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Our Programs In the News

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

August 15, 2018

Time’s Up moves to help low-wage workers fight workplace sexual harassment

Source: Anna Swartz , Mic

The Time’s Up Legal Defense fund, an arm of the celebrity-backed Time’s Up initiative unveiled in January to help fight workplace sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond, is taking a major step toward its mission. The organization announced on Tuesday that the Time’s Up Legal Defense fund has awarded $750,000 in total grants to 18 different nonprofit organizations that all work to support workers who experience sexual harassment and sexual violence in the workplace.

2 million CA workers may be impacted by independent contractor changes

Source: David Louie , ABC 7

Nearly two million workers in California might be impacted by a state supreme court ruling that could turn them into company employees instead of independent contractors. Intense lobbying is underway in Sacramento from employers, who are against it, and from labor leaders, who are for it.

August 14, 2018

The Wrong Way to Do Paid Family Leave

Source: Bryce Covert, The New York Times

The Urban Institute found that taking 12 weeks at half pay would mean forgoing 25 weeks of retirement or reducing monthly checks by 3 percent. It might not sound like much, but this sacrifice would disproportionately hurt the people who would benefit the most from a public family leave policy. Just 6 percent of the lowest-earning private sector workers get paid family leave through their employers, and low earners are also more likely to rely almost entirely on Social Security in old age.

Gig Employers Look to Labor Department

Source: Chris Opfer, Ben Penn, and Jaclyn Diaz , Bloomberg BNA

Uber, GrubHub and other companies that rely on the 1099 model are pining for some legal clarity from the WHD on how investigators will be drawing the line between employee and independent contractor. This allows the business to tailor contracts to the government’s guidance, shielding them from investigations and lawsuits alleging wages owed to employees who have been misclassified as independent contractors.

August 13, 2018

The Trouble With Trucking

Source: The Editorial Board, The New York Times

To understand how this disparity came to be, consider the plight of long-distance truck drivers. They spend weeks away from home, crisscrossing the country to keep store shelves stocked and the economy humming. The trucking industry complains it can’t find enough drivers. And yet the value of drivers’ paychecks just keeps falling over time.

US government failing millions by paying below $15 an hour, study finds

Source: Mike Elk, The Guardian

The federal government employs more workers making less than $15 an hour than any other employer in the US, a new report has revealed. The study, compiled by pro-union group Good Jobs Nation, analyzed federal data and showed that the government spends more than $1.6tn on federal contractors employing more than 12.5 million people with 4.5 million of those workers making below $15 an hour.

Work Advice: What are the limits of a company’s interest in well-rested workers?

Source: Karla L. Miller, The Washington Post

 In a system where most people get health-care coverage through employers, it’s natural to be concerned about how much access employers have to our intimate medical details...Fortunately, various federal laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) protect personal medical information obtained via an employer wellness program.

August 10, 2018

ICE raid targeting employers and more than 100 workers rocks a small Nebraska town

Source: Meagan Flynn, The Washington Post

A tomato greenhouse and potato processing facility in small-town Nebraska were among the businesses raided by immigration authorities Wednesday as part of a multistate investigation targeting alleged labor exploitation while also netting more than 100 suspected undocumented workers.

Medicaid Officials Target Home Health Aides' Union Dues

Source: Shefali Luthra, NPR

Medicaid home care aides — hourly workers who help elderly and disabled people with daily tasks like eating, getting dressed and bathing — are emerging as the latest target in the ongoing power struggle between some conservative lawmakers and organized labor.

August 9, 2018

Study flags poor-quality working conditions for remote gig workers

Source: Natasha Lomas , Tech Crunch

At the same time — and here the negatives pile in — workers on the platforms lack collective bargaining so are simultaneously experiencing a hothouse of competitive marketplace and algorithmic management pressure, combined with feelings of social isolation (with most working from home), and the risk of overwork and exhaustion as a result of a lack of regulations and support systems, as well as their own economic needs to get tasks done to earn money.

Why You Should Care About Unions

Source: Meagan Day and Bhaskar Sunkara , The New York Times

Unions improve wages, benefits and working conditions for their members. But it’s not just to members’ advantage. Collective bargaining affects pay standards across entire industries, meaning even nonunion workers benefit.

August 8, 2018

It’s Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, and there’s a lot of work to do

Source: Melissa Locker , Fast Company

On average, black women are paid 38% less than white men and 21% less than white women, according to LeanIn.org. And in some states, the wage gap is even bigger, such as in Louisiana, where black women earn less than half of what white men make. The wage gap isn’t shrinking, either. A recent report by the New York City comptroller found that the wage gap between black women and white men in New York City is widening.

