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

January 13, 2017

Unions, Companies Clash Over Proposed OSHA Hearing Loss Rule

Source: Bruce Rolfsen, Bloomberg BNA

Union and industry representatives are raising their voices over OSHA’s proposal to revise its rule for whether an employee’s hearing loss should be considered job-related.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and labor-related organizations called the possible change a “clarification” of existing requirements.

“The proposed change will clarify that hearing loss must be recorded if work has contributed to it in any way, even if work is not the predominant or substantial contributor,” the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America told OSHA.

How to Train a Worker

Source: Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

In an economy in which automation and globalization are rapidly changing and even eliminating certain jobs, American workers and companies might come to see education not as a life-stage, but as a way of living. There’s just one problem with government-run retraining programs. They don’t really work. The U.S. government has the money to retrain workers, but not the curriculum. Companies have the expertise to teach relevant skills, but won’t spend the money. So why not bring them together to create a government-backed corporate retraining program, one in which Washington pays companies for only those curricula that raise workers’ wages?

Fast-food workers protest Trump's labor secretary nominee

Source: Lisa Baertlein and Sarah N. Lynch, Reuters

The union-backed "Fight for $15" movement protested at Carl's Jr and Hardee's restaurants on Thursday in a bid to stop the chains' head, a vocal opponent of minimum wage increases and "overregulation," from becoming U.S. labor secretary. Senate leadership has pushed back the confirmation hearing of Andrew Puzder to February from a tentative date of Jan. 17. Puzder has spoken against efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15 and is widely expected to roll back policies such as those aimed at curbing unpaid overtime and improving worker safety. The restaurant industry is the biggest U.S. employer of minimum wage workers, and CKE's restaurants, like many others, have been cited or sued for violating wage and safety rules.

January 12, 2017

Retail Unions, Workers Face ‘Precarious’ Times

Source: Jaclyn Diaz, Bloomberg BNA

Retail workers and the unions that represent them should be on alert after the recent announcement of hundreds of Macy’s, Kmart and Sears stores closing, a labor professor told Bloomberg BNA. The growth of e-commerce, namely, online retailers such as Amazon, has a hand in pushing out traditional department stores and their workers. While the retail unions should be able to maintain the current level of job standards for their workers, it isn’t certain that will last.

Wells Fargo overhauls pay plan for bank branch employees

Source: The Associated Press, Associated Press

Wells Fargo is completely restructuring how it pays tellers and other bank branch employees after a scandal over its aggressive sales practices. Employees will no longer get incentives for opening accounts or meeting sales goals. They will instead receive part of their overall salary based on how the products they sell are used. Accounts that are used frequently will help an employee's pay, while idle accounts will not be a factor. And employees will receive more of their overall compensation as a base salary, not incentives and bonuses.

Labor Department aims to protect healthcare workers

Source: Tim Devaney, The Hill

The Department of Labor will protect healthcare professionals from workplace violence. Healthcare and social workers face a “substantially higher” rate of workplace violence than is common in other industries, said David Michaels, who runs the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It is unclear whether the development of OSHA’s workplace violence standard will continue under the Trump administration.

January 11, 2017

Trump Labor pick Puzder's hearing could be delayed until February

Source: Jacob Pramuk, CNBC

Donald Trump's Labor Secretary choice Andy Puzder may not face the Senate until February as lawmakers shuffle the schedule for some key appointee hearings. Puzder, chief executive of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's parent CKE Restaurants, was originally scheduled to testify on Jan. 17 before the Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions, which is chaired by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Puzder's hearing will be moved and may not happen until next month after Trump Education Secretary pick Betsy DeVos' hearing was delayed to the same day, an Alexander aide said.

Poverty, economic inequality are big concerns for US mayors

Source: Andrew Ryan, Boston Globe

Mayors across the United States are increasingly focused on poverty and economic inequality and less preoccupied with city finances, according to Boston University’s annual survey of more than 100 sitting mayors. Mayors are troubled by the lack of job opportunities for the middle class — particularly for their constituents without college degrees. They also expressed concern about economic challenges faced by constituents lacking access to public transportation and about persistent disparities in wealth that often break along racial lines.

Repealing Obamacare Could Kill Jobs

Source: Vann R. Newkirk II, The Atlantic

A study by Laurel Lucia and Ken Jacobs at the University of California, Berkeley, considered the hypothetical effects in California of a law similar to H.R. 3762, a Congress-passed measure for ACA repeal that President Obama vetoed in 2015. Lucia’s and Jacobs’s work suggests that after the two-year sunset of the insurance and subsidy expansions, and with no replacement in place, such a bill would cost California over 200,000 jobs and over $20 billion in total gross domestic product. Most of these losses would occur within the health industry itself, but would also happen in other sectors, like the food and transportation sectors that provide vital services for hospitals.

January 10, 2017

Fear among federal workers flourishes as they face a hostile Trump presidency

Source: Petula Dvorak, The Washington Post

The fear in the federal workforce is palpable. The country’s 2.1 million federal employees have survived decades of government reinvention and massive outsourcing to contractors. But with the inauguration of Donald Trump less than two weeks away, this threat feels different. All over the nation’s capital, panicked job searches are underway among its legions of badge-wearing, Metro commuting, “I-can’t-talk-to-you-I-work-for-the-government” federal workers. Federal workers have good reason to be worried. Trump is picking people to head government agencies they want to dismantle.

