotions, and ranked below their male counterparts during bi-annual performance reviews. Moussouris was instrumental in prompting Microsoft to launch its first bug bounty program in 2013, something the company resisted for years.

Business Lobby Might Be Last To Realize Paid Leave Law Makes Sense

Source: Emily Peck, GPB News

Business school professors are taking a big stand in favor of a federal law for paid family leave, but business lobbying groups still vehemently oppose the idea. On Tuesday, 203 business school professors from 88 universities sent a letter to Congress urging passage of the Family Act, which would provide partially paid time off for workers who need to care for a new baby or sick family member. Leave would be funded by workers and employers. A very small percentage of one's paycheck would be used to pay into an insurance fund available to workers who need it -- amounting to about 2 cents for every $10 of pay. The bill's largely gone nowhere in Congress, though President Barack Obama recently talked about his support for it.

September 18, 2015

FIFA suspends Sepp Blatter's top aide

Source: Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times

The corruption scandal that has rocked FIFA for the last four months claimed its highest-ranking official Thursday when world soccer's governing body announced that Secretary General Jerome Valcke has been suspended after it was revealed he was the focus of a potentially lucrative deal involving the sale of 2014 World Cup tickets. In a one-paragraph statement, FIFA said it has been made aware of a "series of allegations" and has requested a formal investigation by its internal ethics committee. FIFA did not specify details but said Valcke, second only to embattled President Sepp Blatter in the group's power structure, "has been put on leave and released from his duties effective immediately."

Ruling sets up new review of religious objections to contraceptive mandate

Source: Robert Barnes, Washington Post

A federal appeals court ruling Thursday could lead to a new Supreme Court test of the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate, examining whether the Obama administration has done enough to accommodate the objections of religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations such as universities, hospitals and charities. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St. Louis said forcing two Missouri organizations to offer contraceptive coverage to employees - even indirectly - would violate the groups' religious freedoms. The decision was at odds with that of every other appeals court that has considered the issue. Those courts have said the government's compromise was adequate. Such splits among the courts usually compel the Supreme Court to settle the issue.

$900 Million Penalty for G.M.'s Deadly Defect Leaves Many Cold

Source: Danielle Ivory and Bill Vlasic, The New York Times

At a news conference, Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, defended the settlement. "It has been a challenging case, for the agencies, for the prosecutors and for me," Mr. Bharara said. "We've had to think long and hard about the appropriate resolution in this case."
Mr. Bharara said that the victims had been paramount in the minds of the prosecutors on the case. "I met personally with families who lost loved ones in tragic accidents involving the switch and, I'll tell you, those were among the most searing moments I've ever spent in my six-plus years as United States attorney," he said.

September 17, 2015

New federal employee health insurance option will mean savings for some, higher costs for others

Source: Eric Yoder, Washington Post

Family coverage premiums in the health insurance program for federal employees and retirees will increase by 7 percent on average for 2016 because of the introduction of a new option covering only the enrollee and one family member. Meanwhile, current family plan enrollees who switch to that new option, called self plus one, will save 6 percent on average compared with current rates, the government projects.

The Office of Personnel Management plans to publish rules tomorrow that include those assumptions of how adding that option will affect premiums in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, separate from pending changes in premiums that occur year to year because of overall health-care costs.

U.S. judge certifies class action over Target Corp data breach

Source: Joeseph Ax, Reuters

A U.S. judge on Tuesday certified a class action against Target Corp (TGT.N) brought by several banks over the retailer's massive data breach in 2013.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson in St. Paul, Minnesota, said the banks could pursue their claims together over the breach, which compromised at least 40 million credit cards during the holiday season.

In a statement, Charles Zimmerman, one of the lead lawyers representing the banks, said, "This important ruling brings financial institutions one step closer to collectively holding Target accountable for its unprecedented data breach."

Microsoft discriminated against women in pay, promotions: U.S. lawsuit

Source: Daniel Wiessner, Reuters

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) on Wednesday was hit with a proposed class action lawsuit in U.S. court claiming its policy of ranking employees to determine pay and promotions led to discrimination against women.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Seattle, Washington by former technician Katherine Moussouris, who claims she was passed over for promotions given to less-qualified men and was told supervisors did not like her "manner or style."

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft gives employees numerical rankings based on performance evaluations, according to the lawsuit, and routinely gave female workers lower ratings based on subjective criteria.

September 15, 2015

Here's What's Happening After This Restaurant Started Paying Workers $15 an Hour

Source: Zeeshan Aleem, Policy.Mic

Whenever $15 minimum wage laws have been adopted anywhere in the United States, the increase is followed by a predictable course of events: Low-wage workers cheer, while the industries that employ them jeer, warning that their businesses will suffer.

In cities like Seattle and San Francisco, business interests have rallied against increasing the wage floor to $15, arguing that the hike will be devastating for their companies and force them to fire workers. In New York, leaders in the fast-food industry have vehemently opposed an increase of the sector's minimum wage to $15.
But on the outskirts of Detroit, where the minimum wage is $8.15, one fast-food restaurant has been voluntarily paying its workers $15 an hour for two years, and business is thriving.

The taxi wars: Full-time with Uber, but running on fumes

Source: E. Tammy Kim, AlJahzeera America

One hundred job applications and still nothing. Jennifer Cantrell, 34, partway through a master's degree in social work, had depleted her savings and needed a new plan. Through Facebook, she found out about someone subleasing cars to prospective drivers for Uber, the smartphone-based ride service. It seemed promising: She didn't own a car but had a license and the willingness to learn the road.

Uber offered "freedom and flexibility," she had heard. The company had advertised that drivers could earn an annual full-time income of $90,000. "You'll make plenty of money and have plenty to pay him and pay your bills," Cantrell thought.

Uber Appeals Class-Action Ruling for Lawsuit

Source: Douglas MacMillan, Wall Street Journal

Uber Technologies Inc. on Tuesday filed to appeal a federal judge's certification of a class-action lawsuit that challenges the car-hailing service's fundamental business model.

A federal judge on Sept. 1 granted class-action status to a lawsuit brought three drivers who claim they are Uber employees, not contractors, and therefore deserve health benefits and other expenses normally covered by an employer.

September 14, 2015

House delays bill to block cities from raising minimum wage

Source: Kim Chandler, Tuscaloosa News

A proposal to prohibit Alabama cities from raising the minimum wage for workers got heated debate but not a vote Monday in the House of Representatives.

Lawmakers debated the bill by Rep. David Faulkner, R-Mountain Brook, on the House floor but ultimately delayed a vote. The bill was introduced after the Birmingham City Council voted to raise that citys minimum wage to $10.10-per-hour by July 2017. Faulkner said it was not on anyones radar that Alabama municipalities might try to set, or raise, the minimum wage.

Faulkner said the state shouldnt have a patchwork of different minimum wages. He said he believes that moves to raise the minimum wage will cause businesses to move, close or not hire.

I really believe when you raise the minimum wage, you reduce jobs, Faulkner said.

It's Not Just Uber: Why the Taxi Industry Needs an Overhaul

Source: Caroline Fredrickson, The American Prospect

The email came from John Doe. He called himself "just another Uber driver," and wanted to remain anonymous for fear of being blacklisted by the company for airing his complaints in public. Troubled by recent announcements by Uber regarding its revamped and expanded car leasing program, he reached out to me to air his grievances and to express concern for his future. He wrote, "Uber has repeatedly argued that they are an app-based technology platform, connecting rides and drivers. However, financing, owning, and managing a fleet of cars makes them identical to a taxi cab company."

Port of Long Beach Truck Drivers Wait for Court Ruling, Enter Week 10 of 6th Strike Against Employer

Source: Asia Morris, Long Beach Post

The individual hearings, which began on July 27, were set before the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), during which the drivers provided evidence of more than $6 million in Wage Theft.

Today, Monday, the drivers striking at Pac 9's truck yard in Carson are joined on the picket line by drivers from recently unionized drayage companies, Shippers Transport Express and Eco Flo Transportation.

"Last year, the DLSE ruled that three of my co-workers are misclassified and ordered Pac 9 to pay them a quarter million dollars in back wages and penalties," said Daniel Linares, misclassified Pac 9 driver on strike, in a statement.

The "Sharing Economy" Is Dead, And We Killed It

Source: Sarah Kessler, FC

Of the eight sites listed above, only NeighborGoods is still around-after it ran through its seed funding, it was salvaged by an investor with a personal interest in the idea. About 42,000 people have signed up, though fewer than 10,000 are active. While sites like Airbnb and Uber became giant companies, the platform on which we would share our power drills with neighbors never took off.
Instead of platforms that would inspire human interaction and create less waste, what emerged were companies that awkwardly fit into-and at times completely twisted-this vision of neighborhood sharing. The "sharing economy" grew to include an odd menagerie of companies with little in common. Groupon "shared" the collective action of tipping a deal. Kickstarter "shared" a similar funding goal among many contributors.

These are the hardest places for minimum wage workers to live

Source: Ana Swanson, Washington Post

You might have a rough sense that workers who earn the minimum wage in America aren't making enough to cover the cost of a decent living. But how big is that gap really?

A professor at MIT created a new interactive map that shows where it's hardest for those earning the minimum wage to get by. Amy Glasmeier created a tool called "The Living Wage Calculator," which shows the hourly rate that an individual needs to earn to support their family for every county in the country. She then used the information to create the map pictured below, which shows the difference between the minimum wage and the amount of money needed to meet a minimum standard of living around the U.S.

September 12, 2015

Unions rally against 'right-to-work' override in Missouri

Source: Camille Phillips , St. Louis Public Radio

Union members are making sure Missouri Republican lawmakers who voted against 'right-to-work' earlier this year know that they will have union support during the next election.

Missouri's chapter of the AFL-CIO held a rally and knocked on doors Saturday in Jefferson County ahead of the General Assembly's veto session next Wednesday. That's when a vote to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a "right-to-work" bill could be brought to the floor. The measure would bar making union dues a condition of employment. Currently a business or union can require dues when a majority of workers have voted to organize.

September 10, 2015

New York State OKs $15 Minimum Wage for Fast-Food Workers

Source: David Klepper and Deepti Hajela, ABC

New York state will gradually raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 an hour - the first time any state has set the minimum that high.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration formally approved the increase Thursday, a move the Democratic governor announced at a labor rally with Vice President Joe Biden. Cuomo said he would work to pass legislation setting a $15 minimum for all industries, a promise that comes as more and more cities around the country move toward a $15 minimum wage.
"Every working man and woman in the state of New York deserves $15 an hour," the governor told the enthusiastic crowd of union members. "We're not going to stop until we get it done."
Biden predicted the $15 wage for fast-food workers would galvanize efforts across the country.

Five Female Migrant Workers Awarded $17 Million In Rape, Harassment Case

Source: Laura Bassett, Huffington Post

A federal jury has awarded a total of $17 million to five women who were fired from a produce packing company in Florida after their bosses allegedly raped and sexually harassed them on the job, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Thursday.

The women claim that their former bosses at Moreno Farms in Felda, Florida, raped, groped and sexually harassed them, and then fired them for resisting their sexual advances. Sandra Lopez, a migrant worker from Chiapas, Mexico, charged that Omar Moreno, the owner of the farm, dragged her away from the factory into his trailer one day and raped her for half an hour. Two more women said Moreno or his brother, Oscar, raped them, and another two women said the men attempted to rape them and regularly made sexual comments toward them.

Five Female Migrant Workers Awarded $17 Million In Rape, Harassment Case

Source: Laura Bassett, Huffington Post

A federal jury has awarded a total of $17 million to five women who were fired from a produce packing company in Florida after their bosses allegedly raped and sexually harassed them on the job, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Thursday.

The women claim that their former bosses at Moreno Farms in Felda, Florida, raped, groped and sexually harassed them, and then fired them for resisting their sexual advances. Sandra Lopez, a migrant worker from Chiapas, Mexico, charged that Omar Moreno, the owner of the farm, dragged her away from the factory into his trailer one day and raped her for half an hour. Two more women said Moreno or his brother, Oscar, raped them, and another two women said the men attempted to rape them and regularly made sexual comments toward them.

Number of Open Jobs Surges, but Employers Are Hiring Less

Source: Associated Press, New York Times

Job openings soared 8 percent to 5.75 million, the most since records began in 2000, the Labor Department said on Wednesday in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey. Yet overall hiring slumped, suggesting that employers were slow to fill the jobs they advertised. The big jump in openings in July would typically point to greater hiring in the months ahead, but since China's economy stumbled in August, concern about global growth has risen, causing violent swings in the stock market. That may cause employers to take a cautious approach in the coming months. In the last 12 months, average hourly pay has increased just 2.2 percent, up from a 2 percent pace in July. More job openings could also contribute to a decision by the Federal Reserve during its meeting next week to raise interest rates for the first time in nine years.

Nationwide raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour

Source: Mark Williams, The Columbus Dispatch

About 900 Nationwide workers soon will be getting a raise.
The insurer said on Wednesday that it is increasing its minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next nine months.
The change affects employees at 25 locations, primarily in call centers. Other workers who service policies also will see their wages rise.
The insurer's current minimum wage of $10.50 per hour has been in place for several years.
The change comes about after an annual review of pay for Nationwide employees, said Gale King, chief administrative officer.
"As we look at our call centers, we have discovered significant turnover and some retention issues," she said. "We look at those individuals as being the front line for us. ... We also felt it was the right thing to do."

September 9, 2015

Unions 30 Years Ago Are Somehow Making People Richer Today

Source: Rebecca J. Rosen, Atlantic

Union membership has its perks: higher wages, better healthcare, more job security. Now, a new study from the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, adds another benefit to that list: richer children, once they're all grown up.

According to the study, people between the ages of 26 and 37 who are working full time and whose parents did not go to college and were not in a union earn an average of $39,000 today. But a very similar group of people-everything the same except that they had one parent who was in a union-those people are earning $46,000. (The difference all but disappears when comparing people who had a parent who was a college graduate.)

September 8, 2015


Source: Justin Miller, The American Prospect

All in all, the year between yesterday's Labor Day and last year's had a surprising amount of good news for workers. No, their incomes weren't rising, their rate of unionization was still dismally low, the Republican governor of Illinois is hell-bent on destroying the state's public-sector unions, and if Sam Alito gets his way, the Supreme Court will try to gut those unions during its next session. All that said, during the past 12 months, workers made more gains in legislation, administrative rulings, and some courts-including the court of public opinion- than they had since before the Reagan years.
At The American Prospect, we remain dedicated to the plight of working people, labor unions, and the organized-worker movement more generally, and are committed to covering the daily fights for worker justice. In recognition of that fact, here's a round-up of our best labor coverage from the past year.

'Right to work' dominates Labor Day

Source: CDT, Kansas City Business Journal

Proponents and opponents of "right to work" legislation in Missouri used the Labor Day holiday as a chance to campaign ahead of an attempt by the Legislature to override a veto on a bill passed this year, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Missouri lawmakers will attempt to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of right to work legislation when it reconvenes on Sept. 16. Republican leaders would need 17 House members and two senators to change their earlier votes in order to override the veto, The Post-Dispatch reports.

After Labor Day, Dig In for the Fight Ahead

Source: Sarita Gupta, Talk Poverty

Between cookouts and last outings to the pool, Labor Day weekend provided all of us a chance to celebrate the end of summer. But Labor Day should also be cause for celebration of another kind: the very reason that we have weekends off, for example. As we take stock after Labor Day, there's much that we have accomplished, much to be grateful for, and yet so much work remains if we are to create a path to economic stability for all of us.

This Labor Day, nearly a quarter of Americans who work in the private sector couldn't spend time with their families because they don't have access to paid holiday time. This is just one symptom of an economic system that is out of whack-so much so that people working full-time, or two or even three jobs, can't make ends meet. While well-connected, handsomely paid CEOs have the flexibility they need to spend time with their families and provide their children with resources well beyond the basics-too many of us are barely getting by (if that) and living to work, rather than working to live full lives.

Judge to decide on halting teacher evaluation system

Source: Associated Press, KOB4

A judge will hear arguments later this month on whether the education department's evaluation system should be shut down while a lawsuit heads to court.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports Santa Fe First Judicial District Court Judge David Thomson scheduled preliminary injunction hearings for Sept. 16 and Sept. 21.

The Albuquerque Teachers Federation and the American Federation of Teachers requested the injunction after filing a lawsuit earlier this year that said the evaluations are punitive.

September 7, 2015

On Labor Day, Here Are 5 Ways To Help Labor

Source: Jonathan Cohn, Huffington Post

Labor Day isn't simply a time to fire up the grill and enjoy one last weekend of summer. It's a day to think about the challenges facing American workers. And, these days, that means there's a lot to think about.

The economy is recovering, and unemployment, according to estimates that the federal government released on Friday, is falling. It's now down to 5.1 percent, which is lower than at any time since 2008. But the employment-to-population ratio, the economic measure many economists prefer, still hasn't returned to its pre-recession levels. Wages aren't rising that quickly, either.

Ruling: More Nevada Workers Eligible For Higher Minimum Wage

Source: Associated Press, Nevada Public Radio

A Carson City judge's decision about Nevada's two-tier minimum wage law could mean more workers are eligible for higher pay.

Judge James Wilson last month struck down two portions of Nevada state code that allowed employers more latitude to pay $7.25 an hour rather than $8.25. Nevada Labor Commissioner Shannon Chambers said her office plans to ask the court to put it on hold.

A provision in the Nevada constitution allows employers to pay $7.25 an hour if they provide health insurance to employees, and $8.25 an hour if they don't. The judge ruled that employers can't count tips when calculating how much workers are getting paid.

September 6, 2015

How to get paid what you're owed, in three easy steps. (Okay, maybe not so easy.)

Source: Daniel J. Galvin, Washington Post

This Labor Day, it looks like workers' rights advocates finally have some things to celebrate. Last week the National Labor Relations Board issued a major ruling in favor of workers; the Fight for $15 movement won wage increases at several major corporations and across New York state; President Obama's Labor Department will soon dramatically expand overtime eligibility; and in the past two years alone, minimum-wage increases were enacted in 14 states and several major metropolitan areas.

These and other changes have altered the trajectory of low-wage work in the United States and given many workers hope for still better days.

But will a higher minimum wage actually deliver higher earnings for workers?

September 4, 2015

18 Numbers That Show Why American Workers Really Need a Break This Weekend

Source: Brad Tuttle, Money

Labor Day, a federal holiday since 1894, "is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers," according to the U.S. Department of Labor. It's always celebrated on the first Monday of September, unofficially marking the end of the summer with a most-welcome three-day weekend for (most) workers. We thought it would be the perfect time to gather some research to sum up how American workers are faring. Here's a statistical portrait of the American workforce.
15% vs. 138% Average pay increase in real wages since 1979 for the bottom 90% vs. top 1% of earners in America, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
11% vs. 20%+ Percentage of American workers in unions in 2014 vs. the 1970s/early 1980s, respectively; union membership has fallen consistently since the Reagan years.

U.S. employers add 173,000 jobs in August; unemployment rate falls to 5.1%

Source: Jim Puzzanghera, LA Times

Job growth unexpectedly slowed last month to a modest 173,000, but the unemployment rate fell to a post-Great Recession low and average wages posted their biggest gain since January, the Labor Department said Friday.

The report sent mixed messages to Federal Reserve policymakers, who are trying to decide if the labor market and, more broadly, the economy are strong enough to handle the first increase in a key interest rate since 2006.

The low headline number was well below analyst expectations for 223,000 net new jobs, and down from July's strong 245,000 figure.

But growth for June and July was revised up by a total of 44,000 net new jobs. That means the economy has added an average of 221,000 jobs over the last three months.

Inside the battle to overhaul overtime - and what it says about how lobbying has changed

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

The week before Labor Day may be a quiet one in Washington. But in the nation's capital and across the country, legions of lawyers and lobbyists are scrambling to weigh in one of the most consequential regulations of Obama's second term: An update to the Fair Labor Standards Act that would make 4.6 million more people eligible for overtime.

The comment period ends Friday on the rule, and the outcome could have more of a direct impact on Americans' earnings as almost any federal law that's passed since the Affordable Care Act.

September 2, 2015

The pushback against unfair labor practices

Source: Harold Meyerson, Washington Post

On this Labor Day, American workers may be beginning to reclaim what by right should be theirs. To be sure, the economic statistics continue to appall: In the second quarter of this year, for instance, labor costs rose at their lowest rate since the early '80s - a measly 0.2 percent, despite steady economic growth and falling unemployment. That's what happens when the income gains from work accrue almost entirely to owners, stock players and top executives.

But the pushback against the imbalances of power and income between workers (who have little) and employers (who have lots), which has been spurred by fast-food workers' "Fight for 15," is showing some distinctly positive results.

Georgia's Minimum Wage Is Still $5.15 An Hour

Source: Trevor Young, GPB News

Ava Hoyle is rinsing canned beans in her new apartment. She recently moved to Atlanta with her boyfriend to start college. They just found this place after living in-and-out of motels for three months. "It could have been worse. They were only, like, a few crack-head knocks, just a couple. We only had a few police incidents."

Ava makes sandwiches at Jimmy John's for minimum wage, and her boyfriend Vyse is waiting on GI benefits. He spends the better part of his day crunching numbers. "That's, just simply basics, nine-hundred forty-four dollars split where...to live here…once I get into school, I'll be making about seven hundred dollars a month, she'll be making five hundred dollars a month"

The court ruling that could blow up Uber's business model

Source: Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

San Francisco Federal Judge Edward M. Chen just peppered that strategy with buckshot and left it smoking by the side of the road. On Tuesday, Chen granted class action status to a lawsuit challenging the independent contractor classification and cleared it to go to trial. The case could involve as many as 160,000 drivers who worked for Uber in California after August 2009. But its implications are much greater, as Uber drivers all over the country could end up enjoying the benefits that belong to employees -- more secure jobs and fairer pay among them.

Uber says it will appeal, but Chen's ruling is part of what's beginning to look like a continuum. It follows a ruling in June by California labor regulators that Uber's drivers are employees, and an emergent trend among "sharing economy" startups to give their workers employee status.

September 1, 2015

The surging ranks of America's ultrapoor

Source: CBS Moneywatch, KPAX8

By one dismal measure, America is joining the likes of Third World countries.
The number of U.S. residents who are struggling to survive on just $2 a day has more than doubled since 1996, placing 1.5 million households and 3 million children in this desperate economic situation. That's according to "$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America," a book from publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that will be released on Sept. 1.
The measure of poverty isn't arbitrary -- it's the threshold the World Bank uses to measure global poverty in the developed world. While it may be the norm to see families in developing countries such as Bangladesh and Ethiopia struggle to survive on such meager income, the growing ranks of America's ultrapoor may be shocking, given that the U.S. is considered one of the most developed capitalist countries in the world.

The Renewed Push For Labor Rights

Source: Josh Zepps, Huffington Post

The Obama Administration has helped put workers's rights in the national spotlight by increasing access to overtime pay and workplace protections. But what is the current state of labor rights as union power wanes and the "gig economy" emerges?

Too many inmates, too few correctional officers: A lethal recipe in federal prisons

Source: Joe Davidson, Washington Post

People who work in cafeterias might expect complaints about the chili, but not conflicts with knife-toting convicts.

Yet, if you sling grits and chicken in a U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) dining hall, dealing with killers, kidnappers, and thieves is part of the job description - and to a greater degree than many realize.

The peril was driven home shortly after 11 a.m. on August 18 when four employees, only one of whom was a correctional officer, were assaulted at the Canaan federal penitentiary in Waymart, Pa. That's the same prison, home for 1,500 male convicts, where Eric Williams, a correctional officer, was slain by an inmate in 2013.

August 31, 2015

Seattle might try something crazy to let Uber drivers unionize

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Seattle may try a novel legal approach to helping Uber drivers to unionize - and potentially other independent contractors too, if the idea holds up in court.

Today, a Seattle City Councilmember is expected to announce legislation that would grant all for-hire drivers in the city the right to collectively bargain with the companies they contract with to provide services, which they currently can't do under federal law, setting up an entirely new system.

Over the past few years, taxi drivers have affiliated with unions in cities across the country. But since they're usually independent contractors, they're not covered by the law that allows them to negotiate directly with taxi companies, like other private-sector employees can. Their only power is to try to influence how cabs are regulated, which determines their pay and working conditions.

Justice Dept. Louisiana company settle discrimination suit

Source: Associated Press, Chron

The agreement signed Monday by federal officials calls for Louisiana Crane and Construction LLC in Eunice to pay $165,000 in civil penalties. The company also must establish a $50,000 fund to compensate workers who lost wages because of its practices.

A 2014 lawsuit alleged that the company discriminated against non-citizen job applicants who had permission to work in the United States by requiring them to produce certain Department of Homeland Security documents that they were not required to produce under federal law. The Justice Department said the company allowed applicants it believed to be citizens more flexibility in the production of documents.

As His Term Wanes, Obama Champions Workers' Rights

Source: Noam Scheiber, The New York Times

With little fanfare, the Obama administration has been pursuing an aggressive campaign to restore protections for workers that have been eroded by business activism, conservative governance and the evolution of the economy in recent decades.

In the last two months alone, the administration has introduced a series of regulatory changes. Among them: a rule that would make millions more Americans eligible for extra overtime pay, and a guidance suggesting that many employers are misclassifying workers as contractors and therefore depriving them of basic workplace protections. That is an issue central to the growth of so-called gig economy companies like Uber.

A little more than a week ago, a federal appeals panel affirmed an earlier regulation granting nearly 2 million previously exempted home care workers minimum wage and overtime protections.

August 30, 2015

The undercarriage of the car-wash industry: Wage fraud and other abuses

Source: Antonio Olivo and Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

In the back area of a Fairfax County auto dealership, a crew of mostly undocumented workers provides a snapshot of the challenges that Virginia faces with its steadily transforming economy.

There, immigrants from Latin America rush to clean a steady line of used cars that their employer - an independent car-detailing company - was hired by the dealer to prepare for resale.

Each of them has bounced between several jobs in a loosely regulated industry that, according to lawsuits, is contributing to a growing form of payroll fraud that state officials estimate costs Virginia $28 million a year in lost taxes, after full-time workers are illegally categorized as independent contractors.

August 28, 2015

St. Louis Leaders Agree to Minimum Wage Increase to $11/hour

Source: Associated Press, ABC

The minimum wage in St. Louis would rise to $11 per hour by 2018 under a measure approved Friday.

The bill, which the St. Louis' Board of Alderman passed and Mayor Francis Slay later signed, was a compromise. An earlier proposal sought to raise the minimum wage to $13 by 2020.

St. Louis joins several other major U.S. cities in setting its own wage minimum. The federal rate is $7.25. Missouri's minimum wage is $7.65.

The vote on the issue met an important deadline. In July, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill that would have blocked cities from raising the minimum wage beyond the state's level. Lawmakers could override Nixon's veto during a special September session.

Minimum-Wage Work Alone Won't Get You Through College

Source: Sandhya Kambhampati and Meredith Myers, Chronicle

If the federal minimum wage were raised to $15 an hour, a year's worth of 20-hour work weeks would cover the average in-state tuition and fees in most states. (In Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Illinois - where tuition and fees exceed $15,000 - you'd have work at least two extra months to break even.)

Now, here's an important point to keep in mind: Tuition and fees are just one part of attending college. They don't include room and board, books and supplies and other expenses that come with attending college - all of which can double or even triple the costs shown here. At flagships, these estimated costs can range from $8,000 to $19,000. We're also not accounting for financial aid, which would mitigate the cost for many students, or for income tax and cost of living, which could exacerbate it.

August 27, 2015

Farmworkers See Jobs, Earnings Shrivel In California Drought

Source: Lesley McClurg, NPR

More than 21,000 people are out of work this year from California's drought, according to a study from the University of California, Davis. The majority are in agriculture. Those farmworkers lucky enough to have a job are often working harder for less money.

Leaning forward and crouching from the waist, Anastacio picks strawberries from plants about as tall as his knees. We're not using his last name because Anastacio and his family are undocumented.

He's working in an organic field in Watsonville, near Santa Cruz. This year, he's averaging about half as many boxes of berries as he usually does.

"We are earning less money because we are done with work early, and there is less fruit," he says in Spanish. A steady stream of sweat pours off his brow.

In landmark case, labor board will let more workers bargain with their employer's employer

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

A federal labor board voted Thursday to redefine the employee-employer relationship granting new bargaining powers to workers caught up in an economy increasingly reliant on subcontractors, franchisees and temporary staffing agencies.
The decision by the National Labor Relations Board could upend the traditional arms-length relationship that has prevailed between corporate titans such as McDonald's and its neighborhood fast-food franchises. And it comes as concerns are growing about a generation of new Internet-fueled business such as Uber and Lyft that depend heavily on independent contractors.
In a case that drew intense lobbying by both business and union groups, Democratic appointees on the panel split 3-2 with Republicans to adopt a more expansive definition of what it means to be an "joint employer," making it more difficult for companies to avoid responsibility through various forms of outsourcing.

August 26, 2015

Brooklyn Nail Salons Protest Increased Regulations With One Day Strike

Source: DNA Info, Rachel Holliday Smith

Several Brooklyn nail salons closed their doors for a one-day strike this week to protest new fines implemented by the state to regulate the industry, owners and workers said.

The salons, located on Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights, Eighth Avenue in Park Slope and Flatbush Avenue in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, hung identical signs in the windows of their shuttered shops Tuesday depicting Uncle Sam next to the words "I want your money."

The posters directed customers to an open letter published on NailGlobal.com that asked customers to "tell Governor Cuomo and elected officials" that new fines and enforcement from the state were hurting their businesses.

Longer Hours, More Stress, No Extra Pay: It's Not Just Amazon, It's the Modern Workplace

Source: Bryce Covert, The Nation

By now many of us have read The New York Times's insider account of the brutal workplace culture at Amazon's corporate offices. We already knew about what it's like to work in Amazon's warehouse centers: boiling heat, impossible production demands, and frequent firings of the temporary workforce. For the white-collar workers, demands are also high, if of a different nature: staff regularly cry at their desks, are shamed for taking time off for cancer treatments, and so often work during weekends and vacations that they develop ulcers. Failure to respond to a late-night e-mail comes with a reprimand. One employee recounts that her fiancee had to come to headquarters every night at 10 pm and call her repeatedly to get her to leave.

Gap To End On-Call Scheduling For Workers

Source: Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post

Gap Inc. announced Wednesday that it would end on-call scheduling for employees at its stores by the end of September, making it the latest retailer to drop a practice increasingly seen as unfriendly to working families.

In a post on a company blog, Andi Owen, global president for Banana Republic, said Gap Inc.'s various brands had been reevaluating their scheduling practices over the past year with an eye toward "work-life integration."

"Over the past several weeks, Heads of Stores have informed their organizations of their shared commitment to eliminate the use of on-call shifts across our global organization," Owen wrote.

The Labor Prospect: Getting Sick of No Paid Sick Leave

Source: Justin Miller, American Prospect

Despite an expanding patchwork of paid sick leave policies cropping up around the U.S., an In These Times investigation reminds us that this country is woefully behind the rest of the world in terms of such worker rights. Lacking any sort of basic safety net, nearly one-quarter of working mothers are back on the grind within just two weeks of giving birth, the report finds.

As Sharon Lerner writes, "most Americans don't realize quite how out of step we are. It's not just wealthy, social democratic Nordic countries that make us look bad. With the exception of a few small countries like Papua New Guinea and Suriname, every other nation in the world-rich or poor-now requires paid maternity leave."

August 25, 2015

Bracing for labor board decision, franchises spend recess courting Democrats

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Hoyer wasn't participating in the tour because he was looking for a place to stay. Rather, he was there to listen to the people who own franchises - along with McDonald's and Burger Kings and other fast food outlets - who are bracing for a decision expected from the National Labor Relations Board this week that could make franchisers and general contractors liable for the labor law violations of their franchisees and subcontractors, and allow workers to bargain directly with businesses at the top of the chain. That likely would prompt principal contractors to exert more control, rather than take the risk of being sued for their subcontractors' mistakes.

Labor secretary pledges support to Detroit workers

Source: Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press

One-by-one, sometimes in tears, Detroit workers on Tuesday opened up to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, telling him how little they earn and why they joined the labor movement -- Fight for 15 -- that is seeking $15 an hour wages, as well as better benefits and opportunities for employees in restaurants, retail and health care industries.

They talked about how hard it is to work in low-wage jobs, and how they struggle to use that income care, not just for themselves, but also for their kids -- and friends. Some of them, they said, work more than one job, to the point of exhaustion -- and still aren't able to make ends meet.

The New Workplace Normal, uncertain work

Source: Robert Reich, SF Gate

As Labor Day looms, more Americans than ever don't know how much they'll be earning next week or even tomorrow.
This varied group includes independent contractors, temporary workers, the self-employed, part-timers, freelancers and free agents. Most file 1099s rather than W2s, for tax purposes.

On-demand and on-call - in the "share" economy, the "gig" economy or, more prosaically, the "irregular" economy - the result is the same: no predictable earnings or hours.

It's the biggest change in the American workforce in over a century, and it's happening at lightning speed. It's estimated that in five years more than 40 percent of the American labor force will have uncertain work; in a decade, most of us.

August 24, 2015

Home Healthcare Workers Haven't Qualified for Minimum Wage for 80 Years. Now They Do.

Source:  Michelle Chen, The Nation

It took about 40 years after the passage of federal wage standards for the government to decide that domestic workers deserved a minimum wage. And it's taking nearly another 40 years for home healthcare workers-the subset of the industry specializing in elder and disability care-to gain the same protections. The Obama administration has amended federal wage and hour regulations to close a longstanding exemption for these aides. And after a legal tussle with home healthcare employers, last week, an appeals-court judge struck down a lower-court ruling blocking the reforms, paving the way for extending minimum wage and overtime protections for some of the poorest workers caring for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Target Corp. agrees to pay $2.8M discrimination settlement

Source: Chron

Target Corp. has agreed to pay $2.8 million to settle a hiring discrimination claim filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency announced Monday.

Three employment assessments formerly used by the Minneapolis-based retailer disproportionately screened out applicants for professional positions based on race and gender, and the tests were not sufficiently job-related, the EEOC said in a statement. The commission also said an assessment that was performed by psychologists violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employers from subjecting applicants to medical exams prior to making a job offer.

Hearing Tuesday in Mobile focuses on ramifications behind McDonald's labor dispute

Source: John Sharp, AL

A high-stakes labor dispute that could affect 757,000 franchise business operators across the U.S. will be played out in Mobile Tuesday during a hearing into the matter.

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tennessee will join U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Fairhope, to host a "field hearing" on how the National Labor Relations Board plans to change the way franchise businesses operate. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. at the University of South Alabama Student Center Ballroom, 350 Campus Drive.
"It's a huge issue," Byrne said Monday. "This will affect every franchise and franchisee in the nation."
Byrne said that three witnesses are expected to testify before Roe, chairman of the House subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions. Witnesses include franchisees and an Alabama labor attorney, Byrne said.

Uber Unleashes Lobbyists in California to Reshape Driver Rules

Source: Alison Vekshin , Bloomberg

Uber has spent more on lobbyists in California than Facebook and Apple combined to fend off regulations aimed at the heart of its worldwide business model.

The San Francisco company's lobbyists are pushing lawmakers to exempt its drivers from obtaining commercial licenses before they can ferry passengers. Uber Technologies Inc. and its biggest competitor, Lyft Inc., depend on drivers with personal licenses who use their own cars to pick up fares hailed through a smartphone app.

Uber has spent almost a million dollars since 2013 on lobbyists in California. Responsible for a million daily rides worldwide, the company is fighting from the Pacific to the Atlantic to derail efforts by regulators, lawmakers and the taxi industry to extend rules governing cabs to the nascent ride-sharing industry.

August 23, 2015

As Minimum Wages Rise, Restaurants Say No to Tips, Yes to Higher Prices

Source: Patricia Cohen, New York Times

Now, prompted by a spurt of new minimum wage proposals in major cities, an expanding number of restaurateurs are experimenting with no-tipping policies as a way to manage rising labor costs.

Here in Seattle, where the first stage of a $15-an-hour minimum wage law took effect in April, Ivar's seafood restaurants switched to an all-inclusive menu. By raising prices 21 percent and ending tipping, Bob C. Donegan, the president and co-owner, calculated he could increase everyone's wages.

"We saw there was a fundamental inequity in our restaurants where the people who worked in the kitchen were paid about half as much as the people who worked with customers in front of the house," Mr. Donegan said.

August 22, 2015

How employers can save money – and lives – with paid leave

Source: Maya Raghu, MSNBC

Most low-wage jobs, unlike many office or white-collar jobs, don't come with paid leave, health insurance, or other benefits. Missing work means not getting paid and the very real risk of getting fired. In the aftermath of a traumatizing assault or frightening stalking incident, a worker may need to go to the police, to court, or to the doctor. He or she shouldn't have to worry about losing a job or paying bills in an effort to stay safe – an impossible choice many survivors are forced to make. Employers have both a unique ability and a responsibility to recognize how important it is for victims to be able to take time off to recover, obtain a restraining order, or pursue other legal assistance to help ensure his or her welfare.

August 21, 2015

Boycott Amazon? It's not an easy choice

Source: David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times

There are plenty of examples of consumers flexing their economic muscle in response to what they see as businesses behaving badly.

Take the boycott of California grapes in the 1960s over mistreatment of farmworkers. Or the boycott of Chick-fil-A in 2012 over the fast-food chain's opposition to same-sex marriage.

So what, if anything, should be done about Amazon.com?

August 19, 2015

Why McDonald's Could Suddenly Be Responsible for Millions of New Employees

Source: Rob Garver, Yahoo News

The National Labor Relations Board is expected to rule, possibly within days, on a case that could drastically change the relationship between millions of workers and their employers. The board, dominated by Democratic appointees, is expected to declare that companies that hire other firms to provide labor have an employer-employee relationship with the workers brought in by those firms.

The NLRB foreshadowed the expected ruling in a controversial finding earlier this month, which found that fast food giant McDonalds is a joint employer of the restaurant workers hired by McDonalds' franchisees. But the case in question now could stretch far beyond the restaurant industry in terms of its impact.


Source: Thomas MacMillan, Wall Street Journal

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced Wednesday that his office was looking for more than 1,000 workers who are collectively owed $3.7 million.

The 1,056 workers are each due an average of $3,576, after contractors failed to pay the prevailing wage on public projects over the last 10 years, Mr. Stringer said.

He said his office had been unable to locate the workers, and urged people to check its website to see if they were owed money.
Mr. Stringer said his office would spread the word through social media, and through fliers distributed throughout the city in eight languages.
Mr. Stringer said that since 2014 his office had reached settlements worth $8.6 million with contractors who underpaid workers, mostly immigrants working nonunion jobs.

Amazon and the Realities of the "New Economy"

Source: John Cassidy, The New Yorker

irst up, an admission: like tens of millions of Americans, I am a member of Prime, Amazon.com's program that charges ninety-nine dollars annually for unlimited shipping and other benefits. Originally, I used Barnes & Noble's Web site for purchases of books and other media products. But when we had a family, my wife and I couldn't resist the convenience of one-stop shopping and delivery for books and everything else. A couple of years ago, after reading about the harsh working conditions at some of Amazon's warehouses, I considered cancelling Prime. The fact that I didn't get around to it perhaps reflects laziness and lack of empathy on my part, but also a collective-action problem. What difference would one cancelled membership make?

August 18, 2015

Amazon's brutal workplace is an indicator of an inhumane economy

Source: David Horsey, Los Angeles Times

The New York Times has sparked a national discussion about Amazon with a report detailing what it is like to work in the Seattle corporate offices of the behemoth online retailer. As at many new economy enterprises, Amazon workers put in long hours -- about double the 40-hour workweek that was once standard in the American workplace. Vacations are few. Most often the rare holiday escape merely provides a nice place to work remotely. Everyone is tethered to their cellphones so they can be reached by bosses at all hours of the day. There is a constant push to perform and produce.
If such pressures are common in high-tech workplaces, at Amazon they have been cranked up to an extreme level. Current and former Amazon employees interviewed for the article spoke of colleagues weeping at their desks. They described the demand for frequent self-criticism and the anonymous criticisms directed at fellow workers seeking to drag them down in the eyes of managers.

More Employees Sue Restaurants in Wage Disputes

Source: Thomas MacMillan

August 17, 2015

The labor market is tightening. Will that mean raises for employees?

Source: Timothy B. Lee, Vox

Often, stories about shortages in a specific industry focus on identifying industry-specific causes for the shortage and industry-specific strategies for alleviating it. For example, some trucking companies that traditionally demanded at least two years of experience behind the wheel have begun paying for new employees to go to trucking school. In education, as another example, some schools are seeking permission to have teachers teach subjects outside their certified area of expertise.

But in the long run, the best solution to a worker shortage is simple: Pay more. Any one employer can almost always get more workers if it pays enough, and if wages rise in an industry as a whole, that will attract more entry-level workers and career switchers.

Why erratic schedules are one of the worst parts of low-wage work

Source: Timothy B. Lee, Vox

Life in a low-wage job - at a restaurant or retail store, for example - has never been easy. You spend hours on your feet and deal with angry customers. And for parents, finding affordable child care can be a struggle.

A recent management trend has made the lives of low-wage workers even more difficult. In an effort to save on labor costs, many employers have made employees' schedules more erratic and less predictable.

"It gets frustrating because you want to work and make money and pay your bills," says Sonsira Espinal, who worked for a clothing retailer in New York.

Gov. Brown signs job protections for grocery workers

Source: Melanie Mason and Patrick McGreevy , Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed 14 bills, including a measure that requires that large grocery stores keep their workers for at least 90 days after a change in store ownership.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said her measure protects grocery workers from losing their jobs in the event of a corporate merger.

"Wall Street mergers and acquisitions that make big money for corporations and private equity firms should not jeopardize jobs of the grocery workers who live and work in our communities," said Gonzalez in a statement. "This is a common sense opportunity to save people's jobs and make sure the most-experienced, best-prepared workers stay on the job during a complicated transition period."

The bill was strongly backed by labor groups, including the United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents grocery workers.

Americans Are Becoming More Pro-Union

Source: Janie Velecia, Huffington Post

Americans have grown more supportive of labor unions in recent years, according to a Gallup poll released Monday. The poll found that nearly 6 in 10 Americans say they approve of labor unions, the highest approval rate since 2008.

Gallup has been surveying American opinion on organized labor since 1936. Approval has jumped five percentage points in the last year alone, and 10 percentage points since 2008. Desire for more union influence is also up. Thirty-seven percent of Americans say they want unions to have more influence, while 35 percent want to see unions wield less influence. By comparison, in 2009, only 25 percent of respondents said they wanted more influence, and 42 percent wanted less.

August 15, 2015

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace

Source: Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld, New York Times

Even as the company tests delivery by drone and ways to restock toilet paper at the push of a bathroom button, it is conducting a little-known experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers, redrawing the boundaries of what is acceptable. The company, founded and still run by Jeff Bezos, rejects many of the popular management bromides that other corporations at least pay lip service to and has instead designed what many workers call an intricate machine propelling them to achieve Mr. Bezos' ever-expanding ambitions.

Bo Olson was one of them. He lasted less than two years in a book marketing role and said that his enduring image was watching people weep in the office, a sight other workers described as well. "You walk out of a conference room and you'll see a grown man covering his face," he said. "Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk."

August 14, 2015

She thought she was entitled to maternity leave. After asking for it, she lost her job.

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Cetrone was a contractor, along with two other staffers at the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and therefore not entitled to benefits like workers compensation or unemployment insurance - or more importantly when she became pregnant, the eight weeks of paid family leave that D.C. government employees get.

"They made us look to the public like we were full-time employees, but we didn't have any of the benefits," Cetrone says.

Cetrone thought it was unfair she'd have to take time off to have a baby without pay. But it didn't strike her that there was anything untoward about it - until she began seeing reports on all the lawsuits over misclassification in the "sharing economy," alleging that everyone from Uber drivers to Homejoy cleaners should be treated as employees rather than contractors.

August 13, 2015

Are Graduate Students 'Workers'?

Source: Michelle Chen, The Nation

 The regional director for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) deemed graduate students with Student Employees at the New School (SENS-UAW) as non-employees, based on a 2004 decision involving graduate-student workers at Brown University, in which the Board ruled that the relationship between the students and institution wasn't that of a worker and employer, but rather, that "the graduate student assistants have a predominantly academic, rather than economic relationship with their school." So although they taught, researched and performed administrative tasks in exchange for the school's financial support for their studies-even when working on a regular schedule with a designated hourly wage, under a supervisor-that labor wasn't work, but rather, simply a privilege of their academic experience.

August 12, 2015

White House to Hold Summit to Amplify Employees' Voice in Workplace

Source: Melanie Trottman, Wall Street Journal

The White House will hold a summit in October to explore how American workers can amplify their voices on the job to get ahead, and it touted labor unions as a powerful way to enable that.

The "Worker Voice" summit will focus on how to ensure workers "are fully sharing in the benefits of the broad-based economic growth that they are helping to create," the White House said in a statement Wednesday that announced the Oct. 7 event.

President Barack Obama said in March that he wanted to hold a summit but the details hadn't been sorted yet. He said at the time that even as the economy was recovering many working families were still finding it hard to advance.

Minding the Gap

Source: Inquirer Editorial Board, Philly

With wages growing at the slowest rate in 33 years, the Securities and Exchange Commission's recent vote requiring publicly traded companies to report the ratio of chief executives' earnings to those of average workers should fuel discussion of income inequality and encourage companies to narrow the great divide.

The pay-ratio rule is unfinished business from the five-year-old Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and it was mightily contested by business interests. The intense lobbying will ultimately delay its implementation until after the 2016 presidential election.

Minimum wage increases haven't grown the middle class. $15 might be different.

Source: Lydia DePillis and Jim Tankersley, Washington Post

Democratic candidates in the presidential race are extolling the virtues of a higher minimum wage, and not just for workers at the bottom of the pay scale. Party front-runner Hillary Clinton included a higher (but unspecified) minimum wage in her package of economic proposals, all aimed at raising the "real incomes of everyday Americans." Her rivals Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley have endorsed a $15-an-hour minimum nationwide, as part of broad strategies to lift workers from poverty and expand the middle class.
If you're a worker earning the minimum, it's easy to see how a higher minimum wage would boost your pay (provided your employer doesn't eliminate your job to save costs). But how might raising the wage push other, higher-paid workers toward the middle class? You would need what some researchers call a "ripple effect," where employers respond to a minimum-wage hike by raising wages for more experienced employees, too, in order to keep them ahead of their entry-level colleagues.

Businesses brace for game-changing labor decision

Source: Tim Devaney, The Hill

Business leaders in Washington are bracing for a labor ruling that they warn would redefine what constitutes an "employer" in the United States, exposing thousands of companies to new liabilities and potentially upending entire industries.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is widely expected to rule by month's end that Browning-Ferris Industries, a Houston-based waste-disposal company, is a joint employer of workers provided to the firm by a staffing agency, experts say. As a result, the company would be forced to collectively bargain with those employees and could be held liable for any labor violations committed against them.

Such a decision could hit companies from a host of industries, including hospitality, retail, manufacturing, construction, financial service providers, cleaning services and security.

August 11, 2015

Are Bank Tellers the Fast Food Workers of Wall Street?

Source: Michelle Chen, The Nation

 Occupy Wall Street's encampment at Zuccotti Park exposed the abysmal gulf between the "99 percent" and Wall Street's filthy rich-but other wealth gaps have long bubbled just below the asphalt. The bottom tier of the Street-the retail bank tellers who handle regular people's money on the edges of Big Finance-are struggling financially themselves.

The wages of Wall Street's frontline workers reflect the degradation of service labor across Main Street. National Employment Law Project (NELP) found that "Of the nearly 1.7 million people working within retail banking, almost one in three-more than half a million-are in occupations with median hourly wages below $15."

Give Fast Food Workers a Raise, Already

Source: Teresa Tritch, The New York Times

Nearly three-fourths of New York City voters (73 percent) support raising the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 an hour, according to a recent Quinnipiac University Poll. Only about one fourth (24 percent) oppose the increase, which was recommended last month by a wage board appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The state's acting labor commissioner, Mario Musolino, is expected to approve the increase soon.

Most voters (57 percent) said they would pay more for fast food in New York City "so workers could get higher wages." The only groups in which a majority was not willing to pay more were Republicans (57 percent) and 18 to 34-year-olds (55 percent).

August 10, 2015

Tech Shuttle Company Is Accused of Thwarting Efforts to Unionize Its Drivers

Source: Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones

A recently filed federal complaint alleges that one of San Francisco's biggest tech shuttle operators has attempted to thwart an effort to unionize its drivers. The complaint, filed by the San Francisco office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in late June, alleges that Bauer's Intelligent Transportation has spied on pro-union employees, interfered with union organizers, and organized its own management-backed union.

With 450 employees and 225 vehicles, Bauer's has a visible presence on the streets of San Francisco. About a third of its business comes from technology companies such as Twitter, Yelp, Cisco, Salesforce, and EA Games. In the mid-'00s it drove 55 commuter buses for Google, which now operates giant white double-decker buses on its own. Last year, Bauer's played a key role in negotiating a controversial deal that allows private commuter shuttles to use public bus stops to pick up Silicon Valley workers.

Politicians make a push for debt-free college

Source: Amy Scott, MarketPlace

On Monday Hillary Clinton became the latest Democrat to lay out her ideas for making college more affordable. The plan itself isn't cheap, with its $350 billion price tag. Like some of her rivals for the Democratic ticket, Clinton wants to make college "debt free" for more students.

Student loans are shaping up to be a central issue in this presidential campaign. Americans collectively owe more than $1 trillion in student loans, says Mark Huelsman with the think tank Demos, and a lot of them will be voting.

"The generation that's really coming of age politically, the millennial generation, is the generation that has had to borrow the most, and for whom student debt really is the most acute crisis they're probably facing, economically," he says.

The Pension Crisis at Public Universities

Source: Jon Marcus, The Atlantic

The Southern Illinois University history professor Steve Hansen didn't need an academic analysis to tell him his retirement income was at risk in a state struggling to narrow an estimated $111 billion shortfall in its public-employee pension fund.* So, in 2012, at 63, Hansen quit his university job to lock in his benefits before they could be watered down. So did 408 fellow employees of the university's two campuses, and another 1,008 at The University of Illinois-twice the number who had left the year before.

Perhaps ironically, Hansen has since been called back to the university for a temporary position and is now dealing with budget and staffing issues from the other side: as the interim dean of its liberal-arts college while administrators search for a permanent replacement. Nationally, the retirement rate is on the rise in part because the population is aging. But "we have started to lose faculty who normally would probably have stayed," Hansen said.

Bill of rights helps 'those who make all work possible'

Source: Natalie Pate, Statesman Journal

National Labor Relations Act. Fair Labor Standards Act. Occupational Safety and Health protections. Civil Rights Act. Americans with Disabilities Act. Age Discrimination Act.

These are some of the many laws that explicitly exclude domestic workers. These laws bar domestic workers, specifically, from forming unions or bargaining collectively for wages and benefits. They exclude them from overtime provisions. They exclude them from government protections in their workplace.

That is about to change.

Oregon recently became the fifth state to enact a state-wide domestic workers bill of rights, know as the Oregon Domestic Workers' Protection Act, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

Most Oregon minimum wage workers are part-time: Editorial

Source: The Oregonian Editorial Board , Oregan Live

The debate about raising the minimum wage to $13.50, as an Oregon coalition has proposed, or $15, as several West Coast cities are doing, cuts through a range of complex economic issues. But the most fundamental question that needs to be answered is this one: Who would be helped by a higher government-mandated pay floor?

The short-term macroeconomic impact of a significantly higher minimum wage likely will be minimal, in part because these workers make up a small percentage of the overall economy. But those pushing hardest for higher wages aren't basing their campaign on economic growth. And, anyway, there are better ways to encourage short-term growth – including infrastructure improvements that neither federal nor state lawmakers seem capable of funding. Before legislators support a big jump in the minimum wage, they need to closely study whether it will deliver on advocates' primary promise and lift a significant number of workers out of poverty

August 9, 2015

Footnote in legal brief adds to labor rift at Duquesne University

Source: Bill Schackner , Post Gazette

In June, Duquesne University vowed to appeal a National Labor Relations Board decision in Pittsburgh ordering the school to recognize an adjunct faculty union it has opposed, so the request for review filed days later was expected.

What was not expected was language in a footnote within that 50-page brief filed by Duquesne with the NLRB in Washington.

It has become the latest flash point in a bitter three-year fight between the Catholic university and those adjuncts, who are represented by the Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers.

Service industries grow at fastest pace in a decade

Source: Shobhana Chandra, Chicago Tribune

The Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index jumped by 4.3 points to 60.3, the best reading since August 2005 and well above the most optimistic projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists, the group's report showed Wednesday. All major components of the gauge, including orders and employment, advanced.

Steady hiring, a recovering housing market, reduced fuel expenses and cheap borrowing costs are benefiting service producers while the nation's factories battle tepid global sales and slower capital spending. Resilient domestic demand helps explain why Federal Reserve policy makers will probably raise interest rates this year for the first time since 2006.