Missouri Voters Overturn Right-To-Work Measure, Rejecting Republican Lawmakers

Source: Dave Jamieson , Huffington Post

Labor groups won a landmark victory Tuesday as Missourians voted by referendum to overturn the state’s new right-to-work law, an embarrassing rejection for the state’s Republican lawmakers. Proposition A asked voters whether or not they would like to enact the right-to-work statute that the state legislature passed and former Gov. Eric Greitens (R) signed early last year. The “no” votes defeated the “yes,” according to returns released Tuesday night by the secretary of state.

August 7, 2018

Some businesses are refusing to hire DACA recipients. They are fighting back.

Source: Alexia Fernandez Campbell , Vox

As the legal battle over DACA continues to wind its way through the courts, a related legal battle is on the rise. DACA immigrants are suing US employers for denying them jobs because they aren’t citizens. Despite presenting valid work permits from US Citizenship and Immigration Services, recruiters at several large corporations told them they only hire US citizens or immigrants with green cards. Some said they only hire employees whose work permits don’t expire (DACA must be renewed every two years).

Starbucks Loses California Wage-Theft Case

Source: Nikita Richardson , Grub Street

A 2018 study by labor activist organizations Good Jobs First and Jobs With Justice found more than half of the wage-theft cases brought against U.S. corporations since 2000 originated in California. In that time, corporations paid $8.8 million to settle these disputes.

August 6, 2018

How to respond to a joke about #MeToo

Source: Meera Jagannathan, Moneyish

Try to start a conversation instead of shutting the person down. Assuming the joke wasn’t too outrageous or offensive, Brantner said, consider a response “that invites a conversation, opens the door, encourages listening, shares mutual experiences, and is a moment to teach and educate.” Does the joke-teller think people are falsely reporting sexual misconduct, or that it doesn’t happen? How would they feel if someone sexually harassed them, or if they had to leave their job because a boss hit on them? You may be able to open their mind to how common a problem this is, the harm it causes, and why they shouldn’t be dismissive, she said.

Rubio’s New Parental Leave Plan Is Funded With Your Retirement Savings

Source: Emily Peck and Igor Bobic , Huffington Post

Instead of mandating that employers cover paid family leave, or proposing new sources of revenue to pay for it, the proposal would give new parents the option of dipping into their future Social Security retirement benefits so they can have time off to care for a newborn. The trade-off would be significant: lower Social Security benefits for life ― and possibly waiting as much as a year longer to retire, according to analysts.

Job growth has never lasted this long before. Neither has weak wage growth.

Source: Matt O’Brien , The Washington Post

The idea was that lower unemployment would give workers the bargaining power to demand higher wages, and that higher wages would eat into corporate profits enough that they had to respond with higher prices. But that hasn’t happened at all so far

August 3, 2018

N.Y.U. Prevails in Case That Said It Let Retirement Plans Reap Excess Fees

Source: Tara Siegel Bernard, The New York Times

New York University has prevailed in a lawsuit that accused it of failing to properly oversee employee retirement plans and causing thousands of workers to pay millions of dollars in excess fees.

5 Things to Watch in the July Jobs Report

Source: Sarah Chaney and Eric Morath, The Wall Street Journal

The Labor Department releases its monthly snapshot of the nation’s labor market Friday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect it to show employers created 190,000 jobs in July and that the unemployment rate fell to 3.9% from 4.0% a month earlier.

August 2, 2018

The college wage gap is real for Americans of color

Source: Stef W. Kight , Axios

Having a college degree has generally meant higher wages and better jobs, and the pay-off continues to be significant for white Americans. But there's a penalty for African-American women: they earn less than white women having the same credentials, economic data shows.

Why you probably can’t sue your employer for sexual harassment

Source: Alexia Fernandez Campbell and Alvin Chang , Vox

Millions of American workers have given up their right to go to court just to earn a paycheck. They can’t sue their employer for sexual harassment, or for racial discrimination, or for stealing their wages, or for nearly anything else. That’s because these employees signed so-called mandatory arbitration agreements that are the new normal in American workplaces.

August 1, 2018

San Francisco Officials to Tech Workers: Buy Your Lunch

Source: Nellie Bowles, The New York Times

The ordinance, which seeks to force tech workers out of their subsidized cafeterias and into neighborhood restaurants, is the latest attempt by San Francisco leaders to make the tech companies that are migrating north from Silicon Valley adapt to life in the city.