Could Trump’s presidency upend the gig economy and those who rely on it?

Source: Micha Kaufman, The Hill

Though President-elect Trump touted his own business expertise as the basis for his campaign, his administration stands as a threat to many of today’s entrepreneurs, independent workers and freelancers. There’s still uncertainty around how Trump’s policies will affect certain aspects of business, but there are three issues in particular that could be detrimental to today’s growing entrepreneurial community. As we enter the next four years of Trump’s presidency, it will be important to keep an eye on how these issues develop.

Union workers decry Kentucky right-to-work legislation in Capitol building protest

Source: Matthew Rand, WLKY Louisiana

It was an unprecedented week in Frankfort, as Republicans now in control of both the state House and Senate delivered on a number of conservative campaign promises, including right to work. Chanting "union power," union workers packed the state Capitol building to oppose the right-to-work bill, which will ban employers from forcing workers to pay mandatory union dues. Supporters say the bill will attract much-needed jobs to the state, but opponents say it is designed to weaken unions and harm working families.

January 9, 2017

For some workers, pay raise comes with loss of cheap child care

Source: Natalie Kitroeff, Los Angeles Times

When the minimum wage in California rose to $10.50 an hour Jan. 1, more than a million people got a raise. But for an untold number of families across the state, that pay bump could price them out of child care. This year, for the first time, two parents working full time at minimum wage jobs, with one child, will be considered too well off to qualify for state subsidies for day care and preschool.

Inequality or middle incomes: which matters more?

Source: The Economist

A puzzle exists where America’s economics meet its politics. Income inequality is higher than in other rich countries, and the recent election was interpreted by many as the revenge of the left-behind, who found their champion in Donald Trump. Yet the candidate who made income inequality a campaign theme, wanted higher taxes on the rich and promised more financial regulation lost. Since the election, Mr. Trump has nominated a cabinet with a combined net worth of over $6bn, by one estimate. He has invited the bosses of big corporations to advise him on economic policy. And he has filled key White House posts with Goldman Sachs alumni. The riches of top earners do not seem to bother voters nearly as much as many on the left would like them to.

Wells Fargo Investigation Hampered by Outside Attorney Citing a Trump Tie, Labor Department Claims

Source: Emily Glazer, The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Department of Labor claims an attorney representing Wells Fargo & Co. tried to hamper an investigation into the bank’s treatment of employees and in doing so cited a possible role in the coming Trump administration, according to a letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The Labor Department probe is focused on whether Wells Fargo skirted overtime rules, among other potential labor issues, in a bid to meet lofty sales goals.

January 6, 2017

New minimum wage hikes help more people than they harm

Source: Evan Kraft, The Hill

On Jan. 1, the legal minimum wage increased in no less than 19 states. After the changes, some 29 states have minimum wages higher than the federal level. The effects of an increased minimum wage seem easy to predict. A minimum wage is a price floor. If set too high, it should lead to a situation of excess supply. Result — higher wages for some, unemployment for others. However, at least since Alan Krueger and David Card’s pioneering study of the effects of wage increases on fast food workers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, published in 1994, there has been an increasing body of evidence suggesting that increased minimum wages do not result in increased unemployment.

Why Men Don’t Want the Jobs Done Mostly by Women

Source: Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times

It hasn’t been a great time to be a man without a job. The jobs that have been disappearing, like a machine operator, are predominantly those that men do. The occupations that are growing, like health aide, employ mostly women. One solution is for the men who have lost jobs in factories to become health aides. But while more than a fifth of American men aren’t working, they aren’t running to these new service-sector jobs. Why? They require very different skills, and pay a lot less. They’re also seen as women’s work, which has always been devalued in the American labor market.

U.S. Postal Service Drops Service at Staples Amid Union Pressure

Source: Josh Eidelson , Bloomberg

Following union-backed boycotts and an adverse labor board ruling, the United States Postal Service has agreed to curb a controversial arrangement allowing private employees to provide its services at Staples Inc. stores. USPS spokeswoman Darlene Casey told Bloomberg that the Postal Service would end its relationship with Staples in order to comply with a National Labor Relations Board judge’s ruling. The cancellation is a coup for the Postal Service’s largest union.

January 5, 2017

Obama administration moves against federal contractors that owed back pay to workers

Source: Joe Davidson, The Washington Post

How the dealmaking Trump crowd will deal with federal contractors remains to be seen, but the Obama administration is making a statement during its final weeks in office. In the waning days of December, the Labor Department took strong action against two companies that it said has cheated workers.

Manufacturer Not Insulated From Charges It Underpaid Latina Supervisor

Source: Kevin McGowan, Bloomberg BNA

A New Mexico insulation manufacturer will pay $60,000 to settle charges lodged by the EEOC that it unlawfully discriminated against a Hispanic female supervisor by paying her less than a male employee doing the same job and by barring her from speaking Spanish on the job. The Dec. 30 settlement with Kevothermal LLC is notable because it combines two of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s top enforcement priorities: combating the gender pay gap and preventing national origin discrimination.