Dallas council moves forward on possible minimum wage for city contractors

Source: Elizabeth Findell , Dallas News

The Dallas City Council will consider requiring all contractors working with the city pay employees at least $10.37 an hour, or a "living wage," after city staff creates an implementation plan.

Council members generally expressed support for the requirement during a briefing Wednesday about the possible effects it could have. Current policy requires that city employees earn at least $10.62 per hour, but places no requirements on organizations which hold city contracts.

"Dallas is just an expensive place to live," said council member Scott Griggs. "The growth in wages, particularly of people making minimum wage, hasn't kept up with the rest of Dallas real estate."

July 29, 2015

Will there ever be an organics label for worker rights?

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Ahold, the Dutch company that owns the grocery chains, has agreed to buy its Florida tomatoes only from farms certified for paying good wages and treating workers well. It's among the biggest, but it's far from the first: Retailers from Whole Foods to Wal-Mart have joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' Fair Food Program in the past seven years, often after the group held protests outside their stores.

That's pretty quick progress - for tomatoes. But you won't find the Fair Food Program's label on anything else in the produce section. It's a far cry from the pervasiveness of the organic label, which is present as an alternative for nearly everything a shopper might want to buy, having been adopted by industrial agribusiness as a way to satisfy consumer desires.

Supreme Court upholds right-to-work for state workers

Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press

The Michigan Supreme Court, in an opinion that has the effect of making state employees subject to Michigan's 2012 right-to-work law, ruled Wednesday that Michigan's Civil Service Commission never had the authority to impose union fees on state workers, even before the controversial law was passed.

The 4-3 ruling is a blow to the United Auto Workers and other unions representing about 36,000 state employees, who argued only the bipartisan Civil Service Commission - not the Legislature - can set the conditions of employment for civil servants.

Minimum wage could go to $15 per hour

Source: Julia Kilmer, Cassville Democrat

The current minimum wage in effect for 2015 in the state of Missouri is $7.65 per hour, but hree initiative petitions to increase the state's minimum wage have been approved for circulation by the Secretary of State.

If enough signatures are collected, the petitions may go on the 2016 general election ballot. The petitions must be signed by at least 5 percent of legal voters in six of the state's eight congressional districts to make it on the ballot.

The three petitions, filed by Lara Granich, executive director of Missouri Jobs with Justice, propose increasing the minimum wage, which is adjusted to changes in cost of living.

July 28, 2015

Companies have found something to give their workers instead of raises

Source: Ylan Q. Mui, Washington Post

Once a staple of the American workplace, the annual raise is turning into a relic of the pre-crisis economy as companies turn to creative - and cheaper - ways to compensate their employees.
More businesses are upping their spending on benefits such as one-time bonuses, health care and paid time off, according to recent survey data. Many are rolling out perks such as free gym membership, commuting subsidies, even pet health insurance.
Often, those benefits are being provided in lieu of higher salaries. Government data shows the growth in spending on benefits is outpacing gains in wages. Companies say they are catering to the growing workforce of millennials who seem to prize short-term flexibility over long-term financial security, and the change allows bosses to reward star employees without permanently increasing costs.

Democrats Want To Extend Civil Rights Protections To Unpaid Interns

Source: Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post

Unpaid interns in most states aren't covered by the same workplace discrimination and harassment laws as employees, but some House Democrats are trying to change that.

Three lawmakers introduced a trio of bills Tuesday aimed at closing loopholes that exclude unpaid interns from protection. The Civil Rights Act doesn't currently cover such workers because they aren't compensated and therefore aren't technically employees. Workers must receive "significant remuneration" in order to have recourse through federal law.

"There should be no legal grey area when we are talking about preventing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace," Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.) said in a statement.

Department of Justice investigates fraud in disabled work program

Source: Drew Griffin, WWLP

The Premier Federal Program helping severely disabled Americans get jobs is being investigated by the Department of Justice.

Sources exclusively telling CNN that billions of dollars designated for disabled workers is being funneled elsewhere.

"The majority of the individuals that were being hired were not severely disabled," said the CNN Source.

This manager who wants to remain anonymous to protect current employment says instead of hiring severely disabled, the federal contractor making tens of millions of dollars, would hire just about anyone who walked through the door and no one bothered to check.

July 27, 2015

This San Francisco Cafe Is Just Fine With The $15 Minimum Wage

Source: Daniel Marans, Huffington Post

If the opponents of a $15 minimum wage were going to devise a hypothetical small business to illustrate their arguments, they'd probably come up with something like Cafe UB. The petite San Francisco coffeehouse is exactly the kind of locally owned, low-margin neighborhood business that critics say a $15 minimum wage would hurt the most.

But Cafe UB is doing just fine amid San Francisco's ongoing transition to $15. In fact, its owners embrace the change -- and not just for the typical political reasons. They say it is good for business.

"We are in support of it, because we need our employees, and our employees need to live here," said manager Nicole Martin earlier this month. "It is expensive to live in San Francisco."

Philadelphia nursing agency workers get $745,000 in unpaid wages

Source: PhillyVoice Staff , Voice Philly

More than 1,300 direct care workers who were not paid for the last two weeks of work when their employer closed unexpectedly in March will get their checks.

Infinite Care Inc. of Philadelphia, a nursing care agency which had operated at 6413 Rising Sun Ave. in Lawndale, was indicted for Medicaid fraud and closed with barely any notice to employees, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry's Bureau of Labor Law Compliance, which worked to remedy the wage theft case for the laid-off workers.

The bureau obtained more than $745,000 in unpaid wages for the workers. Paychecks were mailed by the state on July 10.

Infinite Care provided services to severely disabled people needing care at home.

July 26, 2015

The Supreme Court: Too liberal?

Source: Robert Barnes, Washington Post

As has been the case for decades, the court still has a majority appointed by Republican presidents. But a recent Gallup poll showed Republican approval of the court's work at 18 percent, a record low. Democratic approval was at its highest - 76 percent - creating the largest gap in partisan opinion about the court in the poll's history.

Political scientists and Supreme Court observers consider the court conservative. But a CNN poll showed that 37 percent of Americans say the court is too liberal, the highest share to say this since the network started asking the question in 1993. (Twenty percent said it is too conservative.)

July 25, 2015

The Insecure World of Freelancing

Source: Nancy Cook , The Atlantic

For New York City members, the union also runs two primary-care health clinics-requiring no co-pays-and community spaces with free yoga classes. Best of all, membership is free; the union supports itself with a fee on health insurance and other services it provides.

The intention is to give freelancers perks they'd receive if they held full-time jobs, which fewer and fewer workers do, sometimes involuntarily. Rather than mourn an era's passing, Horowitz says, the Freelancers Union has tried to forge a new way to think about supporting workers in the gig economy. "What happens … is that people start living their lives," she adds, "and they've started to put together their lives in really different ways."

July 24, 2015

D.C. Circuit Backs NLRB on Hospital Discipline Cases

Source: Lawrence E. Dubé, Bloomberg

The National Labor Relations Board properly held that a Virginia hospital violated federal labor law when it discharged, disciplined or failed to promote three nurses because they engaged in protected concerted activity, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held July 24.

Writing for the court, Judge Patricia A. Millett said the board had substantial evidence that INOVA Health System discharged nurse Donna Miller because she sent management an e-mail expressing concerns that she and four other nurses were adversely affected by the hospital's administration of a nursing fellows program.

How Do You Make Sure Generous Paid Leave Doesn't Backfire on Women? Focus on Men.

Source: Rebecca Leber, New Republic

First, it's important to acknowledge that the absence of universal paid leave represents a tremendous disadvantage for working women in America. Without paid leave, women are more likely to exit the workforce. If and when they reenter, they may return to lower-paying jobs, or no job at all. Many believe that the overall lower participation of women in the workforce is a result of the lack of paid leave: Economists estimate that women's labor force participation is lower for 25-54 year-olds than it would be in America if there were universal paid leave. The effects seem to be growing more serious: A comparative study of 22 countries found that the U.S. fell from the sixth-highest in labor force participation for women in 1990 to 17th by 2010. The Cornell economists, Francine Blau and Laurence Kahn, found that the lack of paid leave explained about one-third of this decline.

Dirty Work

Source: Alison Griswold

Former Handy employees I spoke with described a workplace that has conformed to every caricature of the contemporary startup: Grueling hours for staffers. Performance judged on the basis of stultifying metrics. An office culture that is at once elitist and boorish.

As for the cleaners, many have enjoyed the business the Handy platform has brought them. But others have felt exploited by the company's policies. They face harsh penalties for missed jobs. They must maintain exceptionally high ratings to earn the most competitive wages and to keep getting gigs. And as contractors, not employees, they enjoy few if any traditional workplace protections.

July 23, 2015

Work advice: Retailer's 'flexible scheduling' leaves employee in knots

Source: Karla L. Miller, Washington Post

According to a June survey of retail and service employees in Washington, workers' top complaints include too few paid hours and too little predictability. Shifts are assigned or changed with little advance notice; protests result in retaliation and further reduced hours. Even workers with multiple jobs can't get enough hours to make ends meet. And they're not just teens and recent grads; the median age of service industry workers in Washington is 36, according to Census Bureau figures cited in the report, and 25 percent of them support children.

"You can't get ahead in these jobs because you can't count on a regular schedule and regular number of hours," says lawyer Paula Brantner, executive director of the employee rights organization Workplace Fairness.

Cruise giant Carnival Corp. faces penalty over ADA compliance

Source: Gene Sloan, USA Today

Cruise giant Carnival Corp. will pay more than $400,000 in penalties and damages as part of a settlement over alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday.

The parent company of Carnival, Princess and Holland America also has agreed to survey and, if necessary, make changes to 42 existing vessels at the three brands to comply with ADA regulations. Seven vessels in various stages of design and construction also will be surveyed and, if necessary, updated to comply with the regulations.

Another 13 ships operated by the brands will be subject to possible changes if they continue to be in service in U.S. ports in four years.

How a Group of Dim Sum Makers Won $4 Million in Back Pay

Source: Vinnee Tong, KQED

Yank Sing's location in a shiny downtown San Francisco high-rise, its dramatic ceiling-to-floor water fountain and its crisp white tablecloths set it apart from other Chinese restaurants.

That's one reason the announcement last fall seemed so jarring to patrons and the public: hourly workers at Yank Sing were longtime victims of wage theft.

Wage theft occurs when employers force employees to work off the clock or don't pay them for overtime. Labor advocates say wage theft is a huge problem and it goes underreported. That's part of what made the Yank Sing case so exceptional.

Applications for US Unemployment Aid Plummet to 42-Year Low

Source: Christopher S. Rugaber, ABC

Six years after a brutal recession that wiped out more than 8.5 million jobs, Americans are now enjoying a nearly unprecedented level of job security.

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid plunged last week to the lowest in nearly 42 years. Applications for jobless benefits are a proxy for layoffs, so the low level indicates that employers are keeping their staffs and likely hiring at a steady pace.

Weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 26,000 to 255,000, the fewest since November 1973, the Labor Department said Thursday. If the data were adjusted for the growth of the U.S. population since then, last week's figure would likely be an all-time low.

July 22, 2015

New York Fast-Food Workers Win Their Fight for $15

Source:  Michelle Chen, The Nation

 Though New York's lawmakers are infamous for their ethical failings, Albany is about to do the right thing for once: serve the state's fast-food workers some long-overdue justice. Governor Andrew Cuomo's Wage Board, a three-member panel representing business, labor and the public, has for weeks heard gut-wrenching testimonies from workers and labor advocates at hearings across the state, and is now expected to recommend raising the minimum hourly wage for fast-food workers to $15. That will impact some 180,000 people currently earning around $16,000 a year doing strenuous, dirty work in drive-throughs and greasy kitchens. The governor is then expected to make final approval to set a new sector-specific wage-a unique mechanism that, similar to President Obama's recent executive actions on federal worker wages, can bypass the legislature.

July 21, 2015

Work Schedules: The False Tradeoff Between Fair and Productive | Commentary

Source: Ethan Bernstein, Role Call

If the past is any guide, the Schedules that Work Act (S 1772/HR 3071), fair work scheduling legislation introduced in Congress last week by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., will ignite debate between employer and employee advocates. Yet solutions favoring employers and those that meet employees' needs may be closer than you think. The debate masks how much smart labor scheduling can benefit both sides.

The bill would provide retail, restaurant and building cleaning employees with at least two weeks' notice of schedules and compensate employees for last minute schedule changes, split shifts and on-call work. It would give employees in all occupations the right to request scheduling accommodations without fear of retaliation, and require employers to accommodate requests from certain employees, unless they are unable to do so for bona fide business reasons.

Port Truck Drivers Strike Again for Better Working Conditions

Source: Stephanie Rivera, Long Beach Post

Port truck drivers with the Carson-based Pacific 9 Transportation (Pac 9) began an indefinite strike Tuesday morning, protesting unsafe working conditions and the classification of drivers as contractors instead of employees, resulting in what they say are stolen wages.
The strike began at 6:00AM on Tuesday, July 21, and was scheduled to continue at the Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles terminals.
"The company refuses to recognize us as employees, refuses to provide us with safe and reliable trucks, and refuses to improve our work environment," said Pac 9 driver Pedro Martinez in a statement.
The drivers have received the support from the Teamsters Union and will also be working with Teamster companies while on strike, including Eco Flow Transportation, Shippers Transport Express, Toll Group and Horizon Lines, according to a press release.

Legislative power key issue in arguments over teacher evaluation law

Source: Todd Engdahl, Chalkbeat Colorado

Differing views of the legislature's powers over labor and contracts law were at the center of oral arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit that challenges one part of Colorado's landmark 2010 teacher evaluation law.

"The Colorado legislature has plenary power to modify these teacher employment rights," lawyer Eric Hall, representing the Denver Public Schools, argued to a three-judge panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals.

But Philip Hostak, a National Education Association lawyer from Washington, D.C., countered, "plainly there are" limits on legislative power to change contract law.

July 20, 2015

Work schedules should create consistency, not chaos

Source: Michael Wasser, The Hill

Congress runs on a schedule that's meticulously planned. Our elected representatives work pre-set days in Washington and back home in their districts. Members of Congress can count on last votes happening at nearly the same time each week, so they're able to shuttle between committee hearings, floor votes and fundraisers. They're able to meet the many demands on their time because they have predictable work schedules.

But too many Americans employed in hourly positions-those who serve us our food and help us find what we're looking for in department stores --are assigned schedules by their employer that offer more chaos than consistency. Their lives must be planned day to day because of erratic schedules at jobs that provide too few hours and pay too little. Unlike Congress, when hourly employees aren't working, they aren't being paid.

Fewer dads take paternity leave because of little to no pay

Source: Carla Fields , WAAY 31

While every new father would like to spend time home with a newborn, the reality is it's unlikely to happen because of work.

According to the Department of Labor Statistics only 11% of workplaces in the United States provide paid leave for its employees. In the majority of cases, new parents use vacation, sick or unpaid leave for the birth of a child.

For dad of two Steven Boyer, spending time with his two sons after birth was an easy decision. Luckily for Boyer, his employer allowed him to take some time off for paternity leave. "Sick leave policy was really good. I could actually take time off for doctor's appointments to go and see Cayden with his first check-up, with Connor for his first check-up, to the ultra-sounds," he says.

Worker schedules should be more predictable, Warren says

Source: Steve LeBlanc, Boston Globe

US Senator Elizabeth Warren is pushing a bill aimed at making the lives of workers more predictable by discouraging companies from waiting until the last minute to announce changes in employee schedules.

The Democrat met with workers Monday in Boston to discuss the legislation, which she refiled last week.

She said the bill addresses what she called unpredictable scheduling practices like placing workers ''on-call'' with no guarantee of work hours, scheduling them for ''split shifts'' of nonconsecutive hours, sending workers home early without pay when demand is low, and punishing workers who request schedule changes.

Kansas City raises its minimum wage - but not for teens

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

The federal government even acknowledges the risk, by allowing that workers under 20 years old be paid less than the minimum wage for a few months, theoretically while they're being trained.

But some (Kansas City) councilmembers -- in addition to nearly all of the groups that fought for the minimum wage hike -- strongly opposed the exemption. One city councilmember argued that it discriminated against older workers, who might be passed up in favor of the cheaper youngster. Others pointed out that even teenagers sometimes need to provide for their families.

Bills seek more stable hours for low-paid workers

Source: Katie Johnston, Boston Globe

Compared to many fast-food workers, Erica Bentencourt has a fairly set schedule. She is supposed to work in the kitchen at the Holbrook Burger King Tuesday through Saturday, opening at 5 a.m. and leaving at 2 p.m. But when coworkers call in sick, she is often asked to stay late or come in on her day off. When business is slow, she is sent home early.

Working extra hours means she has to scramble to find child care for her 9-year-old son. But working fewer hours is worse.

"When they start to cut hours, it affects me paying my bills," said Bentencourt, 33.

July 19, 2015

Bills seek more stable hours for low-paid workers

Source: Katie Johnston, Mashable

The gig economy, and the company that has come to epitomize it - Uber - is shaping up to be a major part of the 2016 campaign for presidential hopefuls.

It seems everyone is weighing in on the issue of innovation changing the way Americans work, and Republicans and Democrats are divided along party lines as to where they stand on Uber. While Republicans are coming out strongly in favor of the ride-share app, Democrats are hedging their bets and trying to reconcile the nature of how the app works with their fight to protect workers' rights.

July 17, 2015

In Maine, a Minimum Wage Law With a Surprise Inside

Source: Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg

Fearful of hurting the city's restaurant industry, Mayor Michael Brennan and his colleagues on the City Council are working on a new ordinance that would undo the increase for tipped workers before it takes effect on Jan. 1. "I don't know what else to tell you, other than that when we voted on it, we felt we were voting on what the intent of the council was," says Brennan, a Democrat. "It was clear afterwards that what we had voted on and the intent of the council were not the same thing."
Maine's minimum wage, like the federal one, comes with a "tip credit," the amount employers can subtract from the minimum wage when paying workers who earn tips. In Maine, where the minimum wage is $7.50 an hour, the tip credit is 50 percent. If an employee's tips are too stingy to make up the tip credit, employers are supposed to pay the difference to get their total pay up to the regular minimum wage.

July 16, 2015

Apple faces U.S. class-action lawsuit by employees over bag searches

Source: Dan Levine, Reuters

Apple Store employees who sued Apple Inc over bag searches at the iPhone maker's 52 brick and mortar outlets in California had their case certified as a class-action by a federal judge on Thursday.

The ruling, from U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco, is part of a 2013 lawsuit alleging Apple should compensate thousands of store employees for the time taken to search their bags to ensure they did not steal any merchandise.

At least two Apple retail store workers complained directly to Chief Executive Tim Cook that the technology company's policy of checking retail employees' bags as a security precaution was embarrassing and demeaning, according to court filings made public earlier in the case.

Federal law bans workplace bias against gays, panel rules

Source: Curtis Tate, McClatchy DC

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled Thursday that existing federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The federal government and 28 states lack laws that ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, and Thursday's ruling gives legal weight to such claims.

However, it doesn't address discrimination in housing or public accommodations, nor does it guarantee workplace discrimination claims will succeed in the courts, renewing calls for federal legislation that's been stuck in Congress for years.

July 15, 2015

EEOC sues UPS over religious discrimination

Source: Jacob Bogage, Washington Post

Federal labor regulators announced Wednesday that they are suing United Parcel Service, the country's largest private package delivery service, for violating its employees religious rights.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges in its suit that the company declined to hire applicants and promote employees because their religious dress habits conflicted with its uniform policy.

The UPS uniform policy requires supervisors and employees who regularly come in contact with customers to shave their beards, according to the EEOC's complaint filed in the Eastern District Court of New York. Male employees in the same roles are also barred from growing their hair below collar-length.

Democrats unveil measure to address unfair scheduling practices

Source: Rebecca Shabad, The Hill

Democrats in the House and Senate on Wednesday unveiled legislation to address employers' unstable, unpredictable scheduling practices.

"The Schedules that Work Act" would protect workers who ask their bosses for schedule changes.

Employees of companies with more than 15 workers would have the right to request changes in their schedules without fear of retaliation.

"Families are struggling to put food on the table and pay their bills, let alone take a vacation or think about putting their kids through college," Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said in a statement.

Department Of Labor: "Most Workers Are Employees"

Source: Cora Lewis, Buzzfeed

Last month, the California Labor Commission ruled that an individual Uber driver was an employee. Today, the Department of Labor has issued a set of guidelines that suggests that all of them might be.

The 15-page document is a new interpretation of the existing labor laws that determine which workers should be classified as employees, and which as independent contractors. Misclassification of workers is an issue that has landed a number of tech companies - Instacart, Hand, Homejoy, Uber, and Lyft, to name a few - in court. The DOL found that, despite these companies' insistence that the flexibility they offer workers makes them contractors, most workers in the United States should be classified as employees.

Here's how many Americans could - and want - to 'work longer hours'

Source: Janell Ross, Washington Post

Last week, Jeb Bush seemed to suggest people need to work longer hours in order to improve the economy. He later said he was talking only about part-time employees. But Democrats have pounced, believing Bush's "work longer hours" comment is their ticket to winning over middle-class voters.

Whether you think the Democrats' attack is fair or not -- and our colleagues at Wonkblog parsed Bush's argument pretty deeply -- there is a real question at hand. And that is just how many part-time and unemployed American workers would like to work more hours? Who are they and why don't they simply do it?

July 14, 2015

$20-million settlement reached in guest-worker lawsuits

Source: Nigel Duara, Los Angeles Times

An Alabama marine construction company has agreed to pay $20 million to more than 200 guest workers from India who alleged they were kept in labor camps so squalid and crowded that one worker attempted suicide.

The settlement, announced Tuesday, resolves 11 lawsuits against Signal International filed in Alabama, Texas and Louisiana. The company has declared bankruptcy, so the settlement must be approved in bankruptcy court.
California measure would allow work permits for farmworkers here illegally
California measure would allow work permits for farmworkers here illegally

Signal International brought guest workers to Pascagoula, Miss., and other sites in 2006 and 2007 to repair oil rigs and other heavy machinery in the Gulf of Mexico that were damaged during Hurricane Katrina.

Wal-Mart Accused of Bias Against Gay Workers

Source: Erik Larson, Bloomberg

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was accused of discriminating against gay employees in a lawsuit that pits the biggest U.S. retailer against rights activists just weeks after same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide.
Related Stories
In a proposed class-action complaint, Wal-Mart employee Jacqueline Cote says the company failed to provide health insurance to her wife for years in violation of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a Massachusetts fair-employment law.
Wal-Mart extended benefits to same-sex couples in January 2014, but by then Cote's wife Diana "Dee" Smithson had already racked up more than $150,000 in out-of-pocket expenses battling ovarian cancer, according to a complaint filed Tuesday in Boston federal court.

July 13, 2015

The Reddit Rebellion: Unpaid Workers Can Wield Enormous Power

Source: Rebecca Taylor and Jane Parry, Newsweek

The volunteer moderators who run the boards at Reddit, an online community built of thousands of themed discussion groups, recently staged an uprising against the firm's management. That this uprising ultimately claimed the scalp of Reddit chief exec Ellen Pao says much about how the world of work is changing, particularly the challenges of managing relationships between paid and unpaid workers in an increasingly virtual workplace.

Many of them will be working from home or the local coffee shop, choosing the hours they dedicate to "mod" work, perhaps juggling it with online gaming, freelance software development, or maybe a Ph.D. in bioethics. Nevertheless, the important point is that they are workers even if they are unpaid, and as such organizational structures and relationships are important to their experiences of work.

Teachers' Union Girds For Supreme Court Setback, Pledges To Grow Membership

Source: Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post

This weekend, the American Federation of Teachers passed a resolution pledging to speak individually with each of its 1.6 million members about getting more involved in the union. According to the resolution, union officials are developing a plan they hope will double the number of union activists in their ranks.

The subtext of the move has to do with Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case that the Supreme Court recently announced it will hear in autumn. An unfavorable ruling for public-sector unions could ban what are known as fair share agreements, which require that all workers pay fees to the union to help cover the costs of collective bargaining. A union like the AFT must represent all the workers under a given contract, so the union says it's only fair that everyone contributes.

Drivers sue Yelp over unpaid tips for food delivery service Eat24

Source: Jeff John Roberts, Fortune

When Yelp bought Eat24 for $134 million in February, the restaurant review site got a foothold in the growing niche for food-delivery services. But the purchase appears to have come with a nasty legal headache: On Friday, Eat24 drivers filed a lawsuit seeking at least $5 million in unpaid tips.

According to a complaint filed in San Francisco federal court, Eat24 encouraged its customers to enter a tip amount for the food they ordered, but then failed to pass on that money, or even notify the drivers of the tip in the first place.

The purported class action complaint was filed by Steven Kay of Oakland and Esteban Polonski of South San Francisco, who are seeking money from Yelp on behalf of other drivers across the country. Both men say they work for the car-hire service SideCar.

Could Student-Athletes at Public Universities Unionize?

Source: Tim Yang , REGBLOG

In a recent paper, Michigan State University College of Law student Jay D. Lonick suggests that student-athletes could claim joint employer status and then successfully unionize. Joint employer status allows for an individual to have two employers at the same time. While counterintuitive at first glance, this status allows individuals who in name work for one employer to sue the real organization calling the shots.

Lonick's paper builds off the National Labor Relation Board's Northwestern and CAPA decision, which allowed football players at Northwestern University to unionize. That case was centered on the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which only applies to private organizations. This is problematic for student-athletes at public universities, especially since many of the nation's top football and basketball programs are at state universities.

July 11, 2015

Uber Makes It Drivers Who Want To Remain Contractors vs. Drivers Who Consider Themselves Employees

Source: Anu Passary, Tech Times

On Thursday, July 9, Uber argued in a court filing that the lawsuit filed against it by three enlisted drivers should not be considered a class action suit since Uber drivers are not deemed employees.

Uber, however, is being sued by three drivers who contend that they are in fact employees and entitled to be reimbursed by Uber for expenses such as gas, vehicle maintenance, and the like. The drivers currently have to pay for these themselves. The plaintiffs claim that they were being treated as employees, but when it came to compensation and benefits, they were treated as contractors.

Uber submitted written statements from over 400 of the service's drivers as testimony in opposition to the plaintiffs' claims. These personal statements from Uber drivers in California reveal that the drivers favor the status of an independent contractor over full-time employees.

July 10, 2015

A 7-Day Workweek Could Soon Be Legal in Wisconsin

Source: Gillian B. White , Atlantic

Wisconsin's GOP is trying to nix an existing law that requires employers in the manufacturing and retail sectors to give employees at least 24 hours off during each consecutive seven-day period. Currently, for an employee to skip his or her weekly day off, an employer has to get approval from the state's Department of Workforce Development. The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce association-a staunch advocate of the bill-suggests that the step is onerous and unnecessary, since the department has approved 733 such requests over the past five years, a number they imply means that the department is rubber-stamping the requests. Supporters also suggest that the plan ultimately helps employees who want to work more hours.
But there are many who are skeptical. "I think it's been portrayed as an effort to try to help workers; it's clearly designed to benefit employers," says Donald F. Kettl a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland and the former director of the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin. "Many people like extra hours, but the idea of being in a position where you're asked to work seven days [raises the question] of how much of a choice it really is." In response, advocates of the bill suggest that coercion won't be an issue, and if it is, employees can report business owners.

July 9, 2015

Workers' rights groups push for paid sick days

Source: Laura Leslie, WRAL

Advocates for low-income workers used the legislature's vacation this week to push for laws to require paid sick leave and family leave.
The vacation-themed press conference, complete with beach balls and Hawaiian shirts, included left-leaning groups Moms Rising, Action NC, and the North Carolina Justice Center.
Allan Freyer, director of the Justice Center's Workers' Rights Project, said the groups don't begrudge lawmakers the week-long break.
"It is great that lawmakers were able to take time off in the middle of a busy legislative session. We think it's great because we think everyone in North Carolina should be able to take time off, particularly when they're sick," Freyer said. "Right now, there are more than a million North Carolinians who work full time and don't have access to paid sick days. That means they have to choose between keeping their job, earning their wages and being sick."

2 Philly restaurants retain workers by paying a real minimum wage

Source: Jake Blumgart , Voice Philly

In recent years, restaurants that spurn tips have popped up in New York, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Austin, Washington D.C., the Bay Area, and Seattle. In the last year two such eateries have opened up in Philadelphia, Girard Brasserie & Bruncherie and William Street Common.

But the no-tip impulse can hardly be said to be sweeping the food service and hospitality industries. Of the hundreds of thousands of restaurants in the United States, only a handful have done away with the practice.

What would it take for tipping to be abolished, or at least sharply curtailed?

According to forthcoming research, substantially higher minimum wages and the abolition of separate wages for tipped employees are undermining the practice in a few states on the West Coast.

Deere accused of firing whistleblower who reported unsafe conditions

Source: Alejandra Cancino, Chicago Tribune

The U.S. Department of Labor claims Deere violated a federal whistleblower provision by firing a pipe fitter who had reported unsafe working conditions at a company's cylinder facility in Moline.

The department filed suit Tuesday against the farm machinery maker in U.S. District Court for the central district of Illinois alleging the pipe fitter was fired in June 2012 in retaliation for filing three complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The complaints, filed between 2010 and 2012, led to citations against Deere for safety violations at the Moline facility.

The Struggle for Fairness for Transgender Workers

Source: THE EDITORIAL BOARD, New York Times

Roughly 15 percent of transgender Americans earn less than $10,000 a year, a rate of extreme poverty that is almost four times higher than the national average, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. They are twice as likely to be unemployed as the general population, though transgender Americans have a higher level of education than the general population. About 16 percent of respondents to a 2011 survey said they resorted to illegal trades like prostitution and drug dealing. Ninety percent said they faced harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job. The worst off are black and Hispanic transgender women, particularly those who don't have the means to alter their physical appearance as much as they would like. For many, coming out means being drawn into a cycle of debt, despair and dreadful choices.

July 8, 2015

Hawaii ban on noncompetes leaves out a huge chunk of workers

Source: Claire Zillman, Fortune

Duplicating that environment is what legislators in Hawaii likely had in mind when they introduced a bill to ban noncompete agreements earlier this year. Chris Lee, a state representative who helped sponsor the bill, told Fortune that noncompetes are "killing economic growth in [Hawaii's] tech sector." (It should be noted that the idea that eliminating noncompetes leads directly to innovation is-in some experts' view-an open one.) Lee said a constituent who was having trouble hiring IT workers at Hawaiian Airlines tipped him off to the problem. Noncompete agreements make hiring especially difficult in Hawaii because of the state's geography; its big island is 75 miles wide. Many noncompete policies restrict workers from finding new jobs within a certain distance, which in Hawaii can make much of the state off-limits. "People are moving out of the state," Lee said.

Wal-Mart Gender Bias Case Revived on Appeal

Source: Lorraine Bailey, Courthouse News Service

Plaintiffs who saw their class disbanded after accusing Wal-Mart of discriminating against female employees can press their case because the retailer has known of the allegations for years, the Sixth Circuit ruled.
In 2011, the Supreme Court disbanded the class in Dukes v. Wal-Mart, a decade-old case claiming women working for Wal-Mart are paid less and receive fewer promotions than men in comparable positions.
Wal-Mart argued that the class of 1.5 million women was too big, and employees should have to file individual lawsuits, and the high court agreed.
"Respondents filed some 120 affidavits reporting experiences of discrimination - about 1 for every 12,500 class members - relating to only some 235 out of Wal-Mart's 3,400 stores," Justice Anton Scalia said, writing the majority's opinion.

Workers' pay in many occupations still catching up

Source: Megan Woolhouse, Boston Globe

Six years after the recession ended, workers in most occupations in New England have yet to regain the buying power they had before the historic downturn began at the end of 2007.

Weekly earnings last year, in fields from food preparation to management, were below 2007 levels when adjusted for inflation, according to an analysis of Labor Department and Census Bureau data by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Of the 22 occupations tracked by the Labor Department, 17 did not reach prerecession pay levels.

Meanwhile, unemployment rates in most occupations in New England remain above the 2007 levels. Unemployment among construction workers, among the hardest hit in the downturn, was about 10 percent last year, according to the analysis.

July 7, 2015

The Good Jobs Strategy

Source: Joe Nocera, New York Times

What she and her fellow researchers discovered is that while most companies were very good at getting products from, say, China to their stores, it was a different story once the merchandise arrived. Sometimes a product stayed in the back room instead of making it to a shelf where a customer could buy it. Or it was in the wrong place. Special in-store promotions weren't being executed a surprisingly high percentage of the time. She saw this pattern in company after company.

As she took a closer look, Ton says, she realized that the problem was that these companies viewed their employees "as a cost that they tried to minimize." Workers were not just poorly paid, but poorly trained. They often didn't know their schedule until the last moment. Morale was low and turnover was high. Customer service was largely nonexistent.

More Immigration Means Higher Wages for All Workers

Source: Eric Jaffe , The Atlantic

But even people with very reasonable concerns over working-class American livelihoods should feel comforted by a recurring trend that appears wherever and whenever people study immigration: as metro areas become more diverse, everyone becomes a lot better off.

Take a new discussion paper by researchers Thomas Kemeny of the University of Southampton, in the U.K., and Abigail Cooke of SUNY-Buffalo. Their analysis of Census labor data from 1991 to 2008 tracked changes in wages alongside those of diversity at both the city and individual workplace levels. What they found is that more immigrant workers made everyone richer: as diversity rose one standard deviation in a workplace, wages rose 1.6 percent; a similar rise in the city as a whole increased wages nearly 6 percent.

July 6, 2015

How Politics Gutted Workplace Safety

Source: Jim Morris, Slate

On May 28, 1971, exactly one month after opening its doors, the already reviled Occupational Safety and Health Administration handed out its first citation.
The citation went to Allied Chemical Corp., which had allowed highly toxic mercury to pool on floors and working surfaces at its chlorine plant in Moundsville, West Virginia. It was issued under the so-called general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which says that workplaces must be "free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm."
Forty-four years and some 9 million violations later, health hazards such as mercury continue to plague America's workers. OSHA has issued only 36 health standards and relies on mostly outdated exposure limits for the 470 substances it regulates; many more substances go unregulated.

A Worker's Take on the New Overtime Proposal

Source:  Wendi C. Thomas, The Nation

 The overtime threshold was last raised in 1975. According to the Department of Labor, 62 percent of workers qualified for overtime back then. Now, just 8 percent do. In fact, a family of four would have to live in poverty before a breadwinner would qualify for overtime-the poverty threshold for a family of four is $24,008, but the overtime threshold is just $23,660.

"The rules that establish which workers are exempt from overtime pay haven't kept up with the cost of living," reads a Department of Labor webpage. Under the new proposal, the federal government would lift the overtime threshold from $23,660 to $50,440.

"No one is making them stop": Why corporations outsource catastrophe - and workers pay the price

Source: Scott Eric Kaufman , Salon

In his new book, "Out of Sight: The Long and Disturbing Story of Corporations Outsourcing Catastrophe," University of Rhode Island history professor Erik Loomis addresses the limitations of understanding labor and environmental policy through a nationalistic perspective in a world in which a large majority of corporate entities embrace outsourcing as their operative economic philosophy. Salon sat down with him to discuss whether a return to horrifying excesses of the Industrial Revolution and Gilded Age is inevitable, or whether it might still be possible to reverse course and not live in a world in which unregulated sweatshops and environmental indifference are accepted as the cost of doing business.

When Adjuncts Go Union

Source: Justin Miller, American Prospect

By now, Tiffany Kraft imagined she would be fully immersed in academia, putting her Ph.D. and passion for British literature to use on an annotated version of Irish novelist George Moore's Mike Fletcher.

But her path to academia has not been as straightforward as she had hoped. She got her master's when President George W. Bush was finishing his first term; her doctorate during Barack Obama's first presidential campaign. Yet still, she finds herself in the purgatory of academia in which she's been stuck since 2004: adjunct instruction.

"Adjuncting wasn't great but there were no tenure-track jobs available," Kraft says. "So I just thought I'd ride it out till the kids got through high school and I could move. Then after a period of time you're sort of branded an adjunct if you don't matriculate immediately-people wonder what's wrong with you." As an instructor of English and writing composition in Portland, Oregon, she's cobbled together employment at four different higher education institutions in the metro area.

July 3, 2015

Farm Labor Groups Make Progress on Wages and Working Conditions

Source: Steve Greenhouse, New York Times

It was an unlikely place for a labor protest: 120 migrant workers, students and clergy members were shouting outside the flagship store of Ben & Jerry's, which displayed a "Peace, Love and Ice Cream" sign on its facade.

They were demanding that Ben & Jerry's - which prides itself on its progressive reputation - require the Vermont dairy farms that supply its milk and cream to follow a code of conduct that would guarantee their migrant workers a weekly day off, seven vacation days a year and more, including improved housing.

"The majority of us farmworkers, we don't even have a day off," Arnulfo Ramirez, a dairy worker from Guatemala, told the crowd last month. "We're looking for Ben & Jerry's to help make sure we're treated with basic respect."

Not all interns must be paid, court rules

Source: Noam Scheiber, Boston Globe

Unpaid interns can be used legally when the work serves an educational purpose, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday, setting aside a lower court decision that the movie studio Fox Searchlight Pictures had improperly classified former workers as unpaid interns rather than employees.

The decision, which sends the case back to the lower court, could have broad ramifications for the way employers rely on unpaid labor. It erects large barriers to further class-action lawsuits by unpaid interns against companies where they had worked.

July 2, 2015

Why Labor Law Should Stop Leaning So Hard on the Wagner Act

Source: Lane Windham, The American Prospect

The Wagner Act turns 80 this week and it's about time that we lessen the old man's load. For too long, this legislation that was meant to encourage workplace democracy has actually shouldered much of the burden of our nation's employer-centered social welfare state. It's high time to get citizens' health care, pensions and even guaranteed basic wages off its back, and to allow the Wagner Act to do its job: giving workers in the U.S. a real voice on the job.

Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on July 5, 1935, the Wagner Act (or National Labor Relations Act) marked the first time private-sector workers in the U.S gained permanent federal backing for organizing unions. Under the Wagner Act, if the government certified that the workers had a union-usually through a union election-then their company was obligated to enter into collective bargaining. Not only that, but the Wagner Act made it the "policy of the United States" to protect this right.

An unfruitful jobs recovery rewrites the definition of full employment

Source: Chico Harlan, Washington Post

At this point in its long recovery, the U.S. economy has plenty of jobs and few of the fruits that were expected to come with them.

The nation added a solid 223,000 jobs in June, according to government data released Thursday, but the labor market was again held back by its most persistent problems: flat wages and a fresh decline in the size of the nation's workforce.

The unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent, the lowest mark in seven years, but only because 400,000 fewer Americans in June were actively looking for work. Only months ago, economists had figured that an unemployment rate approaching 5 percent would all but announce a return to full economic health.

​Which workers are seeing the biggest wage gains?

Source: Aimee Picchi, CBS Moneywatch

The sweet-spot for getting a bigger pay raise appears to be at the bottom of the income barrel.

America's lowest-paid workers are seeing the greatest wage gains, thanks to a combination of minimum-wage hikes around the U.S. and growing employer demand for low-skilled workers. People who work in industries paying less than $12.50 an hour saw their hourly wages rise by 3.2 percent over the past year, or more than 1 percentage point higher than the entire job market, according to research from Goldman Sachs.
The increase comes amid a push from labor activists and economists to boost the wages for America's lowest earners, given the pain caused by the intersection of higher living costs and what had been stagnant or even declining pay. The "Fight for $15" movement has gained supporters from workers in a wide range of industries, such as academia -- where some adjuncts make less than the minimum wage -- and fast-food employees, with the argument that the lowest-paid Americans need to make a living wage.

July 1, 2015

Petition To Prevent Youth Minimum Wage Cuts Finalized

Source: Chynna Lockett, SDPB Radio

South Dakota voters increased the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 last year. Shortly after, the state legislature passed a bill to keep youth minimum wage at the original rate. A referendum petition has enough signatures to prevent the bill being enacted and put before a public vote.
The Secretary of State has certified a referendum petition to prevent a youth minimum wage cut in South Dakota.
Cory Heidelberger is an organizer of the effort. He says now voters will decide the youth wage.
"You know they passed senate bill 177 in the face of the voters. The voters said we want the minimum wage to be $8.50, period. The legislature said oh that's not what voters meant. Let's change what the voters said. Just 2 months after it passed for Pete's sake," Heidelberger adds.

A dire threat to public employees from the Supreme Court

Source: Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

The case is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Assn. It was conjured up by right-wing anti-union activists specifically as an attack on the agency-shop provisions standard in public-employee union contracts nationwide, and was designed from its inception as an invitation to the court to overturn such arrangements. The court swallowed the bait, setting the case for argument sometime in its next term, which begins in October

That means a decision is likely to be handed down right in the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign turning, at least in part, on issues of worker rights that are at the center of the case. As SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston appropriately observed after the court agreed to hear Friedrichs, one leading GOP candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, has been "building his public reputation largely out of a showdown with public employee unions in his state."

June 30, 2015

Fast Food CEO Blames Low-Wage Workers for Poverty

Source: Deepak Bhargava , The Nation

To be "poor" in America isn't an identifying characteristic or a defining trait, like being forgetful or creative or tall.

Being a low-income American comes from being paid a low income.

It seems like a basic point, but it's one Andy Puzder needs to review. Puzder is CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc., which employs more than 20,000 people and worldwide owns, operates, and franchises more than 3,300 fast food restaurants, including Hardee's and Carl's Jr.

Behind the momentum for paid sick leave

Source: Katrina vanden Heuvel, Washington Post

Last week, the Supreme Court upheld a core provision of the Affordable Care Act, quashing the Republican Party's latest attempt to gut the law through the judicial system. At issue in the case, King v. Burwell, was the government's ability to provide subsidies to help millions of working Americans purchase health insurance through the federal exchange. Yet, as too many middle-class families know, health insurance is only one of the costs associated with getting sick. For more than 40 million workers who currently lack paid sick leave, another pressing concern is how to afford taking time off.

Working overtime hours across the world: how does the US compare?

Source: Jana Kasperkevic , The Guardian

The Obama administration is about to boost pay for about 5 million low income workers after announcing changes to how US employers determine who gets overtime.

Currently, those who are paid $455 or less a week qualify for overtime. Thanks to Obama, that threshold will be raised to $970 a week by 2016. Employees who work more than 40 hours a week qualify for overtime pay, which is 1.5 times their normal wage. There is no limit on how many hours US workers can work – except for the one imposed by nature, as there are 168 hours in a week.

June 29, 2015

Corporate America beat back its best job trainers, and now it's paying a price

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

The union's predicament illustrates the challenge organized labor in the rest of the country: Although it has historically constructed high-quality educational pipelines to well-paying jobs in cooperation with employers, labor has lost ground over the years. In the absence of union training programs, businesses in vast sectors of the economy are scrambling to meet their workforce needs through other means, like piecemeal job training programs and partnerships with community colleges, with few solutions that have really broad reach.

"What is sorely needed are forums for scaling. And that's where there's possibly a really important role for other intermediaries, including labor unions," said Brookings Institution scholar Mark Muro. "It's extremely difficult for companies to organize these properly, and obtain these certification systems, and have agreements for what the testing systems are."

Victoria's Secret Is Getting Rid Of On-Call Scheduling In Stores

Source: Sapna Maheshwari, Buzzfeed News

Victoria's Secret is ending the use of on-call scheduling in its stores, employes were told yesterday - a major reversal of a policy that wreaked havoc on the lives of tens of thousands of retail workers across the country.

The chain told employees it would no longer use the controversial scheduling practice, which requires staff to be available for shifts that can be cancelled at the last minute with no compensation, three current and former staff told BuzzFeed News on the condition of anonymity.

Tech's threat to low-wage workers

Source: Simran Noor, Aljahzeera America

A butcher, a baker and a candlestick-maker walk into a restaurant, place an order on a digital screen and pay a virtual cashier. This is not the beginning of a joke, but a reality the restaurant industry is facing that will affect millions in its workforce.

Technology threatens to replace low- and medium-skilled jobs, predominantly held by people of color, in the $709.2 billion restaurant industry. In May, Wendy's opened a facility near the campus of Ohio State University that will design and test consumer-facing technologies, including a new online ordering app. In 2011, European branches of McDonalds added 7,000 touch-screen cashiers. McDonald's claims that the few locations in the U.S. with automated cashiers will not affect workforce numbers, but that's difficult to believe: Computerization and reliance on robotic technology are already changing the industry.

June 27, 2015

Valley businesses prepare for state's new earned sick time law which takes effect Wednesday

Source: Chris Lindahl, GazetteNet

Coming down with an illness often leads to a laundry list of expenses - visits to a doctor and medicine among them.

Missing a day of work, however, has often been the most expensive part of getting sick for many Massachusetts workers - one million of them to be exact. That's the estimated number of employees who will gain access to sick time for the very first time when the state's earned sick leave law takes effect Wednesday, according to the state attorney general's office.

Beginning July 1, all Massachusetts employers will be legally required to allow full- and part-time employees to accrue sick leave - one hour for every 30 hours worked. Businesses with 11 or more employees will be required to pay workers their normal rate of pay during sick leave, while smaller businesses may offer the leave unpaid.

June 26, 2015

This is the next front in the battle for gay rights

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

With the Supreme Court's decision today striking down state bans on gay marriage, gay and lesbian people are now fully equal in the eyes of the law. Right?
Well, not exactly. There's still a big hurdle: No federal law currently prevents employers from discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation. So while gay, lesbian and bisexual people may have equal rights in love, they're still far from equal at work.

It's not just semantics. Multiple studies have found that gay and lesbian people face higher rates of employment discrimination and harassment, whether it's through denial of certain health benefits, vandalism of personal property, or bias in hiring. (Rates are particularly high for transgender people, although according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, they are protected under the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex).

June 25, 2015

The New Law That Would Outlaw LGBT Discrimination Everywhere

Source: Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg

For 20 years, LGBT advocates have tried, unsuccessfully, to block companies in the U.S. from firing workers for being gay. The federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was introduced in 1994 by Massachusetts Democrats Ted Kennedy in the Senate and Gerry Studds in the House. It was reintroduced in almost every congressional session and finally made it through the House in 2007, but wasn't debated in the Senate that year because of disagreement among Democrats over whether to include transgender as well as gay employees. In 2013 a version passed the Senate, which was Democratic-controlled, only to die in the Republican-controlled House.

Philadelphia Teachers Union Files Complaint Over Outsourcing of Substitute Teachers

Source: Associated Press, NBC 10

Philadelphia's teachers union has filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the city's school district over its decision to outsource more than 1,000 substitute teacher jobs.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers filed the complaint with the state Labor Relations Board Wednesday. The union says the district failed to bargain in good faith and interfered with workers' rights.

Read more: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Philadelphia-Teachers-Union-Files-Complaint-Over-Outsourcing-of-Substitute-Teachers-309772391.html#ixzz3eBLqzGHF
Follow us: @nbcphiladelphia on Twitter | nbcphiladelphia on Facebook

Farm and ranch workers now eligible for workers' compensation

Source: Cheyenne Cope, KRQE News 13

Justices Back Broad Interpretation of Housing Law

Source: ADAM LIPTAK, New York Times

The Supreme Court on Thursday endorsed a broad interpretation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, allowing suits under a legal theory that civil rights groups say is a crucial tool to fight housing discrimination.

"Much progress remains to be made in our nation's continuing struggle against racial isolation," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority in the 5-to-4 ruling. "The court acknowledges the Fair Housing Act's continuing role in moving the nation toward a more integrated society."

The court divided along familiar lines, with its four more liberal members - Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan - joining Justice Kennedy.

June 24, 2015

A higher minimum wage would help me invest in my workers

Source: Chris Hallweaver, Bagor Daily News

I am the general manager of Northern Girl. We process vegetables in the Aroostook County town of Van Buren. I care about raising the minimum wage in Maine.

Northern Girl purchases crops from family farms in northern Maine. Our tagline is "Bounty from the County." We pay our farmers a fair price, trying to fully reflect all of the costs of the products and services they provide.

It can feel like an uphill battle. Much of our food system is dominated by multinational factory farms and massive agri-businesses that do not pay their workers fair wages. Whether one is in the field harvesting, on the factory floor processing or in the restaurant serving, our workers deserve the respect of a decent wage.

Teacher union 'fair share' fees may face Supreme Court

Source: Associated Press, Michigan Live

Powerful public-sector unions are facing another high-profile legal challenge that they say could wipe away millions from their bank accounts and make it tougher for them to survive.

A group of California schoolteachers, backed by a conservative group, has asked the Supreme Court to rule that unions representing government workers can't collect fees from those who choose not to join.

Half the states currently require state workers represented by a union to pay "fair share" fees that cover bargaining costs, even if they are not members. The justices could decide as early as next week whether to take up the case.

IKEA workers are getting another raise

Source: Jena McGregor, Washington Post

A year after Ikea announced it would be boosting its pay for employees, the company is doing so again. Starting in January, the average minimum hourly wage at the flat-pack furniture maker will be $11.87, a 10.3 percent increase from last year.

Ikea, which made the announcement Wednesday, is hardly the only company these days that is raising hourly workers' pay. Amid a tightening job market and increasing pressure to raise the minimum wage at both the local and federal level, companies including Gap, Wal-Mart and Aetna have set new floors for employee wages.

June 23, 2015

McDonald's Accused Of Hanging California Produce Workers Out To Dry

Source: Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post

After impounding the ballots for more than a year, federal officials last week tallied the votes in an acrimonious union election at Taylor Farms Pacific, a California vegetable producer that supplies garnishes to major fast-food companies. According to the preliminary count, the Teamsters narrowly lost the election, with workers voting 168 to 154 against the union.

But the nearly two-year saga at the company's production facilities in Tracy, California, isn't over yet. According to the National Labor Relations Board, 43 of the ballots cast by workers have been challenged, making it possible, if not likely, for the Teamsters to prevail in a final count. What's more, a labor rights watchdog is now accusing McDonald's, a purchaser of Taylor Farms product, of failing to uphold its "supplier code of conduct" in the heated runup to the election.

June 22, 2015

What your FedEx and Uber drivers have in common

Source: Alan Hyde, Fortune

Drivers at both companies are stuck in legal limbo following recent court decisions that question whether they are indeed employees eligible for more benefits.

Uber's arm's-length relationship with its drivers just got a bit closer after the California Labor Commission ruled that one of the ride-hailing company's motorists in San Francisco is an employee, not a contractor, as it contends.

This is a big deal because the rights of Uber drivers depend sharply on whether they are deemed employees or self-employed independent contractors hired for particular jobs. By extension, the success of Uber's business model may hinge on the question as well, but that's for another article.

Dollar-Slice Pizza Employees Work 70-Hour Weeks for Minimum Wage: Suit

Source: Andy Cush, Gawker

How does 2 Bros Pizza-the popular New York hot-cheese-n-crust-for-just-a-buck joint-keep its prices so nice? By underpaying its employees and working them to the bone, according to a new lawsuit.

The class-action lawsuit, filed against dollar-slice emporium 2 Bros on behalf of more than a dozen cashiers, pizzamakers, and the like, alleges that workers were paid minimum wage or less with no overtime for workweeks that often hit 60 or 70 hours.

I am an adjunct professor who teaches five classes. I earn less than a pet-sitter.

Source: Lee Hall, The Guardian

Like most university teachers today, I am a low-paid contract worker. Now and then, a friend will ask: "Have you tried dog-walking on the side?" I have. Pet care, I can reveal, takes massive attention, energy and driving time. I'm friends with a full-time, professionally employed pet-sitter who's done it for years, never topping $26,000 annually and never receiving health or other benefits.
The reason I field such questions is that, as an adjunct professor, whether teaching undergraduate or law-school courses, I make much less than a pet-sitter earns. This year I'm teaching five classes (15 credit hours, roughly comparable to the teaching loads of some tenure-track law or business school instructors). At $3,000 per course, I'll pull in $15,000 for the year. I work year-round, 20 to 30 hours weekly – teaching, developing courses and drafting syllabi, offering academic advice, recommendation letters and course extensions for students who need them. As I write, in late June, my students are wrapping up their final week of the first summer term, and the second summer term will begin next week.

Who Owns Your Overtime?

Source: FRAN SUSSNER RODGERS, New York Times

A LITTLE-NOTICED but important change in the American workplace is about to occur. Sometime in the next month, the Department of Labor is expected to announce an adjustment to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The change will raise the salary threshold for overtime. Currently, if you are a salaried employee and make less than $23,660 per year, you are eligible for time and a half pay for any hours over 40 per week. The update, which is likely to at least double that threshold, will affect millions of salaried employees.

June 21, 2015

Top US CEOs still make 300 times more than their workers

Source: Tim Fernholz, Quartz

Executive pay has not risen to the levels seen before the financial crisis or during the tech bubble, but remains much higher relative to historic measures. The ratio rose comparatively slowly in the 1960s and 70s, but from the late 1980s to 2000 CEO pay quadrupled in relation to worker compensation.

Lawrence Mishel, the economist and president of EPI who wrote the study, attributes most of that change to the significant reduction in top marginal tax rates for the wealthy since 1980, combined with the increase in stock-based compensation schemes and poor corporate governance.