DOJ, Labor Dept to target employers that 'discriminate' against Americans by hiring foreign workers

Source: Jacqueline Thomsen , The Hill

The Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Labor announced an agreement Tuesday to work together in cracking down on companies that "discriminate" against U.S. workers by hiring foreign workers. The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division and the Labor Department will start sharing information on employers, refer issues to the appropriate officials at each department and offer training to each other’s staff under the agreement.

July 31, 2018

Targeting home healthcare workers, the Trump administration opens another front in its war on public employees

Source: Michael Hiltzik , Los Angeles Times

Union organizing of these workers, which began in the 1960s, has brought them higher pay and benefits, better training and improved working conditions, while preserving labor peace. So it’s unsurprising that the administration would have its knives out for those unions. The workers themselves? They’re just collateral damage.

LGBTQ Adults In U.S. Are Less Likely To Have Jobs And Be Insured, Study Finds

Source: Linda Carroll , Reuters

Sexual minorities are less likely to be employed or to have health insurance than their straight peers, a new U.S. study suggests. They are also more likely to report being in poorer health and having a lower quality of life, according to the results published in the online journal BMJ Open.

July 30, 2018

What Walmart’s patent for audio surveillance could mean for its workers

Source: Jena McGregor, The Washington Post

Paula Brantner, a senior adviser for Workplace Fairness, a nonprofit organization providing legal information to workers about their rights, said if Walmart were to use the patent someday, she hoped they would communicate, as call centers do, that employees and customers are being monitored, as well as “that this is how the monitoring would be used and that they would not use it in a punitive way, but to make employees' lives easier." If neither customers nor employees were informed, she questioned whether it could run afoul of state-by-state regulations on how many parties in a recorded conversation must be notified.

Home Depot's Discrimination, Harassment, Low Pay, and Poor Management, By The Numbers

Source: Hamilton Nolan and Jennifer Kang , Splinter

Earlier this year, we asked for current and former employees of Home Depot to send us their stories about what it is like working for the world’s largest home improvement store. Our inspiration for doing so was the publication of the book “I Love Capitalism!” by Ken Langone, a billionaire (and capitalism lover!) who made his fortune from Home Depot. How great, we wondered, was the Home Depot version of capitalism for its own employees? Not so great, as it turned out. Hundreds of Home Depot employees wrote to us to describe their struggles with low pay, coldhearted or incompetent management, union busting, harassment, dangerous working conditions, and much, much more.

Heat waves can be deadly for workers and will drain the US economy

Source: Umair Irfan , Vox

But the recent hot weather is dangerous in more subtle ways, and is an ominous signal of what increasing average temperatures and climate change portend for some of the most vulnerable who must endure the heat to earn a living. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 15 million people in the United States have jobs that require them to be outdoors at some point, and rising temperatures are already proving dangerous for them.

July 27, 2018

How the Supreme Court Will Continue to Change the Workplace

Source: Jeff John Roberts , Fortune

The conservative grip on the Supreme Court is set to be cemented for a generation if President Trump’s nominee, federal appeals-court judge Brett Kavanaugh, navigates his Senate confirmation hearing. The arrival of Kavanaugh, who is ideologically further to the right than outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy, would influence many aspects of U.S. society—not least the rules governing American workplaces.

Almost 2/3 of Female Writers Sexually Harassed at Work, Survey Finds

Source: Dave McNary , Variety

A survey of more than 2,000 Writers Guild of America West members found that 64% of female writers have experienced sexual harassment sometime in their careers. The disclosure, first reported by Deadline Hollywood, came in a May 22 letter from the WGA West’s board of directors to its 9,000 members. The missive also said 11% of male writers reported being harassed at some point.

July 26, 2018

Education Dept. Illegally Curbed Workers’ Union Protections, Mediators Suggest

Source: Erica L. Green , The New York Times

Federal labor mediators have advised the Education Department that it most likely imposed new work rules on its employees illegally, curtailing workers’ protections and access to union representation in violation of federal law.

Inside Google’s Shadow Workforce

Source: Mark Bergen and Josh Eidelson , Bloomberg

Every day, tens of thousands of people stream into Google offices wearing red or green name badges. They eat in Google’s cafeterias, ride its commuter shuttles and work alongside its celebrated geeks. But they can’t access all of the company’s celebrated perks. They aren’t entitled to stock and can’t enter certain offices. Many don’t have health insurance.