Gender pay gap halves for millennials, but will widen with age: study

Source: Reuters, Reuters

The pay gap between men and women in their 20s has halved in a generation to 5 percent but will widen as the same adults grow older, according to analysis by a British think-tank. The analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics by the Resolution Foundation found the gender pay gap has closed for every generation of women since those born between 1911 and 1925. However, the pay gap begins to widen as women begin to enter their 30s and early 40s when they begin to have children and begin to take time off work, after which it continues for decades, the study said.

January 4, 2017

Trump sees Labor makeover

Source: Peter Schroeder, The Hill

After years of high-profile protests for a higher national minimum wage, Trump has selected Andrew Puzder, the man in charge of running fast food chains such as Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., to run the Labor Department. Under President Obama, the Labor Department has pushed forward a number of initiatives aimed at empowering workers, from raising the minimum wage and providing overtime pay to more workers, to family leave and healthcare. With Puzder and a business-friendly administration in charge, business groups see a chance to go in a dramatically different direction.

One Proven Way Women Can Get a Higher Salary

Source: Kirsty Wareing, Time

Published in The European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, the research indicates that dominant and self-assured women are paid (on average) more than those who don’t allow themselves to speak their mind. With that encouragement, though, comes yet more confirmation that the gender pay gap persists. Dominant women are still not always paid their worth compared to male colleagues, while women who don’t speak up are punished with smaller salaries.

'It's important for women to stand up and fight back': Gretchen Carlson talks about the need to empower women on Today in triumphant return to TV, six months after $20m Fox News sex suit

Source: Chris Spargo, The Daily Mail

Carlson also revealed in that Time interview that she will be testifying in front of Congress this year about forced arbitration in employee contracts, something that affected her at Fox and made it more difficult for her to file a lawsuit against the network and her alleged harasser, Ailes. 'A lot of people that I’ve heard from [about being unfairly dismissed] find themselves in the middle of either legal action or, more likely, forced arbitration,' said Carlson. 'It is a huge problem. Because it’s secret. And it plays into why we think that we’ve come so far in society and we probably really haven’t–because we don’t hear about it.' She then added: 'The intent of the Supreme Court when they ruled on arbitration was to unclog the courts. It was not to put issues of discrimination and harassment into covert operations.'

January 3, 2017

Big Growth in Tiny Businesses

Source: Jeffrey Sparshot, The Wall Street Journal

A tiny segment of U.S. manufacturing appears to be thriving—the one with no employees. A mix of technology, economic necessity and adventure is leading more Americans to found companies that plan to stay very small. That entrepreneurial spark also highlights challenges facing the economy, from difficulty re-entering the job market to the diminishing role of fast-growing young firms.

New York’s Teamsters May Have Their Pensions Cut. What Went Wrong?

Source: Gretchen Morgenson, The New York Times

As troubled pension funds go, the New York State Teamsters Conference Pension and Retirement Fund, with some $1.3 billion in assets, is by no means the largest. Neither is it in the direst financial shape, even though just 44.8 percent of its obligations are funded. But given that participants in this fund may face benefits cuts of at least 20 percent, learning what went wrong could be instructive not only for other imperiled retirement funds but also for taxpayers who may have to cover the shortfalls.

Deal With Income Inequality to Make America Great Again

Source: Steven Pressman, Newsweek

In a recent issue of The Economist, President Barack Obama set out four major economic issues that his successor must tackle. As he put it: “… restoring faith in an economy where hardworking Americans can get ahead requires addressing four major structural challenges: boosting productivity growth, combating rising inequality, ensuring that everyone who wants a job can get one and building a resilient economy that’s primed for future growth.” It’s hard to quibble with the items on the president’s list. Slow productivity growth, rising inequality, inadequate employment and the lack of sustainable economic growth all are important problems that a President Trump will have to face.

January 2, 2017

19 States Increase Minimum Wage at the Start of 2017

Source: Michael Edison Hayden, ABC News

Nineteen states are raising the minimum wage today in a shift that stands to lift the income of millions of workers. The minimum wage will be increased in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington to start 2017. Oregon, Washington, D.C., and Maryland will see wage increases in their states later on this year.

How Dwindling Union Power Helped Usher In Trump

Source: Alan Draper, The American Prospect

Donald Trump swept the Rust Belt in part because labor unions are in retreat, a trend that started long before Election Day.

Growing a Different Apple

Source: Vindu Goel, The New York Times

Founded in 2014 by three former senior managers from Apple’s iPod and iPhone groups, Pearl has tried to replicate what its leaders view as the best parts of Apple’s culture, like its fanatical dedication to quality and beautiful design. But the founders also consciously rejected some of the less appealing aspects of life at Apple, like its legendary secrecy and top-down management style. The start-up, which makes high-tech accessories for cars, holds weekly meetings with its entire staff. Managers brief them on coming products, company finances, technical problems, even the presentations made to the board.

December 29, 2016

Wages Are Increasing, But What's Behind It?

Source: Yuki Noguchi, NPR

The Great Recession ended 7 1/2 years ago, and job gains have been steady since, but greater demand for workers is only starting to increase pay. The increases are still relatively modest, and the data are still mixed. In October, for example, the Labor Department reported average hourly earnings increased at a 2.8 percent rate — the highest since mid-2009, but wage growth slowed in November. A separate report this month showed the cost of labor — another measure of wage growth — increased especially during the spring of this year. What's driving the recent wage growth is unclear.