"It's quite a remarkable escalation of CEO pay relative to everybody else," Mishel told Quartz. "Executive pay explains about 40% of the doubling of the income share of the top 1%-that's a pretty big deal."

June 19, 2015

Franchises fear a "devastating" change to their business model

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

But now, Gallegos said, there's a fight in Washington that could change how he runs his business day-to-day. And it's all because of a different company that has nothing to do with his: McDonald's.
There's a basic question before the Labor Relations Board right now that affects franchise owners like Gallegos around the country. If a McDonald's worker has his or her rights violated, who's liable? The franchise owner running the McDonald's? Or the executives at McDonald's headquarters, or both? The NLRB's general counsel says it's McDonald's responsibility and that companies like it should be treated as "joint employers."
If that's true, then suddenly a franchise owner like Gallegos is going to start hearing a lot more from the people running the home office for Two Men and a Truck-and Gallegos and his wife say they would start losing their independence as small business owners.

Former Shell worker cites unsafe conditions on oil ship

Source: Martha Bellisle, Washington Post

A woman who was permanently injured while working on one of Shell's Arctic drilling support ships has sued, saying the company compromised safety in its rush to drill for oil.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Thursday by Anita Hanks said Shell and its contractor maintained dangerous work conditions on the Arctic Challenger as it prepared to drill in the Arctic in 2012. The oil spill containment vessel is part of Shell's drilling fleet. It was docked in Bellingham at the time of an accident.

June 18, 2015

Airport workers steadily gaining back lost ground on wages

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Today, the Philadelphia City Council officially signed a new lease with several airlines for its municipally owned airport. But it's not just any lease. In the details, there's a giant gift for workers: A wage hike to $12 an hour, not including benefits, up from the current Pennsylvania minimum wage of $7.25.

And that's not all. The wage provision also covers employees of all the airlines' vendor companies - a population that has been hard to reach, as the industry has contracted out basic services, a shift that has helped depress wages for airport workers through the 2000s. And it includes a provision requiring airport employers to remain neutral in any union drives, which should help the group pushing hardest for the changes - the Service Employees International Union - finally organize the airport's contracted workforce.

Why we pay our restaurant workers more

Source: Lucy Carnaghi, Detroit Free Press

Before owning a restaurant, I spent years scrambling to make ends meet, table-by-table and shift-to-shift, as a server living off tips and a sub-minimum wage.

Eventually, I ended up waiting tables at a well-known fine-dining restaurant in downtown Detroit. I made better tips, but the incessant fighting over the "best" tables, the "best" shifts and pushing as much as possible on customers to increase the bill and up the chances of a higher tip was all unbearably stressful.

Can these fixes make college more affordable?

Source: Tom Anderson, CNBC

Rising student debt levels certainly seem unsustainable. Over the past 10 years, student loan debt has more than tripled from $360 billion in 2005 to more than $1.2 trillion today, making it second only to outstanding mortgage debt.

Meanwhile, student loan delinquencies have surged from 6 percent a decade ago to more than 11 percent at the end of last year, far higher than the delinquency rate for any other type of debt.

60 percent of Americans live with a minimum wage higher than the federal one

Source: Janell Ross, Washington Post

When Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a law Tuesday forcing the city's employers to begin paying a $15-an-hour minimum wage by 2020, the move wasn't exactly applauded by the business community.

But more and more, the business community is losing this battle. Not at the federal level, mind you, but at the state and local level.

In fact, so many cities and states have boosted their minimum legal wage above federal government's $7.25 an hour that at least 60 percent of the country's workforce now lives in a place in which the minimum wage sits well above that national requirement, according to David Cooper, an economic analyst with the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.

June 17, 2015

Older Workers Stay Unemployed Much Longer Than Younger Ones, Study Says

Source: Ann Brenoff, Huffington Post

Compared to younger job-seekers, older adults receive fewer job offers, search for work weeks longer and are less likely to find re-employment after losing a job, according to U.S. government data analyzed by Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Psychology and University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. The study was published by the journal Psychological Bulletin.

In a press release, Connie Wangerg, a Carlson School professor of industrial relations, said, "There's very robust evidence that as an individual moves beyond age 50, they experience a large penalty toward how quickly they will find a job."

Women doctors get less industry funding for research: study

Source: Steven Ross Johnson, Modern Healthcare

The biomedical research careers of women physicians may be held back because they receive less funding from pharmaceutical manufacturers than men do, according to the author of a new study on gender differences in research support.

Women physicians receive roughly $15,000 a year less in research funding from manufacturers compared with their male counterparts, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.

It also found that female physicians received an average of about $3,600 per doctor less from industry for other types of payments, such as meals and speaker fees.

June 16, 2015

How A Pay Rise For NY Fast-Food Workers Could Spread Across America

Source: Cora Lewis, Buzzfeed News

Heading to work at McDonald's one recent morning, Evelisse Perez, 19, collapsed on her way to the door. Her mother took her to a hospital, where a doctor said she had overworked her body to exhaustion. She spent a week in bed, attached to an IV drip. Though she quit her second job as a bartender in the wake of the incident, she still gets headaches and anxiety attacks.

Perez, who attends night school, still works at a Manhattan McDonald's, she told members of New York's wage board Monday. Most weeks, she gets 30 hours. In a good week, she said she can get as many as 36. Either way, at near-minimum wage, Perez can't make ends meet in the city.

San Diego County Restaurant Workers Report Wage Theft

Source: Marissa Cabrera,Peggy Pico,Maureen Cavanaugh, KPBS

A new study finds that some of the 125,700 restaurant workers in San Diego County are getting short-changed on their earnings.

The study by the Center on Policy Initiatives, a San Diego nonprofit that advocates for the working poor, and San Diego State University's Sociology Department found 77 percent of the 337 workers surveyed have been victims of wage theft during the past year, with a third saying it happens regularly.

"In this pilot study, overwhelming numbers of restaurant workers reported they had been cheated of money they are owed in wages and tips, as well as their break time and personal time, " Jill Esbenshade, SDSU professor and lead investigator, said in a news release.

The Lessons Unions Learned From the 'Justice for Janitors' Protests

Source: Josh Eidelson , Bloomberg

Twenty-five years ago, striking janitors were clubbed and arrested by Los Angeles cops after locking arms and marching toward them in protest. This week, the Service Employees International Union is holding rallies commemorating that 1990 showdown, a key moment in a national campaign that swelled, to 133,000, the ranks of janitors covered by its union contracts. SEIU sees that effort, branded Justice for Janitors, as a precursor to today's fast-food strikes, which similarly captured national attention in a way most activists can only dream of. (The J4J protests were the subject of the film Bread and Roses, starring Adrien Brody.) It's an instructive comparison: The challenges SEIU faced organizing janitors in 1990 have only gotten more widespread. So have the tactics it took up to meet them.

June 15, 2015

What now for labor and trade? - Walker divides and conquers - FedEx pays $228M to settle classification lawsuit

Source: Brian Mahoney , Politico

WHAT NOW FOR LABOR AND TRADE?: After months of hardline opposition, Labor won big Friday when it convinced all but 40 Democrats to vote against renewing Trade Adjustment Assistance. TAA's failure rendered meaningless the House's subsequent vote granting President Barack Obama Trade Promotion Authority. Under the procedures of Friday's vote, if TAA failed, so did TPA.

FEDEX PAYS $228M TO SETTLE CLASSIFICATION LAWSUIT: Here's something you don't see everyday: FedEx agreed to settle a misclassification lawsuit for an amount ($228 million) comparable to the wage and hour division's entire annual collection of back wages from employers ($250 million in 2014).

Workers in America have problems. Meet the technologies trying to solve them.

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Terry Pham employs a couple dozen people at Fat Straws, his small chain of bubble tea shops in Dallas. And he has lots of ways of managing them.

He uses a behavioral assessment to screen job applicants, in an attempt to ensure his new hires will be good fits for his operation. A sophisticated video surveillance system catches employees who might steal or give out freebies. A "mystery shopper" service checks in to see whether workers are on their toes when the bosses aren't overseeing. Although Pham believes all the oversight helps him reward people who are doing a good job, it's primarily there for those who aren't.

America can afford a $15 minimum wage, tech CEO says

Source: Matt Egan, CNN Money

That's what billionaire Marc Benioff, the founder and CEO of Salesforce.com (CRM, Tech30), believes. Corporate leaders need to do a better job of balancing the needs of their employees with the desires of their shareholders, he argues.

Benioff applauded Los Angeles for deciding to raise the city's minimum wage from $9 an hour to $15 by 2020.

"I love that, and I think we should do that for the whole country," Benioff told CNN's Poppy Harlow from the software company's San Francisco headquarters. "That's one way to bring everybody up."

Benioff criticized companies that fail to pay their employees enough money to afford the rent in the city they work in.

June 12, 2015

A Big Win for Big Labor

Source: Russell Berman, Atlantic

House Democrats may have cast the fatal votes that killed President Obama's trade agenda on Friday morning, but the party responsible for its demise was a coalition whose numbers have diminished for decades and whose political clout has been questioned: the American labor movement.
The Obama administration believed it had the votes necessary to pass the most-contentious piece of its trade legislation-Trade Promotion Authority-that would allow the president to finalize agreements with Pacific Rim nations and the European Union. But the labor movement was not prepared to give up. Instead, it caught the administration off guard by launching a surprise attack on legislation known as Trade Adjustment Assistance, a program designed to help workers displaced by trade and one which Democrats-and organized labor-have overwhelmingly supported in the past.

Workers' schedules could be the next labor fight in the D.C. Council

Source: Perry Stein, Washington Post

One-third of service-sector employees who responded to a D.C. Jobs With Justice survey released this week said they receive their work schedules less than a week in advance. Last-minute scheduling, these workers say, makes it grueling to coordinate child care, shuffle two jobs and pay their bills.

Now activists are laying the groundwork to introduce legislation to the D.C. Council that would fight against this practice, dubbed "just-in-time" scheduling, by setting strict guidelines telling companies how much advance notice they must give their employees when scheduling their shifts.

FedEx settles suit for $228 million, records $2.2 billion non-cash pension charge

Source: Greg Akers , Memphis Business Journal

FedEx made two major announcements today, one involving millions and the other involving billions of dollars.

FedEx Corp. agreed to settle a suit regarding the employment classification status of FedEx Ground workers, according to transportation publication Transport Topics. With the $228 million settlement, the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is resolved.

"FedEx Ground faced a unique challenge in defending this case given the decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last summer. This settlement resolves claims dating back to 2000 that concern a model FedEx Ground no longer operates," said Christine Richards, FedEx general counsel.

Unpredictable Hours Are Becoming a Workers' Worst Enemy

Source: Nicole Charky, ATTN

Erratic hours and unpredictable schedules for people who prepare food, stock grocery store shelves, or sweep floors are forcing workers to put their lives on hold, a new study reveals.

What's known as "just-in-time" scheduling financially cripples retail, restaurant, and service workers who are often required to be on call for certain hours but don't always get asked to come in to work, the study finds.

By surveying 436 hourly employees who work in retail and food service jobs and aren't supervisors, the researchers found that a typical employee in Washington, D.C., works 32 hours each week, earning a pay rate of about $10 per hour. This is an annual income of approximately $16,000, which is sufficiently below $13.80, the living wage for D.C. government contractors as of Jan. 1, 2015.

June 11, 2015

Nannies And Housekeepers See Workplace Progress, Finally Granted Days Off And Overtime

Source: Eleanor Goldberg, Huffington Post

Oregon recently joined a handful of states that have committed to granting nannies and housekeepers overdue basic human rights.

The Beaver State on Tuesday narrowly passed a bill that would require meal breaks, overtime pay, protection from abuse and other standard workplace rights, according to KATU. While critics claim the bill, which was sent to the state Senate, is far too vague, advocates say the move is key in at least igniting the conversation about the common maltreatment domestic workers face. Though experts point out that it's not always intentional.

Worker protections? There's no app for that

Source: Susie Cagle, Aljahzeera America

The companies of the gig economy, the on-demand economy, the 1099 economy - whatever you want to call it - have proved the most financially successful and most ethically and legally vexing of Silicon Valley's recent startup surge. The apps may be new, but the contract work arrangement keeping these companies humming is hardly a unique or recent innovation. Hiring contractors to lower tax and legal liabilities has been a business strategy for decades. Taxi drivers were freelancers long before Uber disrupted personal vehicle travel, and they joined blue- and white-collar freelance workers across a variety of industries, from home health aides to truck drivers to engineers.
Potential class-action lawsuits like the ones pending against Lyft and Uber in California may chasten the fast-growing app-based service economy and raise awareness of worker misclassification. But the other millions of freelancers who bear the higher cost of independence with few if any of the protections that come from having a staff job will be as precarious as ever without reforms.

June 10, 2015

Richard Branson has announced a great paid leave policy for 0.2 percent of his workers

Source: Danielle Paquette, Washington Post

Virgin has a huge business, encompassing everything from airline Virgin Galactic to music label Virgin Records, employing about 50,000 workers. But the company said only about 140 will be able to take the full amount of paid leave.

That's because to qualify, male and female employees must live in London or Geneva and have worked at least four years for Virgin Management, the company's investment arm. Workers with less than two years of experience will receive 25 percent.
Now, before anyone chides Branson for excluding the vast majority of his workforce while attempting to lead a workforce revolution, remember: Virtually no one offers this much paid paternity leave - and especially in the United States, where about 14 percent of employers report providing some amount of the benefit at all.

How to pay the help

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

A few Decembers ago, a busy attorney named Julie Kay was running around buying gifts and planning holiday travel with family, coordinating schedules for the women she employed to help out with her ailing mother and infant daughter. While putting together her holiday cards, it hit her that she'd forgotten something.

"All of a sudden I realized I hadn't done any of that for the elder caregivers," Kay says - meaning let them go see their own families. "I realized that these people had the same relationships as I did with my mother, and I thought 'Oh, I should give them paid time off.'"

Federal judge: Wal-Mart violated state minimum wage laws, owes truckers millions

Source: Sudhin Thanawala, Star Tribune

Wal-Mart could be on the hook for more than $100 million in back pay after a federal judge ruled the company failed to pay California minimum wage to truck drivers for activities that included inspecting and washing their trucks, an attorney said Wednesday.

The ruling came after the company argued that the drivers are paid for particular activities that include those tasks.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston sided with the drivers in her May 28 ruling, saying activities that are not compensated separately cannot be included in tasks that are paid for by the company.

June 9, 2015

Chipotle to offer tuition reimbursement to hourly workers

Source: Heesun Wee, CNBC

Hoping to boost recruitment and retention amid a tightening job market, Chipotle Mexican Grill has revealed it will offer new benefits for employees including tuition reimbursement.

The benefits-available to hourly workers-begin July 1 and also will include paid vacation time and paid sick leave.

"We are always working to attract and retain the very best employees we can, and to helping develop our people so they can achieve their full potential," said Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold in an email to CNBC.com. "As part of that effort, we are changing our benefits package," he said.

New York City Council to Vote on Bill to Protect Carwash Workers

Source: Liz Robbins , New York Times

For years, labor leaders and advocates for employees toiling at New York City's 200 carwashes have been in a battle with the owners of the businesses over wages and working conditions, including the right to join a union.

Owners have largely resisted unionization, claiming it would put the carwashes out of business. Unions have cited an untenable situation in which vulnerable workers - many of whom are undocumented immigrants - say their tips and wages are stolen in an industry where abuse has been well documented.

Detroit teachers union chief takes on Lansing, recall bid

Source: Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press

The head of Detroit's teachers union said he's preparing for his biggest fight yet - to stop efforts to dismantle the city's public school system.

Steve Conn may also have to fight to save his job.

Five months after being elected president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, Conn is the target of a recall campaign. The 57-year-old former teacher and longtime civil rights activist said he's unfazed by critics and remains focused on improving public education in Detroit.

June 8, 2015

Federal contract workers strike outside U.S. courthouse in downtown Dallas

Source: Kevin Krause, Dallas Morning News

A group of federal contract workers who handle security inside the Earle Cabell courthouse in downtown Dallas are on strike, complaining of unfair labor practices that have led to inflexible work schedules.

The strike by the Local 293 branch of the United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA) union began with a picket line outside the federal courthouse on May 26.

The strikers work for Virginia-based Paragon Systems, which has a contract with the government to staff the federal courthouse in Dallas. Paragon also provides workers for federal government buildings across the nation.

Why labor groups genuinely believe they can unionize McDonald's one day

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

This past weekend, the walls of Cobo Center on the Detroit River reverberated with more than the usual amount of cheers and chants, endlessly repeating a two-pronged demand: A minimum wage more than double the level of the federal baseline, and a labor union for the fast food industry.

"We work, we sweat, put $15 on our check hey hey we work, we sweat, for $15 on our check hey hey!" shouted scores of people dancing and clapping on-stage, as the crowd of hundreds in the ballroom before them joined hesitatingly, and then enthusiastically. Moments of silence with fists raised punctuated speeches and more hype sessions, as contingents of mostly black and hispanic low-wage workers from different cities sought to out-cheer each other.

San Francisco Fed Sees Involuntary Part-Time Workers Remaining Elevated

Source: Michael S. Derby, Wall Street Journal

High levels of part-time workers have long called into question how strong the job market recovery has been.

The problem is, according to a paper published Monday by the San Francisco Federal Reserve, that question won't be going away any time soon. In new research written by staffers Rob Valletta and Catherine Van Der List, the bank says the number of those forced to work part-time jobs "may remain significantly above" the levels seen before the Great Recession for some time to come.

June 5, 2015

Ending discrimination in workplace, other areas is next gay rights battle

Source: Sandhya Somashekhar, Washington Post

Gay rights groups anticipating a Supreme Court victory on same-sex marriage later this month already are turning their attention to their next big priority: broad new legal protections against discrimination in the workplace and other parts of society.

The new campaign is aimed at enacting protections at the federal level and in 28 states where civil rights statutes do not explicitly ban discrimination against gay and transgender people.

Propelled by $25 million from wealthy backers, the effort promises to open a volatile new front in the nation's culture wars, both on Capitol Hill and in statehouses nationwide.

Judge Rules Second Version of New York Teachers' Exam Is Also Racially Biased

Source: Elizabeth A. Harris, New York Times

A federal judge on Friday found that an exam for New York teaching candidates was racially discriminatory because it did not measure skills necessary to do the job, the latest step in a court battle over teacher qualifications that has spanned nearly 20 years.

The test was found to fail minority teaching candidates at a higher rate than white candidates. According to Friday's decision, written by Judge Kimba M. Wood of Federal District Court in Manhattan, the pass rate for African-American and Latino candidates was between 54 percent and 75 percent of the pass rate for white candidates. Once it was established that minority applicants were failing at a disproportionately high rate, the burden shifted to education officials to prove that the skills being tested were necessary to do the job; otherwise, the test would be ruled discriminatory.

American Apparel workers protest rumored clinic closing

Source: Shan Li, LA Times

Dozens of American Apparel workers gathered in downtown Los Angeles on Friday to protest the rumored closing of the company's medical clinic, a benefit long touted as central to the firm's lauded treatment of employees.

The Los Angeles company, meanwhile, said such rumors are "categorically false."

"American Apparel has no plans to close its on-site medical clinic," the company said in a statement.
But American Apparel employees, who were affected by layoffs and furloughs earlier this year, wanted to preemptively act to pressure management to avoid closing the clinic, said Nativo Lopez, senior adviser of Hermandad Mexicana, which has been organizing American Apparel workers.

NY Walmart store investigator claims supervisors harassed her over religious beliefs

Source: Stephen Rex Brown, New York Daily News

A Pentecostal store investigator at a Rockland County Walmart says she was harassed by supervisors after insisting she couldn't work Sundays due to her religious beliefs.

Cory Chavis says in her suit filed in Manhattan Federal Court that in 2013 a new policy required her to work on the Christian Sabbath, which she refused.

Her bosses allegedly refused to give her a religious exemption. After complaining to corporate headquarters Chavis, 40, says she got her way – but that honchos then waged a campaign of retaliation against her.

June 4, 2015

Ban Noncompete Agreements. Do It Now.

Source: Jordan Weissmann, Slate

There was a time when noncompete agreements, which ban employees from leaving their company for one of its rivals, were mostly reserved for powerful executives and other highly paid professionals. But lately, they've been popping up in an increasingly comical assortment of industries, as businesses have sought out ever-more elaborate ways to assert control over their workers. Last year, the Huffington Post discovered that Jimmy John's-yes, as in the sandwich chain-was requiring its low-wage hires to sign an expansive noncompete clause that would ban them from working at just about any other fast-food restaurant that served meat between two pieces of bread. The Verge found that Amazon was also making its warehouse staff sign noncompetes, though the company responded to the report by dropping them from its contracts. The New York Times turned up the restrictions at a summer camp and a salon. Even a doggy daycare facility has gotten in on the act.

Congress should help pregnant workers stay healthy and on the job

Source: Wendy Chavkin, M.D., The Hill

Throughout my career, I have worked to advance women's health as a public health doctor trained in obstetrics and gynecology and unfortunately, Jenny's story is not uncommon, as the law does not provide clear enough protections for pregnant women to have access to what they need to stay healthy and on the job. That's why it is critical for millions of families that Congress pass the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which will be reintroduced today by lead sponsors Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.); and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).

June 2, 2015

Making Victoria's Secret Pay For Keeping Staff On Call

Source: Sapna Maheshwari and Cora Lewis , Buzzfeed News

Until earlier this year, Erin Hurley worked part-time at a Bath & Body Works in Marietta, Georgia, often spending 12 hours a week smiling at shoppers and selling them body lotion and candles in scents like "Moonlight Path" and "Endless Weekend."

She would have liked more hours, and was regularly scheduled for at least twice as many. But most of those extra shifts came in the form of "call-in" work: days that an employee needs be available, often until hours before start time, with no guarantee of getting any work, or pay.

Can the Senate stop low-wage employers from tying up workers with non-competes?

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

With the economy gaining steam, and the unemployment rate dropping, more workers are starting to look around for better jobs. But some of them are discovering their options are far more limited. They are the ones who have signed "non-compete agreements," which prevent them from going to work for their employer's competition.

It's not just high-paid technology executives, who could damage their former employer with the client Rolodexes and intellectual property they carry somewhere else. It's also sandwich makers and warehouse workers, who have fewer economic options if they're constrained after they leave, and less of a cushion if they can't find new employment quickly.

California Senate Approves Bill Allowing Undocumented Immigrants To Buy Health Insurance

Source: Reuters, Huffpost

The California Senate voted on Tuesday to allow unauthorized immigrants to buy health insurance on a state exchange created under the U.S. Affordable Care Act, a measure that would make the state the first to offer that kind of coverage.

The bill would not provide a subsidy for undocumented immigrants to buy health insurance, unlike U.S. citizens and legal residents who can qualify for such assistance based on their incomes, said Jesse Melgar, a spokesman for the bill's author, Senator Ricardo Lara.

The Senate voted 28-11 in favor of the proposal, which still must be approved by the state Assembly and signed by the governor, Melgar said. Additionally, a federal waiver would be required for California to implement the measure.

June 1, 2015

Another Arizona immigration law dismantled by the courts

Source: Associated Press, Bristol Herald Courier

The U.S. Supreme Court landed the final blow against an Arizona law that denied bail to immigrants who are in the country illegally and are charged with certain felonies, marking the latest in a series of state immigration policies that have since been thrown out by the courts.

The nation's highest court on Monday rejected a bid from metro Phoenix's top prosecutor and sheriff to reinstate the 2006 law after a lower appeals court concluded late last year that it violated civil rights by imposing punishment before trial.

While a small number of Arizona's immigration laws have been upheld, the courts have slowly dismantled most of the other statutes that sought to draw local police into immigration enforcement.

Transgender employees get OSHA backing on bathroom access

Source: Jay LeBlanc, Washington Times

The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued guidelines Monday suggesting that employers allow transgender employees access to the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
The four-page "Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers" was created at the request of the National Center for Transgender Equality.
"Gender identity is an intrinsic part of each person's identity and everyday life," the report says. "Accordingly, authorities on gender issues counsel that it is essential for employees to be able to work in a manner consistent with how they live the rest of their daily lives, based on their gender identity. Restricting employees to using only restrooms that are not consistent with their gender identity, or segregating them from other workers by requiring them to use gender-neutral or other specific restrooms, singles those employees out and may make them fear for their physical safety."

Supreme Court Rules For Woman Denied Abercrombie & Fitch Job Over Headscarf

Source: Brian Naylor, NPR

The Supreme Court has ruled 8-1 in favor of a young Muslim woman who was denied a job at Abercrombie & Fitch because she wore a headscarf.

Samantha Elauf had applied for the sales job in Tulsa, Okla., in 2008 and was recommended for hire by an interviewer. But Abercrombie has a "look policy" that bars the wearing of caps by its salespeople.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took up the case, and the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of Elauf, awarding her $20,000 in damages. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, concluding that an employer cannot be held liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for failing to accommodate a religious practice until the applicant provides the employer with actual knowledge of his need for an accommodation.

Delaware minimum wage increases to $8.25 per hour

Source: Associated Press, Washington Post

The start of a new work week comes with the promise of more money for low-wage workers in Delaware.

Under a bill approved by lawmakers last year, the state's minimum wage increases on Monday from $7.75 per hour to $8.25 per hour.

The chief sponsor of that legislation, Sen. Robert Marshall, says the wage increase will help people who are struggling to get by.

But Marshall, a Wilmington Democrat, says more needs to be done. He introduced legislation earlier this year that would increase Delaware's minimum wage in four 50-cent increments to $10.25 per hour by 2019.

May 29, 2015

Legislature approves two worker protection bills

Source: Associated Press, Herald and News

Two bills touted as strengthening worker protections around retaliation and wage claims are headed to Gov. Kate Brown's desk following their legislative approval Thursday.

The Oregon Senate voted 17-13 to pass House Bill 2007, a bill intended to help close the wage gap for women and people of color by making it illegal to punish a worker for discussing pay in the workplace. Retaliation would be considered an unlawful employment practice and give the employee the right to sue the employer for damages.

Proponents said the bill is needed to make it possible for employees to ask about or talk about their salaries, and those of co-workers, without fear of reprisal.

Employers hustle to retain job-hopping workers

Source: Paul Davidson

May 28, 2015

When 'flexible' schedule means unpredictability

Source: Renée Loth, Boston Globe

It's been almost 80 years since the federal Fair Labor Standards Act established the 40-hour work week, protecting laborers from demands for toil without end. These days, however, many Americans are trying to get more hours of work - or at least more stable, predictable hours.

A new trend of erratic work schedules, split shifts, on-call positions, and "contingent" employment is bedeviling workers who are trying to keep their balance in a rapidly shifting economy. Not surprisingly, those most at the mercy of these irregular schedules are low-income workers, women, minorities, and single parents - the same people whose real wages haven't budged in three decades.

We Need More Nurses

Source: Alexandra Robbins, New York Times

Several emergency-room nurses were crying in frustration after their shift ended at a large metropolitan hospital when Molly, who was new to the hospital, walked in. The nurses were scared because their department was so understaffed that they believed their patients - and their nursing licenses - were in danger, and because they knew that when tensions ran high and nurses were spread thin, patients could snap and turn violent.

The nurses were regularly assigned seven to nine patients at a time, when the safe maximum is generally considered four (and just two for patients bound for the intensive-care unit). Molly - whom I followed for a year for a book about nursing, on the condition that I use a pseudonym for her - was assigned 20 patients with non-life-threatening conditions.

May 27, 2015

Workers' rights on social media extend farther than some might think

Source: Deborah M. Todd , San Jose Mercury News

Workers' constitutionally protected right to free speech is generally checked at the doors of private enterprises. However, when it comes to social media discussions about inflexible schedules, ice-cold break rooms or obscenity-laden rants about mandatory overtime, employees have the right to post, share and like to their hearts content.

"According to the National Labor Relations Act, what constitutes as protected speech is anything that explicitly discusses terms and conditions of employment -- whether it relates to how you're treated at work, wages, breaks, anything that goes to the terms and conditions of your employment is considered protected," said Katie Loehrke, editor at Neenah, Wis.-based compliance resource firm J.J. Keller and Associates.

Ex-prosecutor sues DOJ, U.S. attorney for NE, alleges sex discrimination

Source: Riley Johnson, Journal Star

A former federal prosecutor has alleged she was discriminated against because she's a woman and retaliated against while working under the U.S. attorney for Nebraska.

In a federal lawsuit filed Friday, Jill Finken accuses the U.S. Justice Department, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Nebraska of allowing her to be harassed by supervisors, failing to treat her the same as male colleagues, failing to hire her and retaliating against her for complaining about the work environment.

Bill would help poor workers injured on job

Source: Marie Szaniszlo, Boston Herald

State lawmakers yesterday heard testimony in support of bills that would increase injured workers' access to medical care and workers' compensation benefits.

Brian Flynn, senior staff attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services, urged the Labor and Workforce Development Committee to support Senate bill 976, which would help injured, low-wage workers - many of whom are immigrants who are paid in cash and less than minimum wage - by making the expenses of an interpreter and transportation to the doctor the responsibility of the insurer.

Why fewer workers are moving for better jobs

Source: Mark Thoma, CBS Moneywatch

Economic research tells us that workers who are willing to change employers tend to experience higher wage growth. But if this is true, why has labor mobility been declining since the 1980s? You would think workers would be moving to take advantage of higher wage offers. Maybe the cost of changing employers has increased, or maybe it's become less lucrative. Or perhaps it's due to the aging of the population coupled with the fact that older workers tend to move less.
Researchers at the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C., looked at this question in 2014 and concluded that worker mobility is falling because of a decline in the benefits of changing jobs. In particular, the attractiveness of offers to workers making a transition has fallen, while the costs -- which include factors such as more dual-earning households and the need to retain employer-sponsored health care coverage -- appear to have remained relatively constant.

May 26, 2015

Paid Sick Time Stalls In Oregon Legislature

Source: Chris Lehman , Northwest Public Radio

Supporters of a proposal to extend paid sick time to most Oregon workers say the legislation has stalled.

As it's now written, the measure would require businesses with six or more workers to offer up to five days of paid sick leave per year.

Backers, including Democratic Representative Paul Holvey, said the measure would benefit more than just employees.

"We shouldn't be forcing people, because they can't afford to stay home, to go to work that puts the public somewhat at risk if they're working in the food service industry, child care, taking care of seniors," Holvey said.

The Cost of an Adjunct

Source: Laura McKenna, The Atlantic

Imagine meeting your English professor by the trunk of her car for office hours, where she doles out information like a taco vendor in a food truck. Or getting an e-mail error message when you write your former biology professor asking for a recommendation because she is no longer employed at the same college. Or attending an afternoon lecture in which your anthropology professor seems a little distracted because he doesn't have enough money for bus fare. This is an increasingly widespread reality of college education.

Many students-and parents who foot the bills-may assume that all college professors are adequately compensated professionals with a distinct arrangement in which they have a job for life. In actuality those are just tenured professors, who represent less than a quarter of all college faculty. Odds are that students will be taught by professors with less job security and lower pay than those tenured employees, which research shows results in diminished services for students.

Why minimum wage is a bigger problem for women than men

Source: Marnie Eistenstant, Syracuse

Across the nation, women outnumber men in the ranks of low earners, according to data from the National Women's Law Center.

In a look at data from all 50 states, the organization found that at least 50 percent of minimum wage workers in every state were women. In New York, the data shows that a little more than half of the minimum wage workers are women. A New York wage board is considering whether to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers from the current $8.75 an hour. (Regular minimum wage increases to $9 at the end of this year).

May 25, 2015

Shocker: 40% of Workers Now Have 'Contingent' Jobs, Says U.S. Government

Source: Elaine Pofeldt, Forbes

Tucked away in the pages of a new report by the U.S. General Accounting Office is a startling statistic: 40.4% of the U.S. workforce is now made up of contingent workers-that is, people who don't have what we traditionally consider secure jobs.

There is currently a lot of debate about how contingent workers should be defined. To arrive at the 40.4 %, which the workforce reached in 2010, the report counts the following types of workers as having the alternative work arrangements considered contingent. (The government did some rounding to arrive at its final number, so the numbers below add up to 40.2%).

May 24, 2015

Northland group home employees unionize

Source: Brady Slater, Duluth News Tribune

But with the second unionization of an adult foster care workforce in Duluth in recent months, Jakowski may have started something transformative in an industry with a reputation for sometimes difficult working conditions and underwhelming pay.

Since Jakowski rallied Stepping Stones for Living's workforce to a 94-22 vote in favor of union representation last September, another group home company in the Northland, At Home Living, has seen its workforce vote 22-21 in favor of unionizing. Both companies currently are bargaining first contracts with the unions. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees represents both workforces and 1.6 million other individual members nationwide, including nurses, child care workers, corrections facility workers and more.

May 22, 2015

With victory in L.A., the $15 minimum wage fight goes national

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

It was an ambitious move for a town that hadn't recovered quite as strongly from the recession as two of its northern neighbors - Seattle and San Francisco. Legislators in those two cities had recently voted to go all the way to $15 an hour. But even L.A.'s more modest proposal still drew howls of resistance from corporate leaders, who predicted businesses would lay people off and flee the city in droves.

For labor leaders, it was just the opening bid. The next month, they pushed a faction of the City Council to counteroffer with a proposal that would bring the minimum all the way to $15.25 by 2019. After a few more months of wrangling over economic impact studies and provisions like paid leave, that number finally settled at an even $15 - the new gold standard for wage campaigns in big liberal cities. On Wednesday, the Council passed a staged increase that would get the minimum up to $15 by 2020, by a vote of 14 to 1.

Ascension to raise pay to 'socially just' minimum wage

Source: Samantha Liss, St. Louis Post Dispatch

Ascension is hiking its minimum wage to $11 per hour starting July 5.

The move to raise pay to a "socially just" wage will affect nearly 10,000 employees, or about 7 percent of Ascension's total workforce of 150,000. In St. Louis, about 200 workers, most employed at two senior care facilities, will benefit.

With this move Ascension now joins other major employers who have made similar commitments to boosting pay for hourly employees.

Ruby Tuesday to pay $100,000 to settle EEOC sex discrimination lawsuit

Source: Staff Reporters, The Daily Times

Ruby Tuesday Inc. will pay $100,000 and implement preventative measures to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC said Thursday.

This resolves the case concerning a "females-only" assignment to the resort town Park City, Utah, according to the EEOC.

The federal agency charged that Ruby Tuesday denied two male employees the opportunity to work as servers at Park City in the summer of 2013.

May 21, 2015

How Uber-type jobs are driving inequality, and what to do about it

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Whatever you call the new sector built on "platforms" that allow independent workers to find individual clients -- think Uber, AirBnb, Taskrabbit, etc. -- you'll probably acknowledge that it's got some drawbacks. While many of these app-based exchanges allow people to find work in ways that otherwise wouldn't be possible, there's mounting anecdotal evidence that those cumulative income streams don't generate enough to make a living.

And now, there's some statistical evidence as well. Yesterday, a group called Requests for Startups released results from a survey of 897 people who've worked with 78 different companies that fall into the "on-demand economy" bucket. It's a rough and imperfect sample, but a time when there's still precious little data on the characteristics of this new workforce, it gives us some idea of what they're going through.

May 20, 2015

How The Minimum-Wage Debate Moved From Capitol Hill To City Halls

Source: Danielle Kurtzleben , NPR

Once upon a time, minimum-wage debates were mostly the province of Congress and statehouses. These days, you're more likely than ever to hear these debates in your city hall. The trend continued this week, when the Los Angeles City Council voted to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The second-largest city in America could soon join Seattle and San Francisco in the club of cities that have agreed to gradually raise their wages above $15 per hour. And these cities are part of a larger, recent wave of cities and counties setting their own minimum wages.

Postal workers union protests cutbacks, poor service

Source: Danielle Ferguson, The Des Moines Register

About 30 American Postal Workers Union members stood outside the Des Moines U.S. Postal Service office Wednesday afternoon huddled in hoodies, holding signs and waving to passing drivers.

The workers were picketing for their rights, the rights of their customers and to raise awareness of changes the United States Postal Service is undergoing – including staff cuts and newly relaxed service standards – and to inform the public that USPS does not receive taxpayer dollars, said Lonnie Matticks, former USPS employee and member of the union.

Matticks said some of the main problems customers are facing are the increased wait times for receiving mail and the increased line times at the offices.

May 19, 2015

The Second Job You Don't Know You Have

Source: Craig Lambert, Politico

Technology has knocked the bottom rung out of the employment ladder, which has sent youth unemployment around the globe skyrocketing and presented us with a serious economic dilemma. While many have focused on the poor state of our educational system or the "jobless" recovery, another, overlooked factor behind this trend is the phenomenon of "shadow work." I define shadow work as all the unpaid jobs we do on behalf of businesses and organizations: We are pumping our own gas, scanning our own groceries, booking our travel and busing our tables at Starbucks. Shadow work is a new concept, so as yet, no one has compiled economic data on how many jobs we, the consumers, have taken over from (erstwhile) employees. Yet it is surely a force shrinking the job market, and the unemployment it creates is structural. Thanks in part to this new phenomenon, widespread joblessness could become entrenched in the social landscape.

The Economy Is Still Terrible for Young People

Source: Derek Thompson , The Atlantic

To start with the camera lens zoomed all the way out: The majority of young people aren't graduating from a four-year university. Rather they are dropping out of high school, graduating from high school and not going to college, or dropping out of college. Millennial is often used, in the media, as a synonym for "bachelor-degree-holding young person," but about 60 percent of this generation doesn't have a bachelor's degree.

And how are they doing, as a group? Young people don't seem to have a jobs problem-their jobless rate is a bit elevated, but not alarmingly so. Rather they have a money problem. The jobs they're getting don't pay much and their wages aren't growing. A recent analysis of the Current Population Survey last year found that the median income for people between 25 and 34 has fallen in every major industry but healthcare since the Great Recession began.

The best indication of what a federal $12 minimum wage could mean for poor places comes from Puerto Rico

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Over the past few years, demands for a minimum wage increase have jumped from around $9 an hour -- which seemed ambitious at the time -- to $15 an hour. Change has been rapid: The $15 minimum will eventually be law in a couple of cities, and it's headed for the ballot box in a few more. And on the federal level, legislators have bumped their proposal from the White House's initial bid of $10.10 an hour to $12 an hour nationwide.

That might work fine in places like New York City, where labor costs tend to be higher and consumers have a greater willingness to pay. But what about the lower-wage places, where the Senate Democrats' plan would mean a hike of 65 percent? Couldn't that hurt minimum-wage workers, if the higher cost of labor prompts firms to hire fewer people, or drives firms out of business?

Fast-Food Workers Photograph What Life Is Like When You Make Less Than $15 an Hour.

Source: Jordan G. Teicher, Slate

The workers involved in the exhibition began photographing last March with the guidance of photojournalist Steve Hebert, who's photographed the local Fight for $15 movement since its inception. Using cellphone cameras, the workers, who volunteered to participate in the project, collectively shot nearly 4,000 images at work, at home, and at various strikes and demonstrations. They illustrate the long hours and financial hardships that come with the job, as well as some lighter scenes with family and powerful moments of group solidarity.

"I've spent 20 years trying to work my way into places to make pictures of what I think is interesting in peoples' lives. The technology today allows people to do that themselves," he said. "These workers were just shooting as they went. What you get is a variety of different peoples' lives and experiences and the things they see, whether it's walking to work, on strike, or with their kids."

May 18, 2015

People have no idea what inequality actually looks like

Source: Emily Badger, Washington Post

Inequality, we keep hearing, will be a major theme of the upcoming election. Hillary Clinton has been preaching about it. Republicans are suddenly doing it, too. Both sides have been talking to the same eminent academics worried about what economic inequality could mean for the future of American children.

But here is an important point worth remembering about the electorate these candidates have been talking to: Most people - regardless of whether you ask about the poor or the rich, income or wealth, the shape of the income distribution or an individual's position in it - have a terrible sense of what inequality actually looks like.

OSHA cites Dollar General in Bear for safety violations

Source: Robin Brown and Scott Goss, Delawareonline

Federal inspectors cited a Dollar General store in Bear for safety violations officials said "could be a matter of life or death for workers."

They also allege the national chain has a longtime pattern of ignoring such violations at its stores.

Merchandise and boxes were found blocking emergency exits at the Bear store in violation of federal law, the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Monday.

In addition to blocked exits, other cited violations included electrical panel and fire extinguisher hazards.

OSHA has proposed $122,100 in penalties for violations found at the store at 1679 Pulaski Highway (U.S. 40) during a November inspection.

SEIU wants FTC to probe franchisors' practices

Source: Reuters, CNBC

The Service Employees International Union, backer of a three-year campaign to improve the plight of low-wage retail and fast-food workers, on Monday said it would petition the Federal Trade Commission to investigate alleged abusive practices by major franchisors, including McDonald's and 7-Eleven.

In its petition, reviewed by Reuters and expected to be filed with the FTC on Monday morning, SEIU outlined six U.S. franchisor practices it said appeared endemic and "particularly harmful.''

Minimum-wage increase helps workers, employers (Check Facebook for link)

Source: Amy Edelman, Philly

As a business owner in Philadelphia, I know we need to raise the minimum wage, and we need to act now. It's good for my business, customers, and our economy.

My perspective is grounded in 15 successful years as a small-business owner. I own and operate a bakery with my husband. We've more than doubled our staff and grown our business every year. The wages and benefits we offer our employees are central to our success.

All our employees start well above the current Pennsylvania minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. We employ 20 people, with counter staff starting at $10 per hour and kitchen staff earning $12 to $18 per hour. We also offer health-insurance reimbursement and paid time off.

May 15, 2015

Cops: Minimum-wage protest may bring 5,000 to McDonald's HQ

Source: Chuck Fieldman, Chicago Tribune

A group that brought about 2,000 protesters to Oak Brook in May 2014 is returning next week.

The Service Employees International Union is holding another demonstration in support of its campaign to increase the minimum wage of "quick service" restaurant employees to $15 per hour. The demonstration is planned to coincide with a meeting of McDonald's share holders at the fast-food chain's Oak Brook headquarters.

About 5,000 fast-food workers from around the country are expected this time, said Garrett Church, support officer for the Oak Brook Police Department.

Fair trade: Obama must be supportive of American workers

Source: Editorial Board, Pittsburg Post Gazette

The president does not deserve support for his trade agenda unless he pursues it with less secrecy and with more concern for its impact on American workers. He says the Trans-Pacific Partnership will create U.S. jobs and expand the economy. Two decades ago, proponents of the North American Free Trade Agreement made many of the same claims.

As Pittsburghers can attest, many of NAFTA's promises have not been kept. To the contrary, the agreement has often proved disastrous for communities that rely on manufacturing. The lesson is that liberalized trade must be concerned at least as much, in this country and abroad, with worker protections, environmental standards and intellectual property rights as it is with maximizing global investment opportunities for corporations.

May 14, 2015


Source: William Welkowitz , Bloomberg BNA

The traditional image evoked by the word "intern" is of the person in the office building who buys the coffee, picks up the dry cleaning and does all of the daily menial tasks for the company higher-ups who don't have time to do it themselves. However, as most millennials can attest, those days are long gone.

Today, most internships have participants engaging in the everyday workings of their company or organization. From entering data to doing basic research, interns make small, but important, contributions. The question then becomes whether those contributions warrant treatment comparable to any other employee, including a paycheck.

Labor bill that would fine big corporations paying low wages regains hope

Source: Christine Stuart, New Haven Register

Three weeks ago, a bill that would fine large employers who don't pay their employees $15 an hour may have been dead on arrival, but a new study and a fiscal note say it would net the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

Those hundreds of millions of dollars have many lawmakers giving the bill a second look because the revenue it raises is more attractive than some of spending cuts proposed by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. That's why a group of 30 Democratic lawmakers have signed a petition calling for the concept to be included in the revenue package being negotiated as part of the final budget.

Stressed out by student debt

Source: Rohit Chopra, Winsconsin Jounal Sentinel

As millions of students and their families across the country celebrate graduation season, many will be joining the ranks of the more than 40 million other Americans on the hook for over $1.2 trillion in student debt.

The average student loan borrower owes nearly $30,000 - a large chunk of debt for someone just starting out. This debt can cause real stress for borrowers. According to a recent study that examined the effects of student loans on health, researchers found that those who had higher amounts of student loan debt reported higher levels of depression, even with adjustments for parental wealth, childhood socioeconomic status and other factors. And there is growing consensus among industry leaders and policymakers that student debt may be holding back the economic recovery.

Unionizing Benefits Adjunct Faculty, Students and Society

Source: Gary Rhoades, New York Times

The decline in unionization means that the growing ranks of working poor are finding the American Dream unattainable. And adjunct faculty are the new working poor. Twenty-five percent of adjuncts receive public assistance. But now they are unionizing in unprecedented numbers.

Adjunct faculty's working conditions compromise students' ability to learn and succeed. These adjuncts are negotiating provisions to ensure their access to instructional resources and professional development, fees to discourage last-minute course assignment and cancellations, and longer contracts. These provisions will better serve students.

May 13, 2015

These are the things people who are forced to work long hours miss the most

Source: Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

"I want you to think about your work life, and your family life, and decide which is important to you."

I'll never forget those words, coming at the end of a lengthy exegesis on the virtues of long hours from an old boss. It wasn't that my work wasn't good, or that I wasn't getting enough done. In fact -- not to brag or anything -- my performance was rated by that boss as stellar.

But he found it irksome that I only clocked eight to nine hours a day. He said that if I wanted to prove my dedication to the company and make more money, I'd need to work more -- never mind that there wasn't actually any more work to do. I just needed to be a body in a chair.

Facebook has a new answer to income inequality

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

It's an unmistakable feature of the new Silicon Valley economy: Venture capital-backed tech companies fill the cities with well-paid employees, making life less and less affordable for the service workers whose wages seem immune to the forces that have sent engineer salaries soaring.

For several years now, labor unions and community groups have recognized that bifurcation is at the root of the inequities that have embittered the Bay Area. Earlier this year, they launched a campaign called Silicon Valley Rising, which aims to fix that problem by pushing tech giants to turn those minimum wage jobs they've contracted out into family-sustaining careers, using the sometimes massive cash piles that their business models have generated.

May 12, 2015

Nail salon workers aren't the only ones who need more protections

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced emergency protections for the state's nail salon workers, just days after two New York Times reports detailed widespread wage theft and health risks. The stories, by reporter Sarah Maslin Nir, illuminated just how vulnerable these workers are: Often recent immigrants, with low English fluency and few marketable skills, they're essentially indentured to nail salons that take few measures to shield them from exposure to toxic chemicals used in manicures and pedicures.

But nail salons aren't the only workplaces with few rules and little oversight. Mary Vogel, executive director of the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health, and Charlene Obernauer, executive director of the organization's New York chapter, pointed out a few other examples of occupations where workers experience similar vulnerabilities.

Postal workers rallying for longer service hours

Source: Tim Devaney, The Hill

Postal workers are rallying for expanded service hours that they say would lead to more stable jobs.

The American Postal Workers Union, which represents many of the behind-the-scenes postal workers like counter clerks and those who sort mail, is organizing a nationwide protest Thursday. The union does not represent letter carriers.

Hundreds of postal workers in more than 85 cities will protest in front of local post office buildings. They'll urge customers to sign postcards declaring "I stand with postal workers" that they'll later deliver to the postmaster general.

Bayer is Chastised by Judge for Offering to Reinstate Sales Rep 500 Miles Away

Source: Ed Silverman, The Wall Street Journal

Six years ago, a former Bayer sales rep named Michael Townsend tipped off federal authorities about alleged Medicaid fraud involving a physician, who was later found guilty of billing the healthcare program for an unapproved version of a Bayer product.

Several months later, the drug maker fired Townsend, who subsequently filed a lawsuit claiming he lost his job for reporting the Medicaid fraud. Bayer, which was not involved in the fraud, contended he was dismissed due to a dispute over his corporate credit card, according to court documents.

May 11, 2015

When it comes to maternity leave, Latinas may have it the worst

Source: Jorge Rivas, Fusion

But one important point was missing from Oliver's impassioned plea: The people earning the least in our economy-the young, the less educated, and women of color-are also the most likely to not have access to maternity leave, paid or unpaid, according to research from the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.

In fact, domestic workers-a group that is disproportionately made up of women of color-are excluded from even the most basic protections that The Family and Medical Leave Act provides.

Low, Middle Income Workers Most Vulnerable To Loss Of Obamacare Subsidies

Source: Audie Cornish, NPR

As we heard from Jeff, millions of Americans could be left scrambling if the Supreme Court decides their health insurance subsidies are illegal. These policyholders live in some three dozen states in which the federal government runs the healthcare exchange, not the state. So what might the future hold for these people if their subsidies are deemed illegal? To answer that, we spoke to Linda Blumberg. She's a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, an economic and social policy think tank. We started by asking her to tell us who would be the most affected.

May 8, 2015

Retailers are facing some harsh truths about employee wages

Source: Sinead Carews, Business Insider

Labor expenses will be a key focus during retailers' earnings conference calls in the coming weeks, with many companies under pressure to boost workers' wages at a time when low U.S. unemployment levels have given workers more leverage.

Wal-Mart, Target, T.J. Maxx, Gap, and McDonald's have already announced wage increases, and the trend appears to be trickling further into the retail and restaurant sectors.

"The competition for that job is tougher for the employer. The employee has choices now," said Thomas Sudyka, managing director at investment management firm Lawson Kroeker based in Omaha, Nebraska.

Mandate paid sick leave, Chicago

Source: Melissa Harris, Chicago Tribune

Let's think of all the people who get paid when they don't work. Congressmen who don't show up to vote. Athletes who sit on the bench. Many departing top executives, thanks to noncompete agreements.Yet an estimated 461,000 workers in Chicago aren't entitled to one paid sick day.

Expect a proposal on how to fix that to arrive on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's desk this fall when his Working Families Working Group, which is still being formed, is expected to report back, policy adviser David Spielfogel said. Spielfogel added that the group's agenda will be broadened to include parental leave, shift-worker protections and other workforce policies.

Illinois Supreme Court Rejects Lawmakers' Pension Overhaul

Source: Monica Davey, New York Times

The Illinois Supreme Court on Friday rejected changes that legislators made to fix a deeply troubled public pension system, leaving the state where it had started - with a significant budget crisis, a vastly underfunded pension program and no plan in sight.

All seven members of the state's highest court found that a pension overhaul lawmakers had agreed to almost a year and a half ago violated the Illinois Constitution. The changes would have curtailed future cost-of-living adjustments for workers, raised the age of retirement for some and put a cap on pensions for those with the highest salaries. But under the state Constitution, benefits promised as part of a pension system for public workers "shall not be diminished or impaired."

"Crisis is not an excuse to abandon the rule of law," Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier wrote in an opinion. "It is a summons to defend it."

The next labor fight is over when you work, not how much you make

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

If there's one labor issue that's come to the forefront of political agendas over the past few years, it's the minimum wage: Cities and states around the country are taking action to boost worker pay, as federal efforts seem doomed to fail.

But a new wave of reform is already in the works. Instead of how much you earn, it addresses when you work -- pushing back against the longstanding corporate trend toward timing shifts exactly when labor is needed, sometimes in tiny increments, or at the very last minute. That practice, nicknamed "just-in-time" scheduling, can wreak havoc on the lives of workers who can't plan around work obligations that might pop up at any time.

May 7, 2015

The Price of Nice Nails

Source: Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times

Tucked in her pocket was $100 in carefully folded bills for another expense: the fee the salon owner charges each new employee for her job. The deal was the same as it is for beginning manicurists in almost any salon in the New York area. She would work for no wages, subsisting on meager tips, until her boss decided she was skillful enough to merit a wage.

It would take nearly three months before her boss paid her. Thirty dollars a day.

Judges weigh minimum wage, overtime rules for home care providers

Source: Lydia Wheeler, The Hill

Two of the three judges on a powerful federal court appeared sympathetic to the Department of Labor's push to make home care providers of third-party employers eligible for minimum wage and overtime pay during oral arguments on Thursday.

At issue are workers who serve as aides for the elderly and disabled at home. While they are not providing healthcare, Judge Cornelia Pillard, of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, suggested they should be treated as other professionals.

"It was the intent of Congress to give wage and labor protections to people who were doing this as their bread and butter," she said referring to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

What James Franco gets wrong about working for McDonald's

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

McDonald's, now under fire from workers, customers and its own franchisees, has found an unlikely defender: James Franco. Over at PostEverything this morning, he waxed nostalgic about that one time when he needed some extra cash to support his acting career, nobody would give him a job but McDonald's. The quirky characters, the annoying customers, the stolen fries -- all just part of the charm of his pre-fame life.

Franco isn't making much of business or economic argument, or even really responding to the demands that have been put on the company by worker campaigns demanding better treatment and higher wages. His central point, to the extent one exists, is that McDonald's employs people and it would be a shame if that stopped happening. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone to disagree.

May 6, 2015

UC study says ranks of low-wage California workers growing

Source: Dan Walters, The Sacramento Bee

A University of California think tank is adding more fodder to the Capitol's burgeoning debate over poverty.

A third of California's employed workers are "low-wage" and their ranks are growing, according to a new study from the Center for Labor Research and Education at University of California's Berkeley campus..

That translates into 4.8 million workers who earn less than $13.63 per hour, the "low-wage" cutoff defined as less than two-thirds of the median wage, which was $20.44 in 2014.