6 Approachable Solutions to End Workplace Discrimination

Source: Meredith Clark, How to Help

Trust your gut. It’s natural to want to avoid conflict at work, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore a sense of discomfort. One easy thing to do if something feels off is to start keeping detailed records. “Make notes when something happens, type it into your phone, maybe dictate something so that you have a fresh record you can come back to,” says Paula Brantner, an employment lawyer and senior advisor for Workplace Fairness, an organization dedicated to helping workers understand and exercise their legal rights. Even if you decide not to do anything, “you still have a record of what happened as it happened.”

July 25, 2018

We haven't raised the federal minimum wage in 9 years. Now is the time

Source: Chris Lu, CNBC

That’s why far too many Americans feel like they’re treading water. Their paychecks are unchanged, while everyday costs like housing, health care and gas have gone up. But there’s an easy way to improve the lives of millions of Americans: raise the federal minimum wage.

Amazon Prime Day created a surge in health and safety complaints from exhausted workers

Source: Stephen Armstrong , Wired

Complaints received from warehouse workers over the 36 hours of Prime Day included stomach cramps caused by overexertion, bad food, lack of access to water and time to visit the bathroom, sprains, back aches and other musculoskeletal injuries and swollen feet from having to run around a warehouse at high speed.

July 24, 2018

Toys ‘R’ Us Workers Face Harsh Reality in Quest for Severance

Source: Steven Church, Bloomberg

Toys “R” Us’s fired workers last week won the right to negotiate for severance money in bankruptcy court, in an unusual victory. They may end up getting nothing.

Seattle to vote on new regulations for domestic workers

Source: Associated Press

Nannies, house cleaners and other domestic workers in Seattle would gain new labor protections under legislation passed Monday by city leaders.

July 23, 2018

Even with similar qualifications, women spend time on tasks that lead to lower pay than men

Source: Allison Schrager

The economists observe that men and women come out of college with similar wages. But over time wages diverge—men earn 22% more, on average, nine to 10 years after graduation. The study attempts to explain what accounts for the divergence. They estimate that college major—women tended to major in education and men in business and science—accounts for around a quarter of the gender wage gap. Grades, meanwhile, have almost no impact: women tend to have higher GPAs but lower earnings.

Brett Kavanaugh Thinks Undocumented Workers Aren’t Really Employees Under The Law

Source: Dave Jamieson , Huffington Post

During a 2008 labor dispute, a federal appeals court ruled that Agriprocessors had to bargain with a group of workers at a Brooklyn distribution facility who had voted to unionize. But Kavanaugh penned a dissent siding with Agriprocessors, arguing that most of the employees in the election were ineligible to unionize because they were undocumented.

July 20, 2018

The stress that kills American workers

Source: The Economist , The Economist

All told, Mr Pfeffer calculates that work-related issues may be responsible for as many as 120,000 American deaths a year. A comparison with Europe suggests that around half of those deaths could be eliminated. One reason for Europe’s better record is the provision of universal health care. Mr Pfeffer reckons that the absence of health insurance for all, and its often limited nature where firms do provide it, is the biggest single contributor to America’s higher work-related death rate.

Multiple Papa John’s Employees Describe Sexual Harassment, Nepotism

Source: Michelle Lou , Huffington Post

Several female Papa John’s employees described enduring a pattern of sexist and other inappropriate remarks from male colleagues. One woman said that Schnatter asked about her bra size and if she had sex with her former boss. Another female employee said a male colleague asked her if she was menstruating when she disagreed with him.

July 19, 2018

Federal Reserve chair: Decline in worker share of national economy ‘very troubling’

Source: Jeff Stein, The Washington Post

The fall in the percentage of economic growth flowing to workers is “very troubling," a worrisome sign in an otherwise bright U.S. economy, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell told a Senate panel Tuesday.

Ann Hopkins, Who Struck an Early Blow to the Glass Ceiling, Dies at 74

Source: Brooks Barnes, The New York Times

She found vindication in the courts, waging a seven-year battle against Price Waterhouse that resulted in a 6-3 victory in the Supreme Court. The ruling expanded workplace discrimination protections to include gender stereotyping. More recently, her case has figured into the transgender rights movement.

July 18, 2018

Labor Department Removes Rule Forcing Employers to Disclose Anti-Union Deliberations

Source: Eric Morath, Wall Street Journal

The Labor Department is wiping an Obama-era rule off the books that sought to give labor unions and workers more insight into talks employers have with legal counsel about thwarting union organizing campaigns.

Who Will Care for the Carers?

Source: Sarita Gupta and Ai-Jen Poo , Foreign Policy

While care work seems fairly safe from automation, however, it faces pressure from two other directions: an enormous surge in demand as developed societies age and the low regard most people have traditionally held for care workers themselves.