Noodles & Co. Will Pay $3 Million to Settle Overtime Claims

Source: Kevin McGowan, Bloomberg BNA

Noodles & Company will pay $3 million to settle the overtime pay claims of a nationwide class of assistant general managers who said they were wrongly classified as exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Contract workers at National and Dulles look to 2017 for a wage increase win

Source: Luz Lazo, The Washington Post

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority managed to stay mostly out of the fray as workers at Reagan National and Dulles International airports led protests throughout the year for better pay and benefits. But some members of the authority’s governing body may be seeking to take a stronger hand in helping workers in the new year. Officials with knowledge of MWAA’s discussions say board members are considering supporting some type of wage increase.

December 28, 2016

NY starts hotline for minimum-wage increases

Source: Joseph Spector, The Press & Sun-Bulletin

New York’s labor department is providing a hotline for workers to call if their employers don’t comply with the new minimum-wage rates set to launch Saturday. The higher minimum wage starts Dec. 31, and the state is also launching an ad campaign to highlight the increases.

Report: Powerful labor union plans massive budget cuts in wake of Donald Trump victory

Source: CBS News, CBS News

The Service Employees International Union, perhaps the single most politically powerful labor union in the country, is drastically cutting its budget in the wake of president-elect Donald Trump’s election victory. According to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek, SEIU president Mary Kay Henry said the union must “plan for a 30% reduction” in its budget by the start of 2018. That number includes a 10 percent budget cut by the start of 2017.

How One U.S. Group Turns Migrants Into Employees Listen· 4:24

Source: Deborah Amos, NPR

According to a new report from the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, nearly 1.5 million college-educated immigrants were employed in low-skilled jobs between 2009 and 2013. Nearly a third of refugees resettled in the U.S. in the past few years are college graduates. It's a common story, the taxi driver who was a surgeon back home. The Migration Policy Institute researchers call it "brain waste." The institute's president, Michael Fix says it represents a huge loss to the U.S. economy in squandered potential. These workers, he says, "lost 40 billion dollars a year, or about the same amount as the entire profit of the airline industry."

December 21, 2016

GM and Fiat Chrysler Cut Jobs as Sales Pendulum Swings to SUVs

Source: David Welch and Jamie Butters, Bloomberg

For unionized auto workers, even amid a booming U.S. market, the only safe jobs of late have been building pickups and sport utility vehicles. Within the next month, General Motors Co. plans to permanently cut about 3,300 employees at three car plants, as the largest U.S. automaker slashes production of models including the Chevrolet Cruze compact. The Detroit-based company also plans to temporarily lay off employees across five of its U.S. car factories, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is trimming production at two plants in Canada.

D.C.’s Battle for Paid Family Leave

Source: Alexia Fernández Campbell, The Atlantic

This week, the District of Columbia is poised to become the next in a growing number of state and local governments to provide workers with a benefit not offered under federal law: paid leave for new parents. The United States remains the only industrialized nation to not offer the benefit, but if the District’s proposed legislation passes, it would become the most generous paid-family-leave law in the country.

Unpredictable work schedule? Help may be coming

Source: Anna Robaton, CBS Moneywatch

Erratic work schedules, often coupled with low wages, are a fact of life for millions of workers, particularly in the retail, fast food, hospitality and other service-related industries. Some workers gravitate to these sectors because they want flexible schedules. But for many others, erratic scheduling practices create hardships. Earlier this year, Seattle and Emeryville, California, followed in the footsteps of San Francisco, which in 2014 passed the country’s first-ever, predictive-scheduling law. Expected to take effect in July, the law requires employers to provide newly hired workers with a good-faith estimate of the hours they can expect to work, post work schedules two weeks in advance and compensate employees for schedule changes.

December 20, 2016

Publix- and Disney-Backed Coalition Sues to Stop Miami Beach From Raising Minimum Wage

Source: Jerry Iannelli, Miami New Times

And now Publix is one of more than 35 businesses whose execs make up a coalition suing Miami Beach to stop the city from raising its minimum wage to $13.31 an hour. Last Wednesday, three of the state's largest trade groups — the Florida Retail Federation, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, and Florida Chamber of Commerce — filed that lawsuit.

Two D.C. Council members propose radical revisions to paid family leave bill

Source: Peter Jamison, The Washington Post

Two D.C. Council members are proposing dramatic revisions to the city’s landmark bill guaranteeing up to two months of paid time off for new parents, setting up a showdown among rival council factions and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser less than 12 hours before the council meets to take a final vote on the legislation.

U.S. Factories Are Working Again; Factory Workers, Not So Much

Source: Andrew Tangel and Patrick McGroarty, The Wall Street Journal

Factories were humming back to life even before a pledge to revitalize American manufacturing helped propel Donald Trump to the presidency. But jobs aren’t returning in kind, a reality that will make it tough for Mr. Trump—or anyone—to significantly boost employment in the industrial heartland, as he has pledged to do. Technology and automation have given manufacturing companies the means to function, and even thrive, with fewer employees than ever before.