New York Governor Cuomo wants to raise wages for fast food workers, all by himself

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

When McDonald's announced a few weeks ago it was raising its minimum wage to $9 an hour, workers cheered. But their excitement came with caution: The mega-chain doesn't own most of its restaurants -- franchisees do -- so the impact would be limited. And in lots of places, $9-an-hour may not be much of an improvement. It's lot less than the $15 an hour activists have been asking for.

But their concerns have reached a a higher power: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who proposed in a New York Times op-ed Wednesday to boost pay in the fast food industry through his executive powers, after failing to get the Legislature to raise the minimum wage statewide through the regular process. He says he can do it by appointing a "Wage Board," determining its direction, and modifying the recommendations it comes up with as he sees fit.

N.J. unions, Christie administration clash over pensions before Supreme Court

Source: Samantha Marcus, NJ

New Jersey's public worker unions and Gov. Chris Christie's administration fought over billions of dollars in pension funding before the state Supreme Court on Wednesday in a case with far-reaching implications for hundreds of thousands of workers and state budgets this year and beyond.

More than a dozen labor unions are asking the high court to establish their right to pension funding under a 2011 pension reform law that lawyers for the state argue is unconstitutional.

Justice Barry Albin called the dispute unprecedented, saying the state's position is that "the law that was passed, now that it doesn't seem to work to my advantage, I'd like to declare it unconstitutional."

May 5, 2015

Owners of Mexican restaurants sentenced to prison for hiring undocumented workers and paying substandard wages

Source: Eric Heisig, Cleveland

AKRON, Ohio - The owner of a chain of Mexican restaurants in Summit and Stark counties was sentenced Monday to 33 months in federal prison for hiring undocumented workers and paying them less than minimum wage. The owner's wife was sentenced to three months.

Miguel Castro, 46, of Uniontown, had the controlling interest in the seven "Mariachi Locos" and "Mariachi Cocos" restaurants in Akron, Stow, Tallmadge and North Canton. His wife, Monica, was also part owner, and all but one are now closed.

May 4, 2015

McDonald's workers plan 'biggest-ever protest' as company announces changes

Source: Rupert Neate, The Guardian

McDonald's workers will gatecrash the burger company's shareholder meeting later this month with "the biggest ever protest" demanding an end to "poverty wages" paid to many of its 420,000 staff.

As the company announced plans to turn around its ailing business, Fight for $15, a union-backed protest group, set out plans for a day of protest at the company's Chicago headquarters.

Where the Minimum-Wage Fight Is Being Won

Source: Russell Berman , The Atlantic

Last Thursday, congressional Democrats unveiled their latest demand for an increase in the national minimum wage: $12 an hour by 2020, an increase of nearly 68 percent from its current $7.25. Their proposal isn't likely to get enacted anytime soon. Yet the real story in the minimum-wage fight is just how much of an afterthought the federal government has become....

Congress hasn't touched the federal minimum wage in eight years. But while lawmakers in the Capitol dither, cities and states under both Democratic and Republican leadership have acted on their own in the last few years, responding to public pressure surrounding income inequality and wage stagnation.

Fiat Chrysler wants to give dealership workers a free ride to college

Source: CNN Wire, FoxCT

If the cost of college is weighing you down, now's a good time to get a job at a Fiat Chrysler dealership.

The automaker announced Monday that it will roll out a program to cover the cost of college degrees for those who work at Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Truck and FIAT dealerships. The program will be available to 118,000 workers across the U.S. and will offer associates, bachelors and masters degrees for employees, all free of charge to them.

May 3, 2015

Substitute teachers could be outsourced in Des Moines

Source: Mackenzie Ryan, The Des Moines Register

The Des Moines school board could decide as soon as Tuesday whether to outsource the district's substitute teachers and teacher associates to a temp agency, a plan that some fear would deteriorate the quality of subs in schools.

District administrators say the same substitute standards would be upheld, and the move could actually benefit students. Right now, substitute shortages leave an average of 30 classes a day unfilled, prompting teachers to forgo planning time and other responsibilities to step in.

May 1, 2015

NLRB says arrest of union reps violated supermarket workers' rights

Source: Daniel Wiessner, Reuters

A divided National Labor Relations Board panel has ruled that the manager of a Fred Meyer Stores Inc supermarket in Oregon violated workers' rights when he launched into an anti-union tirade and called the police on union representatives who were visiting the store.

In a 2-1 decision, the NLRB on Thursday said the manager violated a store policy, which allowed union officials to visit employees for brief periods during working hours, at a critical point during bitter contract negotiations.

Several May Day demonstrations planned in Bay Area

Source: Amy Hollyfield, ABC 7

Thousands will take to the streets in the Bay Area nationwide for May Day protests.

The city of Oakland is preparing for a series of demonstrations. The first one starts at 5:30 a.m. - people plan to gather and try to shut down the McArthur BART station to impact the morning commute. Protesters will start their march at the Port of Oakland - which will coincidentally be shut down for eight hours.

May Day originally started as a pagan ritual celebrating the start of summer. In the 19th century, labor movements starting using May Day as a day to recognize workers' rights.

My shirt was ripped at work. Can I get reimbursed?

Source: Quentin Fottrell, Market Watch

On one particular Friday at work an email message went out to all employees in the Boston office asking us to unplug all of our electronics from the wall before leaving for the weekend (because the power would be turned off over the weekend for some annual building-wide maintenance). So at the end of the day I went under my desk and unplugged my computer and lamp as instructed. As I was crawling back out from under my desk, a metal part of the desk frame ripped my dress shirt. I was unharmed but my shirt was ruined. Am I being ridiculous in wanting to approach my company about reimbursing me for the ripped shirt?

April 29, 2015

Farmers Sued by Female Employee Attorney for Alleged Discrimination

Source: Don Jergler , Insurance Journal

A class-action lawsuit against Farmers Insurance on behalf of female attorney employees was filed on Wednesday in federal court, alleging the insurance giant has discriminatory policies and practices.

The suit accuses Los Angeles, Calif.-based Farmers of unlawfully paying its female attorney-employees significantly lower wages than male attorneys doing the same work.

The suit states: "Farmers does not reward its female attorneys equally compared to their male counterparts performing equal work. Instead, Farmers systematically pays female attorneys less than similarly-situated male attorneys."

Why it's so hard to protect workers caught in global supply chains

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

On Monday morning, hundreds of people lined up outside the Ministry of Labor in El Salvador to collect checks that were more than a year overdue: Compensation for the jobs they lost Jan. 7, 2014, when a textile factory in a free-trade zone outside the city closed. The factory owner failed to pay the 1,200 workers all the severance that's mandated by law. Finally, a couple of the factory's biggest clients - HanesBrands and Fruit of the Loom - ponied up $1.1 million to pay the difference.

"It's been a very difficult struggle. We haven't had enough to eat," says Maria Candelaria Reyes Rivera, a former worker, through a translator. "People have not been able to satisfy their basic needs." Workers even lost their access to health care when the factory's in-house clinic closed. Some emigrated to find new work, Rivera says, so they could send money home to their families.

Meeting the Growing Needs of Long-Term Care for the Elderly

Source: Sarita Gupta , Honolulu Civil Beat

My father was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's. As a result, my entire family has been grappling with questions of how to care for him as he gets older and the Alzheimer's becomes more severe, as it inevitably will.

My parents can't live on their own any longer, so they moved in with me this past winter. While I am grateful that I can help my parents, as a newly minted member of the sandwich generation, I worry about my ability to meet their needs while working full-time and raising a four-year-old daughter. And at the top of our family's list of concerns is how we'll be able to afford my father's long-term care.

My family is hardly alone in grappling with this - every day 10,000 Americans turn 65, and by 2030 20 percent of our population will be past retirement age. Already, more than 40 million Americans are caregivers for family members, many for loved ones with Alzheimer's. As our country and state ages, this number will only continue to grow.

Supreme Court Backs Companies in EEOC Job-Bias Clash

Source: Greg Stohr , Bloomberg

The U.S. Supreme Court gave companies a new legal tool in fighting job-bias suits by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying judges should decide whether the agency took steps to resolve the case before suing.

Ruling unanimously in favor of a mining company accused of refusing to hire a woman, the justices said courts have power to enforce the requirement that the EEOC try to conciliate disputes.

Justice Elena Kagan said the court review would be "relatively barebones," primarily ensuring that the agency notified the employer and gave it a chance to make voluntary changes in its practices.

April 28, 2015

U of C, nurses union reach 'tentative agreement' to avoid strike

Source: Sam Charles, Sun Times

The University of Chicago Medical Center and the National Nurses United union have reached a "tentative agreement" for a new collective-bargaining agreement, staving off a potential nurses strike, both side announced Monday.

The deal was reached just before midnight Monday, according to a statement from the University of Chicago.

With a deal in place, the nurses union has withdrawn its notice to strike, which was scheduled to begin April 30, according to the university.

Homeless U.S. Capitol Workers Crowdfund To Help Fellow Workers

Source: Marina Fang, Huffington Post

Last week, contract workers at the U.S. Capitol went on strike to advocate for better working conditions and higher wages. Now, some of those workers are taking further action by raising money online to support their fellow workers.

The Good Jobs Nation Worker Fund aims to raise $50,000 to help low-wage contract workers working at the U.S. Capitol, the Smithsonian, the Pentagon and other government buildings. The federal government is effectively the largest employer of contract workers. The government employs them through private contracting companies, which make billions of dollars in profits, while many of their workers can barely make ends meet.

Fox 11 Investigates truckers forced to exceed legal driving limits: Electronic monitoring of driver hours could prevent crashes, injuries and deaths

Source: Mark Leland, Fox

Semis rule the roadways. When those wheels are turning, money is made by the companies and the drivers. There's a financial incentive to drive longer hours.
But federal rules limit the number of hours a driver can work, so they're not falling asleep at the wheel.
Some drivers say getting around the law is easy, making the roadways a danger.

Poll: Most Americans believe fast food workers should be able to unionize

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

As unions become a more forceful voice in the political discourse leading up to next year's elections -- both in their fierce opposition to the White House trade agenda and as a proposed solution to rising inequality -- it's important to know what the public thinks about them. We don't get that kind of data very often, but Pew Research just came out with a bunch of numbers that show a few important things: Opinions of unions have mostly recovered from a low point during the Detroit auto bailout, and strong majorities of people believe workers should be able to unionize across several different sectors.

Here's the graph of how positive and negative views of unions have changed over time

April 27, 2015

Americans greet the decline of union rolls with a shrug

Source: Nick Gass, Politico

Americans are split on whether the long-term decline of union membership over the last three decades is good or bad for the country, according to a new Pew Research Center survey released Monday.

By contrast, the survey finds that 52 percent think of the reduction in labor union membership in negative terms, while 40 percent say it has been mostly good for working people.

Despite the steady decline in membership, the numbers are in line with a similar 1994 NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey that asked the public about the previous two decades.

Business Bid to Curb Consumer Suits Gets Top U.S. Court Look

Source: Greg Stohr, Bloomberg

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider a business-backed bid to put new limits on Congress's power to authorize consumer lawsuits in federal court.

The justices said they will hear an appeal from the data broker Spokeo Inc. in a dispute with implications for a slew of federal statutes.

Spokeo, which uses public information to compile personal dossiers, is seeking to stop a lawsuit by a man who says the company misrepresented his education, wealth and marital status.

April 26, 2015

Who actually makes the minimum wage in America today?

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

If the federal government ever raises the minimum wage, it wouldn't help everyone -- immediately, at least. Although raising the floor reverberates throughout the wage scale, the vast majority of workers already make more than $7.25 an hour, either because they live in states that have set their own baseline higher or because their employer doesn't want to be known as sticking to rock bottom.

But there were still almost 3 million people who made the minimum wage or less in the United States in 2014. And,thanks to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we know who they mostly are: disproportionately young, female, part-time, Southern restaurant workers without a high school degree.

This Year's May Day Rallies Continue Tradition of Protests for Workers Rights

Source: Peter Dreier , Huffington Post

Unlike the rest of the world's democracies, the United States doesn't use the metric system, doesn't require employers to provide workers with paid vacations, hasn't abolished the death penalty and doesn't celebrate May Day as an official national holiday.

But outside the U.S., May 1 is international workers' day, observed with speeches, rallies and demonstrations. This year, millions of workers in Europe, Asia and Latin America will be taking to the streets to demand higher wages, better benefits and improved working conditions. In Bangladesh, for example, protestors will be in the streets to demand that global companies like Walmart improve safety standards in local sweatshops, which have become death traps.

April 24, 2015

Why the retirement savings crisis is also a women's crisis

Source: Sallie Krawcheck, Washington Post

Here is what we know: The retirement savings crisis is enormous. By some estimates, Americans are under-saved by up to $14 trillion. This number may in fact be understated, because it assumes Social Security and Medicare solvency – a big if. And the solutions to this problem are generally assumed to be a real negative for the economy.

But here's the dot that few have connected: The retirement savings crisis is also a women's crisis.

That's because women retire with two-thirds the savings of men, live six to eight years longer and have higher medical costs. Plus, 80 percent of women are single in their final years.

What's in a $12 minimum wage?

Source: Tim Fitzsimons, Marketplace

In the meantime, a fast food workers' movement has been pushing for a $15 an hour wage, and Chicago and Seattle raised theirs to $13 and $15, respectively.

"The good news is ... we are going to learn more about how local labor markets adjust to higher minimum wages," says Arindrajit Dube, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

April 23, 2015

Claims Hovering Near 15-Year Low Signal U.S. Payroll Rebound

Source: Anonomous, Bloomberg Buisness

The number of Americans getting fired is hovering near the lowest levels in almost 15 years, indicating the slowdown in hiring last month will prove temporary.

An average 284,500 workers a week filed claims for jobless benefits over the past month, according to Labor Department data issued Thursday in Washington. The 282,500 average reached in early April was the lowest since June 2000. Another report showed sales of new homes slumped more than forecast in March, ending the strongest quarter in seven years on a weak note.

Battling a Damaging Workplace Trend

Source: Thomas E. Perez , Huffington Post

One of the most pervasive and damaging trends we are seeing in the 21st-century workplace is the deliberate misclassification of workers by employers looking to shift responsibility and cut costs.

Two judgments announced this week in Utah and Arizona demonstrate our commitment to cracking down on this practice, whereby companies claim that their workers are not employees but independent contractors.

Minnesota House passes lower minimum wage for tip workers

Source: J. PATRICK COOLICAN, Star Tribune

A change to the minimum wage that would lead to a pay cut for thousands of tip workers passed the Republican-led Minnesota House Wednesday by a vote of 73-56.

The minimum-wage measure, which sharply divided the two parties, was part of a sprawling jobs and energy bill approved by the House, but its ultimate fate is uncertain given opposition to many provisions by the DFL-controlled Senate and Gov. Mark Dayton.

The bill would create a two-tiered minimum wage, with a lower rate for employees who receive tips of at least $4 per hour, while also prohibiting cities or the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from enacting a higher minimum wage than the state minimum.

April 22, 2015

Food workers, janitors walk out on U.S. Senate

Source: John Verhovek and Dana Bash, CNN

About 40 contracted workers from the United States Senate walked off their jobs Wednesday morning and joined more than 1,000 labor activists at a rally calling on President Barack Obama and Congress to require federal contractors to pay their workers more.

The Senate workers -- employed at the upper chamber's cafeteria, on janitorial duty and in other food service jobs -- along with other federal contracted employees, are calling on the President to sign a "Model Employer Executive Order" that would give federal contracting preferences to companies that can pay their workers $15 an hour.

What if Walmart raised its minimum wage to $70,000 a year?

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Last week, the CEO of a little company in Seattle called Gravity Payments got a lot of attention with a bold move in his human resources strategy: He would boost the minimum annual salary for his 120 employees to $70,000, and pay for it by cutting his own million-dollar compensation down to the same level, as well as directing most of the firm's profits back into his staff. He chose $70,000 because it's the level at which money buys the most happiness, which he thought would in turn lead to more productive employees.

April 21, 2015

Low Wages, Trade Deals Luring Auto Plants and Jobs to Mexico

Source: Tom Krisher and Christopher Sherman, ABC

Mexico has become the most attractive place in North America to build new automobile factories, a shift that has siphoned jobs from the U.S. and Canada, yet helped keep car and truck prices in check for consumers.

In the past two years, eight automakers have opened or announced new plants or expansions in Mexico. Just last week, Toyota announced a new plant in Guanajuato to build the popular Corolla, work now done in Canada, while Ford unveiled plans for Mexican engine and transmission factories.

Low labor costs and fewer tariffs are the swing factors. A worker in Mexico costs car companies an average of $8 an hour, including wages and benefits. That compares with $58 in the U.S. for General Motors and $38 at

Volkswagen's factory in Tennessee, the lowest hourly cost in the U.S., according to the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank in Ann Arbor, Michigan. German auto workers cost about $52 an hour.

Even With Unions, Adjuncts Are Rarely Protected From Last-Minute Job Losses

Source: Peter Schmidt, The Chronicle of Higher Education

The movement to unionize adjunct instructors has yet to protect most of them from taking big financial hits from last-minute class cancellations, according to new study based on an analysis of contract provisions.

Just one in four union contracts covering adjunct instructors includes any sort of provision ensuring them some payment when a course assignment is canceled, the study found. Where such provisions are in place, for the most part, they let colleges cancel adjuncts' classes with little notice and for a broad range of reasons, says a paper summarizing the study's findings. Most ensure adjunct instructors reimbursements of only a few hundred dollars for the canceled work - a pittance considering the time some may have already spent on class planning.

Prominent whistle-blower lawyer takes aim at Silicon Valley

Source: Thomas Lee, San Francisco Chronicle

Look out, Silicon Valley. Eric Havian just might be gunning for you.

Armed with new federal laws (plus an old one) and a track record as one of the country's best whistle-blower lawyers, Havian has his sights set on tech, an industry that has long enjoyed a relatively squeaky-clean reputation when it comes to corruption.

But just because Google adopted "don't be evil" as its motto doesn't mean people inside the search giant are not capable of ethical or legal lapses in judgment because ... well, they're people. And people love money.

Robert Reich: America's "flexible" economy is making workers' lives hell

Source: Robert Reich, Salon

These days it's not unusual for someone on the way to work to receive a text message from her employer saying she's not needed right then.

Although she's already found someone to pick up her kid from school and arranged for childcare, the work is no longer available and she won't be paid for it.

Just-in-time scheduling like this is the latest new thing, designed to make retail outlets, restaurants, hotels, and other customer-driven businesses more nimble and keep costs to a minimum.

Software can now predict up-to-the-minute staffing needs on the basis of information such as traffic patterns, weather, and sales merely hours or possibly minutes before.

One-third have almost no retirement savings

Source: Nanci Hellmich, USA Today

Many people are woefully unprepared financially for retirement, and they shouldn't count on working longer to make up the difference, a new national survey reveals.

Almost a third of workers (28%) say they have less than $1,000 in savings and investments that could be used for retirement, not counting their primary residence or defined benefits plans such as traditional pensions. And 57% say they have less than $25,000, according to a telephone survey of 1,003 workers and 1,001 retirees from the non-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald and Associates. Previous surveys from EBRI and other groups have shown similar savings rates.

April 20, 2015

At Home and Abroad, the Labor Movement Comes Roaring Back

Source: Annelise Orleck, Moyers and Company

On April 15, 2015, low-wage workers across the US and around the world once again waged a flash strike intended to capture the attention of employers and policy-makers who control their wages. Protesters didn't spend their limited monies to ride buses, trains or planes to Washington, DC where their actions might or might not have attracted much media attention. Instead, they took to the streets where they live and labor - in 200 US cities and across the United Kingdom, Brazil, India, Italy, Bangladesh, Japan, and 30 other countries.

At a time when multi-national corporations are 50 of the world's largest 100 economies, this movement has had to be both intensely local and expansively global.... This year's protests are the largest and most global labor actions ever mounted.

How Corporate Lobbyists Conquered American Democracy

Source: Lee Drutman, The Atlantic

Something is out of balance in Washington. Corporations now spend about $2.6 billion a year on reported lobbying expenditures-more than the $2 billion we spend to fund the House ($1.18 billion) and Senate ($860 million). It's a gap that has been widening since corporate lobbying began to regularly exceed the combined House-Senate budget in the early 2000s.

Today, the biggest companies have upwards of 100 lobbyists representing them, allowing them to be everywhere, all the time. For every dollar spent on lobbying by labor unions and public-interest groups together, large corporations and their associations now spend $34. Of the 100 organizations that spend the most on lobbying, 95 consistently represent business.

April 19, 2015

San Rafael firm must pay back wages to 18 workers denied overtime

Source: Bob Egelko, SFGate

The U.S. Labor Department says a San Rafael credit card company wrongly classified 18 employees as managers or administrators exempt from overtime and must pay them a total of $51,000 in back wages and damages.
The department announced the action Friday against Central Payment Co. The company treated some of its everyday workers, with titles such as sales manager and sales analyst, as salaried managers rather than hourly wage employees, said Celeste Hale, assistant director of the Wage and Hour Division in the department's San Francisco office.

April 17, 2015

As Cities Raise Their Minimum Wage, Where's the Economic Collapse the Right Predicted?

Source: Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones

Fast-food cooks and cashiers demanding a $15 minimum wage walked off the job in 236 cities yesterday in what organizers called the largest mobilization of low-wage workers ever. The tax-day protest, known as Fight 4/15 (or #Fightfor15 on Twitter), caused some backlash on the Right:
Conservatives have long portrayed minimum wage increases as a harbingers of economic doom, but their fears simply haven't played out. San Francisco, Santa Fe, and Washington, DC, were among the first major cities to raise their minimum wages to substantially above state and national averages. The Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the increases had little effect on employment rates in traditionally low-wage sectors of their economies:

April 16, 2015

New York City Council Votes to Restrict Credit Checks in Hiring

Source: Nikita Stewart , New York Times

The City Council passed a bill on Thursday that will make New York the 12th jurisdiction in the country to prohibit employers from using credit checks to screen job applicants.

By a 47-to-3 vote, the Council approved a ban that supporters said would significantly curtail a practice that they said disproportionately affected the ability of blacks and Hispanics to get hired.

Labor unions, liberal-leaning think tanks and groups that advocate on behalf of low-income residents joined several council members in front of City Hall to cheer the legislation, seen as a major victory since a similar bill died in December 2013.

Outback Steakhouse Class Swells

Source: Mike Heuer, Courthouse News Service

If all potential members join, the class action would have 139,469 members seeking reimbursement for all hours worked and overtime wages.
Lead plaintiff Brooke Cardoza sued in October 2013, claiming the restaurant chain forced workers to start work 10 to 15 minutes early without clocking in and did not allow them to take mandated paid and unpaid work breaks.
Nor did it pay workers for overtime, mandated training, testing or company meetings and events, Cardoza claimed.


Source: Sebastien Malo, Reuters

Fast-food workers rallied in U.S. cities on Wednesday to demand higher pay, using the April 15 deadline for filing tax returns to publicize their claim that they cannot survive on the hourly wages paid by many U.S. corporations.

The protests demanding pay increases to $15 an hour kicked off at dawn outside a McDonald's Corp (MCD.N) restaurant in New York with several hundred demonstrators.

Marching behind a banner reading "Raise wages, Raise the city," protesters carried placards with "Fight for $15 on 4/15."

Fast-food strikes widen into social-justice movement

Source: Bruce Horovitz and Yamiche Alcindor, USA Today

Low-wage workers - and their sympathizers - had their say coast to coast on Wednesday.

Thousands of workers and protesters from New York City to Los Angeles walked, marched and shouted their demands in front of fast-food locations and on several major college campuses for $15-an-hour wages. No arrests were reported. At least one McDonald's in New York City was temporarily closed by protesters. Several McDonald's stores kept drive-throughs operating, even while the restaurants were temporarily locked.

Taxpayers Spend Billions On Government Help For Low-Wage Workers

Source: Cole Stangler, International Business Times

Although she works 40 hours a week, it's hard for Cheyenne Mathieu to support herself and her four-year-old son without a little help. As a nonunion home care aide in suburban Hartford, Connecticut, Mathieu, 21, earns $9.15 an hour for homemaking and $9.75 an hour for companionship. The former involves daily chores like cleaning and cooking for her clients; the latter includes work outside the home like picking up groceries and going on walks.

Mathieu started a couple of months ago after quitting a job at a Hartford Dunkin Donuts that paid even less and offered fewer hours. To get by, she depends on government assistance: $357 a month from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is better known as food stamps, $487 a month from Connecticut's Temporary Family Assistance program and $370 a month in state help for child care.

April 15, 2015

IT worker's lawsuit accuses Tata of discrimination

Source: Patrick Thibodeau , Computer World

An IT worker is accusing Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) of discriminating against American workers and favoring "South Asians" in hiring and promotion. It's backing up its complaint, in part, with numbers.

The lawsuit, filed this week in federal court in San Francisco, claims that 95% of the 14,000 people Tata employs in the U.S. are South Asian or mostly Indian. It says this practice has created a "grossly disproportionate workforce."

Is Your Tax Rate Higher Than Walmart's?

Source: Dave Johnson, Time

It's April 15, Tax Day. And while dubious business expenses and home offices might help you save a few dollars, most people pay something near what the government sets as the tax rate for their income.

The same is not always true of corporations. While the United States has the highest statutory corporate tax among industrialized nations (39.1 percent), corporations have a greater number of ways to bring that tax bill down. Use the calculator below to see how your tax rate compares to the average effective federal rates paid by 10 major corporates between 2008 to 2012, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, a labor-backed non-profit organization that advocates for corporate tax reform.

Here's What the Fight for $15 Strikers Have in Common With You

Source: Mary Kay Henry , Huffington Post

Today, I am joining tens of thousands of people all over the country who are delivering a message, louder than ever, to fast-food corporations: pay all of your workers enough to afford the basics. Fast-food workers are going on strike today, April 15, in the nationwide movement known as the Fight for $15.
Many in the crowd will be fast-food workers themselves, of course, but who's standing with them may surprise you.
I'm participating in actions in San Francisco and Berkeley, Calif., and we will not be far from Li'l Nancy's Primary Schoolhouse in West Oakland, where Nancy Harvey spends her days enthusiastically preparing young children for what's ahead. She wants to provide for her family. She wants those kids to have a great chance at success. That's why Nancy will be with us.

Americans are spending $153 billion a year to subsidize McDonald's and Wal-Mart's low wage workers

Source: Ken Jacobs, Ken Jacobs

The low wages paid by businesses, including some of the largest and most profitable companies in the U.S. – like McDonald's and Wal-Mart – are costing taxpayers nearly $153 billion a year.

After decades of wage cuts and health benefit rollbacks, more than half of all state and federal spending on public assistance programs goes to working families who need food stamps, Medicaid, or other support to meet basic needs. Let that sink in - American taxpayers are subsidizing people who work - most of them full-time (in some case more than full-time) because businesses do not pay a living wage.

April 14, 2015

How much each state spends on aid to poor workers

Source: Niraj Chokshi, Washington Post

Nearly 56 percent of the $227 billion in federal spending on a handful of assistance programs now goes to working families, according to the report from the University of California, Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education. Of the more than $48 billion that states spend, nearly 52 percent goes to such families, defined as those in which at least one member works 10 hours a week for 27 weeks a year.

"The solution isn't cutting back-these programs provide really a vital safety net to American lower-income families, including lower-income working families," says Ken Jacobs, co-author of the report and chairman of the center. He blames low wages and years of reluctant wage growth for the large share of working families relying on aid.

April 13, 2015

Seattle council approves paid parental leave for city workers

Source: Daniel Beekman, The Seattle Times

Seattle city employees who are new parents will get up to four weeks of paid time off at their normal wage or salary under legislation approved Monday by the City Council.

The council voted unanimously to provide the new benefit, which will be available to both men and women who have worked for the city for at least six months.

Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Jean Godden proposed the legislation in February. It will take effect 30 days after Murray signs it, which he might do this week.

Study: When companies pay low wages, taxpayers end up with the rest of the bill

Source: Sarah Kaplan, Washington Post

Wallenbrock is among millions of working Americans whose low wages are supplemented by government support. Families in which at least one member is working now make up the vast majority of those enrolled in major public-assistance programs like Medicaid and food stamps, according to a new study. It's a "hidden cost" of low-wage work, researchers say, and it costs taxpayers about $153 billion a year.

According to researchers, this is the first time anyone has calculated how much is spent providing assistance to workers whose wages don't cover their families' expenses. The study, from the University of California at Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education, found that most spending on public assistance goes not to the unemployed but to members of working families.

Why the federal government still sometimes doesn't obey its own minimum wage laws

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

The more crowded it is at the National Zoo, the more cheated Robert Glover feels. And it's been very crowded lately.

"You know they're making money," he said last week, watching the Spring Break masses stream up and down the broad walkways, strollers competing for space with wheelchairs and scampering children. That day, he was detailed to track the number of people who came in and out, with a clicker and clipboard. Most days, he empties trash cans -- the zoo is free to enter, but all those pizza boxes and soda cups provide an income stream. In the winter he clears snow, for the D.C. minimum wage of $9.50 an hour.

Contractors on federal land are supposed to make a bit more than that - but over the years, the laws that require it have been sparsely enforced and widely violated. And loopholes make sure fewer workers are covered in the first place.

April 12, 2015

Working, but Needing Public Assistance Anyway

Source: Patricia Cohen, The New York Times

A home health care worker in Durham, N.C.; a McDonald's cashier in Chicago; a bank teller in New York; an adjunct professor in Mayfield, Ill. They are all evidence of an improving economy, because they are working and not among the steadily declining ranks of the unemployed.

Yet these same people also are on public assistance - relying on food stamps, Medicaid or other stretches of the safety net to help cover basic expenses when their paychecks come up short.

April 10, 2015

McMugging the middle class: How corporate welfare conquered the American economy

Source: Christopher Dale, Salon

Despite the news that McDonald's plans to raise wages for 90,000 employees in the 1,500 U.S. eateries it owns and operates, the scheduled April 15 fast food workers' strike, which also will include home health care aides, airport workers, child care workers and Wal-Mart employees, may be the biggest such low-wage worker protest yet. McDonald's employee raise, it seems, was about as satisfying to workers as its food is to customers – as in not very.

The pay hike was too little, too late, and too limited: The approximately 10 percent raise is insufficient given the paltry, poverty-level hourly wage upon which it builds; was only announced amid persistent pressure and sustained negative publicity; and only affects about 11 percent of its total nationwide workforce, since McDonald's cannot dictate wages to the franchisees who own the vast majority of its U.S. locations.

April 9, 2015

Workers Who Clean Our Government Offices Say They're Being Ripped Off

Source: Hamilton Nolan, Gawker

This morning, a group of low-wage contract workers who do jobs for the federal government are filing a complaint claiming wage theft. Even the janitor who cleans the Secretary of Education's office says she's not being paid what she deserves.
The contract workers, who are being assisted by organized labor, include janitors, bus drivers, and grounds keepers on federal property in Washington, DC. Their complaint alleges more than $1.6 million in wage theft-they say that they are not being paid the wages that they should be as determined by the Service Contract Act, which mandates certain wage standards among employees contracted to work for the federal government. Though the act is supposed to ensure semi-decent minimum wages for all contract workers, it is riddled with rules and exceptions. (I'm not qualified to truly analyze the legal validity of the specific complaints of these workers-labor lawyers, please weigh in in the comment section below.)

California Bill Would Extend Health Insurance to Undocumented Immigrants

Source: Caitlin Owens, National Journal

A bill introduced in the California state Senate would make the state the first to allow undocumented immigrants to receive Medicaid and enroll in its health care exchange, extending coverage to more than 1 million people.

The measure from Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara would change state law to allow illegal immigrants access to Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program. It would also direct the state Health and Human Services Agency to seek a waiver from the federal government to allow illegal immigrants to enroll in the state's exchange, Covered California.

Rally Backs Fines For Employers Paying Less Than $15 An Hour

Source: Shawn R. Beals, Hartford Courant

Mayors and legislators on Thursday rallied support for a bill that would fine large employers who pay their employees less than $15 an hour to reimburse the cost to the state for social services those employees are using.

Sen. Marilyn Moore, D-Bridgeport, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 1044, which was passed by the human services committee and now goes to the finance committee. Supporters are calling the legislation the "Fight For 15" bill.

What corporate America should do for low-wage workers

Source: Jeff Furman , Fortune

Embracing a living wage is good for business, and good for all.
The voices of low-wage workers are about to get a lot louder.
On April 15, fast food, retail, and other low-wage workers are planning a wave of actions to demand a $15 minimum wage. Organizers say protests in 200 American cities and solidarity actions in 35 other countries will add up to the largest mobilization of underpaid workers in history.
This should be a wake-up call to the business community. It's a moral disgrace that so many hard-working Americans have to scrape to get by on a minimum wage that is 25% below what it was in 1968.

Amazon sued in California over docked wages for warehouse workers.

Source: Barbara Grzincic, Reuters

A proposed class action filed against Amazon.com claims the company is committing wage theft by docking hourly employees at its California warehouses for 30 minutes of wages or paid time off each time they miss a three-minute grace-period for clocking in.

Since employees must clock in twice a day -- when their shifts start and when they return from a meal break - they can lose as much as an hour's worth of pay or paid time off per day, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in California Superior Court in San Francisco.

April 8, 2015

D.C. home health-care workers file class-action suit alleging wage theft

Source: Perry Stein, Washington Post

D.C. home health-care workers filed a class action lawsuit against four agencies Wednesday, alleging that they were cheated out of wages and denied overtime and sick pay. The suit against four local agencies - Capitol View Home Health Agency, Human Touch, T&N Nursing and VMT Home Health - comes a week before home health-care workers and other low-wage workers across the country are expected to rally for a $15 wage on April 15 as part of the "Fight for 15 movement."

The suit, filed in D.C. Superior Court, argues the agencies violated labor laws over a span of three years, paying workers below D.C.'s living wage, which was $13.60 in 2014. Employees of D.C. government contractors are required to earn this living wage - a wage that's considerably higher than the city's minimum wage of $9.50 per hour.

April 6, 2015

Domino's CEO: 'We've Gotta Pay More' To Hire Good Workers

Source: Emily Cohn, Huffington Post

Add Domino's to the list of companies coming under pressure to raise pay.
"We've gotta pay more to get people right now," Domino's CEO Patrick Doyle said in an appearance on CNBC on Monday morning. "The great news is the economy is moving, it is getting better, it's getting harder to hire people."
Doyle did not announce a broad raise for his company's lowest-paid workers, but other big employers have recently, including McDonald's and Walmart.

Here Are Google's Secrets To Treating Workers Well

Source: Emily Peck, Huffington Post

"For most people, work sucks, but it doesn't have to."
That's from Laszlo Bock, who heads up people operations at Google, overseeing more than 50,000 workers in 70 offices around the world. His book, Work Rules: Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead, came out Tuesday.
The book offers up ways other companies can be more like Google, beyond just giving employees the kinds of perks the tech giant is legendary for: things like free meals and snacks. Or, say, giving workers scooters -- as Google does here at its Eighth Avenue office to quickly get people across the block-long building.

Former Hooters Waitress Awarded $250,000 in Racial Discrimination Case

Source: Elizabeth Chuck, NBC News

A former Hooters waitress has been awarded more than $250,000 after an arbitrator found that racial discrimination contributed to her getting fired.

Farryn Johnson, who is African-American, was fired from her Baltimore restaurant job in August 2013 because "Hooters prohibits African-American Hooters Girls from wearing blond highlights in their hair," according to a lawsuit.

While other women were allowed to highlight their hair, the restaurant manager told Johnson she couldn't be at work with blond streaks because it didn't look "natural" on African-Americans, the suit said.

New York City Discriminated in Paying Managers, Commission Finds

Source: Marc Santora, New York Times

A federal commission on fair employment practices found that New York City has engaged in a broad pattern of discrimination, paying minorities and women substantially less than their white male counterparts, and recommended on Monday that it pay hundreds of millions of dollars in back wages and other damages.

The finding by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against job applicants or employees, will put pressure on the city to offer a settlement in the case.

Starbucks to give workers a full ride for college

Source: Ben Rooney, CNN Money

Want to get a college degree for free? Try getting a job at Starbucks.

Starbucks (SBUX) said Monday it will offer employees full tuition at Arizona State University's online program, giving them the chance to earn a bachelor's degree for free.

The coffee chain already offers its baristas two years of undergraduate tuition at ASU under its existing college achievement program. Now the company is extending that to four years for most of its workers.

Signs of hope for American workers

Source: Catherine Rampell, Washington Post

In the 1970s, we suffered through stagflation: high inflation, soaring unemployment, stagnant economic growth. Pretty much the worst of all worlds.

Today we have nearly opposite conditions, which should, in theory, make for the best of all worlds: low inflation, falling unemployment and reasonably steady economic growth. Yet somehow today's economy feels pretty shabby.

The crucial missing component of good news today, of course, is wages. Wage and salary growth have been pitifully slow in an economic expansion almost at its sixth birthday, and compensation still has not recovered the ground lost during the "Great Recession." The most recent data available show that the median U.S. household still earns less than its counterpart did at the turn of the century, after adjusting for inflation.

Anita Hill speaks: How to avoid the next Ellen Pao case

Source: Anita Hill , Fortune

In Pao's case, the sunlight is beginning to do its work. The public's engagement with the case reminds us that, though we have banned gender-exclusive job listings and other overt forms of discrimination, there is still much to be done to remove the barriers that impede women's progress.

The public conversation about the Pao lawsuit must become loud enough to reach industry leaders' ears.... Employers should also be mindful that evaluations don't require women to "soften" their personalities or to perform tasks, like note-taking, if the same are not demanded of men. Managers must begin to think beyond stereotypes about what it takes to cultivate workplaces where women and people of color are included and valued for their contributions.

April 3, 2015

For U.S. Workers, The March Of Progress Slows Down

Source: Marilyn Geewax, NPR

On Friday, the Labor Department's report on weak jobs growth left economists scrambling to explain what went wrong in March.
Most had forecast about 245,000 new jobs for the month, but they were way off base. The Labor Department said employers added only 126,000 workers. The unemployment rate, which is determined by a separate survey of households, held steady at 5.5 percent.
The disappointing March report confirms a wintertime slowdown. The average monthly gain in the first three months of this year was just 197,000 new jobs, down sharply from an average of 324,000 in the final three months of last year.

Virginia bans asking job applicants about criminal history

Source: Barbara Goldberg, Reuters

Governor Terry McAuliffe on Friday signed an executive order making Virginia the latest U.S. state to prohibit government employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history.
Virginia joins more than a dozen other states in its decision to "ban the box" on job applications that prospective employees are asked to check if they have been convicted of a crime.
An individual's rap sheet may be considered only if it "bears specific relation to the job for which they are being considered," such as child care workers, state troopers, court officers and jail guards, said gubernatorial spokesman Brian Coy.

Rand Paul's Favorite Union-Buster

Source: Josh Eidelson , Bloomberg Politics

Last year, the Democrats who control the Kentucky House of Representatives killed a Republican proposal that would have made it illegal for unions to charge workers at private companies mandatory fees-in other words, to run union shops. One of the bill's sponsors, Representative Jim DeCesare, assumed his option was to try again in the next General Assembly session. Then, at an October fundraiser for Senator Rand Paul in Bowling Green, DeCesare heard about a Tampa lawyer named Brent Yessin. He argues that counties and cities have the right to make labor policy, too. "Obviously," DeCesare says, "we were extremely interested."

In 1965, Kentucky's highest court ruled that the town of Shelbyville couldn't outlaw union shop contracts because the 1935 National Labor Relations Act preempts local labor laws. In 1990 a similar law passed by a New Mexico city was overturned by a federal district court for much the same reason. Letting local governments diverge on labor policy, says University of Toledo law professor Joseph Slater, "would certainly be a change in the way the law has always been interpreted."

April 2, 2015

When Wal-Mart Comes To Town, What Does It Mean For Workers?

Source: Jennifer Ludden and Yuki Noguchi, NPR

One of the biggest objections critics often raise about Wal-Mart is how it treats its workers.

The company has long been hammered by critics for its low pay and erratic work schedules. And its worker policies have a major impact on economies: With more than 2 million people on the payroll - 1.4 million of them in the U.S. - it's the third-largest employer in the world, behind the U.S. Defense Department and the People's Liberation Army of China.

So when Wal-Mart sets its sights on an urban area, it brings controversy - but it also brings jobs.

Workers - not employers - are the real wage movers and shakers

Source: Harold Meyerson, Washington Post

"We're too big and complicated a system to do anything in reaction to a particular group or something happening," Karen King, who has the wonderful title of "chief people officer" at McDonald's, said Wednesday, explaining her company's decision to raise wages for some of its employees.

If you believe that, don't go near anyone purporting to sell you a bridge, even if it comes with fries on the side.

What Do Workers Want from the Boss?

Source: Lauren Weber, Wall Street Journal

People don't leave jobs, they leave managers.
A new report out Thursday from market research firm Gallup finds there's still plenty of truth in that old cliché. The survey of 7,200 adults found that about half had left a job at some point "to get away from their manager."
So, what do workers want from their managers? In a word, communication.
Gallup found that workers whose managers hold regular meetings are three times more likely to be engaged-that is, feel involved in and enthusiastic about their jobs. Workers said they want to be in contact with bosses on a daily basis, and not just about sales targets or an upcoming presentation: they want their manager to take an interest in their personal lives, too.

April 1, 2015

Bureau of Prisons manager tried moving whistleblower's office to old jail cell

Source: Josh Hicks, Washington Post

Two whistleblowers have accused the Federal Bureau of Prisons of trying to banish them to inappropriate work spaces - including a converted jail cell with no desk, computer or phone - after they lodged complaints against the agency.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel brought the actions to light on Tuesday, announcing that it had won relief for the employees after investigating their claims.

In one case, Chicago-based field administrator Linda Thomas said the head of her office tried to transfer her to a former jail cell after she accused the manager of an inappropriate attempt to move the staff to a complex closer to the supervisor's suburban home.

A Surprising Historical Parallel for Seattle's Minimum Wage Fight

Source: Sean Trainor , Times

How peddlers can help us understand franchise owners' struggle with the city

Starting Wednesday, many of Seattle's workers will enjoy a higher minimum wage – but some businesses have tried (unsuccessfully, thus far) to keep their employees out of that group. Claiming that Seattle's wage law unfairly defines franchise owners as large employers, a lawsuit – led by the International Franchise Association (IFA) and franchisees from the hospitality, healthcare and marketing sectors – sought to stop, or at least slow, the change.

Perez and Garcetti take aim at wage theft, minimum wage

Source: Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times

Raising the minimum wage is one thing, but enforcing it is another.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez stressed that point at a pair of events coinciding with Cesar Chavez Day.
The two politicians visited a North Hollywood manufacturer and a downtown Los Angeles church Tuesday morning to stump for higher pay for Angelenos and better awareness of wage theft by employers.

March 31, 2015

Labor Leader: 'We Will Not Stop' Fighting For Immigration Reform

Source: Elise Foley , Huffington Post

Help from the government for undocumented immigrants isn't coming as quickly as they wanted, but union leaders and immigration activists are not giving up on President Barack Obama's currently stalled executive action programs.

The AFL-CIO labor federation gathered about 200 people, mostly union members, in Washington on Tuesday for a three-day training on immigration advocacy. Part of that training will be focused on teaching people how to apply for Obama's immigration executive action programs, which are currently on hold by a court order.

Gap is finding out whether boosting the minimum wage really boosts business

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Gap Inc. might not have raised wages before raising wages was cool, but it certainly beat a lot of other companies to the party.
Fully a year before Wal-Mart, Target and T.J. Maxx announced last month they would bump their baselines to $9 an hour, Gap - which has 65,000 employees across its brands in the United States - had already done so, making it among the first U.S. companies to announce an across-the-board hike in its minimum wage. The stated reason was clear.
"Our decision to invest in front-line employees will directly support our business, and is one that we expect to deliver a return many times over," chief executive Glenn Murphy wrote in a letter to employees.

NLRB joint employer cases against McDonald's set to begin

Source: Daniel Wiessner, Reuters

A series of National Labor Relations Board cases that seek to hold McDonald's Corp liable for alleged labor violations by its franchisees began Monday, the start of a long process that will likely signal a profound shift for U.S. businesses.

Administrative Law Judge Lauren Esposito in Manhattan began presiding over dozens of consolidated cases on Monday that claim McDonald's franchisees across the country unlawfully interfered with employees' rights to organize and call for higher wages. She will also hold hearings in Los Angeles and Chicago before a consolidated trial begins in May, which is expected to last several months.

March 30, 2015

Losing a job is always terrible. For workers over 50, it's worse.

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

The unemployment rate among workers over 55 is 4.1 percent, compared with 5.7 percent for the population overall, and labor force participation among older workers has been rising since the early 1990s. That's arguably a better position to be in than that of a young person whose earnings potential has been forever damaged by starting out in the Great Recession.
But the headline statistics hide a harsher reality: older workers who do lose a job spend longer periods out of work, and if they do find another job, it tends to pay less than the one they left. A new survey from the AARP sheds a lot of light on how older people react to sudden unemployment, what their new work looks like, and why.

Justice Dept. sues a university for firing a professor who switched gender

Source: Susan Svrluga, Washington Post

The U.S. Justice Department is suing an Oklahoma university, charging that school officials discriminated against a professor who changed gender during her time working there.

U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced in December that federal prohibitions against sex discrimination include protections based on gender identity.

Why Is it So Hard to Find Jobs for Disabled Workers?

Source: Olga Khazan, The Atlantic

"It's the greatest professional disappointment of my career," Bruce Growick told me recently without a trace of doubt in his voice. The former president of the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals was referring to the Ticket to Work program, a 1999 outgrowth of Social Security Disability Insurance that was intended to funnel the nation's growing ranks of injured workers back into the workforce. In the 90s, Growick testified before the committees that would draft Ticket to Work and met with lawmakers to help shape it. Years before he became skeptical of its effectiveness, he was optimistic about what it might do for disabled individuals.

"Having a job is so much better than being paid to stay at home," he says. In his testimony, Growick said, "The role of government should be to assist and encourage persons with disabilities towards employment."

March 28, 2015

Experts: Sex bias case will embolden women despite verdict

Source: Sudhin Thanawala, AP

A long legal battle over accusations that a prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm demeaned women and held them to a different standard than their male colleagues became a flashpoint in the ongoing discussion about gender inequity at elite technology and venture capital firms.

Though Ellen Pao lost her lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Silicon Valley observers say her case and the attention it received will embolden women in the industry and continue to spur firms to examine their practices and cultures for gender bias.

March 27, 2015

As Job Rate Rises, Older Workers Are Often Left Behind

Source: Elizabeth Olsen, New York Times

THOMAS R. COLLINS, 66, a former sheriff's deputy, takes little comfort in the lower national unemployment rate because, like many older workers, he has had a long spell of joblessness since he retired in 2010.

A former lieutenant in the Cook County sheriff's department in Illinois, Mr. Collins receives a pension, which, he said, is a "nice cushion," but he needed to cover other expenses. He continued a part-time job in security for the retail clothing discounter Syms, in Niles, Ill., but the company went out of business the next year, in 2011, and the position disappeared.

Since then, he has been looking for a job as he worries about the future of his pension in light of the debate swirling in Illinois over how to offset its huge state budget shortfall. One proposal is to make serious cutbacks in the public employee pension system.

Mandatory sick leave moves forward in Capitol

Source: Hannah Hoffman, Statesman Journal

Nearly every Oregon employee could have at least 40 hours of paid sick leave in the near future if the Oregon Legislature succeeds in passing one of two bills currently under discussion in the Capitol
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are considering bills that would mandate paid sick time for all employees who work in Oregon (with a few exceptions).
The Senate Committee on Workforce passed Senate Bill 454 on to the joint budget committee on Thursday afternoon; the House bill will be up for discussion again on Monday.

March 26, 2015

Walmart Would Really Rather Not Pay That $151M That Court Says It Owes Employees

Source: Chris Morran , Consumerist

For more nearly a decade, Walmart has been fighting to avoid paying $151 million in damages to more than 187,000 current and former employees in Pennsylvania for regularly compelling them to work without proper compensation. And even though the state's highest court recently affirmed that penalty, the retailer isn't ready to hand over that money just yet.

This case actually dates back to a class action filed in 2002, alleging that Walmart systematically and deliberately forced employees to work off the clock, through mandated break times, or through meal breaks.

March 25, 2015

Justices revive case claiming UPS discriminated against pregnant worker

Source: Robert Barnes and Brigid Schulte, Washington Post

The Supreme Court on Wednesday clarified the legal protections for pregnant workers who believe their employers have discriminated against them and revived the lawsuit of a former United Parcel Service worker who did not receive the accommodation she requested.

The court ruled 6 to 3 that Peggy Young, who worked for the company in Landover, Md., should get another chance to show that UPS was wrong to force her to take an unpaid leave rather than give her the lighter duty her doctor had said was appropriate.

Supreme Court Sides With Pregnant Workers

Source: Dave Jamieson, HuffingtonPost

In a victory for pregnant women in the workplace, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in favor of a worker who sued shipping giant UPS for pregnancy discrimination, sending her lawsuit back to a lower court where she had previously lost.
The case, Young v. United Parcel Service, hinged on whether or not UPS was justified in putting Peggy Young on unpaid leave after she became pregnant, even though other workers were commonly offered "light duty" for on-the-job injuries or to satisfy requirements under the American with Disabilities Act. The justices ruled 6-3 in favor of keeping Young's lawsuit alive, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito joining the traditionally liberal members of the court.

Yes, You Should Ask for a Raise

Source: Richard Trumka, US News

In 2015, nearly 5 million American workers might get a pay raise. By joining together to ask for one. Through a union.
Minimum wage hikes, overtime expansion, paid sick leave and other policy improvements are important to raise wages in America. But the best way for workers to get a raise is by asking for one with a collective voice. That's what workers do – bargain together in unions to improve our lives.
And this is an exceptional moment for raising wages through collective bargaining. More new contracts will be bargained by unions and employers in 2015 than at any other point in modern American labor history.

Justices say pregnant workers can seek accommodations

Source: Richard Wolf, USA Today

Pregnant workers can claim the same accommodations that employers grant to large numbers of similarly restricted workers, a divided Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

While indicating that getting pregnant isn't automatically a ticket to light duty at work, the court ruled 6-3 that United Parcel Service could not deny a pregnant worker accommodations it made available to large numbers of others.

March 24, 2015

America Needs Labor Unions

Source: Dale Hanson, HuffingtonPost

Speaker of the House John Boehner's website says, "Helping to build a stronger, healthier economy for all Americans is priority number one for House Republicans." Boehner also is one of a small but growing number of Republicans who admit that income inequality is a huge obstacle to reaching this goal. Unfortunately, Boehner has failed to offer any solutions to this problem beyond the standard "blame Obama" rhetoric.

Where Have All Our Wages Gone?

Source: Megan McArdle , BloombergView

Many theories have been advanced for why unions, and median wages, aren't growing very fast. Some say there's a causal link, which runs something like this: The Reagan administration gutted union protections, making it harder to organize workers. Without a powerful union to represent them, workers were at the mercy of greedy bosses who ruthlessly forced down their wage packets. What America needs, therefore, is a powerful labor movement, protected by more powerful laws that favor organizing of employees.

Wal-Mart wants U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Pa's. wage case

Source: Jane M. Von Bergen, Philly

Wal-Mart has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a December decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to approve a $151 million class-action award to employees in the state for unpaid wages and damages.
In 2006, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury awarded Michelle Braun, a former employee, and nearly 188,000 other employees damages after some complained that the retail giant did not pay them when they worked off the clock or while they were supposed to be on breaks.
In its March 13 petition to the Supreme Court, Wal-Mart said the trial jury and Pennsylvania court decisions were wrong because the company had been subjected to "trial by formula," with a few plaintiffs' allegations applied to the whole group.

March 23, 2015

Credit card issuers shouldn't bully customers into arbitration clauses

Source: David Lazarus, LA Times

Credit card companies say you can't sue them and you can't join other customers in suing them, and if you don't like it, tough.

Federal regulators finally have reached the obvious conclusion: That's not fair.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released a study showing that so-called arbitration clauses in credit card service contracts frequently prevent consumers from having a grievance adequately addressed.

"These arbitration clauses restrict consumer relief in disputes with financial companies by limiting class actions that provide millions of dollars in redress each year," said Richard Cordray, director of the watchdog agency.

High court will hear DirecTV appeal over termination fees

Source: AP, Yahoo News

The Supreme Court will consider whether satellite provider DirecTV can cut off a class action lawsuit and force customers suing over early termination fees into private arbitration hearings instead.
The justices agreed Monday to hear an appeal from DirecTV, which says its customer agreements do not allow customers to band together to sue the company. The company argues that customers must use arbitration to resolve their claims one by one.

March 22, 2015

Sorry, but it's not a 'law of capitalism' that you pay people as little as possible - it's an excuse.

Source: Henry Blodget, Business Insider

The reason average consumers are strapped is that, for the past 35 years, we have increasingly told ourselves that the only thing companies are supposed to do is "maximize profit." We have forgotten that great companies can serve other constituencies in addition to shareholders - namely, customers and employees. We have come to treat employees not as dedicated, hard-working teammates who create value, but as "costs" to be minimized.
One result of this "profit maximization" obsession is that our big companies now have the highest profit margins as a percent of our economy in history.
Another result of it is that our big companies now pay the lowest wages in history as a percent of the economy.