December 19, 2016

Trump’s Pick for Labor Secretary Wrote a Deregulatory Manifesto

Source: Justin Elliott, ProPublica

Since President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement that he has picked fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder to be labor secretary, there’s been lots of speculation that the administration could undo worker protections. The single best window into Puzder’s thinking may be an obscure book he wrote six years ago. It’s a blistering attack on business regulations, unions, and the Obama administration’s stimulus and health-care policies.

When Women in Film and TV Were Looking for That Union Label

Source: Melena Ryzik, The New York Times

Talk to any honest filmmaker, and they’ll tell you: A movie is only as good as its crew. Yet for decades, the ranks of camera operators, sound mixers and electricians were filled only by men, most often white men. When production work came with a union card, it was a relatively high-paying career. But it was not welcoming to women. That began to change, however slowly, in the 1960s and ’70s, amid the tumult of the civil rights and feminist movements.

Employers nationwide gave raises to avoid paying overtime. Now they're taking them back.

Source: Jack Smith, Mic

Pay increases, the result of a regulatory rule change by the Obama administration, were set to help more than 4 million workers. Just the expectation of the new rule triggered raises for workers across the country, including managers at Walmart, Nationwide Health Insurance and at least half a dozen universities. Now, as a result of the ongoing tussle between the administration and federal courts regarding overtime pay that began in 2014, an injunction against the rule means a victory for big business interests — and rescinding of raises for an unclear number of workers.

December 16, 2016

There Are Plenty of Jobs Out There, America

Source: Peter Coy and Matthew Philips, Bloomberg Businessweek

The economy is raring to go, but crumbling infrastructure and cheap business owners are holding it back.

Why so many teachers need a second job to make ends meet

Source: Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post

Teachers have it easy, right? They get summers off, go home in the middle of the afternoon when students leave campus, and are paid well. Actually, for most teachers, those are all myths, especially the last one. Many teachers are paid so poorly, in fact, that they have to take second jobs to pay their bills. A study released earlier this year found that in 2015, the weekly wages of public school teachers in the United States were 17 percent lower than comparable college-educated professionals — and those most hurt were veteran teachers and male teachers.

MTA Workers Union Express Their Labor Concerns with Post-It Notes

Source: Jose Martinez, NY1

The post-it notes in subway stations airing New Yorkers' anxieties after the election are not only in the stations. On Wednesday, Transport Workers Union Local 100 took the "Subway Therapy" idea to the MTA's Lower Manhattan headquarters. "Dont't Touch My Health Benefits," read a post-it note. "Diesel Killing Us" read another. The stunt was part of the union's public push for a new contract, with more money and safety protections.

December 15, 2016

Court upholds ruling against union in school right-to-work

Source: Ed White, Associated Press

The Michigan appeals court has upheld a decision that struck down a 10-year agreement between a Detroit-area school district and a union - a deal that was seen as a way to get around the state's right-to-work law. The law says workers can't be forced to financially support a union to keep their job.

MTA union workers threaten strike if contract demands aren’t met

Source: Vincent Barone, amNewYork

The union that represents MTA bus and subway workers is shaping its contract requests around the dangers of the job — and workers have threatened to strike if terms aren’t met. With negotiations in full swing, members of Transit Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 packed an MTA board meeting on Wednesday hoisting posters of workers injured on the job.

'Fight for $15' Wants To Raise Nevada's Minimum Wage In 2017

Source: Kristy Totten, NPR

In late November, about a hundred protesters gathered on the Strip, demanding that minimum wage be raised to $15 per hour. The protests coincided with others across the nation, under the banner of the “Fight for $15,” a movement dating back to 2012 when hundreds of fast-food workers walked off the job in New York City. Those who support the campaign hope to see Nevada's minimum wage raised in the 2017 Nevada Legislature.

December 14, 2016

The hidden powers Andy Puzder would hold at the Department of Labor

Source: Danny Vinik, Politico

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick of Andy Puzder, a fast-food restaurant CEO, could have profound effects that touch millions of U.S. workers and companies almost immediately. The Obama administration has already wielded the power of the Department of Labor to push through huge changes in the American workplace, cracking down on wage theft and slowly shifting how the U.S. trains workers. Many of the changes, such as to unemployment insurance or job training, aren’t visible to most Americans, and the shifts happen over years and decades, not weeks and months. But the changes are real, and they don’t require congressional approval. Puzder’s power would be expansive, touching on every corner of the economy.

AFL-CIO asks to intervene in challenge to overtime rule

Source: Daniel Wiessner, Reuters

The Texas chapter of the AFL-CIO is asking to join the battle over the legality of an Obama administration rule that would extend mandatory overtime pay to 4.2 million workers, raising concerns that the U.S. Department of Labor will drop its defense of the rule once President-elect Donald Trump takes office.

How Ikea's Paid Parental Leave Policies Can Help Close The Wage Gap

Source: Lydia Dishman, Fast Company

We know that the U.S. lags behind almost all other countries that provide federally mandated paid leave. Some cities and states have implemented their own legislation, but the Department of Labor estimates that only 12% of U.S. employees get paid leave through their employers. Not offering paid parental leave comes at a higher cost for employers. Now a new report from Visier, a cloud-based workforce intelligence company, extends the implications even further. The findings in Visier’s Gender Equity report suggest that offering paternal leave policies like Ikea’s could also close the gender pay gap.

December 13, 2016

Washington State Dairy Workers Challenge Their Exemption From Overtime Pay

Source: Elizabeth Grossman, NPR

Patricia Aguilar, 21, began working at DeRuyter Brothers Dairy in central Washington nearly three years ago. Her colleague, Jose Martinez, 60, also worked at a milking parlor at DeRuyter Brothers. Both were paid about $12 per hour and there was no overtime pay – a norm in this industry that runs 24/7. That's because U.S. federal law excludes people who work in agriculture – on farms and in dairies – from the right to overtime pay. It also excludes them from the right to organize or unionize, and the right to be paid the minimum wage. Now, Aguilar and Martinez are challenging this labor law exemption in Washington by filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all agricultural workers in the state.

Donald Trump still does not understand the unemployment rate

Source: Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post

During the campaign, Trump frequently said the unemployment rate — then hovering around 5 percent — was really 42 percent. He earned Four Pinocchios for that claim. The problem was that he was counting every single adult American who did not have a job, regardless of whether they wanted one. So he said the “unemployed” should include people who are retired, are students or are stay-at-home parents. That’s obviously absurd. So, for the benefit of the soon-to-be-president, let’s explain how the unemployment rate is calculated. His description on Dec. 8 indicates that he does not understand the basics of this fundamental measure of the U.S. economy.

‘Get someone up here. We’re all dying.’

Source: Jim Morris, The Center for Public Integrity

There are 141 oil refineries in the United States. Where they are clustered — east and south of Houston, south of Los Angeles, northeast of San Francisco — they are prodigious sources of air pollution and inflict a sort of low-grade misery — rank odors, bright flares, loud noises — on their neighbors. They also pose an existential threat, as evidenced by the more than 500 refinery accidents reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 1994. The Anacortes disaster occurred five years after the BP refinery in Texas City, Texas, blew up, killing 15 workers and injuring 180. It came two years before a fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, sent a plume of pungent, black smoke over the Bay Area, and five years before an explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California, nearly unleashed a ground-hugging cloud of deadly acid into a city of almost 150,000 people.

December 12, 2016

Columbia Graduate Students Vote Overwhelmingly to Unionize

Source: Elizabeth Harris, The New York Times

Graduate students at Columbia University voted to unionize this week, the group announced on Friday. The union will be the first to represent graduate students since the National Labor Relations Board ruled in August that students who work as teaching and research assistants have a federal right to unionize. The vote this week makes Columbia one of two private universities with graduate-student unions. New York University recognized its own voluntarily in 2013.

Just One Example of How Difficult It Is to Make Labor Law Better for Workers

Source: Michelle Chen, The Nation

The Obama administration sought to adjust the eligibility threshold for overtime pay for low-income salaried workers, who have historically been exempt from the standard 50-percent wage premium for hours worked over the standard 40-hour week. But Federal District Judge Amos Mazzant struck down the measure. Although the reforms aim simply to update rules based on standard protections for those who work excess hours, the court concluded such regulatory changes should be based on types of work, rather than on levels of compensation, and should be addressed through Congress, not the Department of Labor. Labor advocates argue that both the classification rules and compensation levels of the existing overtime regulations have been dramatically distorted by legal manipulation and eroded by structural inequality.

How Trump's Presidency May Affect Hollywood's EEOC Gender Probe

Source: Tatiana Siegel, The Hollywood Reporter

In September 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission launched an investigation to uncover systemic discrimination against female directors. Hollywood's female helmers cheered the news, bemoaning their dismal representation with just 4.1 percent of top-grossing movies in 2002 to 2014, says a USC study. But at the time no one envisioned Donald Trump in the White House. Now many are wondering how Trump — whose candidacy was marred by allegations of groping — will affect the investigation as it continues into its second year.

December 8, 2016

Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Pay for Collapsed Trucking Firm’s Workers

Source: Katy Stech, The Wall Street Journal

The Supreme Court pressed lawyers for a closed New Jersey trucking company to explain why a legal settlement that left workers unpaid didn’t violate bankruptcy law’s strict repayment rules, which call for certain wages to be paid before other debts. Justices at a Wednesday argument session questioned whether the payout plan for Jevic Transportation Inc.’s final bills complied with bankruptcy law, which lays out repayment rules for a bankrupt company’s debts.

Lawmakers use Petland bill to ban Ohio cities from upping minimum wage

Source: Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch

A bill that started out ensuring cities couldn’t limit where pet stores purchase puppies grew Tuesday to also block cities from raising their minimum wages and provide an expedited process for AT&T to install equipment needed to bring next-generation 5G wireless connectivity to Ohio. The so-called Petland Bill, named because Petland pushed for its passage after Grove City officials approved a local ordinance to block it from buying dogs from large-scale breeders, was fattened up by GOP leaders with a handful of amendments. The House Finance Committee also added an amendment blocking cities from imposing minimum wages higher than the state’s rate, which will go to $8.15 next year.