Twitter Faces Gender Discrimination Lawsuit by Former Female Engineer

Source: Jack Linshi , Times

A former Twitter employee has sued the company for gender discrimination while two other high-profile sexism lawsuits unfold in Silicon Valley.

Software engineer Tina Huang claimed in a proposed class action lawsuit filed Thursday that Twitter's promotion process unfairly favors men, Reuters reports. Huang said the company has no formal procedures for granting promotions, and instead relies on a "shoulder tap" process that explains why few women are in high-level engineering positions.

March 21, 2015

Obama Says Workers Are Being 'Cheated' Out Of Overtime Pay

Source: Dave Jamieson, HuffingtonPost

President Barack Obama said his administration would soon release details of a highly anticipated reform to the nation's overtime rules, telling The Huffington Post on Friday that many Americans were being "cheated" out of time-and-a-half pay.
"What we've seen is, increasingly, companies skirting basic overtime laws, calling somebody a manager when they're stocking groceries and getting paid $30,000 a year," Obama said in a sit-down interview with HuffPost. "Those folks are being cheated."
A little over a year ago, Obama directed the Labor Department to revise rules that determine who's eligible for a pay premium when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Current rules, implemented by the George W. Bush administration, are ungenerous to workers, and Obama clearly wants to expand them.

Be ready to cover pay for home-care workers, states told.

Source: Ben Sutherly, The Columbus Dispatch

Federal Labor Secretary Thomas Perez sent Ohio Gov. John Kasich and other governors a letter yesterday warning them to make sure their upcoming budgets comply with a federal rule requiring minimum-wage and overtime pay for most home-care workers.
A federal judge invalidated much of the rule this year, but the federal government filed an appeal. A federal court decision is expected in a few months.
Kasich's budget proposal to phase out thousands of independent home-care providers was largely motivated by the state's potential liability for independent home-care workers' pay and benefits under the new rule. The proposal would phase out as many as 13,000 independent home-care providers - workers who are not employed by an agency and are authorized to bill Medicaid for the care they provide to their clients who are elderly, ill and/or disabled.

March 19, 2015

Supporters, Opponents Square Off On Raising RI's $2.89 Sub-Minimum Wage

Source: Ian Donnis, RI NPR

A new coalition held a Statehouse news conference Thursday to press for an increase in the state's $2.89 sub-minimum wage. Supporters call this a matter of fairness, since the sub-minimum wage hasn't changed in 20 years. But the restaurant industry says higher wages would lead to higher food prices.
Thirty-one-year-old Kate Conroy said still struggling to get by after 10 years as a bartender and restaurant server in Providence. Conroy said the $2.89 sub-minimum wage is a poverty wage, not a living wage. She told her story of living and working in Providence, while speaking in front of labor activists, liberal state reps, and other supporters.

It's illegal to prevent workers from talking about wages. T-Mobile did it anyway.

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

There's only one problem: the employee handbook, which covers some 40,000 employees across the country. As long as she's worked there, workers at the call center have been discouraged from discussing wages and working conditions, through provisions that bar things like disclosure of employee information, making disparaging statements about the company and pursuing wage complaints through anyone other than human resources. Employees can be disciplined or fired for violating any of the rules.
"Right now we're silent - not understanding that we could if we were altogether, we could make things different," said Figueroa, 28, back in December. "What if someone worked longer and is paid less than me? We're not allowed to talk about that."

Here's the liberal plan to save the middle class

Source: Jim Tankersley, Washington Post

The liberal wonks at the Economic Policy Institute are having a moment right now. They've been warning for years that middle-class wages were stagnating. Suddenly, as they put it in a new paper out today, "There is now widespread agreement across the political spectrum that wage stagnation is the country's key economic challenge." They've long called the decline in unionization the biggest factor in that stagnation; Democrats are increasingly embracing that argument.
Looking to seize that moment with the Democrats gearing up for 2016 – a list that absolutely starts with Hillary Clinton, the party's presidential frontrunner - the group is releasing a detailed breakdown of the policies it believes will prove effective for lifting wages, and which plans would fall flat.

March 18, 2015

Target to lift minimum wage to $9 an hour, matching rivals

Source: Nathan Layne, MSNBC

Target Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan told analysts earlier this month that it was "not reasonable" to think in terms of a national minimum rate. Paying only $9 an hour in New York City or the oil-crazed economy of North Dakota would not attract any workers, he said.
"Fixating on some single number to us, on an average number is unimportant. It's about being competitive locally at a store level within a marketplace. That is important, and we're going to be competitive," he said.
The Target wage raise, which was reported earlier by Dow Jones, will affect all 1,800 U.S. stores. The company already paid employees more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, and it was not clear how many employees' checks would be affected.

Wal-Mart wage hike hides deeper problem for US economy

Source: Daniel Wood, Christian Science Monitor

Starting in April, Wal-Mart will be giving Lisa Pietro a raise, thanks to the retailer's decision last month to increase minimum wages for 500,000 employees to $9 per hour – $1.75 more than the federal minimum wage.
It was a much-lauded move coming after protests and pressure. But for Ms. Pietro, it won't mean much.
That's partly because her $8.95-an-hour salary will go up only 5 cents. But ther's another, perhaps bigger reason, too: She simply doesn't work enough hours. What's more, the hours she does work are so erratic that she can't plan around them.

March 17, 2015

Forced arbitration: New study shows it's bad for consumers

Source: Scott Maurer, San Jose Mercury News

Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) released a 728-page study on "forced arbitration" -- fine-print contract provisions that compel consumers buying everything from phones to cars to waive their right to sue in court if a dispute arises, even if the dispute involves fraud.

The study reveals that only one-fourth of consumers who sign such contracts realize they've given up their right to sue. It also shows a tiny number of consumers will ever use arbitration or small-claims court. The CFPB's next step should be to work to ban forced arbitration clauses from consumer contracts.

Novartis unit hit with $110 million gender discrimination suit

Source: Daniel Wiessner, Reuters

A $110 million lawsuit filed on Tuesday claims a U.S. division at Swiss drugmaker Novartis has routinely denied female employees equal pay and promotion opportunities, five years after the pharmaceutical giant was hit with a nine-figure jury verdict over similar claims.

The proposed class action filed in U.S. federal court in Manhattan says Texas-based Alcon Laboratories Inc, which was acquired by Novartis in 2010, maintains a "boy's club atmosphere" that is hostile to women and bars them from leadership positions.

Labor Groups Urge Nippon Sharyo To Keep Eye On Working Conditions.

Source: Jenna Dooley, Northern Public Radio

Nippon Sharyo's production milestone comes as several labor groups question safety standards at the Rochelle facility.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited the company for a serious violation stemming from a complaint filed in 2014. Susan Hurley, Executive Director of Chicago Jobs With Justice, says her group has been hearing concerns from workers over what she characterizes as "cutting corners" at the Rochelle plant. She says some workers say they face retaliation if they speak up.
"This is exactly the kind of industry and work that we want to have in our area, in our region, in the state of Illinois," Hurley said. "However, in exchange for the tax dollars that are being used to support the company and make sure that we keep those jobs here, we need to hold the company to a standard. That is not happening right now, and that is not okay."

March 16, 2015

OSHA looking at new eye protections for workers

Source: Tim Devaney, The Hill

Construction workers would be better protected from eye injuries under proposed standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing to update its eye and face protection standards with new personal protective equipment requirements.

The changes would apply not only to construction workers who operate in hazardous workplace conditions but also to employees at shipyards and marine terminals and the longshoring and general industries.

No, the minimum wage isn't forcing these Seattle restaurants to close

Source: Michael Hiltzik, LA Times

David Watkins of the Lawyers, Guns & Money blog points out that the minimum wage opponents are declaring "We told you so" way too soon. In fact, the article that inspired the gloating doesn't ascribe any of the closings to the minimum wage increase and, indeed, points to different reasons in every case. As for the idea that Seattle restaurants are "closing in record number" (sic), as the Tea Party News Network proclaims, it's just not so.
Here's the rundown. Of the seven restaurants specifically mentioned in Seattle Magazine's March 4 post, one was reported by its owner to be located in the wrong neighborhood for its particular mix of bar space and atmosphere. Another is being offloaded by an owner who has three other restaurants in the city and is opening two more. (A neighboring restaurant is expanding into its space.) A third turned out to be too big for the clientele at its location. Three aren't closing at all, but are getting new chefs because their old boss is moving to Spain to join his partner.

McDonald's workers claim hazardous conditions in 19 U.S. cities

Source: Lisa Baertlein, Reuters

McDonald's Corp restaurant workers from 19 U.S. cities complained to regulators on Monday that their working conditions are hazardous and have led to severe burns from hot grills and fryer oil.

Workers taking part in the Service Employees International Union-backed "Fight for $15" an hour campaign opened a new front in their two-year drive to increase pay and improve conditions in the fast-food industry by filing 28 state and federal complaints over health and safety.

McDonald's workers, who already have claimed that they have been subjected to wage theft, racial discrimination and retaliation for attempting to unionize, hope to hold McDonald's Corp responsible for the actions of its franchisees.

Entergy ordered to pay $305,000 in overtime

Source: John Herrick , VTDigger

Entergy violated federal labor law when it neglected to pay four security guards for overtime hours worked at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, a federal judge ruled recently.

The Louisiana-based company that owns the shuttered nuclear power plant in Vernon was ordered to pay $305,329 for unpaid back wages since 2009 and liquidated damages, according to a March 6 judgment order.

The U.K. vs. the U.S. minimum-wage debate: What can we learn?

Source: Jared Bernstein, Washington Post

In a recent lecture at the London School of Economics, Prof. Alan Manning, a British economist who has done extensive research on the impact of the national minimum wage in the United Kingdom, said something that caught my ear. Manning was closely involved with the launch of the national minimum in 1999, and in reflecting on the debate at the time, he pointed out that once research about the positive impact of the minimum began to show that it raised low wages without leading to many job losses, "scare stories" about how the increase would kill "millions of jobs" lost credibility.

Virginia pushed into debate of teacher privacy vs. transparency for parents

Source: By Emma Brown and Moriah Balingit, Washington Post

A Loudoun County parent has sued state officials to force the release of evaluation data for thousands of teachers across Virginia, making it the latest in a series of states to grapple with whether such information should be made public.

The debate over the value of making teacher evaluation data public first exploded into view in 2010, when the Los Angeles Times published the names and value-added ratings of thousands of elementary school teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The ratings attempt to gauge the impact a teacher has on a student's academic progress, using English and math test scores and a student's expected growth to judge teaching performance. The move to expose the results drew immediate backlash from teachers and unions, who argued that the scores offered an incomplete and often misleading picture of teacher effectiveness.

March 11, 2015

Why salaries don't rise

Source: Harold Meyerson, Washington Post

Job creation is up. Unemployment is down. Wages are stagnant. And economists - well, some economists - are confused.

Tighter labor markets are supposed to give workers more bargaining power. To be sure, there are still millions of Americans who left the workforce during the recession and have yet to return; employers' knowledge of their absence is probably holding wages down. But at the rate that new jobs are now popping up, we should, by all conventional metrics, be seeing at least some increase in Americans' take-home pay.

March 6, 2015

Bill Proposes Boosting Minimum Wage For Tipped Workers

Source: Mara Lee , Hartford Courant

Activists speaking for about 34,000 waiters, waitresses and bartenders in Connecticut say it's time to stop having a two-tiered minimum wage, for tipped workers and for everyone else.
"The women who put food on your tables can't afford to put food on their own tables!" thundered Saru Jayaraman, a New York-based activist speaking at a Thursday press conference called by activists. Jayaraman founded Restaurant Opportunities Centers in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and ROC United now has chapters around the country.
She said some people think waiters and waitresses make good money, but that's because they're thinking about pricey white-tablecloth restaurants.

Why Retailers Are Suddenly Desperate to Keep Their Least-Valuable Workers

Source: Kyle Stock and Kim Bhasin, Bloomberg Business

A modest bidding war has broken out among the retailers who hire from the bottom of the labor pool, buoyed in part by improving sales. Wal-Mart moved to raise the pay for its lowest-level workers to at least $9 an hour, a decision quickly matched by TJX, the parent company of TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Gap, Starbucks, and IKEA had already joined the growing list of service sectors now committed to higher starting wages, with tens of thousands of low-paid workers affected by recent changes.
These rising wages are sure to be costly for employers: Walmart, for example, warned that its mass raise would chew up an additional $1 billion a year, a figure that spooked investors and drove down the company's share price. From a labor-market perspective, meanwhile, the U.S. economy would still appear to have plenty of would-be cashiers and clerks sitting on the sidelines. The 5.7 percent jobless rate rose slightly last month because more idle workers started looking for jobs.

March 5, 2015

Papa John's franchisee ordered to pay New York City workers more than $2 million

Source: Stephen Rex Brown , NY Daily News

A Papa John's franchisee must pay hundreds of pizza delivery workers over $2 million, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joan Kenney ruled this week.
Ronald Johnson, who owns five uptown Papa John's, didn't pay workers fractions of hours, overtime or reimburse workers for costs associated with delivery bicycles, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Thursday.
Luis Juarez, who worked at one of the Papa John's at 142nd St. and Broadway, said he was paid $5 an hour as a deliveryman but ordered to do all manner of work, from making pizzas to packing up food.

March 4, 2015

The workers' compensation system is broken - and it's driving people into poverty

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

There's a good news/bad news situation for occupational injuries in the United States: Fewer people are getting hurt on the job. But those who do are getting less help.
That's according to a couple of important new reports out Wednesday on how the system for cleaning up workplace accidents is broken -- both because of the changing circumstances of the people who are getting injured, and the disintegration of programs that are supposed to pay for them.
The first comes from the Department of Labor, which aims to tie the 3 million workplace injuries reported per year -- the number is actually much higher, because many workers fear raising the issue with their employers -- into the ongoing national conversation about inequality. In an overview of research on the topic, the agency finds that low-wage workers (especially Latinos) have disproportionately high injury rates, and that injuries can slice 15 percent off a person's earnings over 10 years after the accident.

Workplace Injuries Are Adding To Income Inequality: Labor Department

Source: Dave Jamieson, HuffingtonPost

In a new report issued Wednesday, Labor Department officials argue that workplace injuries and illnesses, coupled with an inadequate worker compensation system, are contributing to the gap between rich and poor in the U.S.
According to the Labor Department, roughly 4 million serious injuries and illnesses are reported by employers each year, though the true tally is likely much higher. Workers who suffer a serious injury earn an estimated 15 percent less, or $31,000 on average, over the ensuing decade.

Workplace Injuries Are Adding To Income Inequality: Labor Department

Source: Dave Jamieson, HuffingtonPost

In a new report issued Wednesday, Labor Department officials argue that workplace injuries and illnesses, coupled with an inadequate worker compensation system, are contributing to the gap between rich and poor in the U.S.
According to the Labor Department, roughly 4 million serious injuries and illnesses are reported by employers each year, though the true tally is likely much higher. Workers who suffer a serious injury earn an estimated 15 percent less, or $31,000 on average, over the ensuing decade.

March 3, 2015

Why it's nearly impossible for you to sue your credit card company

Source: Jonnelle Marte, Washington Post

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is expected to issue a major report next week on what consumer advocates say is one of the leading but most misunderstood ways that companies limit a customer's rights, people familiar with the matter said.
The practice is called "mandatory arbitration," which bars consumers from filing class action lawsuits or taking other steps to seek relief after they feel a company has wronged them. Such arbitration clauses are often found in the fine print of credit cards, payday loans and auto loans.
Consumers instead are steered into arbitration, which critics say is a secretive process that is often stacked in the company's favor and leads to little benefit for consumers. "The unfairness here is incredibly widespread," says David Seligman, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.

Laws that decimate unions may be inevitable. Here's how labor can survive.

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

It will also be a symbolic threshold: Wisconsin would be the 25th state to go right-to-work, putting fully half the country under laws that allow employees to opt out of paying dues, even though the union has the obligation to represent everyone in their workplace.

As more and more workers benefit from a collective bargaining without paying for its upkeep, unions have become weaker, which lessens the incentive to join. The resulting tailspin, writ large, has been primarily responsible for the massive decline in unionization over the past half-century - making the struggle to stave off right-to-work laws a fight for union survival.

Perception is not reality: Public Employees and "Perceived Speech"

Source: Chris Opfer, Bloomberg BNA

Courts have long held that the First Amendment protects most rank-and-file public employees from being demoted or fired because they speak out in favor of a political party or candidate.

However, are you protected against being fired from a government job because your supervisor mistakenly believes that you support a political candidate? As a New Jersey police officer found out recently, the answer is apparently "no."

Apple to hire own security and put them on payroll

Source: Mike Snider, USA Today

Apple plans to bring many of its security staff onto the payroll, another move that suggests Silicon Valley aims to address issues of inequality.

After a year-long review, the company says it will be hiring full-time employees to handle security at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. "We've decided to directly hire a number of key onsite security roles for Apple's Silicon Valley operations, which are currently contract positions," said Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet in a statement.

March 2, 2015

What's Behind Restaurant Workers' Faster-Rising Paychecks?

Source: Eric Morath and Jeffrey Sparshott, The Wall Street Journal

Restaurant workers received bigger raises last year than workers in most other jobs.

Is that because the minimum wage has increased in recent years in two dozen states? Or because Americans are eating out more, causing restaurant owners to bump up pay for burger flippers, waitresses and dishwashers?

The reality is some of both.

Restaurants have hired at a faster pace than the typical company since the middle of 2010. Food workers' hourly pay grew 3.1% last year after growing less than 2% a year for several years. That could show there's a bigger need for restaurant workers than people willing to take those jobs for minimum-wage pay.

Apple-Google $415 Million No-Poaching Accord Wins Approval

Source: Joel Rosenblatt, Bloomberg Buisness

Apple Inc. and Google Inc. won preliminary court approval of a $415 million antitrust settlement that would end a four-year battle over claims that they and other companies conspired to avoid hiring from each other.
The ruling brings to a quiet end a case which since 2011 produced dozens of controversial internal e-mails detailing anticompetitive agreements among the companies -- and drew the ire of U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, who derided and rejected an earlier $324.5 million proposal to resolve the lawsuit as insufficient.

Right to work for less: Gov. Scott Walker wants to lower worker pay in Wisconsin

Source: Jared Bernstein, Washington Post

Here's what the (right to work) legislation does: It makes it illegal for unions to negotiate contracts wherein everyone covered by that contract has to contribute to its negotiation and enforcement.
Let's be very clear about this: RTW does not confer some new right or privilege on those in states that adopt it. It takes away an existing right: the ability of unions to require the beneficiaries of union contracts to pay for their negotiation and enforcement. In anything, the law creates a right to freeload - to reap the significant benefits of union bargaining without paying for them.

March 1, 2015

Oakland's minimum wage gets big hike starting Monday

Source: Bay City News, ABC 7 News

Low-wage workers in Oakland are getting a raise starting on Monday. The current $9 an hour minimum wage will increase nearly 36 percent to $12.25 an hour. It will be the highest minimum wage in the Bay Area.

While workers applaud the move, some businesses and restaurants say the increase will force them to raise prices, hire fewer workers, or give their employees fewer hours.

Jail exploits detainees, lawsuit says

Source: Maria Sacchetti, The Boston Globe

An immigrant detainee has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department, saying it pays hundreds of detainees only $1 a day to mop floors, scrub toilets, and perform other janitorial duties at the Boston jail. His lawyers are seeking an estimated $4 million in unpaid wages over the last six years.
Lawyers for Anthony Whyte, a 40-year-old detainee fighting deportation to Jamaica, said he should be paid at least the state minimum wage, $9 an hour, because he is in custody for alleged civil violations and not crimes. He voluntarily works in the jail's immigration unit.

February 27, 2015

Why Wal-Mart decided to finally pay its workers more

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Most importantly, a Wal-Mart executive tells Wonkblog, the company is planning to ask more of its employees, in a sign that Wal-Mart's low prices are no longer enough to stay ahead.
"With the changing retail landscape, with the different options that customers have, competition on prices is tougher than we've seen it in a long time, and with that comes an increased premium on experience in the store," says Dan Bartlett, the company's executive vice president of corporate affairs. "We felt like if we're going to make structural changes in all of our stores, we needed to link some of those expectations to a clear sign of what the compensation would be."

February 26, 2015

Teachers union rally in downtown L.A. draws thousands in call for contract demands

Source: Zahira Torres, Los Angeles Times

"Class size is the main reason I'm here," Blazer said. "If you have 54 minutes of class time and you have 45 students that means each student is getting less than two minutes of attention. No matter how good of a teacher you are, you're always going to lose the group."

Blazer, like many other educators who filled Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles, said that he is not financially prepared to strike but that he would if the Los Angeles Unified School District does not reach an agreement with the teachers union to reduce class sizes, raise teacher pay and develop a new system for evaluating teachers.

At L.A. oil refinery, striking workers vent about long hours and stress

Source: Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times

Worker fatigue and safety are key sticking points in the weeks-long strike, according to Zalamea and other members of the United Steelworkers union. They cite low staffing levels, long hours and hiring policies that allow too many contractors unfamiliar with the plant.
More than 6,500 employees nationwide - about 800 of them in Carson - walked out this month after a three-year contract covering 30,000 workers expired. So far, the union has rejected seven proposals. The last strike of such magnitude, in 1980, lasted as long as five months at some refineries.

One Overlooked Reason Walmart Gave Workers Raises

Source: Emily Peck, HuffingtonPost

Indeed, for every $1 increase in total payroll, a store could see anywhere from $4 to $28 boost in monthly sales, according to a study of understaffing published in 2007 by Wharton professor Marshall Fisher, along with then Wharton professor Serguei Netessine and doctoral student Jayanth Krishnan.

Walmart desperately needs the lift. Even this economic recovery hasn't really helped the chain. Walmart's same-store sales, a key measure of a retailer's health, declined 0.5 percent in 2014 from the prior year, marking the third year of decline since 2010.

The Real Meaning of $9 an Hour

Source: Rana Foroohar, Times

Walmart's move is seen by some as a sea change for the retail sector. "Walmart sets the standard, and the fact that they've kept wages so low has made it hard for others to raise them," explains Isabel Sawhill, co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution. Now it's likely that pay for other low-income workers will rise, not just in retail but also in other sectors like home health care, child care and fast food, all of which compete for the same workers as Walmart.

Workers Centers: Organizing the 'Unorganizable'

Source: Justin Miller, The American Prospect

But it's not Target that hasn't given her a raise-in this case it is Carlson Building Maintenance, a company contracted by Target to clean a number of its stores in Minnesota. Over the years, contracting out janitorial services has become common practice for big box retail companies like Target, Home Depot, Walmart, and Sears. By hiring companies like Carlson, Diversified Maintenance, and Kimco Services that pay low wages to their cleaners, these high-profile retailers maintain a degree of separation.
Four years ago, the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (Center for Workers United in Struggle)-CTUL for short-started a campaign centered on organizing the Twin Cities retail cleaners, an industry made up largely of immigrant workers who often told stories of wage theft and poor working conditions.

February 25, 2015

Supreme Court seems to side with Muslim woman in discrimination case

Source: Robert Barnes, Washington Post

The Supreme Court seemed inclined Wednesday to agree with a Muslim woman who charged that retailer Abercrombie & Fitch violated anti­discrimination laws when it denied her a job because her head scarf conflicted with the company's dress code.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took up the case of Samantha Elauf, who was denied a job at one of the chain's stores in Tulsa. Elauf, then 17, had worn a head scarf, or hijab, since she was 13.
At issue in the case was whether Elauf needed to explicitly volunteer during her interview that she wore the head scarf for religious reasons. Abercrombie said this action was necessary to trigger a federal law that prevents religious discrimination in hiring and requires employers to either offer an accommodation or say why it would impose a substantial burden.

Why the Gap Between Worker Pay and Productivity Is So Problematic

Source: Gillian B. White, The Atlantic

Wage stagnation isn't just a problem borne of the financial crisis. When you look at the relationship between worker wages and worker productivity, there's a significant and, many believe, problematic, gap that has arisen in the past several decades. Though productivity (defined as the output of goods and services per hours worked) grew by about 74 percent between 1973 and 2013, compensation for workers grew at a much slower rate of only 9 percent during the same time period, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute.

February 24, 2015

Minimum Wage for New York City's Tipped Workers Will Increase to $7.50

Source: Patrick McGeehan, New York Times

Continuing to push for higher wages for the state's lowest-paid workers, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Tuesday that all of the waiters, waitresses and others who work for tips in New York City will soon get a raise of their minimum wage to $7.50 an hour.
The increase was ordered by the acting labor commissioner, Mario J. Musolino, and will go into effect at the end of the year. It will consolidate three categories of tipped workers - whose minimum hourly wages range from $4.90 to $5.65 - into a single class to be paid at least $7.50 an hour.

Elder scare: Low pay afflicts America's fastest-growing job

Source: Kate Gibson, CBS News

The fastest-growing occupation in the U.S. is also among the lowest paid.
The aging of America's baby boomers has led to a surge in demand for home care workers to look after the nation's elderly, as well as the disabled and chronically ill. The work is as essential as it is poorly paid. Home health aides do everything from checking a client's vital signs and administering medications to looking after people's dietary needs and even operating life-sustaining equipment, such as ventilators.

February 23, 2015

50 Years Of Shrinking Union Membership, In One Map

Source: Quoctrung Bui, NPR

Fifty years ago, nearly a third of U.S. workers belonged to a union. Today, it's one in 10. But the decline has not been the same for every state. Here is a map showing how union membership has changed across the country.

Home care workers rally for higher wages

Source: Paul Davidson, USA Today

Home care workers are joining a nationwide movement to raise the wages of low-paid Americans with meetings and rallies in more than 20 cities the next two weeks.
The campaign, which kicks off Monday in Carson City, Nev., was inspired by fast food and retail worker protests the past two years that helped spark minimum wage hikes in many states and prompted Walmart to boost its pay floor last week. Home care aides joined some of those rallies, but this is their first independent push.

February 22, 2015

In Walmart pay hike, biz groups find new ammo to fight federal mandate

Source: Lydia Wheeler, The Hill

Business interests view Wal-Mart's newly pledged pay raise as new ammunition in the fight against an increase in the federal minimum wage.
Earlier this week, the discount retail giant announced it would raise its starting wage to $9 an hour - $1.75 above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 - in its U.S. stores by April.
The move won accolades from the White House and other proponents of higher wages for hourly workers.
But business groups are also pouncing on the action, saying it is evidence that decisions about employee wages are best left to the private sector - not the federal government.

February 21, 2015

In Service Sector, No Rest for the Working

Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times

Employees are literally losing sleep as restaurants, retailers and many other businesses shrink the intervals between shifts and rely on smaller, leaner staffs to shave costs. These scheduling practices can take a toll on employees who have to squeeze commuting, family duties and sleep into fewer hours between shifts. The growing practice of the same workers closing the doors at night and returning to open them in the morning even has its own name: "clopening."

Local activists say Wal-Mart wage increases a step in the right direction toward a living wage for all

Source: Chris Lindahl, Daily Hampshire Gazette

Shoppers at the North King Street Wal-Mart lauded the national chain's decision to raise entry-level wages to $9 an hour, while local labor activists contended it's only a step toward paying a living wage for the majority of workers.
"We've been in the thick of the struggle to get Wal-Mart to do something like this, so we're extremely pleased when we seem to succeed," Jon Weissman, coordinator of Western Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, said Saturday. In recent years, the Springfield-based labor activist group and others have organized demonstrations at Wal-Mart locations to protest the company's low wages, which they argue forces many to rely on government assistance to supplement their earnings.

February 20, 2015

Legally Married, but Their Boss Disagrees

Source: Olga Khazan, The Atlantic

Fifteen states have no law requiring insurance coverage for same-sex partners, and in those states, businesses can choose not to offer same-sex spousal health coverage. Massachusetts is not one of those states, however: According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in the 37 states with legal gay marriage, "employees' same-sex spouses should have the same eligibility as opposite-sex spouses for dependent health coverage." The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that states that recognize same-sex marriage must also treat gay spouses the same as straight spouses when it comes to federal benefits and taxes.

Wal-Mart May Be Cheap, but It Would Rather Give Up Money Than Power

Source: Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg

Wal-Mart Stores, the world's largest private employer, on Wednesday morning announced plans to start paying all U.S. employees at least $9 an hour. Current employees will make $10 an hour by next year, as will new employees who complete a six-month training course. For a company that's long been praised for low prices and slammed for low wages, that's a dramatic change.
It didn't come out of nowhere. Over the past three years, Walmart has faced a wave of union-backed attacks-legal, political, media, and consumer pressure anchored by the first coordinated U.S. store walkouts in the company's five-decade history.

U.S. Oil Workers Reject Shell's Contract Offer Prolonging Strike

Source: Lynn Doan and Barbara Powell, Bloomberg

The United Steelworkers, representing more than 30,000 U.S. oil workers, instructed members to reject a seventh labor contract offered by Royal Dutch Shell Plc as the biggest refinery strike since 1980 dragged on.
The proposal, the first one made by Shell since Feb. 5 on behalf of companies including Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp., "fails to improve safety" in an enforceable way, the USW said in a text message, instructing local units to prepare to join the strike "if called upon." Ray Fisher, a spokesman for The Hague, Netherlands-based Shell, said the company had no comment beyond saying the two sides met.

February 19, 2015

What Wal-Mart's Pay Raise May Mean For Other Workers

Source: Eric Morath, The Wall Street Journal

The pledge by the nation's largest private employer to hand raises to 500,000 workers amps up pressure on other low-wage employers that are already seeing labor costs climb in a tightening labor market.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Thursday pledged to raise pay for its U.S. employees to at least $9 an hour this year, and to $10 an hour by Feb. 1, 2016. The move could have a ripple effect on retailers, restaurants and other businesses that pay near the minimum wage.

February 18, 2015

Walmart Pitched Minimum Wage Hike As Boon To Its Workers.

Source: Dave Jamieson, HuffingtonPost

Last year, the worker group OUR Walmart began circulating petitions in Walmart stores calling for a $15 minimum wage and consistent, full-time hours for store employees. The petitions preceded the third consecutive year of Black Friday strikes at the world's largest retailer.
Management at one store in Massachusetts had a carefully crafted response to those petitions, according to a document provided to The Huffington Post. Described as "talking points" to be delivered at worker meetings last fall, the remarks appear meant to allay any concerns about pay and scheduling.

Hanford tank farm workers say not enough done to protect, help them

Source: Annette Cary, Tri-City Herald

Some of the approximately 75 Hanford workers and others who gathered Wednesday night at a meeting at the Local 598 union hall in Pasco are already experiencing health problems, said Pete Nicacio, business manager for the United Association of Steamfitters and Plumbers, Local 598.
And it's too soon to say what health problems may lie in the future for workers exposed in the last two years to chemical vapors from Hanford waste held in underground tanks, he said.

4 reasons Walmart is the most-hated retailer in America

Source: Catey Hill, Market Watch

According to a survey of more than 8,700 people released Wednesday by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Americans overall satisfaction with retail stores fell 1.4% in 2014, after three years of steady improvements - in part due to rising prices. And some stores (ahem, Walmart, which just scored its worst customer satisfaction rating since 2007, securing the bottom spot on ACSI's retail customer service ranking) fare worse than others.

February 17, 2015

Female domestic workers emerge from the shadows to fight abusive employers

Source: Ai-jen Poo, The Guardian

When I first started working with domestic workers in New York City in 1998, many women I encountered were Filipina who had first worked in Hong Kong, then come to the US with their employers. They described Hong Kong as the "city of modern slavery", but also as home to a vibrant movement of domestic workers organising for their rights and dignity. It was a striking duality.
The recent case involving Indonesian domestic worker Erwiana Sulystyaningsih – whose former employer was found guilty on 10 February of a series of charges against her – reflects both realities. The abuses she suffered – beaten, starved, sleep deprived – sound like brutality from another era. And yet, Hong Kong domestic worker advocates say this type of violence is rising.

General Mills sees 'no merit' in age discrimination lawsuit

Source: Kacey Culliney, FoodNavigator

General Mills has been sued by a number of former employees over alleged age discrimination, but the cereal giant says the claims have no merit.
14 workers for the company between the ages of 42-65 have filed a lawsuit against General Mills.

February 16, 2015

Schnurman: RadioShack the latest case of workers getting squeezed when money's short.

Source: Mitchell Schnurman, Dallas News

When companies say they put workers first, there should be a caveat: "If we have the cash."
Latest case in point is RadioShack, the bankrupt retailer now shorting employees on severance pay. As if losing their job weren't bad enough.
Instead of getting 15 weeks of pay or 30 weeks or even nine months - the type of generous walk-away awards in place late last year - most employees are looking at a few weeks of severance, at best.

February 13, 2015

Why oil refinery workers are striking for the first time in decades

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Jim Savage, the leader of United Steelworkers Local 10-1 at an oil refinery on the south side of Philadelphia, hasn't walked out yet. But he's ready: Nine plants across the country have been on strike since Feb. 1 in the first nationwide oil worker strike since 1980. And if contract negotiations between the union and oil industry negotiators don't wrap up soon, he might be called up, as well.

Social Medua: The New Big Tool For Union Organizing?

Source: William Welkowitz, Bloomberg BNA

Quick mass organizing through social media has become synonymous with the term "flash mob," so could "flash union organizing" by labor unions be the next logical step? In recent years, social media has become not only a forum to express aspects of a person's personal life, but also to communicate about workplace issues. As such, social media is becoming a more popular means for unions to get their message across to workers in their efforts to organize non-union workplaces.

February 12, 2015

Like Yelp For Labor Rights: This App Rates How Restaurants Treat Workers

Source: Poncie Rutsch , NPR

Restaurant servers are three times more likely to receive below-poverty-line pay than the rest of the U.S. workforce. Yet in a world where shoppers fret over cage-free eggs and organic vegetables, how many are also asking how much their favorite restaurant pays its staff?
An app from Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, an organization of restaurant workers, employers and customers, aims to encourage diners to ask those kinds of questions about the welfare of industry workers. Think of it as a kind of Yelp for labor rights.

Assembly Dems Propose Minimum Wage Boost To $10.10

Source: Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio

Assembly Democrats are backing an agenda that would raise Wisconsin's minimum wage and increase tax credits for low-income families.
Among the bills pushed by state Dems is one that would index the Homestead Tax Credit for low-income families to the rate of inflation and another that would restore cuts to the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers. A third would enact a $10.10 minimum wage.
Assistant Democratic Minority Leader Katrina Shankland said they're all aimed at helping families get ahead.

EEOC says Seasons 52 won't hire employees age 40 or older.

Source: Kyle Arnold, Orlando Sentinel

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said the restaurant chain "has been discriminating against a class of applicants … by failing to hire them because of their age (40 years and older) when opening new restaurants.
"Unsuccessful applicants across the nation were given varying explanations for their failure to be hired, including 'too experienced,' the restaurant's desire for a youthful image, looking for 'fresh' employees and telling applicants that Seasons 52 'wasn't looking for old white guys,''' according to a statement from the EEOC.

February 11, 2015

Minnesota unions seeking crackdown on employers who withhold worker pay, skirt overtime laws

Source: Associated Press, Star Tribune

Minnesota's leading labor unions are pushing for stiffer penalties against employers caught improperly withholding worker pay or skirting overtime requirements.
The Minnesota AFL-CIO and some union partners outlined an array of law changes Wednesday that they say would give employees more recourse. Advocates say the proposal being introduced soon at the Capitol would increase penalties on employers found to have violated pay laws and enable affected employees to recoup three times their lost wages.

Would Stronger Unions Help the Middle Class?

Source: Allison Schrager, Bloomberg

Economists Emin Dinlersoz, of the Census Bureau, and Jeremy Greenwood, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, believe weaker unions are a symptom of today's polarized economy, not a cause. They argue that, as high-productivity unionized industries such as manufacturing replaced people with machines, low-skilled union workers became less valuable, particularly in relation to better-educated employees. Unions work by equalizing wages across different types of workers. But once higher-skill workers became more valuable, they had less incentive to unionize with their less-skilled colleagues. The model fell apart.

The Supreme Court's class action underachiever

Source: Alison Frankel, Reuters

On Tuesday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that former employees of several Applebee's restaurants in upstate New York are not barred from suing as a group over supposedly unpaid wages, even though the lost wages will eventually have to be assessed individually. The appeals court rejected the restaurant owner's arguments that under the U.S. Supreme Court's 2013 decision in a case called Comcast v. Behrend, plaintiffs cannot be certified to sue as a class unless they can offer a model for measuring damages that applies to everyone in the group.

February 10, 2015

A Better Way to Help the Long-Term Unemployed

Source: Alana Semuels, The Atlantic

LAS VEGAS-Long-term unemployment was a phrase you heard a lot about during the recession. Numerous studies showed that people who were out of work for long periods of time had a hard time finding a new job-and keeping it. And about one-third of those unemployed workers eventually gave up and stopped looking for work, studies suggested.
For all the recent good news about the booming job market and growing wages, there are still people out there desperately looking for work. Nearly 3 million of them-about one-third of all of the jobless-have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In past recessions, a far smaller share of the jobless had been out of work for so long.

Sara Lee discriminated against black employees, attorneys say.

Source: Alejandra Cancino, Chicago Tribune

Sara Lee discriminated against black employees by disproportionately assigning them to work in hazardous areas of a baking facility in Paris, Texas, attorneys representing the workers said Monday .
Workers were exposed to asbestos, mold and other toxins at the bakery, the attorneys said.
A settlement is being discussed. If one is not reached, the EEOC could file a lawsuit against Chicago-based Sara Lee.

Edison's plans to cut jobs, hire foreign workers is assailed

Source: Shan Li and Matt Morrison, Los Angeles Times

Southern California Edison's plans to lay off hundreds of employees and hire foreign workers instead is coming under attack from lawmakers in Congress and local unions.

On Tuesday, more than 300 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers rallied in Irvine in support of their fellow Edison employees and protested what they say are unfair labor practices.

For Some Who Are Back At Work, Positive Jobs Report Doesn't Tell The Full Story

Source: Arthur Delaney , HuffingtonPost

Every weeknight Bridget Krueger and her husband catch up with an 8 p.m. phone call because his new job is far away and he works long hours, so he has to spend the night in a hotel.
"It's almost like being a single parent during the week," Krueger, 46, said in an interview. But it's better now than it was before, when her husband, Brian, was out of work. "Sometimes you have to do what you have to do."

February 9, 2015

Celebrating a Labor Legend During Black History Month

Source: Thomas E. Perez, HuffingtonPost

During Black History Month, I'm reminded yet again of the ways that the struggle for civil rights is interwoven with the struggle for workers' rights. Perhaps no one better personifies that link than A. Philip Randolph, the first African-American inducted into the Labor Department's Hall of Honor. A native Floridian, Randolph moved to New York City as a young man with dreams of becoming an actor. But he would soon be drawn to social justice and union activism. In 1925, he organized rail workers to establish the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which he would go on to lead for more than four decades. Facing the longest possible odds and fierce resistance from the Pullman Co., which harassed the workers and attacked Randolph's character, the union succeeded after a dozen years in bringing management to the table to negotiate a contract.

Los Angeles Residents Divided Over Proposed $15 Minimum Wage

Source: Kirk Siegler, NPR

Los Angeles is considering raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour, from $9 currently. The dramatic proposal is causing excitement and some anxiety.
San Francisco and Seattle have already passed a $15 minimum wage (they'll rise to that level over the next few years), but what's different in LA is the number of working poor in this huge city.
There are an estimated 800,000 people in Los Angeles living below the federal poverty line, and more than 500,000 workers earning the minimum wage. One of them is Samuel Homer.

Republican-Controlled Congress to Vote to Repeal NLRB Rule

Source: David Espo, ABC

Congressional Republicans launched a drive Monday to repeal a recent National Labor Relations Board rule updating procedures for union representation elections, setting up a likely veto showdown with President Barack Obama.
Alexander said that by shortening the time between a union's request for representation and the actual balloting, the NLRB had cleared the way for a new type of "ambush election" to take place that will disadvantage businesses and workers alike.
The rule, which has been cheered by organized labor, eliminates a previous 25-day waiting period and seeks to reduce litigation that can be used to stall elections. It also requires employers to furnish union organizers with email addresses and phone numbers of workers.

February 6, 2015

Where Did All the Retail Jobs Go?

Source: Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

When it comes to the business of stocking stuff in rooms with roofs, this has been a nightmare week. Three decades after selling its first personal laptop in 1983, Radio Shack is finally done. The company announced it is filing for bankruptcy just hours after Staples announced its intention to buy the beleaguered Office Depot, which itself merged with OfficeMax. The office-supply chain business is wilting, just as the electronics triumvirate of Circuit City, Radio Shack, and Best Buy has been reduced to one.

Adjunct professors get poverty-level wages. Should their pay quintuple?

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

It's been true for a long time now that academia - or at least the part of it that teaches students - relies heavily on the labor of adjunct faculty. As the number of tenured professors has fallen, universities have filled more than half of their schedules with teachers who work on contract. And no wonder: They'll work for less than half what a full-time professor makes, at a median wage of just $2,700 per course, with scant benefits, if any.

Amid Gains in Jobs and Pay, Americans Rejoin the Work Force

Source: Nelson D. Schwartz, New York Times

Since Nov. 1, employers have hired more than one million new workers, the best performance over a three-month period since 1997. More jobs were created in 2014 as a whole than in any year since 1999.
"This is the best employment report we've had in a long time," said Guy Berger, United States economist at RBS. "The labor market looks like it's in really good shape as we head into 2015."

Workers ready, employers brace for Seattle's minimum-wage law

Source: Janet I. Tu, SeattleTimes

But even as workers are eagerly anticipating the wage bump, some employers are uncertain about how to proceed. They wonder, for instance, how tips factor into the formula for calculating what they have to pay, and whether increasing the pay for their minimum-wage workers in Seattle might have ripple effects such as other workers in the company expecting raises as well.
To clarify some of the confusion, the city is working out rules for areas where the ordinance isn't clear, such as whether the payment rate for temp workers is determined by the size of their staffing agency or the contracting employer. It's also ramping up its outreach efforts.

February 5, 2015

Fast food companies are invoking 'Main Street' to fight unions

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Over the past few months, a quiet fight has been brewing on Capitol hill that could determine the future of labor organizing in America.
At the center of it is McDonald's. In December, the National Labor Relations Board found the company controls almost all aspects of its franchisees' operations. The board is now reconsidering what level of control would make a company into a "joint employer" -- companies that, from a legal perspective, have enough influence over working conditions that employees should be able to bargain with it directly. If McDonald's qualifies, legal experts say it could lead to mass unionization at McDonald's.

Teachers union sues over use of scores in evaluations

Source: Melanie Balakit, The Tennessean

Tennessee's largest teachers union filed a lawsuit against the governor and state education commissioner Thursday challenging the use of state assessment scores in certain teacher evaluations.

The Tennessee Education Association says the state's teacher evaluation system, which incorporates yearly gains in state test scores, is unfair to teachers who teach non-state-tested subjects such as art.

February 4, 2015

Hospitals Fail To Protect Nursing Staff From Becoming Patients

Source: Daniel Zwerdling, NPR

According to surveys by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are more than 35,000 back and other injuries among nursing employees every year, severe enough that they have to miss work.
Nursing assistants and orderlies each suffer roughly three times the rate of back and other musculoskeletal injuries as construction laborers.
In terms of sheer number of these injuries, BLS data show that nursing assistants are injured more than any other occupation, followed by warehouse workers, truckers, stock clerks and registered nurses.

Working during FMLA leave can violate statute

Source: Sharon B. Bauman, Alan M. Brunswick, Esra Acikalin Hudson, Sandra R. King, Stanley W. Levy and Mandana Massoumi , Lexology

Where are the boundaries for contact with an employee on leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? Acknowledging that no bright-line rule exists regarding employee contact during FMLA leave, a federal court judge in Texas ruled that an employee who alleged she was required to work while on leave sufficiently alleged a violation of the statute. The employee claimed that during her leave, her supervisor required her to perform 20 to 40 hours of work. When she returned to work, she resigned and filed a suit alleging FMLA interference, among other claims.

Walmart Cut My Hours, I Protested, and They Fired Me

Source: Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones

Today, the union-backed Our Walmart campaign will hold demonstrations across the country calling on Walmart managers to reverse disciplinary actions against 35 workers in nine states who participated in Black Friday protests against the retailer. Our Walmart will also add claims of illegal retaliation against the workers to those filed with the National Labor Relations Board in October on behalf of 33 other Walmart workers. One of the workers being added to the case is 26-year-old Kiana Howard of Sacramento, California. This is her story, edited for length and clarity, as told to Mother Jones:

February 3, 2015

Workers who earn tips are the next focus of minimum wage campaign

Source: Martha Stoddard, Omaha

LINCOLN - The minimum wage hike approved by Nebraska voters last fall did nothing for Lincoln cabdriver Stephanie Barth.
Her employer pays commission on her fares, up to $5 an hour. Any other income has to come from tips.
That's because federal and state laws set a different minimum wage for workers who earn tips, and that minimum has remained the same since 1991.
On Monday, State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha urged members of the Legislature's Business and Labor Committee to change that situation.

February 2, 2015

Paid family and medical leave proposed by lawmaker

Source: Deborah Baker, Albuquerque Journal

An Albuquerque state senator is proposing that New Mexico adopt a Family and Medical Leave Act that would provide paid leave for workers who must take time off to care for themselves or their family members.
It's similar to the federal law, but the leave provided under federal law is unpaid.
"It's really up to the states to drive the reform forward," said Sen. Jacob Candelaria, a Democrat who is sponsoring Senate Bill 375.

Hundreds of Ford workers get $19,000 raise

Source: CNN Money, CNN Money

Ford Motor plans to raise the pay of 300 to 500 entry-level workers by more than $19,000 a year, or nearly 50% -- another sign of the rebound of the U.S. auto industry.

The workers had been paid $19.28 an hour, which is roughly $9 an hour less than what veteran autoworkers receive.

OSHA Cites Ashley Furniture Over Dozens of Safety Violations

Source: Rachel Abrams, New York Times

Ashley Furniture, one of the world's largest furniture manufacturers, faces $1.7 million in penalties to settle charges that unsafe conditions at its manufacturing plant in Arcadia, Wis., led to more than 1,000 injuries.
The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company for dozens of violations, including disregard for safety standards that led to a number of gruesome injuries. In July, one worker lost three fingers while operating a woodworking machine, the agency said.

January 30, 2015

Why Internet journalists don't organize

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Bombast notwithstanding, Elk has done this before. He helped start a union at his previous employer, the lefty magazine In These Times, and a few months ago started talking with the Newspaper Guild - an affiliate of the national Communications Workers of America - about doing the same at Politico. Employees would benefit from some protection against Politico's famously workaholic atmosphere, Elk says.

California truckers win $2 million in wage theft suit

Source: Steve Gorman, Yahoo News

Seven Los Angeles-area truckers have won a $2 million claim against an international shipping company accused of stealing their wages by improperly classifying them as independent contractors and charging them to lease its trucks to drive.
In a decision with implications for hundreds of companies and thousands of truckers in Southern California alone, a San Diego County Superior Court judge held that the seven plaintiffs should have been defined as employees of Pacer Cartage under California's labor law, not as independent owner-operators.

Labor Dept. pitches updated sex discrimination regs

Source: Lydia Wheeler, The Hill

The Labor Department is considering updating the rules federal contractors and subcontractors have to follow to ensure their workplace is free from discrimination based on sex.
The agency wants to omit certain guidelines that are outdated. One, for example, now says it's illegal for job advertisements in the newspaper and other media to express a sex preference, unless sex is a "bona fide" occupational qualification for the job. The public is being asked to weigh in whether that provision is still useful.

The accidental origin of the $15 minimum-wage movement

Source: Ben Bergman, Marketplace

In just the last year, Seattle and San Francisco both passed measures to gradually increase their minimum wages to $15. And the Los Angeles City Council is considering a $15.25 wage.
Those cities are following in the footsteps of SeaTac, Washington, a tiny town just outside Seattle, and home to the region's biggest airport. A year ago, it became the first city in America to have a $15 minimum wage.

When Consumers Give Up Their Right to Trial in Financial Disputes

Source: Jeff Sovern, New York Times

Constitutional rights are the most fundamental rights Americans enjoy. So you might think it would be hard to get people to give them up. But every day, people unknowingly surrender their constitutional rights, including a right mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. And if bank lawyers have their way, Americans will continue relinquishing such rights without even realizing it.

January 29, 2015

9 Investigates: NC mom fights against fatigued truckers after son's death

Source: Sarah Rosario, WSOCTV

In an effort to create change Novak joined the Truck Safety Coalition, which works to reduce truck-related crashes.
Last month she and other members went to Washington, D.C., to protest a proposal to let truckers drive for longer hours with fewer breaks.
To their disappointment, Congress approved the proposal, allowing truckers to drive 82 hours a week instead of 70. The law no longer requires truckers to get two nights sleep in a row before starting a work week.

Rhode Island Hospital workers demonstrate amid negotiations on new contract

Source: RICHARD SALIT, Providence Journal

Workers seeking a new contract demonstrated outside Rhode Island Hospital on Thursday afternoon to demand job protection and improved pay and benefits.
Negotiations for a new contract began in the fall and, so far, the hospital contract proposals have been "a slap in the face to every Rhode Island Hospital employee and every person in the community that is concerned about good jobs and quality patient care," according to a union statement.

US Labor Department proposes critical updates to sex discrimination guidelines.

Source: Juan Rodrigues, KCGS Television

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a proposal to clarify federal contractors' requirements to prohibit sex discrimination. The recommended changes would revise the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs' guidelines to align with laws, court decisions and societal changes since they were originally issued in 1970.
"Our sex discrimination guidelines are woefully out of date and don't reflect established law or the reality of modern workplaces," said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu.

January 28, 2015

Wal-Mart's manufacturing recovery?

Source: Damon Silvers, The Hill

President Obama, in his State of the Union address, told Americans that manufacturing in the United States is back. The president is right to applaud job creation in manufacturing. But both elected leaders and the public should be wary of one company in particular falsely taking credit for this "manufacturing renaissance": Wal-Mart.
Two years ago, Wal-Mart launched the U.S. Manufacturing Initiative, a pledge to create 1 million new jobs over the next 10 years through buying "U.S.-made goods." But Wal-Mart has done very little to improve American jobs. In fact, it continues to harm our nation's job market.

How to raise the minimum wage 107 percent without losing jobs or profit

Source: Simone Pathe, PBS Newshour

Boosting the federal minimum wage would be great news for the workers who'd receive a higher paycheck. Not so much for those who'd be out of a job. That anxiety sums up much of the debate around increasing the minimum wage.
Fueling angst on the right, the Congressional Budget Office reported last year that raising the federal minimum to $10.10 would cost about 500,000 jobs. Even liberal restaurant owners, like the ones NewsHour's Paul Solman spoke to in Seattle last spring, worried that paying their workers more would doom their businesses, while nonprofit organizations feared having to cut their staff and services.

House panel kills minimum wage proposal

Source: Associated Press, News Leader

A Republican-led House committee has killed a proposal to raise Virginia's minimum wage.
The House Committee on Commerce and Labor voted Tuesday to table a proposal aimed at raising incrementally the state's minimum wage above the current $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour.

Marching Band Delivers Petition To Citi Asking Banks To "Revoke License To Steal"

Source: Chris Morran, Consumerist

In a handful of recent decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the right of businesses to effectively break the law by putting a few carefully worded sentences into their contracts and user agreements. But just because you can add these clauses doesn't mean you have to do so, which is why pro-consumer advocacy groups gathered more than 100,000 signatures on a petition that was delivered, with a little bit of music, to Citigroup HQ in Manhattan this morning.
The petition asks Citi and many of the nation's other largest banks - JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, and PNC Financial - to do away with anti-consumer forced arbitration clauses in their customer agreements.

January 27, 2015

On-Demand Workers: 'We Are Not Robots' Is Technology Liberating or Squeezing the New Class of Freelance Labor?

Source: Lauren Weber and Rachel Emma Silverman , Wall Street Journal

Yet a host of lawsuits, protests and forums organized by and for workers suggest that many flexible laborers feel less enthusiastic about the new model of work. Current and former workers for Uber, Amazon Inc.'s Mechanical Turk and Handybook, better known as Handy, say on-demand work platforms give them little control over the terms of their labor, and complain that the contracts they're required to accept force them to shoulder personal and financial risk without the returns or advantages they'd hoped for.

January 26, 2015

Federal judge tosses suit aimed at halting unionization of Minnesota home health care workers

Source: Randy Furst, Star Tribune

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis dismissed a lawsuit Monday filed last year in an attempt to block implementation of a state law that paved the way for the unionization of Minnesota's 27,000 home health care workers.
The suit, filed by attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation, a Virginia-based anti-union organization, represented six state health workers who provide home-care services to disabled individuals and family members.

Teachers Take Union Dues to Supreme Court

Source: Allie Bidwell, US News

A group of public schoolteachers on Monday petitioned the Supreme Court to hear a challenge to laws allowing teachers unions to require dues from nonmembers who disagree with union positions and policies.
A decision in the teachers' favor could change how public employee unions operate nationwide.