Trump’s Likely Labor Pick, Andrew Puzder, Is Critic of Minimum Wage Increases

Source: Noam Scheiber, The New York Times

President-elect Donald J. Trump is expected to name Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive of the company that operates the fast food outlets Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. and an outspoken critic of the worker protections enacted by the Obama administration, to be secretary of labor, people close to the transition said on Thursday. Mr. Puzder has spent his career in the private sector and has opposed efforts to expand eligibility for overtime pay, while arguing that large minimum wage increases hurt small businesses and lead to job loss among low-skilled workers.

December 7, 2016

Who gets hurt when part-time work becomes the new normal

Source: Ana Swanson, The Washington Post

Most metrics suggest the U.S. economy has snapped back substantially since the recession. In November, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent, a level not seen since August 2007. The economy has created an average of 180,000 jobs a month so far this year, far above what’s necessary to keep the unemployment rate stable. But it’s often the quality, not the quantity, of the jobs that is in question. Many Americans are still cobbling together a living with one or several part-time jobs. Overall, the number of people working part-time has risen 9.1 percent from 2002 to 2016, and now totals 26.4 million, according to government data cited by Golden. But the number of people doing “involuntary” part-time work — that is, people who would like to work full-time but can’t find such work — is up 44.6 percent from 2002, to 6.4 million Americans.

Judge blocks administration from imposing contract on AFSCME

Source: Doug Finke, The State Journal-Register

A St. Clair County judge has issued a temporary order blocking the administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner from imposing contract terms on the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. Judge Robert LeChien issued the temporary restraining order Tuesday and said the administration had to rescind any contract provisions it has already implemented. LeChien said the administration's actions to impose its contract terms "without notice to and the agreement of the union" violated an agreement between the state and AFSCME in place while a new contract was negotiated.

Want to Bring Back Jobs, Mr. President-Elect? Call Elon Musk

Source: Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times

Trump has spent a lot of time talking about how he plans to reinvigorate the manufacturing sector. And yet the group of business luminaries he named on Friday to advise him on “job creation” was missing a key name: Mr. Musk, the real-life Tony Stark behind Tesla, the electric car company. In the last decade, Mr. Musk has created nearly 35,000 jobs among his various enterprises. His Tesla Gigafactory, a 5.5-million-square-foot battery factory under construction outside Reno, Nev., is expected to employ 6,500 people in manufacturing jobs by 2020. This is the future of manufacturing — much more so than the 1,000 jobs saved at the Carrier plant in Indiana last week.

December 6, 2016

Donald Trump Reportedly Considering Fast Food CEO For Labor Secretary

Source: Dave Jamieson, The Huffington Post

On Friday, the New York Times reported that Trump is mulling Andrew Puzder to be his labor secretary. Puzder is the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's. Although Trump's cabinet is rapidly taking shape, the incoming administration hasn't made any formal announcements about the labor post, and a few other names have been kicking around. But if Puzder were plucked, it's safe to say he would be the first burger chain chief tasked with enforcing workplace safety laws and policing the nation's employers for wage theft.

The outrageous legal decision that took overtime pay from millions of workers

Source: Jared Bernstein, Vox

Just days before it was to go into effect on December 1, a federal judge in Texas blocked the Obama administration’s update to overtime pay from taking effect. That means that millions of workers who should receive time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours a week are now at risk of losing that extra income. Cancelling the rule will lead to the loss of $570 million in earnings for affected workers in 2017 (and $2.6 billion between 2017 and 2022).

Wal-Mart Joining Corporate Surge to Protect LGBT Employees

Source: Jeff Green and Shannon Pettypiece, Bloomberg

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. added insurance coverage for transgender workers this year, joining more than 500 companies taking a bigger role in advancing the rights of LGBT employees. Wal-Mart has been among those speaking out against anti-LGBT laws at the state level, helping defeat a 2015 rule in Arkansas. The largest private employer in the U.S. and the world’s biggest retailer has been trying to improve its image to appeal to more customers, particularly on the east and west coasts, where its reputation for low wages and poor benefits has hurt its ability to open new stores.

December 5, 2016

How to Help Working People

Source: Editorial, The New York Times

In his interview on “60 Minutes” shortly after the election, Mr. Trump said his victory was not a rejection of what Mr. Obama has stood for, but a “repudiation of what’s been taking place over a longer period of time.” Worker pay has lagged for a very long time. The Obama-era reforms help to make up lost ground. If Mr. Trump wishes to act in the interest of all working people, he will preserve those reforms.

Carrier’s Workers Union Was Shut Out Of Negotiations Between Company And Donald Trump

Source: Arthur Delaney, The Huffington Post

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted on Thanksgiving Day that he was working to fulfill a campaign promise to save 1,400 jobs set to be eliminated from the Carrier Corporation’s factory in Indiana. On Tuesday night, Carrier tweeted that it had reached a deal with the Trump transition team to save “close to 1,000 jobs” at Carrier’s Indianapolis plant. Chuck Jones, president of the local chapter of the United Steelworkers union that represents workers at Carrier’s Indianapolis plant, had to go by the tweets. He was not a party to the deal.

Labor Activists Fear Freeze On New Workforce-Related Laws In D.C.