Supreme Court sends back 'misapplied' retiree health-benefit case

Source: Robert Barnes, Washington Post

The Supreme Court on Monday sided with a company that said retirees must pay for part of their medical benefits, even though the employees said no-cost coverage was a vested benefit of their service.
The court's ruling was unanimous , but it did not settle the issue. The justices said only that a lower court had evaluated the case in a way that improperly gave the benefit of the doubt to the retirees, and they sent the case back for more work.

Ruby Tuesday accused of employment discrimination. Against men.

Source: Abby Phillip, Washington Post

In an unusual twist, a national restaurant chain is facing a civil rights lawsuit for discriminating against male job candidates.
Ruby Tuesday, the ubiquitous chain of suburban family restaurants, is being sued by the government on behalf of male employees who were excluded from a "lucrative" temporary work assignment because they were male, according to the lawsuit.

Thousands of nursing home workers across the city and Long Island could walk out if contract talks fall through this week

Source: Lisa L. Colangelo, NY Daily News

More than 8,000 workers at nursing homes in the city and on Long Island have voted to strike if contract talks between their union and bosses fall through this week.
The employees fighting to keep their health care benefits and secure better pay at 37 nursing homes can start the 10-day clock to a walkout if negotiations fail Monday, 1199SEIU officials said.

January 23, 2015

Report: Fast food industry could survive $15 minimum wage

Source: Ned Resnikoff, AlJazeera America

Congress could more than double the federal minimum wage without doing serious harm to the fast-food industry, according to a report from economists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In a hypothetical scenario in which the minimum wage gradually rose from $7.25 per hour to $15, the authors of the report found that fast-food companies would be able to "fully absorb" the increase without limiting its profit margin.

Federal regulators allege sex discrimination at Ruby Tuesday

Source: Associated Press, Chron

Federal regulators say a chain restaurant discriminated against male employees when it refused to hire them for summer jobs in a Utah resort town.
The claims against Ruby Tuesday came in a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Portland, Ore., by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

January 22, 2015

McDonald's Is Being Sued Over a 'Racist' Franchise

Source: Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg Buisnessweek

Ten former workers are suing McDonald's, alleging rampant racism, sexual harassment, and illegal terminations at one location, in a case that will test the company's legal responsibility for decisions of its legions of franchisees....
Supervisors ultimately terminated black and Hispanic employees because they didn't "fit the profile," the lawsuit says. When the workers reached out to head office, "McDonald's Corporate ... did nothing." The lawsuit says McDonald's "is liable as Plaintiffs' employer" which "acquiesced in and ratified Soweva's conduct."

Higher Minimum Wage Wouldn't Hurt Fast Food, Report Says

Source: Martha C. White , NBC News

The fast food industry would lose neither jobs nor profits even if the minimum wage rose from its current $7.25 an hour to $15 over a period of four years, a new report from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst says.
The working paper from the Political Economy Research Institute says $33 billion annual cost in higher wages and payroll taxes could be offset by factors including savings from lower turnover -- more than $5 billion a year -- as well as a roughly 3 percent annual increase in prices, assuming an annual 2.5 percent growth of the U.S. fast food market. "Wages in this country… have been really stagnant and not making any headway over the past 30 years," said Jeannette Wicks-Lim, an assistant research professor at PERI and co-author of the paper.

Breaking down who earns the minimum wage.

Source: Jeffry Bartash, Market Watch

President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Congress again to raise the federal minimum wage, touting the proposal as an important step in helping millions of families.
"To everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it," the president said in his State of the Union address. "If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise."
What is the federal minimum wage? How many earn the minimum or less? Who are they? Will it really help a lot of people? Here are the facts.

January 21, 2015

How is Obama proposing to help the middle class?

Source: Evan Horowitz, The Boston Globe

Is the middle class really in trouble?

Yes. The US economy has not been kind to low and middle-income families in recent decades. Families in the middle of the income ladder today earn roughly the same amount that they did 25 years ago while wealthier households have gotten a substantial raise.

Immigrant advocates praise Cuomo 'Dream Act' proposal

Source: Victor Manuel Ramos , Newsday

A small group of immigrant advocates gathered Wednesday to watch Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's State of the State speech at a restaurant in Deer Park, following a months-long push to get Cuomo to include funding for tuition aid to "Dreamers" -- immigrant students in the country illegally or whose deportations have been deferred. A Dream Act bill failed to pass the State Senate last year.
They got their wish when Cuomo announced he's putting $27 million to "make it a reality" -- substantially more than the $17 million they were hoping for. However, the advocates said they didn't like that he paired the provision with an education tax credit for those who donate money to schools. The advocates see that as a giveaway to private institutions that poor students can't usually afford to attend.

January 20, 2015

Seattle takes step to hire more workers from distressed areas

Source: Daniel Beekman, The Seattle Times

The Seattle City Council approved a new "priority hire" ordinance by unanimous vote Tuesday.
The ordinance requires that a percentage of the labor hours on city construction projects worth $5 million or more be performed by workers from economically distressed neighborhoods.
The ordinance also mandates that the projects be subject to agreements between the city and labor unions.

Obama Pushes 'The Right Thing' For Workers: Paid Leave, Minimum Wage, Pay Equity

Source: Dave Jamieson, HuffingtonPost

Whether it was paid leave, the minimum wage or gender pay equity, the president made his case to a skeptical, Republican-controlled Congress that Washington needs to establish rules governing how the economy works for everyday people, particularly when wages are stagnating despite broader job gains.

Lowe's $10M Settlement Provides 3 Lessons For Firms Working With Independent Contractors

Source: Jeff Wald, Forbes

Earlier this week, a federal court judge approved a settlement between Lowe's Home Centers and a class of its home improvement contractors. The contractors claimed that they had been misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees.

January 19, 2015

Minimum Wage for Cashiers

Source: Pattie Hunt Sinacole, Boston

Q: I had heard that the minimum wage was going to increase in Massachusetts. I am applying for cashier jobs and they say they will pay minimum wage but it seems awfully low. What is the current minimum wage in Massachusetts? How does overtime work in Massachusetts for cashier positions?

January 18, 2015

Gov. Brown Tackling California's $72B Retiree Health Liability

Source: Associated Press, CBS Sacramento

After tackling pension changes for public employees and teachers, Gov. Jerry Brown is now setting his sights on another big debt: retiree health care benefits.
California faces an estimated $72 billion unfunded liability for more than 800,000 state employees and their families to provide health coverage once workers retire from civil service and for those who have already retired. The benefit, which has been phasing out of the private sector but remains a recruitment tool for government workers, has grown increasingly burdensome to taxpayers. State costs have quadrupled since 2001.

Obama's myRA retirement accounts are now a reality

Source: Melanie Hicken, CNN Money

About half of all American workers are employed by companies that don't offer retirement plans, according to a 2009 Brookings Institution report.
And those who do save, don't save much.
About two-thirds of all workers said they put some money away in 2013 for retirement savings, according to a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. More than half of workers said they had less than $25,000 in savings, outside of their home and pensions. And 28% of workers said they had less than $1,000 in savings.

5 surprising jobs that pay minimum wage

Source: Erika Rawes, USA Today

With so much talk about the minimum wage, it leaves people wondering about this lower-earning group: Who are they? What types of jobs do minimum wage workers have?

Some of the general assumptions about minimum wage jobs are correct - many of these jobs involve unskilled labor, they can be obtained with minimal education (more than nine out of 10 minimum wage workers are not four year college graduates), and a significant portion of minimum wage jobs are held by teens. But there are also some minimum wage jobs that don't fit into the general mold.

January 16, 2015

Apple, Google, other tech firms to pay $415M in wage case

Source: Michael Liedtke, Associated Press

Apple, Google and two other Silicon Valley companies have agreed to pay $415 million in a second attempt to resolve a class-action lawsuit alleging they formed an illegal cartel to prevent their workers from leaving for better-paying jobs.

How Companies Like Walmart Are Fighting to Keep Workplace Injuries Secret

Source: Erika Eichelberger, Mother Jones

If Gertz had worked in a factory, she could have bolstered her case with evidence from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's national database of manufacturing workplace injuries. But no such database exists for retail workers like Gertz. A new regulation that OSHA is scheduled to finalize this year would change that. OSHA wants to create a public database of workplace injury and illness data from all industries, not just manufacturing. This would help workers, the government, researchers, and journalists identify companies with safety problems. But the trade groups that represent some of America's biggest chains-including Walmart, Target, and McDonald's-are fighting back hard.

After legal defeats, an uncertain future for low-wage home care

Source: E. Tammy Kim, AlJazeera America

The two million in-home workers who tend to the nation's elderly and disabled have had a tough year in the courts. First there was Harris v. Quinn, the June 2014 Supreme Court decision widely seen as undermining homecare unions. Next came a pair of rulings from the federal trial court in Washington, D.C. - the most recent of which came down Wednesday - invaliding a new Department of Labor (DOL) regulation that would have extended minimum wage and overtime rights to caregiving "companions."

January 15, 2015

Group Urges New York City to End Credit Checks by Employers

Source: Nikita Stewart, New York Times

New York City employers use credit checks to screen applicants for all sorts of jobs, like dog-walking and janitorial work. A coalition of municipal labor leaders, liberal advocates and left-leaning City Council members is seeking to end that practice, saying it disproportionately harms blacks and Hispanics without accurately predicting fraud or poor job performance.

Trying to Solve the Great Wage Slowdown

Source: David Leonhardt, New York Times

After almost 15 years of a disappointing economy, it's easy to get pessimistic. Incomes for the middle class and poor have now been stagnating over a two-term Republican presidency and well into a two-term Democratic one. The great wage slowdown of the 21st century has frustrated Americans, polls show, and raised serious questions about what kind of policies, if any, might change the situation.

January 14, 2015

Construction Jobs Are Getting Safer-but Not for Latinos

Source: Michelle Chen, The Nation

There are many ways to measure inequality: the wealth gap, the achievement gap, the gender gap. But we face a hidden gap at work everyday-a safety gap, the line that measures our risk of death and injury on the job. And often, the gap tracks the country's racial divide, with Latino workers on the wrong side.
According to an analysis of federal safety data by Buzzfeed, "between 2010 and 2013, the number of deaths among Latinos in the construction industry rose from 181 to 231. The number of deaths also rose in the industry overall, from 774 to 796. But Latinos account for this rise entirely: during the same period, deaths for non-Latino construction workers fell from 593 to 565."

Labor issues at Microsoft prompt talk of policy changes

Source: Matt Day, SeattleTimes

After about a year working at Lionbridge Technologies on Microsoft's Redmond campus, Marilyse Benyakar started asking questions.
Why did Lionbridge, hired by Microsoft to vet the content of Windows tablet applications, not offer paid time off or sick days? How long could Benyakar and other so-called temporary workers remain that way?
Those questions ultimately resulted in something exceedingly rare in the technology industry: a group of employees voted to form a union.

Obama Wants Home Care Workers to Get Minimum Wage, But a Federal Judge Is Standing in the Way

Source: Sarah Kollmorgen, New Republic

In September 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a new rule that would essentially narrow the definition of "companionship services" to people providing more social interactions with elderly clients, such as playing games, doing crafts, reading and going on walks. Home care workers providing more substantive care, and those employed by third-party agencies, would be eligible for minimum wage beginning January 2015.

Workers Get Help Climbing the Career Ladder

Source: Rachel Emma Silverman , Wall Street Journal

For years, companies have left employees to figure out their careers on their own. Now, a handful of firms are helping workers map out their next steps.
Big companies like Aflac Inc., Genentech Inc. and American Express Co. are hiring career counselors, training some managers to give job advice and launching in-house career centers similar to those found on college campuses. Other companies, such as Accenture PLC, are taking steps to better market internal job opportunities and make clear what it takes to land a new position.

January 13, 2015

Feds, Florida reach deal on construction industry rip-off

Source: Nicholas Nehamas, Miami Herald

Publicly available documents and interviews with workers around Florida showed that contractors broke state law and cheated on their taxes in order to get work on the federally financed projects that were the lifeblood of the building industry between 2009 and 2013.

Justices push back on whether judicial review is needed

Source: Robert Barnes, The Washington Post

Justices on both sides of the court's ideological divide were concerned with the government's assertion that Congress did not intend for judges to second-guess whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had worked hard enough hashing things out with a company accused of discrimination before hauling it into court.
The specific case involved an Illinois mining company accused of never hiring female miners. But the justices' concerns were broader.

January 12, 2015

Labor at a Crossroads: Can Broadened Civil Rights Law Offer Workers a True Right to Organize?

Source: Richard D. Kahlenberg and Moshe Z. Marvit, The American Prospect

Organized labor, which represents only 1 in 15 private sector workers, is on its deathbed. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935, which was supposed to allow workers to choose to organize, "is dead and not coming back," Harold Meyerson reports. The NLRA was designed to protect worker rights in part by prohibiting employers from exerting the power to fire union organizers, but the penalties for violating the law are so weak that employees routinely do so, making it exceedingly difficult to organize.

January 10, 2015

Labor board readies flurry of decisions

Source: Tim Devaney, The Hill

The National Labor Relations Board is expected in the coming weeks to weigh in on several high-profile labor cases with major implications on workforce and union issues, ranging from college football players to fast food restaurants.
Business are bracing for a flurry of action from a labor board they've accused of taking on an activist, pro-union agenda.

January 9, 2015

We're adding jobs like it's 1999, but American workers just can't get a raise

Source: Simone Pathe, PBS Newshour

The last year has been one of strong, and sometimes confounding, economic news. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the unemployment picture released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday morning.
December's report ends 2014 with a bang. Payrolls grew by a higher-than-expected 252,000, and the previous two months' job gains were revised upwards by a collective 50,000. The unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent - a post-Great Recession low.

Carson Shipping Company Agrees To Reclassify Drivers As Employees


Truckers who went on strike five times at the ports of L.A. and Long Beach have reached an agreement with a major trucking company in the fight to be reclassified as employees

January 8, 2015

Apple Store Employees Claim They're Losing Out On Pay Because Of Security Checks

Source: Sam Colt, Business Insider

Apple mandates that every one of its retail employees perform a security check and technology check before leaving work every day.
This is designed to prevent theft, but since each Apple Store usually has over 100 employees, it can also be a time-consuming process.
Federal labor laws don't support employees' claims for back pay, but some state laws do.
California, for instance, defines "payable hours" as an employee being under the control of their employer.

A Day in the Life of a Family of 6 Trying to Survive on Fast-Food Wages

Source: Annie Lowrie, New York Magazine

This week, I visited a Texas family that demonstrates the phenomenon: All the Ortizes do is work, and they still feel like they're just getting by, vulnerable to bad luck and unable to pull ahead. They make up part of what wonks and economists are now calling the "precariat," the large class of American families characterized by insecurity and instability, even when employed. They're the flip side of the coin from the one-percenters. And the question now is whether the recovery might finally prove strong enough to reach them.

On-call workers entitled to pay for all hours spent at job, court rules

Source: David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes, LA Times

A research team that provided a largely favorable analysis of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's plan for raising the citywide minimum wage has been tapped by city leaders to provide a new outside review of the same proposal.

Business leaders and Councilman Mitch O'Farrell criticized the selection of UC Berkeley's Institute for Research on Labor and Employment to give the City Council an assessment of the economic effects of the proposed wage increases.

The GOP Bill to Define the 40-Hour Work Week Explained

Source: Leigh Ann Caldwell, NBC News

It would gut the employer mandate, which is a controversial part of the ACA. Employers would only be required to provide health benefits for workers who work 40 hours or more per week. Employers would then be able to give full-time workers 39 hours of work - nearly a full work week that would not hurt employee output - and avoid providing health insurance to the employee, which is required under the ACA. It's much more difficult to cut a full-time worker's hours to 29 hours to avoid providing health care.

Why Your Wages Are Idling in Neutral

Source: Lawrence Mishel, The American Prospect

Low-wage Americans are not the only workers affected by stagnant wages and rising inequality. The middle class has also experienced stagnating hourly wages over the last generation, and even those with college degrees have seen no pay growth over the last 10 years. Since the late 1970s, wages for the bottom 70 percent of earners have been essentially stagnant, and between 2009 and 2013, real wages fell for the entire bottom 90 percent of the wage distribution. Even wages for the bottom 70 percent of four-year college graduates have been flat since 2000, and wages in most STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) occupations have grown anemically over the past decade.

January 7, 2015

Paid Sick Days, More Workplace Benefits for D.C. Workers

Source: Rebecca Gale, Role Call

Workplace advocacy groups are ringing in the New Year with new family friendly workplace laws, some of which take effect in this month. Among these changes are several in the District of Columbia, including: More pregnancy protections, more sick days, paid family leave.

AFL-CIO Steps Up Effort to Boost Low Wages

Source: Melanie Trottman, The Wall Street Journal

The AFL-CIO is ratcheting up its battle to raise pay for America's low-wage workers, in part by conducting a series of state-based summits about low wages and holding politicians accountable who fail to make the topic a central focus.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka announced the ramped-up efforts on Wednesday at the union federation's first-ever national summit on raising wages, where Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Labor Secretary Tom Perez delivered speeches to a mix of union activists, think tank officials, academics and others.

ADP Says Companies in U.S. Added 241,000 Workers in December

Source: Shobhana Chandra, Bloomberg

Companies added more workers than forecast in December, indicating the U.S. job market was sustaining strength as 2014 drew to a close, according to a private report based on payrolls.
The 241,000 increase in employment was the biggest since June and followed a 227,000 November gain that was more than initially reported, figures from the Roseland, New Jersey-based ADP Research Institute showed today. The median projection of 45 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an advance of 225,000 last month.

Apple and Amazon's Unpaid Security Checks Face a New Challenge in State Courts

Source: Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg Buisnessweek

Last month, when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against workers suing an Amazon (AMZN) warehouse contractor, the e-commerce giant wasn't the only winner. That Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk decision-declaring that time spent waiting to go through security lines wasn't "integral and essential" to warehouse work, and so workers didn't have to be paid for it-also offered grounds for other companies to get employees' allegations dismissed. That's already started to happen-but companies still aren't in the clear.

January 6, 2015

A Majority Of States Now Have Mininum Wages Higher Than The Federal Minimum

Source: Jake Grovum, HuffingtonPost

"What this shows you is there's a lot of movement on increasing wages," said Yannet Lathrop of the worker-advocacy group, the National Employment Law Project (NELP). "This is a really great atmosphere."
In many states, efforts in the past year to raise the minimum wage have attracted bipartisan support. In November's elections, which saw an overwhelming wave for Republicans nationwide, voters in four traditionally red states (Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota) approved increases.

Workers alleging wage theft say picketing the surest path to justice

Source: Sadhbh Walshe, AlJazeera America

Since April 2014, these 14 workers, primarily immigrants, have been engaged in a campaign protesting wage theft against their employer at Liberato restaurant on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx borough of New York City. Throughout, they have continued to work their regular shifts - sometimes up to 12 hours at a time. But during their off-hours, they have been picketing outside the restaurant and sometimes even around their managers' homes.

January 5, 2015

Is Crowdsourcing Bad for Workers?

Source: Michelle Chen, The Nation

The federal minimum wage has effectively been stagnating since the 1960s, and even the recent spate of state minimum wage hikes have lagged far behind the rising cost of living. But if workplace regulations seem to evolve at a glacial pace, there's a quickly rising threat of exploitation from the digital economy's cutting edge: in the rapidly evolving digital workforce, labor standards are stuck in a primitive state, with no minimum wage and virtually no standards.

Lawyer alleges TGI Friday's workers in Mansfield paid to drop out of class action suit

Source: Rick Foster, The Sun Chronicle

A Mansfield worker for a popular chain restaurant reportedly was paid $82,000 as part of an attempt to settle a national class action wage lawsuit, according to a lawyer in the case.
Justin Swartz, a lawyer representing workers suing T.G.I. Friday's said offers of payment to the employee and other workers is part of a strategy to limit the number of plantiffs in the case.

Missouri's minimum wage will fall behind neighbor's

Source: Lara Granich, St. Louis Post Dispatch

On New Year's Day, Missouri was one of 21 states to implement minimum wage increases that are estimated to boost the incomes of 4.4 million low-paid workers nationwide. Missouri's new minimum wage increased to $7.65 per hour, benefiting an estimated 136,000 workers and boosting the state's economy by $38 million.

January 4, 2015

Signs of Economic Promise Are Offering Some Hope for the New Year

Source: Rachel L. Swarns, New York Times

To Ms. Jourdan's amazement, she learned that she would be getting a raise of $2.50 an hour. And that's not all: Zara is also increasing the number of full-time positions in its stores, handing a victory to Ms. Jourdan and other Zara workers who have demanded better pay and more opportunities after being relegated to part-time jobs with unpredictable schedules.
Small potatoes, you say? Not to Ms. Jourdan, who was earning $10.50 an hour. Now, she says, she might be able to save up for a little vacation. She might even get a full-time position as a store manager.

FairPoint labor talks to resume

Source: David Sharp, The Boston Globe

Top leaders from both negotiating teams are to gather Sunday in Washington, D.C., at the request of Allison Beck, acting director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The last session, convened by a federal mediator in Boston on Nov. 18, ended in an hour with no progress.
But officials say this time, the federal mediation service plans to play a formal role in discussions, rather than simply bring the two parties together.

January 2, 2015

Union for mental health workers plan Kaiser strike

Source: Kathy Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal

The union that represents mental health workers at Kaiser Permanente will launch a week-long statewide strike Jan. 12 to protest what it says is Kaiser's failure to provide members with timely, quality care.

More States Raise Minimum Wage, But Debate Continues

Source: Yuki Noguchi, NPR

The minimum wage went up in 20 states Thursday, a day after the state of New York boosted its minimum, which means a majority of states now have a minimum wage higher than the federal government's, which is set at $7.25. The state with the highest minimum wage is now Washington state, at $9.47 an hour.
This comes almost exactly a year after President Obama called for raising the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour. Congress hasn't acted on that, but by executive action, the president increased the base wage to $10.10 for federal contractors - a raise that also went into effect Thursday.

December 29, 2014

OUR OPINION: Supreme Court deals new blow to workers rights

Source: centralmaine

The court ruled 9-0 earlier this month that Integrity Staffing Solutions does not have to pay its warehouse employees for the time they spend waiting in line for security screenings at the end of a shift. The mandatory screenings, designed to prevent theft, can take as long as 25 minutes, according to the employees who filed the lawsuit.
Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas said it did not matter that the employees were required by their employer to wait in the lines. What matters, he said, is that the screenings are not "tied to the productive work that the employee is employed to perform."

Minimum Wage Workers In NY, NJ To Get Raises In 2015

Source: CBSNewYork, CBS

Minimum wage workers in New York will see their hourly rate jump from $8 to $8.75, while the wage will rise in New Jersey from $8.25 to $8.38.
While the increase in New Jersey is modest, it will help the lowest-paid workers in the state by adding $55 million in new wages, said Jon Whiten with the New Jersey Policy Perspective.

December 28, 2014

Fiberdome agrees to workplace safety changes

Source: Daily Union

Fiberdome Inc. has agreed to changes to protect employee health in the wake of several workplace violations, including exposure to styrene that sent two inmates on work-release in the hospital.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported Sunday that during the past two years, two prisoners suffered "permanent lung damage" while other employees at the Lake Mills plant were exposed to harmful levels of chemicals, dust and noise, according to reports released by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Wage stagnation puts the squeeze on ordinary workers

Source: David Lazarus, LA Times

"It's been six years since anyone at our company has had a raise," said Chisum, 52. "It seems like I just keep falling further into a hole. The price of gas has gone down, but nothing else has."
It's a refrain we've heard throughout the year: wealth gap, income inequality, wage stagnation.
No matter how you say it, the upshot is the same. The rich are getting richer and everyone else is feeling squeezed.

December 25, 2014

The Real Christmas Village Is in China

Source: Heather Timmons, The Atlantic

The Chinese city of Yiwu, about 250 kilometers from Shanghai, is often referred to as China's "Christmas village" thanks to the massive amount of holiday-related merchandise made there. Xinhua, China's state-news agency, claims that 60 percent of the world's Christmas goods come from Yiwu. The products are often assembled by hand in primitive conditions.

Employers Help Legal Immigrants On Path To Citizenship

Source: Richard Gonzales, NPR

There are employers in seven cities, including Washington, Los Angeles, Houston and San Diego, that have signed on to help their workers become U.S. citizens. NPR's Richard Gonzales has this story about a program which focuses on immigrants who are in the country legally.

December 23, 2014

Special Needs Student Practices Real-Life Job Skills

Source: The Job Doc Blog, Boston

Jack Thomas, 17, of West Boylston, is one of the dozen autism students at Crossroads School who is participating in a new vocational program to prepare for jobs as they age out of the school system. The Natick school is one of several maaps (Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools) schools that educate students with special needs and focus on vocational training through partnerships with area businesses.

Robust economic growth in third quarter raises hopes that a boom is on horizon

Source: Chico Harlan, Washington Post

The U.S. economy is growing at an increasingly rapid pace, government data released Tuesday shows, raising hopes that a slow-going American recovery is transforming into a far more robust expansion.
The 5 percent annualized growth reported Tuesday - for the three-month period ending in September - has led some analysts to believe that the U.S. economy could expand next year at a clip reminiscent of the booming late 1990s.

December 21, 2014

Minimum wage buying power in Ohio is shifting

Source: Jona Ison, Cincinnati

Ohio's minimum wage is automatically adjusted each year by the rate of inflation, which is good for entry-level employees but might come at the expense of raises in the long term.

December 19, 2014

Minimum wage on agenda at Legislature

Source: Dan Boyd, Albuquerque Journal

The debate over whether to increase New Mexico's minimum wage – and by how much – will hit the Roundhouse again during the coming 60-day session.
Two bills have been pre-filed this week by Democratic lawmakers, both seeking a hike in the state's current $7.50-per-hour minimum wage – one of them to $8.30 an hour and the other to $10.10.

Jersey City nursing home workers protest 'unfair treatment,' 'contract violations'

Source: Matthew Speiser, NJ

Bryn Lloyd-Bollard, communications coordinator for 1199 SEIU - the largest health care worker union in the country - said Alaris has been in "blatant violation" of its union contract with the workers for more than a year.
"The company has been paying workers below the minimum rates as specified in the union contract and participating in other union busting tactics like removing certain workers from the union," Lloyd-Bollard.

December 18, 2014

Dollar Tree faces penalty in workplace safety case

Source: Richmond Times Dispatch

Dollar Tree Stores Inc. faces civil penalties totaling $103,000 for workplace safety violations at a Delaware store.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said inspectors saw overhead boxes fall on a store employee in New Castle, Del., during a June visit.

America U.S. Announces Protections For Transgender Workers

Source: Krishnadev Calamur, NPR

"This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status," he said in a statement. "This will help to foster fair and consistent treatment for all claimants. And it reaffirms the Justice Department's commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans."

Paid Maternity Leave Is Good for Business

Source: Derek Thompson, Wall Street Journal

Having experienced how valuable paid maternity leave is to me, my family and my career, I never thought of it as a privilege. But the sad truth is that paid maternity leave is rare in America, and the U.S. lags behind the rest of the world in providing for the needs of pregnant women and new mothers.

December 17, 2014

Lockheed Settles $1.3 Billion 401k Suit as Trial Loomed

Source: Tim Bross and Andrew Harris, Bloomberg Buisnessweek

Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) agreed to settle a $1.3 billion lawsuit over claims the defense contractor shortchanged the 120,000 workers and retirees who participate in its pension plans as a trial was set to begin this week.
Workers accused the company of subjecting them to excessive fees and leaving those investing in its stock fund with returns that were worse than if they had bought shares on the open market. The settlement was disclosed today by U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan in East St. Louis, Illinois, and still requires his approval.

December 16, 2014

UPDATE 2-Unions, retirees sue to block Chicago pension changes

Source: Karen Pierog, Reuters

The lawsuit contends that the law, enacted in June, violates the Illinois Constitution by reducing pension benefits for workers and retirees in Chicago's Municipal Employees Annuity and Benefit Fund. The suit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court by the Chicago Teachers Union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 and others.
The lawsuit asks the court to declare the law void and illegal because pensions will be reduced in violation of a constitutional provision prohibiting the diminishment or impairment of public employee retirement benefits.

Walmart Must Pay $188 Million to Settle Claims of Cut Rest Breaks

Source: Victor Luckerson, Time

Walmart has been ordered to pay $188 million over claims by employees that the company regularly cut their breaks for meals and rest. The payment would be a settlement for a class-action lawsuit that went all the way to the Pennsylvania Supereme Court. The ruling would hurt Walmart's earnings, the company said, by reducing its profits from continuing operations by 6 cents per share. Wal-Mart said it may appeal the decision.

December 15, 2014

$4 Million: That's How Much These Dim Sum Restaurant Workers Won in Back Pay

Source: Michelle Chen, The Nation

Approximately 280 workers, many of them monolingual Chinese immigrants, are savoring a sweet labor victory with a landmark $4 million settlement, which also includes new rules for labor standards and benefits. The settlement is remarkable for its size, but also the recipe behind it: a coalition of legal advocates and community organizers who were committed to upscaling the working conditions in an increasingly unequal city.

The Mysterious Rise of the Non-Working Man

Source: Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

In 1974, the radio broadcaster Studs Terkel published a book of profiles to have "people talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do." The title of the book was, simply, Working.
That was appropriate. Working was what people did all day, particularly if they were men in their 20s, 30s, 40s, or 50s. In the 1970s, as in previous decades, about 95 percent of men between the age of 25 and 54 were either working or actively looking for their next job. Only 5.5 percent of them were what economists consider "inactive"-out of the labor force.

Why Workers Undervalue Traditional Pension Plans

Source: Dan Kadlec, Time

Despite many drawbacks, the 401(k) plan is our most prized employee benefit other than healthcare, new research shows. More than half of workers value this savings plan even above a traditional pension that guarantees income for life.

Patrick shifts position on worker unionization

Source: Michael Levenson and Stephanie Ebbert, The Boston Globe

Documents obtained by the Globe show that Patrick's legal team in March opposed an effort by the National Association of Government Employees to represent about 3,000 state employees hired since July 2011. Patrick's team argued that the positions that NAGE wanted to include had not been part of the union in its 30-year history and that the transfer would deny workers the right to determine their own representation.
Now, Patrick is arguing that extending union protection to another 500 workers is warranted.

The Devalued American Worker

Source: Jim Tankersley, Washington Post

Green once held a middle-class job. Now, to make enough money to send his children to college, he works the equivalent of two full-time jobs: one maintaining highways for the state of North Carolina and one ushering fans and collecting trash for a variety of sports teams around Winston-Salem.
The American economy has stopped delivering the broadly shared prosperity that the nation grew accustomed to after World War II. The explanation for why that is begins with the millions of middle-class jobs that vanished over the past 25 years, and with what happened to the men and women who once held those jobs.

December 14, 2014

A Growing Economic Recovery Bypasses Low-Wage Workers and Their Tables

Source: Rachel L. Swarns, The New York Times

Perhaps you've heard the good news from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, which recently reported strong gains in hiring and a sharp jump in hourly wages. Or maybe you've read that associates at big law firms in New York are taking home hefty bonuses of $15,000 to $100,000 this year. All of it has overshadowed the continuing struggles of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers during this holiday season.

December 13, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court ruling on home care workers still reverberating in Washington

Source: Brad Shannon, The Olympian

In Washington state, the court ruling appears to apply to the more than 40,000 home care workers in SEIU 775; 8,000 child-care operators represented by SEIU 925; roughly 1,000 medical-language interpreters represented by the Washington Federation of State Employees; and hundreds of adult family home providers represented by the Residential Care Council of Family Homes. In each case, care providers are paid by the state, and the unions negotiate with the state for wage rates or reimbursement rates.

December 12, 2014

This One Sentence Captures the Huge Challenges Facing the Unemployed

Source: Danny Vinik, New Republic

But more important is what Walsh's firing says about the state of the economy: Workers have no leverage over their employers. Even though the recovery has made substantial progress this year, there are still many more unemployed workers than jobs available. When that's the case, workers don't have leverage to demand higher wages and better working conditions-or a day off to care for one's dying mother. If they make such demands, employers can find a replacement worker from the unemployed. That seems to be what happened with Frank Walsh.

Faces of minimum wage: Chasing the American dream in fits, starts

Source: Maudlyne Ihejirika , Chicago Sun-Times

Guzman's take-home pay: $900 to $1,100 monthly. That's with a 31-hour week at McDonald's and four days work at a factory he gets from a temporary placement firm.
"McDonald's doesn't pay me enough - $8.25, or $8.75 is a kind of a hopeless minimum wage," he says. "In order to make enough to survive, on my days off I go to a temporary agency. I wait there until they call me to see if there's any work opportunity."

December 11, 2014

Report Says Future Of Low Paid Workers Is Bleak

Source: Bill Hudson, CBS Minnesota

Despite the recent success in raising Minnesota's minimum wage, a new report paints a bleak outlook for the state's lowest paid workers. The worker rights groups, Working America and Take Action Minnesota, say a lot more is still needed to lift 622,000 Minnesotans out of poverty.

Striking S.F. airport restaurant workers: Bring your own food

Source: Henry K. Lee, SFGate

Travelers at San Francisco International Airport, already grappling with delayed or cancelled flights because of Thursday's big storm, may also want to bring their own food because of a 48-hour strike by restaurant workers.
About 1,000 workers, who have been working without a contract for more than a year, will be on strike through Friday. Restaurants throughout the airport are affected, according to the union, Unite Here Local 2.

State board considers wage boost for tipped workers

Source: Steve Barnes, Timesunion

Hospitality-industry representatives and advocates for tipped employees testified before the state Wage Board on Tuesday as it considers whether to continue to allow restaurant waistaff and bartenders to be paid below the minimum wage. The state minimum wage is due to increase from $8 an hour to $8.75 on Dec. 31. The wage for restaurant and hospitality workers who earn tips would remain between $4.90 and $5.65, depending on classification, with the hourly difference between that and full minimum wage to be paid by employers if tips don't cover it.

Wal-Mart managers illegally threatened, intimidated Calif. workers, NLRB judge rules (Video)

Source: David A. Arnott, Dallas Business Journal

The New York Times explained that the workers are not unionized, but are supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, and over the past three years they have staged various protests against the retailer, recently attempting to demonstrate on Black Friday and calling for $15-per-hour wages. Among the specifics in the ruling, the Times said, the judge found six employees at a Richmond, California, store were illegally punished for participating in a 2012 one-day strike, that managers had tried to intimidate workers by threatening to close a store if too many workers joined a union, and that Wal-Mart's (NYSE: WMT) dress code "unduly restricted associates' right to wear union insignia."

December 10, 2014

US retail workers need a new bill of rights

Source: Amy B. Dean, AlJazeera America

These conditions have led retail workers to conclude that they need a new form of protection: a bill of rights. In San Francisco, labor activists are demanding just that, and the idea is gaining traction. In a historic victory for low-wage employees, on Nov. 25, the city's Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the nation's first Retail Workers Bill of Rights. While San Francisco already had a law requiring the minimum wage to be pegged to inflation, the Retail Workers Bill of Rights will provide much-needed stability and flexibility for 40,000 workers at many of the city's retail establishments.

December 9, 2014

Court: No pay for Amazon warehouse security checks

Source: Sam Hananel, AP

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that warehouse workers who fill orders for retail giant Amazon don't have to be paid for time spent waiting to pass through security checks at the end of their shifts.
The unanimous decision is a victory for the growing number of retailers and other companies that routinely screen workers to prevent employee theft. The justices said federal law does not require companies to pay employees for the extra time because it is unrelated to their primary job duties.

U.S. top court rejects worker pay for security-screening time

Source: Lawrence Hurley, Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday handed a victory to employers over worker compensation, ruling that companies do not have to pay employees for the time they spend undergoing security checks at the end of their shifts in a case involving an Amazon.com Inc warehousing contractor.

Workers at Amazon Warehouses Won't Get Paid for Waiting in Security Lines

Source: Josh Eidelson , Bloomberg Buisnessweek

Companies that make their workers go through security screenings before they can go home don't have to pay them for the time they spend waiting in line to be checked, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday morning. All nine justices sided with an Amazon.com (AMZN) contractor, Integrity Staffing Solutions, on the grounds that a lawsuit by warehouse workers should have been dismissed.

U.S. economy added 321,000 jobs in November; unemployment rate holds at 5.8%

Source: Chico Harlan, Washington Post

On Friday, the government announced that the U.S. economy added 321,000 jobs in November, the best figure in nearly three years, keeping the country on track for the strongest annual job growth since the late 1990s. That performance, coming even as other advanced economies slump, has lifted hopes among economists and U.S. officials that a slow, six-year recovery is beginning to yield substantial benefits for ordinary workers.

December 8, 2014

My Whole Foods nightmare: How a full-time job there left me in poverty

Source: Nick Rahaim, Salon

After years of organizing in secret, building bonds over beer and supporting co-workers when issues have arisen with management, team members at a Whole Foods Market in San Francisco disrupted the normal workday and demanded a $5 an hour pay increase last month. More than 20 employees beckoned store management to the floor and presented a petition signed by more than 50 of the store's workers calling for more paid time off, better health and retirement benefits as well as steady, consistent schedules.

U.S. Supreme Court Considers Pregnancy Discrimination Act at Oral Argument

Source: Tyler Anderson, The National Law Review

On December 3, 2014, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Young v. United Parcel Service, 707 F.3d 437 (4th Cir. 2013), a long-anticipated and widely discussed case addressing the scope of the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act ("PDA") as it relates to light-duty accommodations in the workplace. This case is relevant to employers for two reasons. First, if the petitioner's argument wins over the Court, employers across the country would be mandated to make independent accommodations for pregnant employees, regardless of the employer's current policy. Second, if the petitioner's argument loses under the PDA, the door is still open for a Title VII disparate impact claim, which, if successful, would require employers to amend their light-duty and paid leave policies nationwide.

December 7, 2014

The Workers Who Grow Our Food In Mexico Often Live In Deplorable Conditions

Source: Carman Tse, Laist

Although the produce from Mexico undergoes some of the strictest safety regulations in order to ensure they can be sold Stateside, a recent investigative report has found that means of production behind that food still has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to workers rights and living conditions.

December 5, 2014

Black poverty is state violence, too: Why struggles for criminal justice and living wage are uniting

Source: Sarah Jaffe, Salon

For the second time in a week, the swelling protests against police brutality and an unequal criminal justice system coincided with planned labor strikes at low-wage employers yesterday, and for the second time, protesters joined forces, combining the struggle for a living wage with the struggle for the right to live free of police violence.

Wage Watch: Study finds 'alarming' wage violations by employers in two states

Source: Claire Zillman, Fortune

After examining workforce data of both states from October 2010 through September 2011, the DOL discovered that 3.5% of wage and salary workers in California and 6.5% of such employees in New York are paid less than the minimum wage. Those figures increase to 10.9% and 19.5%, respectively, when only workers in low-wage jobs are considered.

Zillow hit with age discrimination lawsuit over behavior at California offices: Sales staffer asked whether 'too old to close'

Source: Blair Hanley Frank, GeekWire

According to the complaint, Jennifer Young, a 41-year-old employee on Zillow's sales team, had a sales manager who would ask her if she was "too old to close" and told her to "try and keep up with us." According to the complaint, Young was a victim of a "pervasive culture of retaliation and harassment at Zillow that placed a premium on sales and a shortfall on human decency and basic employment rights."

Fast-Food Strikes Hit Record Numbers, Span 190 Cities

Source: Josh Eidelson , Bloomberg Buisnessweek

Rather than organizing store-by-store to try to win unionization elections (which, even if successful, could just trigger fast-food corporations to dump the franchisees), or trying to shut down substantial numbers of stores with strikes, the fast-food effort uses one-day walkouts, usually involving just a minority of the workforce, that anchor broader campaigns of media, political, and legal pressure. The idea is to compel the top national fast-food corporations to agree to hike pay and make it easier for workers to unionize. Versions of that strategy have spread to other industries, because the same challenges are afflicting organizing efforts there as well.

Is a radical 'no email' policy moral failing?

Source: David R. Wheeler, CNN

Germans work on average 35 hours per week by law. Yet, Germany hasn't lost any edge as an industrial powerhouse. In fact, Germany has remained Europe's biggest economy, even helping to keep the continent afloat during the global recession. (Though lately, growth has been modest for Germany as anxiety looms over Europe' drag economy.)

December 4, 2014

A Burger Joint Pays $15 An Hour. And, Yes, It's Making Money

Source: Allison Aubrey, NPR

When Moo Cluck Moo opened its first location almost two years ago, the starting pay for all workers was $12 an hour. The idea, according to co-founder Brian Parker, was to train everyone to multitask.
No one is just flipping burgers. All of the workers are expected to be jacks-of-all-trades: They bake buns from scratch daily, they house-make aioli and prepare made-to-order grass-fed burgers and free-range chicken sandwiches.

It's not just fast food: The Fight for $15 is for everyone now

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

"The fact of the matter is, it's not just fast food where you're being treated a certain way," Killebrew says. "It's retail, it's security, it's hospitals, it's everywhere, where you're not making the money you need to make to maintain." The $15 an hour campaign, which began with a few hundred workers at walking off their shifts at a handful of restaurants in New York two years ago, has metastasized. Home health-care aides joined protests in September. Federal contract workers took up the cry last month.

December 3, 2014

Pregnancy discrimination claim faces high-court hurdle

Source: Richard Wolf, USA Today

The Supreme Court struggled Wednesday to find a clear reason why pregnant women deserve accommodations at work.
Faced with Peggy Young's lawsuit against United Parcel Service for refusing to give her light duty during her pregnancy, conservative justices said she was seeking a form of "most favored nation" status used in trade agreements - treatment equal to the best-treated workers.
Liberal justices saw it differently, arguing that Young was "least favored" by UPS because very few workers with sicknesses, injuries or disabilities were denied the accommodations she sought.

Capitalism is officially broken: Even doggy day care workers have non-competes now

Source: Matt O'Brien, Washington Post

It's so absurd it almost seems like a Woody Allen-esque meditation on the limits of capitalism. But here it is: Camp Bow Wow, a dog-sitting chain, makes its workers sign non-compete agreements that bar them from plying any of the "trade secrets" they learn walking dogs at any other animal day care centers for up to two years, according to the Huffington Post. The company declined to discuss the matter with HuffPo.

Arbitration Clauses Trap Consumers with Fine Print

Source: Jeff Sovern, American Banker

As we expected, few respondents realized that they were giving up their rights. But even we were surprised by how many people suffered from serious misconceptions. For example, four times as many respondents believed that they could bring a class action under the contract as those who recognized that they could not.

Airport Workers At 10 Airports To Join With $15 Hour Fast Food Strikers December 4

Source: John Goglia, Forbes

Airport workers at 10 major airports – including JFK, LaGuardia, Newark, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Seattle – have written to the CEOs of the six major US Airlines – Delta, American, JetBlue, United, Southwest and Alaska – stating that "as airport workers we have pledged to stand together with people who work in home care and fast food to fight for $15 an hour wages.

December 1, 2014

It Is Time for a Retail Workers' Bill of Rights

Source: John Nichols, The Nation

Instead of simply celebrating the firms that did treat their workers well or condemning the firms that did not, it is time to turn up the volume on demands for workplace standards-and to recognize them as essential complements to demands for living-wage pay. "Erratic, constantly changing schedules aren't just a nightmare for workers, they're bad for business," says national Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta, who argues that there is a crying need to "adopt 21st-century policies that keep up with the changing nature of today's workplace."

Women Who Work

Source: The Editorial Board, New York Times

If Peggy Young, who was a driver for United Parcel Service, had had an accident that limited her ability to lift heavy packages, or even lost her license because of driving while intoxicated, U.P.S. would have allowed her to go on "light duty" or assigned her another type of work. But Ms. Young got pregnant. When her doctors told her not to lift packages over 20 pounds to avoid jeopardizing the pregnancy, U.P.S. refused to accommodate her and effectively compelled her to go on unpaid medical leave.

November 30, 2014

Former UPS driver at center of pregnancy discrimination case before Supreme Court

Source: Brigid Schulte, Washington Post

All Peggy Young wanted, she says, was to drive.
But when her bosses at UPS told her to take unpaid leave until she was no longer pregnant, Young sued, saying the company violated the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and failed to treat a pregnant Young the way it treated other employees. She lost twice in courts in Maryland, which agreed with UPS that Young did not prove the company discriminated against her because of her pregnancy. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in her appeal of the closely watched case.

November 28, 2014

Black Friday protests held against Wal-Mart in Salem, Danvers

Source: Dustin Luca , The Salem News

Members of the Massachusetts Jobs with Justice and Massachusetts Interfaith Worker Justice coalitions came together at about 50 Wal-Mart locations around the state to demand higher wages and better working conditions for employees that they say don't have adequate rights on the job.

November 26, 2014

Five Ways to Measure Black Friday Strikes at Wal-Mart

Source: Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg Buisnessweek

Will striking workers capture media attention¡ The well-worn images of Black Friday-door-busting lines, overloaded shopping carts, fights over discounted items-don't yet include striking retail workers. OUR Walmart clearly wants to change that. Like other union-backed "corporate campaigns" waged against name-brand companies, the Walmart effort is in large part a media project. So far unable (mostly) to disrupt the flow of Walmart products, organizers now want to disrupt the giant retailer's image by publicizing everything from carbon emissions and alleged bribery to the understocked store shelves.

What If Your Boss Suddenly Told You to Come to Work on Thanksgiving¡

Source: Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones

According to a recent study by Susan Lambert, a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, nearly half of young part-time retail employees receive their work schedules less than a week in advance. This is partly a symptom of retailers' increasing reliance on computerized "on call" scheduling systems that track weather predictions and real-time sales data to schedule work shifts-maximizing efficiency but wreaking havoc on workers' ability to manage their personal schedules.

Not All Staples Employees Get Thanksgiving Off in Massachusetts

Source: Adam Vaccaro, Boston

Here's a little twist on Massachusetts Blue Laws. While they'll keep all of Staples's in-state stores closed on Thanksgiving, there's one major Bay State location they don't apply to: the Framingham corporate headquarters.
Across most of the rest of the country, Staples is opening at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving night (because nothing says "Merry Christmas" like office supplies!), which means some employees at the chain's "home office" will have to work, too.

November 25, 2014

Why Living-Wage Laws Are Not Enough-and Minimum-Wage Laws Aren't Either

Source: Jonathan Lange, The Nation

Those who believe, as I do, that workers deserve a living wage and decent benefits, can't ignore the fact that twenty years of mobilizing around higher minimum wages and legislated living-wage standards have not closed the wage gap. That gap has continued to grow. And the rate of growth has accelerated. It's not a gap that will be filled by legislated solutions. It can and will only be filled by organized workers willing to fight for better wages and benefits in their own workplaces.

San Francisco is about to pass America's first-ever chain-store worker's bill of rights

Source: Rob Wile, Fusion

The bill says any national chains' store in city limits would have to give priority to existing par-time employees when offering additional available hours before hiring new part-time employees to fill them. Current practices allow big box chains to avoid hiring full-time employees to avoid cost increases, and California in particular has one of the highest involuntarily part-time employment rates in the country.

San Francisco passes first-in-nation limits on worker schedules

Source: Marianne LeVine, Politico

San Francisco is now the country's first jurisdiction to limit how chain stores can alter their employees' schedules.
Other states and cities are considering similar statutory restraints. Work scheduling rules are therefore poised to follow localized minimum wage increases and paid leave mandates as the newest instance of state and local government stepping in to fill the void left by the decades-long decline of private-sector labor unions.

When Raising the Minimum Wage Isn't Enough

Source: Alana Semuels, The Atlantic

Kulsic only gets 33 to 35 hours a week, and struggles to pay for heat, food, and transportation. He typically rides a bike the three miles to work, but his bike broke, so these days, he walks or takes the bus. He's asked for more hours-or more consistent hours, at least-but his employer, whose name he asked me not to use, doesn't want to give any worker more than 35 hours because then they'll be classified as full-time, he said.

Administration Warns Employers: Don't Dump Sick Workers From Plans

Source: Jay Hancock, NPR

As employers try to minimize expenses under the health law, the Obama administration has warned them against paying high-cost workers to leave the company medical plan and buy coverage elsewhere.

Such a move would unlawfully discriminate against employees based on their health status, three federal agencies said in a bulletin issued in early November.

November 24, 2014

Doggy Day Care Chain Makes Pet Sitters Sign Noncompetes To Protect 'Trade Secrets'

Source: Dave Jamieson, HuffingtonPost

Camp Bow Wow is a doggy day care franchise. The company has more than 100 North American locations where pets board overnight, and it also offers in-home pet-sitting services. Camp Bow Wow workers look after dogs. But before they can do that, they apparently have to sign strict noncompete contracts similar to the ones used by Jimmy John's.

Why Wal-Mart Workers Keep Using One-Day Strikes

Source: Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg Buisnessweek

One-day strikes don't shut down the workplace like iconic strikes of yore did (and some workers, like Chicago teachers, still can). But if done right, they can accomplish some of what those walkouts did: Embarrass companies, estrange them from their customers, and engage fellow workers and the broader public by disrupting business as usual and creating a public spectacle. Instead of halting production, they anchor broader campaigns of political, media, legal, and consumer pressure aimed at getting management to budge.

Wage theft too often going unpunished

Source: Albor Ruiz, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

For four years, Lino, 53, worked 13 hours a day, six days a week stocking shelves at Rosemary's Farm, a small grocery store in Flushing. His weekly salary was $350, that is, about $4.65 an hour. In October 2008 he was fired after protesting to his boss about his meager - and illegal - salary and filed a complaint at the Department of Labor. Six years have passed, and Lino is still waiting for justice.

November 23, 2014

Billion-dollar California salad company exploits undocumented migrants, say workers and Teamsters

Source: Rory Carroll, The Guardian

A half-dozen current and former workers interviewed by the Guardian alleged the company took advantage of undocumented migrants from Mexico and central America to keep workers on "temporary" status year after year, leaving them vulnerable to low pay, dangerous conditions, intimidation and summary firings.

November 22, 2014

In the run-up to Black Friday, Walmart and strikers wage a war of words

Source: Lydia DePillis, The Washington Post

In advance of coordinated strikes at Wal-Marts across the country on the day after Thanksgiving, a labor union-backed group is accusing the world's biggest retailer of driving its associates into starvation - and Wal-Mart is fighting back harder than ever, saying it's just providing low-cost groceries to the masses.

November 21, 2014

Why wage growth disparity tells the story of America's half-formed economic recovery

Source: Chico Harlan, The Washington Post

With unemployment down to 5.8 percent, the country's half-formed recovery is often described with a convenient shorthand: We have jobs but little wage growth. But stagnancy is just an average, and for many Americans, the years since the financial crisis have pushed them farther from the line, according to a detailed analysis of government labor statistics by The Washington Post.

Wal-Mart workers plan Black Friday protests for higher pay

Source: Shan Li, Los Angeles Times

Wal-Mart workers and their supporters plan to launch protests at stores across the country on Black Friday to push for higher wages and better working conditions for employees.
Organizers say rallies and marches will occur at 1,600 Wal-Mart locations on the day after Thanksgiving in what they say will be the largest protests ever against the nation's biggest retailer.

November 20, 2014

Southwest pilots union seeks mediation in contract talks

Source: Andrea Ahles, Star Telegram

The Southwest Airlines pilots union filed for federal mediators to intervene in its contract talks with the Dallas-based carrier Thursday.

The two sides have been negotiating a new contract for more than two years, and the union says they remain far apart on several issues

November 19, 2014

Atlantic City casino workers protest Trump Taj Mahal shutdown on boardwalk

Source: J.P. Sullivan, New Jersey

The facility is slated to close on Dec. 12 after going into bankruptcy earlier this year. Billionaire Carl Icahn has expressed interest in reopening the casino, but only if the facility can secure state and local tax breaks and concessions from the union.

Hartford Teachers Union Speaks Out Over 'Unrealistic' Goals

Source: Vanessa de la Torre, Hartford Courant

Federation President Andrea Johnson asked Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez to remove the "unrealistic" targets expected for students in the current school year, calling them "outrageous new demands." Teachers should be able to develop the goals for their students, she said.

Kmart Workers Are Latest to Push Back on Thanksgiving Hours

Source: Lauren Coleman-Lochner, Bloomberg Buisnessweek

Almost 5,000 people have signed a petition calling for Kmart to ensure that its workers have enough time off on Thanksgiving, part of a backlash against retailers that are open during the holiday.
"We understand that it is retail, and employees understand that they have to work hours on holidays," the campaign's organizer, Jillian Fisher, said on the website coworker.org. "However, Kmart's unnecessary hours are forcing its employees to miss out on important time with their families."

State Supreme Court will decide whether "right to work" covers state workers

Source: Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio

Four unions representing 35,000 state civil service workers filed the challenge. They say the right-to-work law does not apply to them because of the Michigan Constitution and the independent authority it gives the civil service system.