Source: Rachel Sadon, DCist

As D.C. nears the possible passage of one of the most generous paid family leave laws in the country, one would expect to find labor activists happily cheering it across the finish line. Indeed, they are planning to show up en masse to Tuesday's markup of the Universal Paid Leave Act bill at the D.C. Council. But they are also deeply worried that the bill could come at a steep cost to other issues they care about. In announcing the latest details of the proposal, Chairman Phil Mendelson said in a release that he would support a two-year freeze on "similar bills."

December 2, 2016

Jobs report likely to show young workers rejoining labor market

Source: Greg Robb, Market Watch

Friday’s employment report is likely to show that young people are returning to the labor market after “vanishing” from payrolls in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Prior to the recession about 82% of people aged 20-45 were in the labor force. The percentage fell to a low of 79% at the worst of the recession, said Jim Glassman, economist at J.P. Morgan Chase.

Dodgers, Latin American Players Losers in MLB Labor Deal

Source: Ronald Blum, Associated Press

The Los Angeles Dodgers, Latin American teenagers and Cubans approaching their mid-20s were losers in baseball's new labor contract, which includes stiffer penalties for high-spending teams and a hard cap on signing bonuses for international amateurs.

Labor Department Appeals Injunction on Overtime-Pay Rule

Source: Melanie Trottman, The Wall Street Journal

The Labor Department is appealing an injunction that halted the Dec. 1 implementation of a sweeping overtime-pay regulation, advancing a federal court battle over a rule that could face an eventual challenge from President-elect Donald Trump. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and other department officials filed a notice of appeal on Thursday with the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to defend an Obama administration rule requiring employers to start paying overtime to workers earning salaries of less than $47,476 a year.

December 1, 2016

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

Source: Justin L. Mack, Indy Star

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

Not All Immigrant Labor Is Cheap Labor

Source: Alexia Fernández Campbell, The Atlantic

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

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

Source: Jonnelle Marte, The Washington Post

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

November 30, 2016

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

Source: S. Laney Griffo, Forbes

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

More Law Degrees for Women, but Fewer Good Jobs

Source: Elizabeth Olson, The New York Times

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

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

Source: Danielle Wiener-Bronner and Chris Isidore, CNNMoney

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

November 29, 2016

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

Source: Mal Leary, Maine Public

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

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

Source: Mark Segraves, NBC4

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

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

Source: Barry Svrluga, The Washington Post

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

November 28, 2016

Student Unionization Vote Count Will Extend Into December

Source: Leah Yared, The Harvard Crimson

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

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

Source: Gretchen Morgenson, The New York Times

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

Local Governments Arrive on Schedule to Buttress Part-Time Workers

Source: Melanie Trottman, The Wall Street Journal

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

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

Source: Reuters

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

November 22, 2016

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

Source: Paula McMahon, The Sun-Sentinel

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

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

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

Source: Adam Edelman, New York Daily News

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

2nd Circuit says NLRB misapplied 'micro union' test

Source: Daniel Wiessner, Reuters

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

November 21, 2016

How Apple Empowers, and Employs, the American Working Class

Source: Vindu Goel, The New York Times

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

Many For-Profit College Graduates Earn Less Than Minimum Wage

Source: Shahien Nasiripour, Bloomberg

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

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

Source: Rhonda Smith, Bloomberg BNA

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

November 18, 2016

Uber and Houston Make Temporary Peace as Super Bowl Approaches

Source: Kia Kokalitcheva, Fortune

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

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

Source: Dayna Evans, New York Magazine

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

DOL Persuader Rule Blocked by Federal Judge

Source: Lawrence E. Dube, Bloomberg BNA

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

November 17, 2016

Work Advice: When it comes to tipped employees, things can get complicated

Source: Karla L. Miller, The Washington Post

In an attempt to resolve pay inequities, and in response to minimum-wage hikes in some areas, a few restaurant owners have tried raising prices and abolishing tips — with mixed results.

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

Source: Natalie Kitroeff, Los Angeles Times

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

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

Source: Ashley May, USA Today

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

Laid-off UCSF tech workers allege discrimination in suit

Source: Bob Egelko, SF Gate

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

November 16, 2016

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

Source: Sarah Nassauer

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

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

Source: Harriet Taylor, CNBC

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

Sleepy's drivers ruled employees; OT decision is next

Source: Jane M. Von Bergen, Philly.com

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

November 15, 2016

NLRB Orders Wang Theatre To Bargain

Source: Ted Hesson, Politico

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

UPS air maintenance workers vote 98 percent to authorize strike

Source: Nick Carey, Reuters

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

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

Source: Josh Levs, Time

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

November 14, 2016

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

Source: Melissa Jeltsen, The Huffington Post

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

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

Source: Timothy Aeppel, Reuters

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

Sexual harassment prevalent among tipped workers in Boston

Source: Katie Johnston, Boston Globe

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

November 11, 2016

Autism in the workplace – an opportunity not a drawback

Source: Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, The Guardian

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

Here's How Labor And Employment Might Change Under Trump

Source: Lydia Dishman, Fast Company

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

No Court Delay of Overtime Rule, Labor Solicitor Predicts

Source: Kevin McGowan, Bloomberg BNA

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

November 10, 2016

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

Source: Daniel Marans, The Huffington Post

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

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

Source: Anna Louie Sussman, The Wall Street Journal

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

Strippers’ Arbitration Protest Redressed

Source: Jon Steingart, Bloomberg BNA

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