November 18, 2014

Mediator unable to revive negotiations in FairPoint strike

Source: http://www.pressherald.com/2014/11/18/talks-between-fairpoint-unions-fail/, Portland Press Herald

A federal mediator's attempt to spark renewed talks between FairPoint Communications and its striking workers fizzled Tuesday.
That failure means the next outside attempt at resolving the monthlong strike probably will come from the National Labor Relations Board, which is considering a complaint filed by the unions.

New data reveals it's not just high-tech companies using H-1B guest workers

Source: Matthew Yglesias, Vox

It's no surprise to see that California is the number one home state of companies looking to bring in foreign tech workers. But California's number one user of H-1B workers last year wasn't one of Silicon Valley's famous consumer facing tech giants. It's HCL America, not exactly a household name, which refers to itself as "a leading IT consulting and outsourcing software development company."

Fairpoint, Striking Workers Return to Table

Source: Associated Press, MPBNnews

FairPoint and the unions are at odds over a company-imposed contract that froze the old pension plan and requires workers to contribute to health care costs for the first time. Other provisions allow the company to hire contractors and eliminate retiree health care benefits for current workers.

November 17, 2014

Supreme Court to hear right-to-work arguments in Jan.

Source: Justin A. Hinkley, LansingStateJournal

The Michigan Supreme Court will in January hear oral arguments on whether the state's controversial right-to-work law applies to state employees and on another case related to state employee pensions.

Workers' rights expand under proposed S.F. ordinances

Source: Marisa Lagos and Jill Tucker, SFGate

San Francisco restaurant and retail workers could soon have more predictable schedules, more opportunity for full-time work and more rights in general after the Board of Supervisors' budget committee sent two proposed ordinances to the full board over the objections of the business community.

UPMC ordered to reinstate workers who tried to unionize employees

Source: Karen Kane, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

UPMC says it plans to appeal a legal finding that the health care giant violated federal labor law when it fired four employees who were involved in unionizing activities.
That finding, contained in a 120-page National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge's opinion, orders UPMC to put the employees back on the payroll within two weeks.

November 15, 2014

Southern California is hotbed for wage theft in garment industry

Source: Tiffany Hsu and Chris Kirkham, LA Times

Company time cards showed more than a dozen employees all clocked in within two minutes of one another - a telltale sign of payroll falsification, according to investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor. This spring, an investigation found that 15 employees were owed more than $33,000 for unpaid work.

November 14, 2014

Lawmakers are starting to talk about making New Mexico a right-to-work state

Source: Niraj Chokshi, Washington Post

Republicans control the New Mexico state legislature for the first time in 60 years, and lawmakers there are beginning to suggest they may use their new majority to restrict union power.

November 13, 2014

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti steps in to stop labor disruption, help curb congestion at Long Beach, Los Angeles ports

Source: Karen Robes Meeks, Los Angeles Daily News

Facing a potential labor disruption that would have further congested the nation's two busiest seaports, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday announced a truce between port truck drivers and one of the three trucking companies involved in the dispute.

No, 2016 Won't Be the Year of the $20 Minimum Wage

Source: Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg Buisnessweek

In the midterm elections, four red states-Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota-passed minimum wage increases. Those votes mean that, starting next year, a majority of states will have minimum wages higher than the federal rate. The last time that happened, in 2007, Democrats newly in control of Congress used their power to pass the first national increase in a decade, from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour. It's extremely unlikely the Republicans who took back the Senate in the midterm elections will do the same. "Waiting for Congress to act is frustrating and, at this point, pointless," says Ed Flanagan, a former Alaska labor commissioner who spent a year campaigning for his state's new increase, from $7.75 to $9.75.

November 12, 2014

Coal Mines Keep Operating Despite Injuries, Violations And Millions In Fines

Source: Howard Berkes, NPR

Citations and the fines that go with them are key components of the federal law designed to protect miners. They are supposed to make violations expensive - costing hundreds of thousands of dollars for the most serious offenses - and create an incentive for mine owners to keep workers safe.
Yet on that December day in 2010, as Blankenship lay pinned and in pain, Aracoma Alma owed $200,000 in overdue mine safety fines, federal records show. The penalty system that is designed to discourage unsafe practices failed Blankenship, and his story is not unique.

Hearing on increase in minimum wage for tipped workers Thursday

Source: TheBuffaloNews

Gov. Cuomo's Department of Labor Wage Board pulls into the Mahoney State Office Building from noon to 3 p.m. Thursday for the latest in a series of statewide public hearings to discuss an increase in the minimum wage for tipped workers.

VW to Allow Labor Groups to Represent Workers at Chattanooga Plant

Source: STEVEN GREENHOUSE, The New York Times

Volkswagen announced a new policy on Wednesday that was likely to allow several labor groups, including the United Automobile Workers, to represent employees at the company's Chattanooga, Tenn., plant.
The U.A.W. applauded the move because it would mean partial recognition of the union and regular discussions between management and the U.A.W., and perhaps other labor groups as well. For years, the union has been straining to get a foothold in any of the foreign-owned auto plants in the South.

A ton of people didn't vote because they couldn't get time off from work

Source: Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

You've heard the news by now that turnout in the 2014 midterms was the lowest in any election since 1942, when voters were busy with, you know, other stuff. In short, only 36 percent of the voting-age population bothered to cast a ballot last week. A large proportion of them simply aren't registered to vote at all. But past numbers suggest upwards of 20 percent of Americans adults were registered to vote, but couldn't be bothered to - what's their excuse¡

This Is How the Big Mac Is About to Change

Source: Martha C. White, Time

People made dire predictions about the fate of your favorite drive-thru indulgences. Last year, an article in Bloomberg Businessweek predicted that the price of a Big Mac would go up by a dollar if the minimum wage was raised to $15 an hour. (None of the state-level new minimum wage laws call for increasing it that much, but $15 is the number union-backed labor groups have been campaigning for.)

November 11, 2014

Corporate America's oily trick: How big business uses "yellow-dog contracts" to crush basic rights

Source: David Seligman and Nick Clark, Salon

This month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it is suing a regional restaurant group that owns a number of fast-food franchises, including Applebee's, Panera Bread and Chevy's, because the group requires all of its employees and applicants to sign a "forced arbitration" clause as a condition of employment – that is, if these employees want to work in the group's restaurants, they must sign away their right to hold their employer accountable in court for violating state or federal employment laws.

November 10, 2014

West Coast Dock Workers Strike Could Cost $2 Billion A Day

Source: Erik Anderson, KPBS

The 13,600 International Longshore and Warehouse Union members have been working under terms of an expired contract since May. The nation's retailers and manufacturers predict a strike could cost the U.S. economy $2 billion a day.

Supreme Court Weighs Case Over Cuts to Retirees' Health Benefits

Source: ADAM LIPTAK, New York Times

The case, M&G Polymers USA v. Tackett, No. 13-1010, concerned a union contract at a chemical plant in Apple Grove, W.Va. Like many other collective bargaining agreements, it did not directly say whether health benefits for retirees would vest.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, ruled for the retirees, relying on its own 1983 decision, one that put a thumb on the scale in favor of vesting. The 1983 decision, known as Yard-Man, was disavowed by lawyers on both sides of Monday's argument, and it did not seem popular with the justices, either.

November 9, 2014

The Rise of Invisible Unemployment

Source: Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

It's a problem best summed up by Matthew O'Brien in the Washington Post. As the labor market approaches full employment, there should be more pressure on wages to rise. In the graph below, that would look like a trend-line pointing up and to the left. Instead, as you can see in a half-a-second glance, the trend-line is a blob and it's certainly not pointing up. The unemployment rate has fallen below 6 percent, and earnings growth is flat.

Tipping point on tipping

Source: Lois Kazakoff, SFGate

My Chronicle colleague Paolo Lucchesi tapped a cultural nerve last month when he reported that five Bay Area restaurants would drop tipping in favor of a service charge. Is this the beginning of the end of a deeply ingrained American custom (and tax dodge) or a rational attempt to keep restaurant prices within reach and meet new minimum wage laws.

November 8, 2014

Hundreds of striking workers rally against FairPoint

Source: Sarah Delage, WCSH6

FairPoint workers from two unions have been on strike for more than three weeks now. They say the company offered them a bad contract with hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts that puts their jobs in jeopardy.
"I have lived in Maine my whole life, my children I'm raising in Cumberland, and the message here today is we need to keep good jobs in the state of Maine," Serina DeWolfe said. "It's that simple. No outsourcing, no subcontracting."

November 7, 2014

US economy fueling strong hiring if not pay gains


In the same week that voters signaled discontent with the U.S. economy, the government issued a report that showed employers have added at least 200,000 jobs for nine straight months - the longest such stretch since 1995.
The U.S. job market is hardly without its own weaknesses. Americans' average hourly pay rose only slightly last month, a negative note in an otherwise solid report. Stagnant wages have been a chronic weakness in the job market since the recession ended.

U.S. economy adds 214,000 in October; unemployment rate sinks to 5.8 percent

Source: Chico Harlan, Washington Post

The unemployment rate also ticked down to 5.8 percent, the lowest level in six years, even as more workers entered the job market.
The latest encouraging numbers keep the nation on pace for its best labor market year since 1999 and stand in noted contrast to a wave of discontent that helped Republicans sweep a round of midterm elections this week. Though wage growth has been sluggish in recent years, Americans - helped by falling oil prices - are seeing their purchasing power rise.

November 6, 2014

The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase's Worst Nightmare

Source: Matt Taibbi , Rolling Stone

Fleischmann is the central witness in one of the biggest cases of white-collar crime in American history, possessing secrets that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon late last year paid $9 billion (not $13 billion as regularly reported – more on that later) to keep the public from hearing.

Your Guide to Changing Paid Sick Leave Laws

Source: Karen E. Klein, Bloomberg Buisnessweek

So far, the new laws are in effect in just a handful of cities, starting with San Francisco in 2007, and the state of Connecticut. Earlier this year, New York City became the largest jurisdiction to implement mandatory sick leave, affecting more than 1 million people who previously had to forgo pay to stay home sick. An estimated 6.5 million workers will get the benefit of at least three paid sick days annually when California's mandate goes into effect in July 2015.

November 5, 2014

Google to offer FoundationOne cancer tests to employees

Source: Janelle Nanos, BetaBoston

Google will begin covering the cost of administering its FoundationOne and FoundationOne Heme tests to "all employees and their families navigating cancer treatments." The company's tests identify genetic mutations found in either cancerous solid tumors or cells affected by blood-related cancers like leukemia or lymphoma, and then identifies targeted drug therapies.

San Francisco votes in $15 minimum wage

Source: Ben Rooney, CNN

Under the new law, wages will rise to $11.05 on Jan.1, then $12.25 in May before increasing every year until they reach $15 in 2018. After that, increases will be tied to inflation in the Bay Area.
San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee applauded the result and said voters "sent a message loudly and clearly" that "we can take on the growing gap between rich and poor."

Low-wage workers applaud sick-time victory

Source: Katie Johnston, The Boston Globe

With the passage of the earned sick time ballot measure on Tuesday, these workers will no longer have to choose between taking care of themselves - or their children - and paying the bills. Nearly 1 million workers in the state who don't get sick time - including part-time and temporary employees - will start accruing an hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, starting July 1.

State's only approved initiative concerns teachers

Source: Associated Press, The Gazette

Proposition 104 will change the way teachers and school districts negotiate.
The measure won with nearly 70 percent of the vote, the only one of four ballot measures to be approved by voters.
It directs Colorado to join a handful of states in requiring school boards to allow the public to see negotiations on collective bargaining agreements, or union contracts.

November 4, 2014

Oregon Canvassers Workers Push for Unionization at Union-Funded Workplace

Source: Shane Burley, In These Times

The workers are from Fieldworks, one of the largest political canvassing businesses in Portland, Oregon, and the nation as a whole. Their complaints are familiar those made by campaign workers in a slew of organizing in recent months: a lack of transparency when it comes to direction, minimal say in workplace decisions, reports of wage theft and labor law non-compliance, a lack of a living wage.

Why Do Workers Feel So Unhappy¡

Source: Bourree Lam, The Atlantic

Research on worker happiness has linked it to 12 percent more productivity, and businesses with happy employees beat their peers by 3.8 percent in the stock market. A Gallup report tallies up the cost of unhappy, disengaged employees to the U.S. economy at $350 billion annually due to lost productivity.

November 3, 2014

In States Voting on Minimum Wage, Even Critics Sound Like Supporters

Source: Steve Greenhouse, New York Times

"These groups have noticed that minimum-wage increases can easily pass - they have seen this in the past few years," said John G. Matsusaka, executive director of the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California. "They can't get it through the legislatures in these red states, so they do it this way."

November 2, 2014

More employees are in workplace retirement plans

Source: Diane Stafford, TheDetroitNews

Among all Americans, Census data indicates that slightly more than half - 51.3 percent - worked last year for an employer or union that sponsored retirement plans. The 40.8 percent participation rate shows that three out of four wage and salary workers chose to participate in their employment-based retirement plan.

October 31, 2014

"Working full-time and yet still needing public benefits": Leading expert urges McDonald's to come to the table

Source: Elias Isquith, Salon

We've had a [fast-food workers] campaign that's been going for almost two years. The central demands of the campaign are for an increase in wages, up to $15 an hour, and for a union…Part of the reason, in my view, that the campaign has gotten so much attention is that it's raising issues that are pretty central to our economy and our society: wages, jobs, the future of the labor movement; all in some ways going to a broader theme of equality.

Meet The Working Mother Taking Her Pregnancy Discrimination Case To The Supreme Court

Source: Dave Jamieson, HuffingtonPost

Based on the doctor's note, UPS placed Young on unpaid leave, an all too common experience for women nationwide. Although UPS often put workers with other conditions on light duty, it told Young that such accommodations wouldn't apply to an "off-the-job" condition such as her pregnancy. Not only would she lose her income, she would have to suddenly switch to her husband's health insurance plan, changing the hospitals at which she could potentially give birth.

October 30, 2014

Has the National Labor Relations Board opened 'Pandora's Box'¡

Source: Ned Resnikoff, MSNBC

The NLRB's decision was a victory for the Fight For 15 movement of striking fast food workers and the labor groups that back them. By potentially making corporations like McDonald's legally liable for the workplace conditions at its franchised locations, the NLRB has made it possible for the labor movement to exert direct legal pressure on them. In Caldeira's words, "the floodgates have opened because of the general counsel's opinion."

San Francisco to raise minimum wage to $11.05 per hour

Source: Daniel Wallis , Reuters

"Our residents deserve to be able to live where they work and support their families," Kim said in a joint statement with Lee. California, which is one of 21 states with a higher minimum wage than the federal level of $7.25 per hour, recently hiked its statewide hourly minimum rate to $9, from $8 previously. The statewide rate is scheduled to climb to $10 in 2016.

Election Day Could Bring Raises To 680,000 Low-Wage Workers

Source: Ben Casselman, FiveThirtyEightPolitics

Beyond politics, however, Tuesday's votes carry real-world implications for hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers. If all five initiatives pass, and if the Illinois legislature acts in accordance with voters' wishes, about 680,000 workers would get a raise, according to data from the Current Population Survey.

Robert J. Samuelson: Wages stay stagnate as workers fear switching or losing jobs

Source: Robert J. Samuelson, Deseret News

Workers are so insecure that they're afraid to abandon their present jobs for something better; therefore, companies don't have to pay higher wages to retain them. Not surprisingly, labor compensation - wages and fringe benefits - has barely kept pace with inflation at about 2 percent annually since mid-2009.

Chipotle workers say they work extra hours for no pay

Source: Ben Rooney, ABC

The class-action lawsuits filed in Colorado and Minnesota in the last two months allege that Chipotle routinely requires its hourly employees to work "off the clock" without pay.

October 29, 2014

Warning about your right to sue: How you could be giving that up and not know it.

Source: Jonathan Walsh , ABC

Companies say that binding arbitration can make it easier and less costly for both sides to settle disputes. But, there are concerns that giving up the right to sue can deprive consumers of an important legal protection.

With Supreme Court case pending, UPS reverses policy on pregnant workers

Source: Brigid Schulte, The Washington Post

For years, as the Young case has wound its way through federal district and circuit courts, UPS has maintained that, under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it is legal to only give light duty or other work accommodations to employees injured on the job. And though pregnant workers may temporarily be sidelined from physically demanding jobs with pregnancy-related back trouble, gestational diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome and other physical ailments, those injuries didn't happen on the job. So no light duty.

October 28, 2014

Suit seeks minimum wage for student athletes

Source: Sara Ganim, WBalTV

"Work-study participants who sell programs or usher at athletic events are paid, on average, $9.03 an hour," states the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Indiana. "But student athletes whose performance creates such student jobs in the athletic department are paid nothing."

Jimmy John's workers fight for a union

Source: Rachel Cohen, City Paper

On Aug. 9, with support from the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a radical union founded in 1905 that gained a reputation for organizing across class, race, gender, and occupational lines, Baltimore Jimmy John's workers presented their list of demands to management, which included one paid sick day per month, a transparent disciplinary system for both workers and managers, and wage parity with their landlord, the Hilton, that has unionized employees making between $10.75-$13 per hour. Wages at Jimmy John's hover around $7.25.

October 27, 2014

What's a 'Living Wage' in Wisconsin¡

Source: Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg Buisnessweek

At issue is unusual language in Wisconsin's century-old minimum wage statute. Rather than just establishing a wage floor, a 1913 law also states that the wage should be "a living wage," and it allows Wisconsinites to bring complaints to the state Department of Workforce Development if they believe it falls short. The executive branch then has the authority to appoint a wage council to address the issue, or even to raise the wage floor itself, subject to legislative review.

Is your boss making you sick¡

Source: Rebecca Shannonhouse, Washington Post

"The evidence is clear that the leadership qualities of 'bad' bosses over time exert a heavy toll on employees' health," says Jonathan D. Quick, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and a co-author of the book "Preventive Stress Management in Organizations." "The evidence is also clear that despite the rationalizations some leaders may use to defend their stress-inducing, unsupportive style, such behavior by leaders does not contribute to improved individual performance or organizational productivity."

October 24, 2014

"Hot goods'" hot mess: Minimum wage crackdown sparks backlash

Source: Bridget Huber, Fairwarning

At issue is the little-known "hot goods" provision of federal wage law. It allows the government to halt shipments of goods produced in violation of employment standards. The weapon has been used mainly to combat minimum wage and overtime pay abuses by garment makers but, under President Obama, federal officials have invoked the hot goods provision against farm owners somewhat more often than earlier administrations.

October 23, 2014

California cracks down on wage theft by employers

Source: Marc Lifsher, LA Times

Wage theft is a major part of California's so-called underground economy. The widespread phenomenon, experts say, involves cash payments for goods, services and labor that deprives the state and local governments of an estimated $7 billion a year in tax revenue, according to 2011 legislative research report.

How Fedex is trying to save the business model that saved it millions

Source: Lydia DePillis, The Washington Post

It may seem bizarre in a free-market economy that two people with nearly identical positions would receive starkly different pay and benefits. But it's actually not such a mystery: Brumfield doesn't actually work for FedEx. Brumfield, like 26 other drivers, works for Ride On Trucking, an independent business that contracts with FedEx to deliver packages. He has to comply with all the provisions Ride On Trucking agrees to with FedEx - such as passing a background check and delivering packages within a certain time window - but the company doesn't offer the same wages or benefits that he thinks that FedEx pays its own drivers, who work for its overnight Express division.

Henderson subcontractor ordered to pay back wages

Source: Jennifer Robinson, LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

The U.S. Department of Labor said Wednesday that it ordered Proimtu Mmi-Nv LLC to pay $1.91 million in unpaid wages and fringe benefits owed from June 2013 through April. The department said the company violated prevailing-wage laws for the majority of its employees working at Crescent Dunes, a 110-megawatt solar-power plant under construction near Tonopah that is backed by a $737 million federal loan guarantee.

One-Third of Top Websites Restrict Customers' Right to Sue

Source: Jeremy B. Merrill, The New York Times

These legal provisions, known as forced arbitration clauses and class-action ban clauses, have long been included in complex offline contracts like car leases. But their presence online - in documents people rarely see, let alone read - offers a new twist, with consequences for consumers that are still being sorted out by the courts. As more of everyday life moves online, companies are effectively creating rules that experts and activists say tilt the playing field away from the consumer.

Union files charges claiming unfair labor practices in Lebanon lockout

Source: Chelsey Levingston, Dayton Daily News

The auto parts supplier and United Auto Workers have so far failed to agree on a new labor agreement that determines wages, benefits and seniority. Employees have picketed in front of the manufacturing plant on Kingsview Drive around-the-clock in shifts since June.

October 22, 2014

Jimmy John's under fire for worker contracts

Source: Ben Rooney , CNN

The Huffington Post first reported last week that the sandwich chain requires hourly workers to sign non compete agreements that would prohibit them from working at any other restaurant that sells sandwiches or has a location within three miles of a Jimmy John's for a period of two years.

Workers paid $1.21 an hour to install Fremont tech company's computers

Source: George Avalos, San Jose Mercury News

The incident is a reminder that even amid a labor market that has boomed in recent years in Silicon Valley and other parts of the Bay Area, income inequality and payments of relatively low wages can still be a problem for workers in the region. The workers were paid in Indian rupees.

Can a Firm's Partners Also Be Its Employees¡

Source: Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg Buisnessweek

The accountants lobby is making a rather counterintuitive argument: Partners by definition aren't "employees," so the EEOC shouldn't concern itself with whether firms require them to retire. Partners at accounting firms "control their own work and own and control a portion of their firms," AICPA President Barry Melancon wrote, and so they don't qualify for the same anti-discrimination protections. The letter also argues that retirement rules "allow for the predictable progression of lesser tenured, and often more diverse, individuals into the partnership." In other words, protecting old white guys from forced retirement will leave the ranks of partners less diverse.

October 21, 2014

Maryland Live! employees want minimum wage for training course

Source: Legal Newsline Staff, Washington Examiner

Employees are suing PPE Casino Resorts Maryland LLC for failing to pay them minimum wage during a 12-week training course that they say was disguised as a school and not a work-training program.

October 20, 2014

Schools open after tentative agreement in strike

Source: Associated Press, Times Union

Schools are open in South Burlington, Vermont, after a mediator says teachers and the school board have reached a tentative agreement following a four-day strike.

October 17, 2014

Minnesota adds 7,200 jobs, adding to employment rally

Source: Adam Belz, Duluth News Tribune

Combined with an upward revision to an already robust August report, the state's gain of 7,200 positions in September brings net job growth to 23,000 this year, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Can Uber Fire Drivers for Tweeting About Uber¡

Source: Josh Eidelson, Business Week

"The Ortiz fracas threatened to bring Uber more bad press, but the fact remains that Uber drivers-like many truck drivers and taxi drivers-don't have much else by way of recourse. Because they are independent contractors, not employees, they aren't covered by the 1935 National Labor Relations Act. (Sometimes, as in a case this month at FedEx Ground (FDX), the National Labor Relations Board has sided with workers who say that under law they're actually employees, and not contractors as their companies had claimed.) While independent contractors-from fashion models in New York to Uber drivers in California-have banded together to try to improve their working conditions, they're doing it without the legal protections designed to shield other U.S. workers."

Where the minimum wage stands in each state and how it could change on Nov. 4

Source: Niraj Chokshi, Washington Post

"Even without voter approval or further legislative action, the minimum wage is set to change in at least a dozen states and D.C. over the next few years. Four states will see their minimum wages rise to at least $9 an hour early next year, joining Washington, Oregon and California. By early 2016, two states - Massachusetts and California - will breach a $10-minimum-wage mark. By early 2017, Massachusetts will have an $11 minimum wage."

Does the wage gap hurt women's retirement¡ Maybe

Source: Linsy Hunsaker, Deseret News

"Even though women set aside more of their income, men still end up with more. The report showed an average of $121,201 in male accounts and $78,007 in female accounts. The median account balances of both men and women had a disparity of almost $10,000."

October 16, 2014

FedEx Ground Says Its Drivers Aren't Employees. The Courts Will Decide

Source: Josh Eidelson , Bloomberg Buisnessweek

FedEx Ground didn't pay overtime or contribute to Scalercio's Social Security benefits. That's because since acquiring RPS and introducing its ground service, the FedEx unit has treated drivers as independent contractors, not employees. "The saying around the building was, 'It's their sandbox. We only get to play in it,' " says Scalercio, who no longer drives for FedEx Ground but is one of hundreds of current and former drivers suing the FedEx subsidiary, seeking back pay for overtime worked and for paycheck deductions. (The parent company is not a defendant.)Scalercio earned about $90,000 a year from FedEx, he says, but 40 percent to 60 percent of that was lost to deductions and truck expenses.

You know there's something wrong with the economy when sandwich-makers have non-compete clauses

Source: Matt O'Brien, Washington Post

"This, to use a technical term, is nuts. Non-compete clauses, after all, are usually reserved for top executives who really could take sensitive information-and not how to put together a sub-to a rival. Or at least they used to be."

New York attorney general to sue Papa John's franchisee for shorting wages

Source: Dareh Gregorian, New York Daily News

"Eric Schneiderman will file the $2 million suit Thursday against franchisee New Majority Holdings, which operates five pizzerias in Manhattan, for shorting more than 400 workers out money earned, leaving some earing as little as $5 an hour."

Minimum wage fight moves from Capitol Hill to state and local ballots

Source: Joseph Lawler , Washington Examiner

Five states and two major cities will have minimum wage increases on the ballot on Nov. 4, adding to the 10 states and several big cities that already have raised the wage floor this year.

October 15, 2014

Hubway should extend do-good efforts to its workers

Source: Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe

"But not feeling so good about their Hubway experience are its very own workers. A simmering cauldron of grumbles and grievances led to 30 out of 39 Hubway employees signing authorization cards last week to join the Transport Workers Union Local 100 in New York City. The workers complain of unpredictable and disruptive last-minute scheduling, being told they're not needed after being called in, too many repairs for too few mechanics, unsafe rental vans when the company vans are out of service, and $15 wages that often seem low given the precision, organization, and safety required in some of the company's jobs."

America's fastest-growing profession is joining a very public fight for higher wages

Source: Lydia DePillis, The Washington Post

"Knowing what a difference higher pay can make, Reece has joined a new movement launching this week to raise wages and improve workplace protections for home health-care aides nationwide. Backed by the Service Employees International Union, the effort seeks to replicate the "Fight for 15," a push earlier this year to raise the income of fast-food workers through high-profile strikes."

October 14, 2014

Should home care workers who are not members of the union have to pay any dues¡ Supreme Court said no

Source: Adam Belz , Star Tribune

"It was a 5-4 decision, and it has big implications for Minnesota, where home care workers voted to organize in August. About 27,000 will be part of the bargaining unit, but far fewer than that will be members of the union, so whether the union can collect money from nonmembers is an important determiner in how powerful it will be."

October 7, 2014

Bloomingfoods' Workers, Member-Owners, Rally In Support Of Worker Rights

Source: Associated Press, WBIW

Workers and member-owners from Bloomington's largest grocery cooperative, Bloomingfoods, will rally and march today, in support of Bloomingfoods workers' right to choose a union voice at work through a free and fair process.
They will then march to the co-op board of directors' meeting, where workers' and co-op member-owners will ask the Bloomingfoods' board to respect their workers' choices.

October 6, 2014

Hubway Workers Seeking Union Representation

Source: Adam Vaccaro, Boston.com

Hubway workers are looking to join the same New York-based union, citing the familiarity it already has developed with Alta and bike sharing in general, but would be independently represented.

October 3, 2014

US Labor Department Signs Agreement With Alabama Labor Department To Reduce Misclassification Of Employees

Source: Associated Press, Insurance News

Officials of the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division and the Alabama Department of Labor today signed a memorandum of understanding to protect the rights of employees by preventing their misclassification as something other than employees, such as independent contractors.

Supreme Court to consider workers' rights to sue 401(k) plans

Source: Bloomberg News, Investment News

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider giving 401(k) participants more power to sue their plans over investments that impose excessive fees, accepting an appeal tied to a wave of suits against employers.

Justices Weighing Wages for After-Work Screenings

Source: Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times

After his 12-hour shifts at an Amazon warehouse in Las Vegas, Jesse Busk says, he and 200 other workers typically waited in line for 25 minutes to undergo a security check to see whether they had stolen any goods.

October 2, 2014

Even as some minimum wages increase, Maryland activists call for more sooner

Source: Jenna Johnson, The Washington Post

As a group of Montgomery County politicians gathered Wednesday in Silver Spring to celebrate a minimum-wage increase for many local workers, advocates for the working poor and labor representatives quickly reminded them that their victory is not complete.

Labor commissioner files racial discrimination complaint against Daimler

Source: Bob Heye, KATU Portland News

PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon's labor commissioner says he's decided to file a discrimination complaint against Daimler Trucks North America because an initial investigation shows it's likely five workers at the company's Swan Island plant were subjected to racial harassment.

Port Chester restaurant boss arrested for labor abuses

Source: Ernie Garcia, The Journal News

If convicted, Parto faces a maximum jail term of one year and fines of $5,000 for each count, plus restitution to five employees, who include cooks, cleaners and cashiers.

The employees sometimes worked more than 70 hours a week between 2010 and 2014, according to Schneiderman's office.

October 1, 2014

Field worker sexual harassment bill becomes law

Source: Rhys Heyden, Santa Maria Sun

On Sept. 28, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 1087 into law. The bill seeks to curb what some people say is an epidemic of sexual harassment and violence among the state's field workers.

US issues final minimum wage rule for contractors

Source: Associated Press, The Washington Post

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez issued a final rule on Wednesday raising the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors to $10.10 an hour.

September 30, 2014

Colorado high court considers pot firing case

Source: Associated Press, The Washington Post

Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic medical marijuana patient who was fired by the Dish Network after failing a drug test more than four years ago, says he still can't find steady work because employers are wary of his off-duty smoking.

Workers laid off at Osram Sylvania in Central Falls may receive help, including wage subsidy, from state

Source: Alisha A. Pina, The Providence Journal

More than 70 laid-off Osram Sylvania workers are getting transitional help from the state Department of Labor and Training that could lead to a job search allowance and a wage subsidy to cover the difference between a new and old salary.

September 29, 2014

New law makes companies liable for contracted labor

Source: Allen Young, The Sacramento Business Journal

Employers that outsource labor to staffing agencies can now be held responsible for certain worker violations by that agency, under a law approved over the weekend by Gov. Jerry Brown. Those violations include worker's compensation coverage and health and safety laws.

September 28, 2014

Hyatt should take page from Derek Jeter's playbook

Source: Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe

Here's the other thing I'll remember about Jeter: When he came to Boston for a series, he would walk around the visitor's clubhouse at Fenway and hand out $100 bills to the workers. To everybody. Including the kids who worked the clubhouse. That's just how he rolled.

September 26, 2014

Labor Rights for Home Care Workers

Source: The Editorial Board, The New York Times

A new rule that will give home care workers basic labor protections is supposed to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. But several states are pushing for delay, saying they need more time to work through how the rule will affect their Medicaid programs, which pay many home care bills.

The states have had enough time. The Obama administration, however, appears to be seriously considering a delay of the rule, which should have been put in place long ago.

September 25, 2014

Undocumented workers reporting more wage theft cases to Clearwater police

Source: Laura C. Morel, Tampa Bay Times

Within the past three months, the Clearwater Police Department has received nearly a dozen reports of undocumented workers accusing their employers of withholding wages ranging from $400 to $1,200.

US Says Transgender Workers Illegally Fired

Source: Associated Press, ABC News

A Michigan funeral home and a Florida eye clinic illegally fired employees because they're transgender, a federal agency alleged Thursday in two lawsuits.

September 23, 2014

OSHA Will Put Workplace Safety Data Online as 'Nudge' to Employers

Source: Josh Eidelson, Business Week

Starting in January, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will require employers to notify the government within 24 hours every time someone loses an eye, suffers an amputation, or gets admitted to the hospital with an injury sustained at work. The agency estimates that tens of thousands of injuries go unreported. "Workplace injuries and fatalities are absolutely preventable," Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in early September. "These new requirements will help OSHA focus its resources and hold employers accountable for preventing them."

September 22, 2014

DSW Will Pay $900,000 Former Workers To Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Source: Mary Beth Quirk, The Consumerist

Shoe retailer DSW is on the line for $900,000 after agreeing to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by former employees, who said the company fired older workers just because of their ages. And if other employees refused to fire workers based on their age, the plaintiffs claimed DWS retaliated against them as well.

Workers sue Orange Park Medical Center

Source: Scott Johnson, News 4 Jacksonville

In lawsuits filed in federal court Friday and Monday against OPMC and its parent company, HCA South Atlantic, a doctor, a registered nurse and a a nurse practitioner allege the untimely deaths of patients, widespread medical malpractice, race-based discrimination and even false imprisonment.

Sick leave measure divides workers, businesses

Source: Akilah Johnson, Boston Globe

"Earned sick time is going to be on the ballot this coming November, Question No. 4. For every 30 hours a worker works, they earn an hour of sick time," DiMauro began, as his vote
canvassing partner, Maria Fortes, looked on. "That would be . . . important, right¡" he asked.

September 21, 2014

A Capstone in a Career Spent Fighting for the Rights of Domestic Workers

Source: Rachel L. Swarns, The New York Times

Just after midnight on Wednesday, the news finally broke: Ms. Poo had won a 2014 MacArthur "genius" grant. The fellowships, presented by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, come with a stipend of $625,000 and are among the nation's most prestigious prizes for artists, scholars and professionals.

Within minutes, the calls, texts, emails and tweets started pouring in. "It was wonderful and overwhelming," said Ms. Poo, 40, who got her start as a volunteer working with immigrant women on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

UAW Workers in Indiana Approve Lear Corp. Contract

Source: Associated Press, ABC News

Workers at a Lear Corp. plant in northwestern Indiana that makes automotive seats approved an agreement Sunday that will end a two-tiered pay system that left some workers earning much less than others.

Idaho's minimum wage only half of livable wage

Source: Associated Press, Idaho Statesman

Single people in Idaho earn half of what is considered a livable wage, while households with children tend to face even more economical challenges, according to a new study.

September 17, 2014

American Airlines customer-service agents OK union

Source: David Koenig, USA Today

Customer-service agents at American Airlines voted overwhelmingly for union representation, reversing a narrow defeat for organized labor less than two years ago.

EXCLUSIVE: Dozens of Kennedy Airport workers strike as struggle to unionize escalates

Source: Barry Paddock & Rich Schapiro, New York Daily News

The striking baggage handlers, skycaps and wheelchair attendants - all employees of Alstate Maintenance - claim their employer has engaged in unfair labor practices by harassing and threatening workers, spying on them and banning them from wearing pro-union caps and buttons.

The workers also claim that Alstate managers have threatened to punish them because of their support for SEIU Local 32BJ and offered to reward those who cut ties with the union.

September 16, 2014

Low-wage Phila. airport workers plan Wednesday rally

Source: Linda Loyd, Philly.com

Low-wage workers at Philadelphia International Airport, who are employed by airline and airport subcontractors, will rally Wednesday morning to demand that their employers, Prospect Airport Services and PrimeFlight Aviation Services, pay them the $10.88 an hour wage approved by Philadelphia voters in May as well as the right to form a labor union without interference.

Without contract for months, nursing home workers strike in Jersey City, Union City

Source: Patrick McGovern, The Jersey Journal

Front line workers at the nursing homes, including certified nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses have been without a contract for more than five months. According to Bryn Lloyd-Bollard, spokesperson for 1199 SEIU, Alaris has committed unfair labor practices during negotiations for a new contract.

September 15, 2014

US Labor Board Orders CNN to Rehire Fired Workers

Source: Tom Raum, ABC News

The National Labor Relations Board ruled against the CNN cable television network on Monday in an 11-year-old labor dispute, ordering the network to rehire or compensate about 300 former workers.

Workers strike Lear plant in Hammond, Indiana

Source: Charles D. Wilson, Detroit Free Press

Hundreds of workers protesting what some are calling fast-food-like wages walked off the job Saturday at a Lear Corp. plant in northwest Indiana that makes automotive seats, beginning a strike that could affect a major Ford assembly plant in Chicago.

September 14, 2014

Workzone: Whistle-blower obstacles growing

Source: Deborah M. Todd, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As a managing director and chief enterprise officer for Countrywide Financial Corp. in 2005, Michael Winston raised the company profile for leadership development, implemented programs designed to hone executive skills and organize succession plans. His efforts were rewarded with two promotions in his first 15 months on the job.

By the end of 2006, after Mr. Winston reported to the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration that employees were getting sick from a potential contamination inside of the Countrywide building and after he told ratings agencies that the company went through a six-month period without an acting CEO, Mr. Winston's experience took a drastic downturn.

September 11, 2014

Lawmakers to High Court: Protect Pregnant Workers

Source: Hope Yen, ABC News

In a friend-of-the-court brief, the Democratic lawmakers - 99 from the House, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and 24 senators - said UPS delivery driver Peggy Young of Lorton, Virginia, was unfairly treated by her employer when it asked her to take unpaid maternity leave rather than provide a less strenuous position as her doctors advised.

Metro Transit workers reject wage freeze

Source: Mike Lindblom, The Seattle Times

ing County Metro Transit workers have overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer that would have frozen wages for 2014 and 2015, followed by an inflation-indexed raise in 2016.

Rail union rejects deal that allowed one-man crews

Source: AP, The Washington Post

A railroad union has rejected a deal with BNSF that would have allowed one-person crews on as much as 60 percent of its tracks.

September 10, 2014

California to mandate paid sick leave under new law

Source: Sharon Bernstein, Reuters

California businesses will have to provide paid sick leave to most employees under a bill signed on Wednesday by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, the latest move to aid low-income workers in the most populous U.S. state.

September 9, 2014

Police and fire unions sue City of Indianapolis over alleged contract violations

Source: Liz Gelardi, Fox Local News

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 9, 2014) – The men and women who protect and serve the Circle City are caught up in a battle over health insurance. The city's police and fire unions filed lawsuits against the city over changes to health insurance plans. Lawyers for the unions accuse city officials of violating union contracts.

David Letterman Sued By Former Intern For Violating Labor Laws, Class Action Lawsuit Seeks Backpay

Source: Barbara Herman, The International Business Times

Among the top 10 reasons to work for David Letterman, it seems getting paid isn't one of them.

So says Mallory Musallam, a former unpaid intern at "The Late Show With David Letterman," who has filed a class-action suit against CBS and Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants, according to the Los Angeles Times. According to Deadline, she's also suing on behalf of everyone who has ever been an intern on the show. The suit alleges that the production violated minimum-wage and overtime laws.

Lawsuit: Company fired man for not handing over medical records

Source: Julie Wernau, The Chicago Tribune

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suit on behalf of a Minneapolis man who says his employer asked him to disclose all of his private medical information as part of his office job and then fired him when he refused to hand it over.

When Employees Knock Their Bosses on Social Media

Source: Adriana Gardella, The New York Times

With the rise of social media, many business owners have sought to control what their employees post on the various social networks. But as the owners of Triple Play Sports Bar and Grille in Watertown, Conn., learned during recent litigation, employers may have less authority than they think.

September 7, 2014

Some Retail Workers Find Better Deals With Unions

Source: Rachel L. Swarns, The New York Times

By now, the hardships endured by retail workers at clothing stores across New York City are achingly familiar: the frantic scramble to get assigned enough hours to earn a living on painfully low wages; the ever-changing, on-call schedules that upend child care arrangements, college schedules and desperate efforts to find second jobs.

September 6, 2014

TGI Fridays served with class-action lawsuit

Source: AP, Business Management Daily

The suit, filed in federal court in New York, alleges the restaurant requires tipped employees to arrive early and stay at work after the restaurant closes without properly compensating them. Additionally, it alleges the restaurant uses its centralized timekeeping system to shave time off employees' time cards.

Just 13, and Working Risky 12-Hour Shifts in the Tobacco Fields

Source: Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times

On many mornings, as tobacco plants tower around her, Saray Cambray Alvarez pulls a black plastic garbage bag over her 13-year-old body to protect her skin from leaves dripping with nicotine-tinged dew.

Los Angeles loses discrimination cases but workers escape discipline

Source: Mike Reicher, Los Angeles Daily News

Perez, according to one employee, said "I hate all white people" as he described a conflict with a past boss.

Everyone turned to the only white gardener in the room, James Duffy.

September 5, 2014

'Retail Workers Bill of Rights' gains traction in S.F.

Source: Marisa Lagos, San Francisco Gate

The proposed "Retail Workers Bill of Rights" for hourly employees in San Francisco aims to provide benefits similar to those enjoyed by staff at the Zazie restaurant in Cole Valley.

No class-action suit for Darden restaurant staff, U.S. judge rules

Source: Barbara Liston, Reuters

A U.S. judge has ruled that food servers and bartenders employed by Darden Restaurants Inc, which owns chains including Olive Garden, the Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse, cannot sue the company as a group for alleged wage violations.

September 4, 2014

Wal-Mart workers say self-defense got them fired

Source: Lindsay Whitehurst, USA Today

A group of fired Wal-Mart workers is fighting a store policy they say leaves them powerless to defend themselves even if their lives are at risk.

Right-to-work law: Now in the hands of Indiana Supreme Court

Source: Barb Berggoetz, Indy Star

The battle over Indiana's controversial right-to-work law is now in the hands of five Indiana Supreme Court justices who heard arguments Thursday to try to convince them to uphold it or to declare it unconstitutional.

Why You Should Always Tip Your Waitress

Source: Lucia Graves, The National Journal

A new analysis finds eliminating the "tipped minimum wage" would reduce poverty rates and narrow the wage gap.

Judge: Michigan teachers can exit union anytime

Source: David Eggert, The Washington Post

Michigan's largest teachers' union should allow members to resign at any time and stop enforcing an annual one-month opt-out window, a state labor judge ruled, relying on the state's right-to-work law that took effect last year.

UPDATE 4-U.S. fast-food workers protest over pay, hundreds arrested

Source: Barbara Goldberg & Lisa Baertlein, Reuters

U.S. fast-food workers staged protests in some 150 cities on Thursday in a fight for higher pay, and organizers said more than 450 were arrested from Manhattan's Times Square to Los Angeles.

September 3, 2014

Federal Appeals Court Certifies Class Action Against Allstate Insurance Company in Wage Case That Could Exceed $200 Million Dollars

Source: CNN

In a stunning defeat for Allstate Insurance Company, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 16 page ruling that a class action lawsuit involving 800 Allstate employees in California who alleged that Allstate had a practice or unofficial policy of requiring its claim adjusters to work unpaid off-the-clock overtime in violation of California law may move forward.

Minimum wage hike would face exemptions

Source: Sebastian Kitchen, The Courier-Journal

As they debate a proposed increase in the local minimum wage, Louisville Metro Council members will likely approve exemptions as they work toward boosting minimum wage for most workers to $10.10 an hour.

Three things labor needs to do to thrive

Source: Coco Soodek & Phil Fahim, Crain's Chicago Business

Look, we need labor unions. You and I do better in every way when unions are strong. Take a look at this chart. When union membership goes down, your income shrinks. Why? Because unions push back.

Market Basket Shows Power Of Organized Labor Without Unions

Source: Curt Nickisch, WBUR

"This company never needed, or ever will need, a union," said operations supervisor Joe Schmidt outside Market Basket headquarters in Tewksbury. "We're far stronger than that."

September 2, 2014

Obama calls for a higher minimum wage

Source: Aljazera America

President Barack Obama renewed his push for Congress to raise the minimum wage on Monday in a buoyant accounting of the economy's "revving" performance, delivered on behalf of Democrats opening their fall campaigns for the midterm congressional elections.

L.A. mayor proposes $13.25 minimum wage

Source: William M. Welch, USA Today

Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed Monday that the city gradually raise the minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017, up from the current $9 an hour.

August 31, 2014

More Workers Are Claiming 'Wage Theft'

Source: Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times

The lawsuit is part of a flood of recent cases - brought in California and across the nation - that accuse employers of violating minimum wage and overtime laws, erasing work hours and wrongfully taking employees' tips. Worker advocates call these practices "wage theft," insisting it has become far too prevalent.

July 31, 2014

NLRB dismisses unions' complaints regarding Convention Center

Source: Jane M. Von Bergen, Philly.com

Saying it had no jurisdiction to handle the case, the National Labor Relations Board dismissed two complaints filed by members of Teamsters Local 107 against their union leaders, accusing them of failing to protect their work at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Wisconsin Court Upholds Law Curbing Unions' Rights

Source: Mark Peters and Caroline Porter, The Wall Street Journal

Wisconsin's highest court upheld a law ending most collective-bargaining rights for government employees in the state, a blow for public-sector unions that have been stymied in their efforts to reverse the controversial measure championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Fast-food chains go to war with labor board

Source: Benjamin Goad, The Hill

The NLRB's finding that McDonald's has joint employer status, along with its franchisees, over the chain's thousands of workers could expose the company to claims from workers who say their labor rights have been violated.

July 30, 2014

Met Opera Employees Facing Unemployment Rally Together

Source: Mallika Rao, The New York Times

In a letter sent to the Met's unionized workers last week, Gelb proposed the first salary cut in decades, a 16 percent reduction in total pay across the board. Employees were also informed that if a lockout takes place on August 1, they will be dropped from the Met's health care policy.

Obama Expected To Sign Executive Order On Federal Contractor Workplace Conditions

Source: Sam Stein, The Huffington Post

President Barack Obama is expected to sign an executive order Thursday requiring companies seeking federal contracts to disclose any labor violations and giving federal agencies new guidance on how to consider those violations when awarding contracts, a White House official said.

McDonald's could be liable for labor practices

Source: Associated Press, Politico

The National Labor Relations Board said Tuesday that the world's biggest hamburger chain could be named as a joint employer in several complaints regarding worker rights at franchise-owned restaurants.

July 29, 2014

Unpaid Interns Get Covered: New York State Protects Them From Discrimination And Harassment

Source: Michael Stevens and Karen S. Vladeck, Mondaq News Alert

On July 22, 2014, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill (A08201) into law preventing employers from discriminating against unpaid interns on the bases of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, religion, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status, or status as a victim of domestic violence.

Higher Minimum Wage, Faster Job Creation

Source: Teresa Tritch, The New York Times

Bolstering what we already know, new evidence shows that job creation is faster in states that have raised their minimum wages.

Federal contractors strike, call on Obama to do more

Source: Ned Resnikoff, MSNBC.com

Organizers say that more than 200 workers are expected to walk off the job at 9 a.m., including workers at the Ronald Reagan Building, the Pentagon, the Air and Space Museum, and the National Zoo. These workers, who will be joined in a solidarity rally by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and an interfaith group of clergy members, are demanding that President Obama take executive action to improve working conditions at companies that hold contracts with the federal government.

July 28, 2014

Labor board orders L.A. Council to rescind pension cuts for workers

Source: David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times

The Employee Relations Board voted unanimously Monday to order the City Council to rescind a 2012 law scaling back pension benefits for new employees of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, on the grounds that the changes were not properly negotiated.

Business groups alarmed by rise of 'micro-unions' in workplace

Source: Tim Devaney, The Hill

Business groups are sounding the alarm over decisions from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that they say would make it easier for small groups of people to create "micro-unions" in the workplace.

EEOC sues employer for demanding health care details for worker absences

Source: Judy Greenwald, BusinessInsurance.com

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suit against a Pennsylvania construction equipment supplier, charging that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by improperly demanding disability-related information from its workers and subjecting them to progressive disciplinary measures if they refused to comply.

July 27, 2014

Fast-Food Workers Intensify Fight for $15 an Hour

Source: Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times

The two-day convention, with 150 tables spread across the expo center's floor, highlighted the campaign's growth since November 2012, when 200 workers went on a one-day strike at 60 fast-food restaurants in New York.

July 25, 2014

In an improving economy, is age discrimination getting better or worse?

Source: Jena McGregor , The Washington Post

The answer, as you might expect, is that it's complicated. While numbers point to a downward trend, and there is some evidence of a warming toward older workers, ageism remains a real issue that's among the hardest complaints by workers to prove.

July 24, 2014

Gov. Cuomo convenes wage board for tipped workers

Source: Glenn Blain, The New York Daily News

Ohio settles lawsuit over workers' comp overcharging

Source: Mark Williams, The Columbus Dispatch

The state agreed to create a $420 million fund to pay claims to employers -- many of them small businesses -- that had sued over the premiums. The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation and a group called Pay Us Back Ohio BWC announced the agreement.

Minimum-wage workers are getting left behind

Source: Alain Sherter, CBS Money Watch

Today marks the five-year anniversary since the federal minimum was last raised, from $6.55 an hour. Since 2009, earners making that amount have lost nearly 6 percent of their buying power, according to the Pew Research Center.

July 23, 2014

California Nurses Union Braces For Contract Battle

Source: April Dembosky, NPR

The California Nurses Association is rousing its troops for battle. The powerful union will begin bargaining Thursday with Kaiser Permanente on a new four-year contract for nurses at its northern California hospitals.

Met Opera Prepares to Lock Out Workers

Source: Michael Cooper, The New York Times

The labor strife at the Metropolitan Opera took on a new urgency Wednesday when its general manager, Peter Gelb, sent the company's orchestra, chorus, stagehands and other workers letters warning them to prepare for a lockout if no contract deal is reached by next week.

Macy's Workers Win Labor Ruling

Source: Melanie Trottman, The Wall Street Journal

A group of 41 cosmetics and fragrances workers at a Macy's Inc. store in Massachusetts is large enough to attempt to unionize, the National Labor Relations Board decided in a ruling that could advance organized labor's quest to unionize subsets of workers in varied industries.

July 22, 2014

Apple Facing Another Class-Action Suit by Employees

Source: Jeff Elder, The Wall Street Journal

Apple Inc. is now facing another class-action lawsuit from its workers, as 20,000 hourly wage employees claim the computer company didn't give them lunch breaks, rest breaks or final paychecks in accordance with California law.

Labor Department official calls for more Pa. judges to handle miner's appeals

Source: Tracie Mauriello, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh needs three more administrative law judges to reduce backlog and to handle appeals being re-filed by miners and their widows, Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu testified this morning.

60 percent of incoming college football players support unions, says survey

Source: Kevin Trahan, SB Nation

According to an ESPN.com survey of 300 top football recruits, 60 percent of the 2015 recruiting class is in favor of unionization for college athletes, and more than 86 percent are in favor of athletes receiving some sort of stipend.

Here's What Happened When One County Invested Millions In An Employee Wellness Program

Source: Christine Vestal, The Huffington Post

In its first five years (2007 to 2011), the county's "Healthy Incentives" program invested $15 million and saved $46 million in health care spending with sustained participation by more than 90 percent of its employees. Two years ago, $61 million in surplus health care funds were returned to county coffers because cost growth was lower than actuaries had projected. Seattle, the state's largest city, is the county seat.

July 21, 2014

Detroit due to report results from pension vote

Source: Ed White, WXYZ Detroit (AP)

The city of Detroit promised to report the results of voting on pension cuts Monday but declined to disclose the numbers during a morning bankruptcy hearing.

Why more companies want pensions off their books

Source: Michael Fletcher, The Washington Post

With many traditional company pension plans frozen -- meaning employees are accruing no new benefits and plans are accepting no new members -- some advocacy groups worry that "de-risking" will end up being yet another blow to retirement security.

Obama bars federal contractors from LGBT discrimination

Source: Jeremy Diamond, CNN

President Barack Obama signed an executive order Monday banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

July 20, 2014

Market Basket fires 8 employees amid protests

Source: Erin Ailworth and Dan Adams, Boston Globe

At least eight Market Basket employees were fired Sunday, including organizers of a protest that has targeted the grocery chain in recent days by workers pressing for the return of ousted president Arthur T. Demoulas.

July 17, 2014

Market Basket workers plan protest despite threat by company

Source: Erin Ailworth, Bostonglobe.com

The new chief executives of the Market Basket grocery empire are threatening to fire any employee who walks off the job in support of the company's recently ousted president, Arthur T. Demoulas.

Strike by NY Commuter Rail Workers Averted

Source: Frank Eltman and Rachelle Blidner, ABC News (AP)

he deal announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who personally got involved in the final hours of the negotiations, gives Long Island Rail Road workers a 17 percent pay raise over six and a half years but requires them to contribute to their health care costs for the first time.

Hobby Lobby's harvest: A religious exemption for LGBT discrimination?

Source: Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

The big issue at the moment is a pending executive order from the White House barring discrimination by federal contractors against LGBT (that is, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.

July 16, 2014

Are Workplace Wellness Programs Legal?

Source: Dan Munro, Forbes.com

On the one hand, workplace wellness programs are openly endorsed by the Affordable Care Act. On the other, how they're constructed and implemented is critical in determining any potential benefit or legal risk.

Political consequences of NLRB v. Noel Canning

Source: Kali Borkoski, SCOTUS Blog

Going forward, the Court ruled, any recesses shorter than ten days will normally be insufficient to trigger the president's recess appointment power.

Tipped Workers Are Significantly Better off in States Where They Are Paid the Regular Minimum Wage

Source: David Cooper, Economic Policy Institute

As explained in "Twenty-three Years and Still Waiting for Change: Why It's Time to Give Tipped Workers the Regular Minimum Wage", this separate, lower minimum wage for tipped workers leads to dramatically different economic conditions for tipped versus nontipped workers.

July 15, 2014

Hobby Lobby: A new tool for crushing workplace unionization?

Source: Ned Resnikoff, MSNBC.com

By declaring that "closely held" corporations may hold religious beliefs, the court may have provided businesses with a new tool for crushing workplace unionization drives. In addition to declaring themselves exempt from contraception mandates and non-discrimination laws, religious employers may soon be able to argue for an exemption from collective bargaining laws.

Former Anheuser-Busch Workers Win Enhanced Pension Benefits After Subsidiary Sale

Source: Matt Dunning, BusinessInsurance.com

In a unanimous decision handed down on Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said pension plan administrators for Anheuser-Busch Companies applied an "arbitrary and capricious" standard in denying a group of former employees' claims for enhanced benefits.

EEOC Issues New Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Bias

Source: Kevin P. McGowan, Bloomberg BNA

The new guidance says the PDA, a 1978 amendment to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, requires employers to offer light duty to pregnant employees if they make light duty available to nonpregnant employees similar in their ability or inability to work.

July 11, 2014

President Obama Taps Former NLRB Re-Recess Appointee for Board Again

Source: Doug Hass, The Wall Street Journal

The White House said President Obama intends to nominate Ms. Block, who he had installed on the board with two others early in 2012 using recess appointments.

July 10, 2014

Is it time to get rid of the tipped minimum wage?

Source: Aimee Picchi, CBS Money Watch

While tips are supposed to push their wages up to the regular minimum wage for other workers -- $7.25 an hour -- tipped workers are more likely to live in poverty and rely on government aid, according to a new study from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.

House Lawsuit Over Obamacare to Focus on Employer Mandate Delay

Source: Michael A. Memoli, Los Angeles Times

A draft resolution posted Thursday afternoon singles out the Obama administration's decision to delay enforcement of a requirement that employers provide health benefits for their employees or face a fine. Enforcement of the so-called employer mandate was put off twice, once from 2014 to 2015, and then again to phase it in by 2016.

July 8, 2014

Mind the Gap: How One Employer Tackled Pay Equity

Source: Sara Murray, The Wall Street Journal

Now, as many U.S. companies gird for a new federal requirement to report pay data by gender, McGill University's gender-equity program, which it developed over 13 years at a cost of at least 20 million Canadian dollars (US$19 million), offers a glimpse at what pay engineering looks like.

May 21, 2014

110 arrested outside McDonald's HQ

Source: Patrick M. Sheridan, Steve Mills & Jennifer Goelz , CNN Money

Police arrested 110 protesters Wednesday outside McDonald's corporate campus.

Waveland Approves Anti-Discrimination Measure Supporting LGBT Community

Source: Donna Ladd , Jackson Free Press

Tonight, Waveland, Mississippi unanimously passed an anti-discrimination resolution recognizing the dignity and worth of all city residents - including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

How feel-good companies are navigating the minimum-wage fray

Source: Heesun Wee, CNBC

The national debate over whether to raise minimum wages has stirred interest in where American companies stand on the issue. That curiosity perhaps is most intensely targeted at feel-good companies, which pride themselves on progressive practices.

May 20, 2014

Exclusive: Virgin America flight attendants seek unionization vote

Source: Alwyn Scott, Chicago Tribune (Reuters)

Flight attendants at Virgin America airlines are seeking a vote on whether to unionize, according to an official at the Transport Workers Union (TWU), in a move that could pave the way for organized labor's latest victory in the airline industry.

Chris Christie slashes pay to pension funds

Source: Maggie Haberman, Politico

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday he'd slash two massive payments to the state's pension system -- a short-term maneuver that won't alleviate the Garden State's overall fiscal picture.

Workers Try a New Tactic in Minimum-Wage Fight

Source: Eric Morath, The Wall Street Journal

Stymied in Washington on their minimum-wage push, low-wage workers are now pressing for U.S. companies to raise wages voluntarily.

May 19, 2014

L.A. city panel delivers victory to municipal labor unions

Source: David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times

A Los Angeles City Hall panel on Monday delivered a significant victory to municipal labor unions, breathing new life into a legal challenge to pension benefit reductions being counted on to save billions of dollars over the next 30 years.

Gov. Snyder wants the state House to consider minimum wage legislation soon

Source: Steve Carmody, Michigan Public Radio

Governor Snyder hopes the state House will turn its attention soon to a proposal to increase the state's minimum wage.

Union In North Carolina Welcomes College Athletes

Source: The Associated Press, NPR (AP)

A North Carolina union for public workers will allow scholarship student-athletes at public universities to join as state employees.

Boeing decision puts focus on cameras in workplace

Source: Amanda Becker, Reuters

A fight between Boeing Co and a U.S. labor regulator over cameras in the workplace could clarify how the government will adapt analog-era labor laws to the digital age, when workers have smart phones with cameras.

May 18, 2014

DCPS reaches tentative agreement with principals union

Source: Emma Brown, The Washington Post

D.C. Public Schools has reached a tentative collective-bargaining agreement with the Council of School Officers, the union that represents principals, assistant principals, business managers, master educators and other non-teachers who work in schools.

Citi Bike workers gear up to join transit workers union

Source: Pete Donohue, New York Daily News

Citi Bike might not be an option during the next bus and subway strike. TWU Local 100 -- the transit workers union that tends to walk off the job every 20 years or so -- is organizing Citi Bike workers into a chapter.

The Republican War on Workers' Rights

Source: Corey Robin, The New York Times

Midterm elections are like fancy software: Experts love them, end-users couldn't care less. But if the 2010 elections are any indication, we might not want to doze off as we head into the summer months before November.

May 17, 2014

How corporations get away with rampant wage theft

Source: Myron Levin, Stuart Silverstein and Lilly Fowler, Salon

For workers stuck on the bottom rung, living on poverty wages is hard enough. But many also are victims of wage theft, a catch-all term for payroll abuses that cheat workers of income they are supposedly guaranteed by law.

UAW, VW deny election agreement was illegal

Source: Mike Pare, Chattanooga Times Free Press

The United Auto Workers is seeking dismissal of a suit that claimed Volkswagen gave the union access to names and facilities at the Chattanooga plant in exchange for the UAW holding down costs if it won the organizing vote at the factory.

May 16, 2014

Alcoa, USW Reach New Labor Deal

Source: John W. Miller, The Wall Street Journal

Despite tough times for aluminum makers, Alcoa Inc. AA +0.98% agreed to a generous five-year pact that gives workers in the U.S. annual raises and preserves health and pension benefits to avoid any labor-related disruptions in deliveries to key auto customers.

Police unions push for medical coverage of PTSD

Source: CBS News

Police unions across the U.S. are pushing for officers to be able to collect workers' compensation benefits if they suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, whether they got it from the general stress of police work or from responding to a deadly shooting rampage.

Madigan $10 an hour minimum wage referendum advances

Source: Monique Garcia, Chicago Tribune

House lawmakers today advanced a proposal backed by House Speaker Michael Madigan that would put an advisory referendum on the November ballot asking voters whether the state's minimum wage should be increased to $10 an hour.

May 15, 2014

Fast food workers strike for higher wages

Source: Bruce Horovitz, Yamiche Alcindor,Calum MacLeod and Kim Hjelmgaard, USA Today

Hundreds of fast food workers walked off their jobs in dozens of U.S. cities on Thursday -- reportedly forcing at least a few locations to temporarily close or re-staff while mostly managers filled-in -- as sympathetic protesters in several dozen countries joined in a united call for wages of $15 an hour and the right to form a union.

Vermont's minimum wage to be highest in the U.S.

Source: Aimee Picchi, CBS MoneyWatch

Vermont is on track to have the highest minimum wage of any state, after its lawmakers passed a bill to boost the baseline hourly rate to $10.50 an hour.

U.S. fast-food workers plan to walk off jobs to protest low pay

Source: Mary Wisniewski, Reuters

U.S. fast food workers seeking higher wages are planning a strike on Thursday that could affect thousands of restaurants across the country the workers say make huge profits from paying them workers a pittance.

May 14, 2014

Workers reach $21-million settlement against Wal-Mart, warehouses

Source: Ricardo Lopez, Los Angeles Times

Workers at a Riverside County warehouse and distribution complex for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. agreed to settle a long-running battle over wage issues by accepting $21 million in unpaid wages, interest and penalties.

Rubio: Open Congress' retirement to all workers

Source: The Boston Globe (AP)

Younger workers would face higher retirement ages and wealthier Americans would see their Social Security paychecks trail their less affluent neighbors' under a plan proposed Tuesday by Senator Marco Rubio.

In liberal cities, minimum wage puts businesses in a bind

Source: Allison Linn, CNBC

They have backed efforts to address climate change, held countless fundraisers for local causes and been staunch supporters of progressive political candidates including President Barack Obama--but one thing they can't fully get behind is the push for a swift and sharp increase in the minimum wage.

May 13, 2014

Teachers angry with new contract that will delay full raises until 2020

Source: Stephen Rex Brown & Ben Chapman, New York Daily News

Not only is the back-raise plan in Mayor de Blasio's new teachers contract unpopular with financial watchdogs -- city educators hate it, too.

Supporters of raising minimum wage say they have enough signatures

Source: Jake Neher, Michigan Radio

Leaders of the petition drive to raise Michigan's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour say a Republican attempt to derail their effort is nothing but a "dirty trick."

Why Primary Care Physicians Need a Minimum Wage

Source: Daniela Drake, The Daily Beast

While we entertain the idea of increasing the minimum wage, let's not forget doctors who also need a pay bump. Yes, doctors--primary care physicians (PCPs) who are receiving only a tiny fraction of all that money you're now forced to fork over for health insurance.

Illinois unions ask judge to delay new pension law

Source: Rick Pearson, Chicago Tribune

A coalition of labor unions on Monday asked a court in Springfield to prevent a new state law aimed at curbing Illinois' public employee pension debt from taking effect next month until questions about its constitutionality have been resolved.

May 12, 2014

Old, Fired at IBM: Trendsetter Offers Workers Arbitration

Source: Alex Barinka, Bloomberg Businessweek

For at least a decade, International Business Machines Corp. gave fired employees information detailing a severance package that asked them to waive age-discrimination claims and also included a page listing the job titles and ages of workers being let go.

Locked-out union workers protest at Convention Center

Source: Aubrey Whelan, Philadelphia Inquirer

Police outnumber union members who are protesting against being shut out of work at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Former Mayor David Dinkins: I'm joining the airport workers' fair pay crusade

Source: David Dinkins, New York Daily News

As our country struggles with spiraling income inequality, thousands of New York City workers who toil at poverty wages may have found their way forward.

The Minimum Wage Loophole That's Screwing Over Waiters and Waitresses

Source: Dana Liebelson, Mother Jones

As Republicans stonewall President Obama's initiative to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2016, some state lawmakers have taken the matter into their own hands, passing legislation that increases the salaries for America's most vulnerable workers.

May 11, 2014

Rahm Emanuel Faces New Test With Chicago Pension Crisis

Source: Mark Peters, The Wall Street Journal

Jumping from city-hall meetings to public-school classrooms in his black SUV, Rahm Emanuel worked to buff his image as the hard-driving mayor of the nation's third-largest city in the CNN TV series "Chicagoland."

Teachers unions threaten Common Core implementation

Source: The Washington Post

Tea Party opposition to the new education standards in the Common Core is getting a lot of attention. Far more threatening is the less-noticed pushback from teachers' unions.

On Income Inequality: A French Economist Vs. An American Capitalist

Source: Marilyn Geewax, NPR

Picture a cozy café. At a small table, an economics professor from Paris is chatting with a wealthy businessman from New York. As they sip coffee, they discuss economic history, and often nod and agree.

May 10, 2014

ALEC fires back, but proves its 'pro-business' state index is bogus

Source: Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

Plainly stung by the chorus of ridicule that has greeted their latest attempt to paint anti-union policies and tax cuts for the rich as pathways to economic nirvana, the folks at the American Legislative Exchange Council have struck back with a "response to the critics."

US Senate panel cancels testimony from UNC whistle blower Willingham

Source: Anne Blythe, News & Observer

Mary Willingham, the former learning specialist who blew the whistle on the academic fraud scandal at UNC-Chapel Hill, was told on Friday that she would not be testifying before a U.S. Senate committee looking into the welfare of NCAA athletes.

May 9, 2014

Congress Tackles Unions in College Football

Source: Jonquilyn Hill, NBC News

The debate over student athlete unionization moved from the football field to the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, and it largely followed a familiar playbook: Republican vs. Democrat.

Once A Walmart Boycotter, Obama Now On Cozier Terms With Retailer

Source: Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post

There was a time when President Barack Obama refused to shop at Walmart. Evidently, he's evolved.

First pay hike in seven years for some state workers

Source: Jimmie E. Gates, The Clarion-Ledger

State custodian employee Shirley Barnes didn't know she would be getting a $1,000-a-year pay raise in July

May 8, 2014

CEO of Largest Fast Food Company Backs Minimum Wage Hike!

Source: John Prager , Americans Against the Tea Party

n a Wednesday interview with CNBC, Deluca took drastic action to save face in the wake of the negative attention that Subway has been receiving.

State minimum wage hike supporters rally at Penn Square

Source: Dan Nephin, Lancaster Online

Cheryl Holland-Jones, executive director of the Crispus Attucks Community Center, urged lawmakers to increase the minimum wage during a rally at Penn Square in Lancaster at noon today.

Fed Chair Yellen: Minimum wage hike to have negative impact on jobs

Source: CNBC with Reuters, CNBC

In testimony before a Senate committee on Thursday, Fed Chair Yellen said a minimum wage increase would likely have some negative effects on jobs, though it's not clear how large.

May 7, 2014

Sanders Compares Efforts To Raise Minimum Wage to Pre-MLK Civil Rights Movement

Source: Eric Scheiner, CNS News

At a rally of fast food workers in North Carolina, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) compared the efforts of those who want to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour to the civil rights activists who paved the way for Martin Luther King Jr.

County Board Pushes to Raise Minimum Wage

Source: The Ann Arbor Chronicle

At their May 7, 2014 meeting, Washtenaw County commissioners passed a resolution calling for an increase in Michigan's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, over dissent from Alicia Ping (R-District 3).

Fast-Food Workers Threaten Global Wage Protests Next Week

Source: NBC News

Fast-food workers plan strikes in 150 cities across the United States and protests in 33 other countries on May 15 to demand higher pay and better working conditions, organizers said in New York on Wednesday.

May 6, 2014

Rangel Touts Union Support After Retail Workers Back Espaillat

Source: Ross Barkan, New York Observer

In the wake of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union's endorsement of his top rival this week, Congressman Charlie Rangel is touting the support of three public sector unions, including one that backed him already.

A tale of two health care unions, two different actions

Source: Victoria Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle

The state's largest health care workers' union -- SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West - dropped its bid Tuesday to pass two state ballot measures opposed by the hospital industry as part of an agreement it reached with the California Hospital Association.

Obama to ease rules for foreign high-skilled workers

Source: Alan Gomez, USA Today

The Obama administration wants to let nearly 100,000 spouses of foreigners working in high-tech fields to work here as well in a move critics say is harmful to nearly 10 million jobless Americans.

CTU chief Lewis is campaigning all right -- against the mayor

Source: Mark Brown, Chicago Sun Times

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has ruled herself out of a 2015 mayoral campaign against Rahm Emanuel so often that nobody even bothered to ask her again Monday after a big City Club speech in which she threatened to "send him into early retirement."

May 5, 2014

Companies ramp up fight against $10.10 wage

Source: Jennifer Liberto, CNN Money

Businesses are pulling out all the stops to fight a federal minimum wage increase to $10.10 from $7.25 an hour.

UM Medical Center workers get federal labor protection

Source: Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun

Five thousand workers at the University of Maryland Medical Center now have labor protections under the National Labor Relations Board thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley Monday.

Old workers return, new hires arrive, as U.S. construction jobs grow

Source: Tim Reid, Reuters

When the U.S. economy crashed in 2008, following the implosion of the housing market, Dave Klein's southern California construction company almost folded.

Using the Cloud to Track Migrant Workers and Pregnant Goats

Source: Dina Bass, Bloomberg

Employers of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. can have a tough time following the rules. They need to track each employee's immigration forms, workers' compensation, labor disputes, health-care options and more.

Federal hearing scheduled on locked out Kellogg's workers

Source: WMC TV

The now seven-month long lockout of Memphis Kellogg's workers takes center stage during a federal hearing on Monday.

May 4, 2014

Gov. Cuomo 'saves' MTA-Transport Workers Union contract deal

Source: Pete Donohue, New York Daily News

Like the "White Knight from Mount Kisco," Cuomo helped get the new contract with retroactive raises and improved benefits negotiated for bus and subway workers.

What Do Yale Grad Students Want? A Union

Source: Diane Orson, NPR

Hundreds of graduate assistants at Yale University say they want to be allowed to decide whether to unionize. Grad students at two nearby universities recently won union recognition after two very different types of organizing campaigns.

Bonuses for federal workers cut in half, figures show

Source: Shannon Mullen, USA Today (Asbury Park Press)

Bonus pay for 1.3 million federal workers fell off a proverbial fiscal cliff last year, dropping nearly 50% as a result of draconian budget cuts tied to a partial government shutdown and recent caps on employee awards.

May 3, 2014

Unions are back with city-by-city wage campaign

Source: Danny Westneat, The Seattle Times

Not long after finishing a news conference on a deal to bring a $15 minimum wage to Seattle, David Rolf, president of the local home health-care workers' union, SEIU 775, got a heady phone call.

School chief race tests reach of unions, reformers

Source: Lisa Leff, San Francisco Chronicle (AP)

Tom Torlakson, the veteran lawmaker seeking a second term as California's elected superintendent of schools, and Marshall Tuck, a former charter school executive hoping to unseat him, are both Democrats.

How the $15 wage deal came together in Seattle

Source: Lynn Thompson, The Seattle Times

With his Income Inequality Committee failing to reach a decision at its final scheduled meeting April 23, and business and labor representatives still at odds over core issues on a deal for a $15 minimum wage, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray gathered the business members of the committee the following day.

May 2, 2014

A Teachers' Contract for New York

Source: The New York Times

There was no snarling at City Hall when Mayor Bill de Blasio and the teachers' union announced a very significant labor agreement on Thursday.

House committee to examine ruling on Northwestern union proposal

Source: Steve Berkowitz, USA Today

Congressional interest in the current state of college athletics will take another step forward Thursday when a House committee conducts a hearing to examine the recent decision by a regional chairman of the National Labor Relations Board to allow college football players at Northwestern University to unionize.

Why Is This Farm Using Guest Workers as Strike Breakers?

Source: David Bacon, The Nation

In 2001 Rosario Ventura came to the United States from Mexico and went to work in Washington State, picking blueberries for Sakuma Farms.

May 1, 2014

Thousands of workers mark May Day

Source: Kim Hjelmgaard, Detroit Free Press (USA Today)

May Day, known also as International Workers' Day, is being celebrated across the world, with demonstrations and protests taking place in many countries.

Subway leads fast food industry in underpaying workers

Source: Annalyn Kurtz, CNN Money

McDonald's gets a lot of bad press for its low pay. But there's an even bigger offender when it comes to fast food companies underpaying their employees: Subway.

Adjuncts at 2 More Colleges Vote to Unionize

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Adjunct professors at Howard University and the Maryland Institute College of Art are the latest Washington-area non-tenure-track instructors to vote to form unions affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, they announced Wednesday.

Senate Republicans Block Bill To Raise Federal Minimum Wage

Source: Ailsa Chang, NPR

One of the Democrats top election themes this year was stopped cold in the Senate on Wednesday. Republicans successfully blocked Democrats from even taking up a bill to raise the minimum wage.

April 30, 2014

Report: Kentucky pension reforms benefit workers

Source: Mike Wynn, The Courier-Journal

An analysis by a Washington D.C.-based think tank says that a majority of government workers will fare as well -- or better -- under Kentucky's recent pension reforms.

Minimum wage debate pits small business owners against small business owners

Source: J.D. Harrison, The Washington Post

Small business owners are vehemently opposed to raising the minimum wage. Meanwhile, in other news, small business owners overwhelmingly favor raising the minimum wage.

UAW can still unionize VW Tennessee plant after failed drive -experts

Source: Bernie Woodall, Reuters

The United Auto Workers still has several options to unionize Volkswagen AG's Tennessee car plant, labor law experts said on Wednesday, after it failed to win enough support and last week dropped its challenge to the election results.

Dems seek to rally base over GOP's block of minimum wage bill

Source: Tom Cohen and Ted Barrett, CNN

An election-year showdown over a Democratic priority -- raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour -- saw Senate Republicans block the measure on Wednesday, unleashing a torrent of criticism from President Barack Obama and his party.

April 29, 2014

Editorial: Seattle needs to ease up on the rush to a $15 minimum wage

Source: The Seattle Times

With talk of a jump to a $15 minimum wage, Seattle is barreling headlong into a serious gamble with its local economy.

When unions use non-member dues to finance political activities

Source: Steven Malanga, Washington Examiner

A lawsuit making its way through federal court in California highlights just how much unions use their right to collect "agency fees" from nonmembers to fund political activities.

Maine GOP senator likely 'no' vote on minimum wage

Source: Alan Fram, Bloomberg

A long-shot Senate Democratic effort to raise the federal minimum wage seemed all but doomed Tuesday when a moderate Republican lawmaker viewed as a potential supporter said she expects to oppose the measure.

Minimum Wage Hike Hurts 'Minorities and Youth' Job Chances, Says Rand Paul

Source: Phillip M. Bailey, Louisville NPR

Kentucky Jobs With Justice leader Bonafacio Aleman was at the minimum wage rally in Lexington. He told WFPL Paul's statements reflect the senator is out of touch with average workers.

April 28, 2014

NFL Cheerleaders: We're not even making minimum wage

Source: Gregory Wallance, CNN Money

Cheerleading isn't as glamorous as one might think. Several current and former cheerleaders are suing their NFL employers over pay.

Harry Reid slates minimum wage vote

Source: Burgess Everett, Politico

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday set up a long-shot Wednesday vote on a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Frostbite, falling freight, and forklifts on fire: America's worst Wal-Mart warehouse, revealed

Source: Josh Eidelson, Salon

Workers at an Indiana Wal-Mart warehouse allege they were subjected to safety risks including falling freight, forklifts on fire, and frostbite - and then illegally fired for organizing in response.

Survey details struggles of Syracuse's low-wage workers

Source: Kevin Tampone, Syracuse.com

Low-wage workers in the Syracuse area struggle with conditions that can cause health problems and make it hard to climb the economic ladder, according to a new survey.

How A Public Corruption Scandal Became A Fight Over Free Speech

Source: Nina Totenberg, NPR

In one area -- the first amendment rights of public employees -- the conservative majority has been far less protective of the right to speak out. Now the court is revisiting the issue, and the result could have far-reaching consequences for public corruption investigations.

April 27, 2014

State workers fret over pension changes

Source: Tonya Alanez, Sun Sentinel

A major push to change retirement benefits for state employees continues to hang in the legislative balance with just a week to go in the annual session. House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has repeatedly stated it's one of his priorities this year.

Mass. jobs report urges tougher safety rules

Source: Dan Adams, Boston Globe

A new report by labor and workplace safety advocates says that 48 Massachusetts workers died on the job in 2013 and calls for increased regulation.

Democrats See Doomed Minimum-Wage Plan as Election Boost

Source: Siobhan Hughes, Wall Street Journal

The Senate is expected this week to take up a long-stalled push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, a measure that is likely to be defeated but one that Democrats see as a winner on the campaign trail.

April 26, 2014

Ford Motor Company Charged with Disability Discrimination for Refusing Employee's Request to Telecommute

Source: Disability.gov

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged Ford Motor Company of Detroit, MI with disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Obama pushes again for minimum wage increase

Source: The Associated Press, The State

President Barack Obama is again encouraging Congress to pass a bill raising the minimum raise to $10.10 an hour.

Union Effort at Northwestern May Not Mean Much for Public Colleges

Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times

When a National Labor Relations Board regional director ruled last month that Northwestern's scholarship football players could unionize, it was a landmark for college sports -- even though the decision was limited to one private university.

April 25, 2014

Today in Small Business: Seattle's Minimum Wage Plan Falters

Source: Gene Marks, The New York Times

There are many things affecting everyone involved with small business.

Northwestern Union Vote on Hold

Source: Allie Grasgreen, Inside Higher Ed

The National Labor Relations Board said Thursday that it will stay the decision by a regional NLRB director who said scholarship football players are employees and should be allowed to unionize.

Wall Street's Pension Gamble

Source: David Sirota, In These Times

In the national debate over what to do about public pension shortfalls, here's something you may not know: The texts of the agreements signed between those pension funds and financial firms are almost always secret.

April 24, 2014

Right-to-work bill divides Missourians as it moves through legislature

Source: Casey Bischel, Missourian

In almost any other country, an individual's right to work means a guaranteed job, often furnished by the government. In the 24 U.S. states that have right to work laws, the phrase means something else entirely: A person employed by a company that has a union does not have to join it or pay any form of dues.

Climate Change Unites Unions and Enviros

Source: Kevin Sullivan, Eugene Weekly

Labor unions have for years been pitted against conservationists in a jobs-versus-the-environment conflict. But now, a greater threat to the planet has paired members of the rival movements in a fight against a greater evil: global climate change.

Contingent Faculty at Seattle U. Can Vote on Union, NLRB Official Rules

Source: Peter Schmidt, The Chronicle of Higher Education

A regional official of the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that contingent faculty members at Seattle University are eligible to vote on forming a union.

April 23, 2014

Kaiser Workers Strike To Protest Cost-Cutting, Suicides

Source: NBC Bay Area

Mental health clinicians from Kaiser's Oakland Medical Center launched a one-day strike Wednesday to address understaffing and cost-cutting in Kaiser's mental health services, which they say have resulted in several suicides among patients.

Port Authority board approves raises for all 12K airport workers -- 3 months after Daily News exposes abysmal wages

Source: Rich Shapiro, New York Daily News

Three months after the Daily News launched a campaign to improve conditions for the struggling airport workers, Port Authority board members unanimously voted Wednesday to raise the wages of all contract employees at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports.

Proposal would spike minimum wage

Source: David Garrick, UT San Diego

Ballot measure would increase San Diego's lowest pay rate to $13.09 over three years.

Cooper grows impatient for immigration reform

Source: Paul C. Barton, The Tennessean

Rep. Jim Cooper wants Congress to get off the dime when it comes to immigration reform.

April 22, 2014

Everything You Need To Know About The Northwestern Football Case And If College Athletes Will Get Paid

Source: Jacob Fischler, BuzzFeed

Last month, a regional National Labor Relations Board ruled that football players at Northwestern University have the right to unionize

SF teachers want hefty raise

Source: Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco teachers want a raise, a big one. The teachers union fired off the first volley in what is shaping up to be contentious contract talks, asking for a 21 percent pay raise over three years.

Minimum wage and pot are now expected to be on Alaska's November ballot

Source: Niraj Chokshi, The Washington Post

Alaska's November ballot is expected to be a little more crowded. A trio of initiatives, including ones to regulate marijuana like alcohol and hike the minimum wage, are expected to be pushed from August to November.

April 21, 2014

The Terrible Fear of Paying the Poor Too Much

Source: Leo W. Gerard, Huffington Post

Republicans in America suffer a crippling anxiety. It's the terrible fear of corporations paying poor workers too much.

Wage Theft Across the Board

Source: The New York Times

When labor advocates and law enforcement officials talk about wage theft, they are usually referring to situations in which low-wage service-sector employees are forced to work off the clock, paid subminimum wages, cheated out of overtime pay or denied their tips.

NLRB election hearing reveals right wing's true colors

Source: John Logan, The Hill

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held two days of hearings to allow public comment on its new election rules, which are designed to eliminate the worst cases of deliberate and unjustified pre-election delay.

UAW's Volkswagen case heads to NLRB hearing as politicians object

Source: Paresh Dave, Los Angeles Times

A contentious effort to unionize a foreign brand's automobile factory is scheduled to reach a courtroom Monday, and the case appears far from resolution.

April 20, 2014

For Many Americans, 'Temp' Work Becomes Permanent Way of Life

Source: Martha C. White, NBC News

For Americans who can't find jobs, the booming demand for temp workers has been a path out of unemployment, but now many fear it's a dead-end route.

NCAA faces change, legal challenges in months ahead

Source: Steve Almasy, CNN

When training camps for big-time college football teams open in August, behemoth linemen and other players will get their first taste of new rules regarding how much food Division I schools can provide their athletes

Voters in states and cities are considering proposals to raise the minimum wage

Source: Pamela M. Prah, The Washington Post

A wave of efforts to raise the minimum wage at the state and local level will run through November, when voters in several states could consider ballot measures to raise hourly rates higher than the current $7.25 federal rate.

April 19, 2014

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in NYC and Across the Country

Source: Derek T. Smith, Derek T. Smith Law Group, PLLC

Many people don't typically think of the workplace as a potential arena for sexual assault, but workplace abuse, harassment and even rape are more common than you might think.

Transport company to pay $27,000 to settle pregnancy discrimination, retaliation suit

Source: J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

A Delaware trucking company that operates a terminal in Spartanburg, South Carolina, will pay $27,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced on April 17.

April 18, 2014

The decline of labor unions and the rise of the minimum wage

Source: Jake Rosenfeld, The Seattle Times

In February, a bitterly divided local Machinists union at Boeing narrowly voted to accept the company's contract extension to build new 777X airplanes.

Wal-Mart warehouse workers say they worked with no heat

Source: Alejandra Cancino, Chicago Tribune

Workers at an Indiana warehouse owned by Wal-Mart on Thursday filed unfair labor charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the staffing agency that employs them and the company that operates the warehouse.

Boycotts and Bargaining

Source: Allie Grasgreen, Inside Higher Ed

The college sports establishment is being assaulted on multiple and fragile fronts, with legal battles over safety and concussions, scholarship caps and the right of athletes to profit off their image, and now, the Northwestern University football unionization.

Big business gets creative in minimum wage fight

Source: Ned Resnikoff, MSNBC

The minimum wage movement is following the classic American playbook for how you raise labor standards across the country: Constant grassroots pressure, resulting in one local achievement after another, with all of those small gains eventually coalescing into a national wave.

April 17, 2014

Florida High Court Rules Pregnancy Protected by Gender Law (1)

Source: Christie Smythe and Christine Sexton, Bloomberg

Florida's law protecting women against workplace discrimination also covers those who are pregnant, the state's supreme court said in overturning a trial court ruling.

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Potter Concrete

Source: eNews Park Forest

The Justice Department reached an agreement today with Potter Concrete, a company based in Dallas, resolving claims that the company engaged in a pattern or practice of document abuse in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Effort to protect farmworkers from sexual assault gaining momentum

Source: Sheila Bapat, Al Jazeera America

"The Fair Food Program is a transformative, model program. This is a big victory for farmworkers. We congratulate them," said Erica Smiley, campaigns director for Jobs With Justice. "Now, if Walmart would do the same for the more than 1 million workers it employs in the U.S. and the many more millions around the world, we'd be in good shape."

April 16, 2014

About 400 Chicago concrete truck drivers go on strike

Source: Alejandra Cancino, Chicago Tribune

About 400 concrete truck drivers walked off their jobs on Tuesday and Wednesday after rejecting a proposed labor contract with the Northern Illinois Ready Mix and Materials Association.

Some exempted from minimum wage, increased or not

Source: Alan Fram, Philadelphia Inquirer (AP)

Some low-paid workers won't benefit even if a long-shot Democratic proposal to raise the federal minimum wage becomes law.

Union: Northwestern's position in student labor case 'castle built on sand'

Source: Alejandra Cancino, Chicago Tribune

The union seeking to represent football players at Northwestern University called the school's position in the case "a castle built on sand" in a document filed with the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday.

Minimum Wage, Maximum Outrage

Source: Charles Blow, The New York Times

No one should ever endure the kind of economic humiliation that comes with working a full-time job and making a less-than-living wage. There is dignity in all work, but that dignity grows dim when the checks are cashed and the coins are counted and still the bills rise higher than the wages.

April 15, 2014

5 Things Northwestern Is Telling Other Football Schools About Unions

Source: Melanie Trottman, The Wall Street Journal

Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro has been fielding questions from colleagues from around the country in recent weeks. They want to know more about the National Labor Relations Board's decision that Northwestern's scholarship football players are school employees who can unionize.

Judge in R.I. pension case keeps 'gag order' in place

Source: Katherine Gregg, Providence Journal

The proposed settlement in Rhode Island's big, nationally watched pension case blew up last week, but Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft Carter's "gag order" is still in place, and it is still barring access to state spending records.

US Airways unions say 'critical issues' unresolved in merger

Source: Linda Loyd, Philadelphia Inquirer

Labor unions at US Airways will meet with CEO Doug Parker and senior management April 29 to discuss concerns and "critical issues" that they say remain unresolved since the merger of US Airways and American Airlines in December.

April 14, 2014

Graduate students of the world, unite!

Source: Malcolm Harris, Al Jazeera America

At the beginning of April, one of the most important labor unions in U.S. higher education staged an unexpected two-day strike. It wasn't the American Association of University Professors -- the left-leaning professors' union -- or a chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, representing service workers; it was United Auto Workers Local 2865.

SEIU thinks big for S.F. city workers' next contract

Source: Phillip Matier And Andrew Ross, San Francisco Chronicle

From fighting Google buses to protesting Ellis Act evictions, San Francisco's 9,475-member Service Employees International Union local has been leading the campaign for a more livable city.

NY pay raise for 100K direct care workers

Source: Associated Press, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

New York's new budget will increase pay 2 percent for about 100,000 caretakers of the disabled and others next year, their first raise in several years for many.

April 13, 2014

Low-wage workers pay the price of nickel-and-diming by employers

Source: Michael Hiltzik , Los Angeles Times

The continuing push for higher minimum wages across the country has much to recommend it, but the campaign shouldn't keep us from recognizing a truly insidious practice that impoverishes low-wage workers all the more.

L.A. teachers union president ready to step aside for challenger

Source: Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles teachers' union president Warren Fletcher said he will no longer actively campaign for reelection, clearing the path for challenger Alex Caputo-Pearl to become the next leader of United Teachers Los Angeles.

Odd-Hour Workers Face Loss of Employer Health Plans

Source: Lauren Weber, The Wall Street Journal

Susan Caspersen was in a hospital in Akron, Ohio, last November recovering from an emergency appendectomy when she got some unwelcome news: as of Jan. 1, 2014, she would no longer be eligible for the health-insurance plan offered by her employer, food-service giant Sodexo USA.

April 12, 2014

Business lobby proposes minimum wage 'compromise'

Source: Ned Resnikoff, MSNBC

The fast food workers movement may have gotten its start in New York City, but Seattle is where it seems closest to realizing one of its key objectives.

Kain Colter's unionization effort is fueled by compassion, common sense

Source: Mike Wise, The Washington Post

I sat two feet away from the most dangerous man in college sports earlier this month. His name is Kain Colter.

Culinary union workers strike rally nears full-on strike

Source: Jacqui Heinrich, KTNV

Culinary union members picketed downtown Saturday over the labor dispute holding up contract negotiations with ten casino properties.

April 11, 2014

Strike ends with no deal between Hopkins and workers

Source: Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun

Service workers fighting for higher wages remained at loggerheads with Johns Hopkins Hospital on Friday as they ended a three-day strike over higher wages -- and said they could walk off the job again.

Hey, Rahm Emanuel: Quit blaming public employees for your budget crisis!

Source: David Sirota, Salon

In America, there is regular ol' corruption, and then there is Chicago Corruption, with a capital "C." America's third largest city is so notoriously corrupt, all you have to do is say "Chicago politics" and many people instantly start making jokes about payoffs and reciting lines from "The Untouchables."

SF labor unions asking for pay raises amid hostile cost-of-living environment

Source: Joshua Sabatini, San Francisco Examiner

Pointing to a soaring cost of living throughout the Bay Area, San Francisco's largest city employee union has emerged as an outspoken critic of the Twitter tax break and commuter tech shuttles while more quietly making demands for pay increases and other job benefits in labor contract negotiations.

Pension bills now coming together

Source: Brandon Larrabee, Tallahassee Democrat

Changes to retirement plans covering hundreds of thousands of public employees started coming together Thursday on both sides of the Capitol, raising the prospects of success on long-stymied issues.

Challenges may emerge to UAW subpoenas; April 21 hearing could be delayed

Source: Mike Pare and Andy Sher, Chattanooga Times Free Press

An attorney for a Chattanooga anti-union group said Thursday he expects challenges to emerge to some of the two dozen United Auto Workers' subpoenas issued this week in its appeal of the Volkswagen plant's union election.

April 10, 2014

GOP blocks Senate bill curbing gender pay gap

Source: Associated Press, The Times West Virginian

Republicans blocked a Senate bill Wednesday aimed at narrowing the pay gap between men and women, an election-year ritual that Democrats hope will help spur women to back them in this fall's congressional elections.

Minimum wage hikes and real net wages

Source: Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

Past experience has confirmed the nonmonetary impact of a minimum-wage hike on workers, not only in reduced fringe benefits but in increased work demands and decreased job training.

Public Service Union seeks 30 percent wage increase in 2014

Source: Kaieteur News

hile the Public Service Ministry has mentioned discussions between the Government and the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) for a "proper formula for workers' wages," the GPSU is calling for 30 percent increase in wages and salaries for 2014.

April 9, 2014

Workers say too often employers hire them for one job, but have them do another, survey finds

Source: Olivera Perkins, Plain Dealer

Switcheroo. Sleight of hand. Bait-and-switch. These words, most often associated with con games, are increasing being used by workers to describe employers they say lured them with false promises and job descriptions that fell flat.

GM Auto Workers Vote to Allow Strike in Kentucky

Source: Bruce Schreiner, ABC News (AP)

Workers at the General Motors plant in Kentucky that assembles Corvettes voted Tuesday to authorize a strike over lingering safety concerns, but a local union leader said he hopes the differences can be resolved without a walkout.

Hopkins workers strike over wages, working conditions

Source: Carrie Wells, The Baltimore Sun

Every two weeks, Johns Hopkins Hospital housekeeping worker Yolanda Kelly says she overdrafts her bank account just to pay her bills on time.

Union Efforts on Behalf of Adjuncts Meet Resistance Within Faculties' Ranks

Source: Peter Schmidt, The Chronicle of Higher Education

As part-time instructors at colleges seek to improve their working conditions through unionization, they often find that the people standing in the way of their efforts are not administrators but fellow faculty members, several union organizers and labor experts observed at a conference held here this week.

April 8, 2014

So-Called Right to Work Is Still Wrong for Workers

Source: James P. Hoffa, Huffington Post

The annual state legislative folly that spurs pro-corporate lawmakers to introduce legislation to hack away at workplace rights and wages for millions of middle-class families is well underway. And it is failing -- again.

Detroit city workers, pensioners could face cut in retirement savings, too

Source: Susan Tompor and Matt Helms, Detroit Free Press

Detroit's workers and retirees who put money in to the General Retirement System are being told they're likely to face cuts to their savings, too, as well as their pension checks, as part of the bankruptcy process, according to sources familiar with the plan.

Jobless Benefits Stalled Even With U.S. Senate Passage

Source: Kathleen Hunter, Bloomberg

U.S. House Republicans are showing no sign that they'll move forward legislation the Senate passed restoring benefits for the long-term unemployed.

VW eyes UAW recognition at Chattanooga plant, group says

Source: Mike Pare, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Volkswagen risks labor and political blowback if, as an anti-union group claimed Monday, the carmaker ignores February's vote at the Chattanooga plant and aligns with the United Auto Workers, an industry analyst says.

April 7, 2014

In Wake Of Protests, Walmart Workers Find More Hours Within Reach

Source: Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post

In her nearly two years with Walmart, Miya'Neisha Johnson has typically worked about 20 hours a week at her Western Arkansas store, while pursuing a bachelor's degree.

Bill to change disputed measure in education-reform law dies

Source: Zahira Torres, The Denver Post

Legislation that would keep Denver Public Schools from placing longtime teachers on permanent unpaid leave died Monday, but not before the state lawmaker who authored the bill chastised district administrators for not compromising.

The Unintended Consequences of Treating College Athletes Like Employees

Source: Juliet Lapidos, The New York Times

The head of an institution with a vested interest in maintaining the current college sports business model is unhappy about recent attempts to change it. Who could have predicted such a thing?

VW considering tossing election results and accepting UAW union, group says

Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press

An anti-union group said today that Volkswagen is considering disregarding the February election results over United Auto Workers representation at the Chattanooga plant and accepting authorization cards the union claims to have collected last year.

Workers on the Edge

Source: David Bensman, The American Prospect

One of the most significant contributing causes of the widening inequality and insecurity in the American workforce is the accelerating shift to what economists call contingent employment.

April 6, 2014

NYSUT votes in first female president

Source: Lauren Stanforth, Albany Times Union

New York State United Teachers delegates Saturday night voted in their first new president in nine years, no doubt a reaction to how the union feels its organization is responding to the state's implementation of the controversial Common Core State Standards.

Obama actions test workplace ideas

Source: Jim Kuhnhenn, Philadelphia Inquirer (AP)

Lacking congressional support to raise wages or end gender pay disparities, President Barack Obama is again imposing his policies on federal contractors, in keeping with presidents' tradition of exerting their powers on a fraction of the economy they directly control.

Low wages for female workers spur group of women to write letter to Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders to seek income equality

Source: Kenneth Lovett, New York Daily News

A group of more than 125 prominent women have sent a letter to Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders calling on them to allow local governments to set their own minimum wage rates.

Exploited temp workers may finally get some relief

Source: Michael Grabell, Salon (ProPublica)

ProPublica California could become one of the first states in the nation to hold companies legally responsible for wage and safety violations by their subcontractors and temp agencies if a bill proposed Friday becomes law.

Not your grandpa's labor union

Source: Leon Neyfakh, The Boston Globe

Last month, when the college football players of Northwestern University tentatively won the right to unionize, the ruling by the regional National Labor Relations Board asserted that even though these young men were students at their school, they were also its employees.

April 5, 2014

Former labor secretary backs UAW, blasts state officials for interference

Source: Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich chided Tennessee political leaders Friday for trying to influence workers at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant to reject representation by the United Auto Workers union.

Maryland Senate Approves Minimum Wage Increase

Source: Associated Press, CBS Baltimore

The Maryland Senate voted Saturday to increase the state's minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8 in January, the first in a series of incremental hikes that will lead to a $10.10 wage in July 2018.

Yes He Can, on Immigration

Source: New York Times

The administration needs to find ways to turn off the deportation machinery when it gets abused. It should end programs like Secure Communities that enlist local police as immigration enforcers. When immigrants assert their civil and labor rights against abusive employers, it should protect them from deportation and retaliation.

April 4, 2014

How Tenn. politicians killed Volkswagen unionization

Source: Ned Resnikoff, MSNBC

Right-wing groups may have successfully defeated a unionization bid at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tenn. manufacturing plant, but it wasn't a clean victory.

All Work and No Pay

Source: Moyers & Company

In 1991, the National Restaurant Association passed around enough campaign contributions to persuade Congress to set the federal minimum wage for waiters, busboys and bartenders at only $2.13 an hour. And it has never gone up.

Senate is expected to pass unemployment bill, but a difficult path awaits in House

Source: Wesley Lowery, The Washington Post

The Senate is expected to vote Monday to pass a bipartisan bill that would restore long-term unemployment benefits that were allowed to expire in December.

Young People Understand Unions Can Solve Problems

Source: Liz Shuler, U.S. News and World Report

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board's Chicago Regional Director issued a notable finding: football players at Northwestern University are employees of the university for purposes of federal labor law.

April 3, 2014

Apartment Building Workers Approve Possible Strike Ahead of Contract Negotiations

Source: Michael Herzenberg, NY 1

More than 1,000 people marched from 73rd Street and Fifth Avenue to 83rd Street and Park Avenue. The doormen, handymen, porters and building superintendents rallied, trying to demonstrate unity less than a week ahead of an expected contract offer from the realty advisory board.

SEPTA's biggest union doesn't want to strike, but will it?

Source: Dan Geringer, Philadelphia Inquirer

When the last of SEPTA's contracts with its unionized workers expires on Sunday, the clock starts ticking on the time bomb of a crippling transit strike.

Gov. Bentley says workforce training key to Alabama's economic future

Source: Alex Walsh, The Birmingham News

Gov. Robert Bentley emphasized the importance of workforce training and education in improving economic conditions across the state during an appearance at an Alabama Associated General Contractors meeting in Irondale on Wednesday.

Odds Aren't Improving For Long-Term Unemployed Workers

Source: NPR

There is still be a huge number of people who have been out of work for six months or more. Steve Inskeep talks to David Wessel, director of the Hutchins Center at the Brookings Institution.

April 2, 2014

College athletes take labor cause to Capitol Hill

Source: Kimberly Hefling (AP), Salon

Members of a group seeking to unionize college athletes are looking for allies on Capitol Hill as they brace for an appeal of a ruling that said full scholarship athletes at Northwestern University are employees who have the right to form a union.

UAW asks to delay Volkswagen hearing, cites anti-union collusion

Source: Amanda Becker and Bernie Woodall, Reuters

The United Auto Workers (UAW) on Tuesday asked a U.S. agency to stay an April 21 hearing related to a mid-February union vote it lost at a Tennessee Volkswagen plant, citing what it called new evidence of collusion between Republican lawmakers and anti-union groups.

Coal company from Spike TV series cited by NLRB

Source: Paul Nyden, Charleston Gazette

A coal company that hosted a national television series unfairly refused to negotiate a contract with union-represented miners, the National Labor Relations Board ruled last week.

April 1, 2014

Haslam drops raises for teachers, state workers

Source: Chas Sisk, The Tennessean

Gov. Bill Haslam's plan to boost pay for teachers will be put on hold for at least a year, the governor announced Monday, as he works to close a $160 million gap in the state budget.

Communism saved the American worker

Source: Edward McClelland, Salon

Communism was, however, fantastic for the American worker. It's no coincidence that the golden age of American equality, that period from the 1940s to the 1970s when the gap between CEOs and employees hit its all-time low, was almost exactly coterminous with the Cold War.

The hypocrisy of big-time college sports

Source: Gordon Schnell and David Scupp, CNN

The debate has gone on for years. The athletes in big-time college sports bring in billions of dollars for their universities and the NCAA, but get nothing in return -- other than a scholarship that does not even cover the full cost of attending school.

March 31, 2014

Tina Fey Docked $79k For Failing To Carry Workers' Comp Insurance

Source: Mack Gelber, AOL Jobs

Actress and 30 Rock creator Tina Fey might've found herself uttering Liz Lemon's old catchphrase this past weekend, after the New York State Workers' Compensation Board slapped her with a $79,000 judgment for failing to carry workers' comp insurance.

'Right to work' vote in Missouri House could have narrow margin

Source: Marie French, St. Louis Post Dispatch

One business priority touted by Republican leadership has been slow to move out of the Missouri House this session.

Politicians, experts split over fair minimum wage

Source: Associated Press, The Washington Post

The federal minimum wage has left three-person families below the poverty level since 1980. It's also well shy of the peak of its buying power almost half a century ago.

March 30, 2014

NW union reps off to Congress

Source: Tom Farrey, ESPN

The leaders who are attempting to unionize Northwestern football players will take their case to Capitol Hill lawmakers, aiming to protect the historic victory union organizers achieved last week.

Court docs: Google hiked wages to combat "hot, young" Facebook after Sandberg refused to join hiring cartel

Source: Mark Ames , Pando Daily

According to testimony from Sandberg, recently unsealed, almost as soon as she left Google for Facebook in March 2008, her former Google colleagues began discussing ways to bring her and Facebook into the illegal wage-suppression cartel.

Transgender Woman Banned from Ladies' Room Files Discrimination Charges

Source: RJ de Guzman, Philippine News

A transgender woman filed charges of discrimination at the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office, as two security guards barred her from entering the women's bathroom at her workplace.

March 29, 2014

United Auto Workers Membership Grows Slightly

Source: Ken Sweet, ABC News (AP)

The United Auto Workers said its membership grew by nearly 9,000 people last year, the union said in a filing with Department of Labor, the fourth-straight year that the union has rebuilt its depleted ranks.

The maestro behind the Vermont Workers' Center movement

Source: Terri Hallenback, Burlington Free Press

When a House committee held a public hearing this month on raising the minimum wage, a few dozen red-shirted Vermonters filed into the chamber and urged legislators not only to raise the minimum wage, but to elevate it higher than the governor wanted and to require employers to provide paid sick leave.

Bishops and clergy of many faiths agree: Right-to-work is bad for Missouri

Source: Editorial Board, St. Louis Post Dispatch

The Cabinet of the Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis has announced its opposition to "Right to Work/Freedom to Work" efforts under consideration in the Missouri Legislature.

March 28, 2014

Charter-boosters' ugly civil rights scam: Why their rhetoric is so misleading

Source: Josh Eidelson, Salon

"If other sections of the labor movement were to take some cues from the [Chicago Teachers Union] about militant, bottom-up, democratic left-unionism, unions' extinction might become less of a certainty," journalist Micah Uetricht writes in his new book, "Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity."

Long battle looms between U.S. college, athletes seeking to unionize

Source: Amanda Becker, Reuters

A day after football players at Northwestern University tentatively won the right to unionize, they and the Illinois school dug in for a lengthy legal and political battle that could reshape the multimillion-dollar sports business that U.S. colleges have built around unpaid amateur players.

Rewriting the Rules for Overtime Pay

Source: Tyler C. Grant, Consumer Eagle

Erin Johansson, research director for Jobs With Justice, said workers in the fast food industry sometimes oversee employees for only a couple of hours a week, but are classified as supervisors.

March 27, 2014

How Cincinnati beat the tea party

Source: Amy B. Dean, Al Jazeera America

The refrain of privatization seems to play over and over. Our cities are going broke and can't afford to make retirement payments; public health nurses, city park employees, and other workers who provide important services will not get what they worked hard for all their lives; and the only way out is to put pensions into the hands of privately held corporations.

Good news for Connecticut's governor: He just got the highest state minimum wage

Source: Niraj Chokshi, The Washington Post

Connecticut's Gov. Dan Malloy can breathe a little easier: he just landed the minimum wage hike he's been pushing so hard for.

NLRB decision very well-reasoned

Source: Lester Munson, ABC News (ESPN)

The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago, Peter Sung Ohr, ruled Wednesday that Northwestern University football players are university employees and entitled to an election that will determine whether they can form a union.

Northwestern ruling sends clear message: NCAA, it's time to negotiate

Source: Andy Staples, Sports Illustrated

Donald Remy was disappointed Wednesday. This has become somewhat of a theme for the NCAA's chief legal counsel. In fact, if the fictional Soggy Bottom Boys are stumped for their next hit, they should consider writing "Man of Constant Disappointment" and dedicate it to Remy.

March 26, 2014

How many hours must minimum-wage earners work to afford rent?

Source: Jolie Lee, USA Today

Minimum-wage employees must work on average 2.6 full-time jobs to afford a decent two-bedroom apartment in the USA without paying more than 30% of their income, according to a report released Monday from the National Low Income Housing Coalition based on federal data.

White House: Minimum Wage Hike Will Help Close The Gender Wage Gap

Source: Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post

Hoping to give Democrats' minimum wage legislation a boost in Congress, the White House released a report on Wednesday making the case that raising the wage floor would benefit women in particular and help close the gender wage gap.

NLRB's N'western ruling to be issued

Source: Lester Munson and Tom Farrey, ESPN

The regional director of the Chicago district of the National Labor Relations Board, Peter Sung Ohr, will decide whether scholarship football players at Northwestern University qualify as employees who can form a union and bargain for benefits.

March 25, 2014

America's Workers: Stressed Out, Overwhelmed, Totally Exhausted

Source: Rebecca J. Rosen, The Atlantic

The article explains how our burnt out lifestyles are not necessarily our fault, but our culture's.

SRC seeks to eliminate seniority, impose other changes on teachers

Source: Solomon Leach, Philadelphia Daily News

Locked in a stalemate with the teachers union, the Philadelphia School District took a more forceful approach yesterday, asking the state Supreme Court to reaffirm its right to impose work rules, including the elimination of teacher seniority.

Grad Students Driving the Growing Debt Burden

Source: Josh Mitchell, The Wall Street Journal

The surge in student-loan debt in recent years has been driven disproportionately by borrowing for graduate school amid a weak economy and an open spigot of government credit, according to a report that raises questions about the broader debate about how to resolve Americans' growing burden.

Will Northwestern University football unionize?

Source: Sara Ganim, CNN

Northwestern University's president emeritus said that if the players on its football team are successful at forming a union, he could see the prestigious private institution giving up Division I football.

March 24, 2014

Wage increase sought for workers who also earn tips

Source: Andrew Seidman, Philadelphia Inquirer

An Assembly panel advanced legislation Monday that would increase the minimum wage for New Jersey workers who make most of their money in tips, despite objections from restaurant and beverage industry officials who feared a blow to businesses.

Five reasons the NLRB must overturn tainted VW election

Source: John Logan, The Hill

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will soon decide on whether to overturn the union election at Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee because outside interference undermined workers' choice.

Detroit prepares for historic debt deal vote

Source: Robert Snell, The Detroit News

Detroit will finalize this week an unprecedented plan to solicit votes from about 32,000 municipal retirees and benefi