July 17, 2018

It’s Time For Our Elected Officials To Get To Work On Paid Leave

Source: Amanda Ballantyne and Wendy Chun-Hoon , Newsweek

Only 15 percent of the workforce receives paid family leave through their employers. Most small businesses can’t afford to offer paid leave on their own, but a social insurance fund that pools small contributions can make it possible for them to compete with large corporations and ensure their employees have affordable time to care.

Amazon employees are using Prime Day to push for better working conditions

Source: Chavie Lieber, Vox

Combined, these efforts are an attempt to draw attention to working conditions at Amazon on Prime Day — the annual shopping event that brings in more than $2 billion for the company. Amazon has come under fire for years over accusations of poor work conditions, and this year, employees all across Europe are determined to capitalize on publicity around Prime Day to push for change at their workplace.

July 16, 2018

Labor Organizers Look To Apps To Reach Wider Audiences

Source: Teke Wiggin, Huffington Post

But eight years later, OUR Walmart, the flagship project of Organization United for Respect, has claimed a number of victories, including substantially better corporate-wide pay and leave policies. Key to this success has been the organization’s use of online platforms to foster activism, including a mobile app called WorkIt, Schlademan said.

After Resignation of HR Chief, Yet Another Uber Exec Faces Allegations of Discriminatory Behavior

Source: Tom McKay, Gizmodo

Earlier this week, ridesharing giant Uber’s Chief People Officer Liane Hornsey resigned under allegations that she systematically shot down internal complaints about racial discrimination within the company—indicating at least some prior concerns about a toxic company culture of wild abandon during the tenure of former CEO Travis Kalanick have continued under his successor, Dara Khosrowshahi.

July 13, 2018

7 Fast-Food Chains to End ‘No Poach’ Deals That Lock Down Low-Wage Workers

Source: Rachel Abrams , The New York Times

Seven major restaurant chains, including Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s and Jimmy John’s, have agreed to drop a hiring practice that critics say may be keeping tens of thousands of fast-food workers locked in low-wage jobs.

Walmart patents surveillance tool that can eavesdrop on workers

Source: Mariella Moon , Engadget

It looks like Amazon and Walmart, which have long been battling it out in the retail arena, both want to keep a very close eye on their workers. Earlier this year, Amazon patented smart wristbands that can make sure a warehouse worker's hands are always moving. Now, its rival has patented an audio surveillance system, which can be used to listen to conversations between employees and customers at checkout.

July 12, 2018

Trump Taps Acting Wage-Hour Chief to Lead Labor Policy Office

Source: Ben Penn, Bloomberg

The Trump administration wants to promote the acting head of its federal wage and hour enforcement office to lead the Labor Department’s policy shop. Bryan Jarrett will be the president’s nominee for DOL assistant secretary for policy, the White House announced July 10. Jarrett has been acting administrator of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division since last October, and was previously planning on serving as deputy administrator once the president’s nominee for WHD administrator gets confirmed.

Brett Kavanaugh Ruled Against Workers When No One Else Did

Source: Dave Jamieson , Huffington Post

In 2005, a group of workers at a meatpacking plant in Brooklyn voted to join a union. Their employer, a kosher meat wholesaler called Agri Processor, fought the organizing effort as best it could. Once the workers were unionized, the company refused to bargain, arguing that most of them weren’t covered by collective bargaining law because they were undocumented immigrants. Ultimately, neither the National Labor Relations Board nor the majority of judges on a panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with Agri Processor. The only one who did was Brett Kavanaugh, the circuit judge who wrote a dissent in the case and is now President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

July 11, 2018

Most People Are Supportive of #MeToo. But Will Workplaces Actually Change?

Source: Candace Bertotti and David Maxfield, Harvard Business Review

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements continue to create a tidal wave of media activity and increased awareness of sexual harassment and misconduct. But have they created positive changes in workplaces? Are people seeing healthy and lasting improvements in their organizations as a result of these movements?

Regulators Investigate Fast-Food Chains' Limits On Worker Recruitment

Source: Yuki Noguchi, NPR

High-tech and other companies looking to protect trade secrets often impose "noncompete" clauses limiting where employees can work after they leave. But such restrictions are also used by fast-food franchises.

July 10, 2018

Low pay for child care workers puts more than half at poverty level, study finds

Source: Ashley Hopkinson , Mercury News

A majority of child care workers in California are paid so little they qualify for public assistance programs, according to a new report on the early education workforce. Fifty-eight percent of child care workers in California are on one or more public assistance programs, such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a federally funded program that helps pay for food, housing and other expenses, the report by UC Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment found.

In-N-Out Burger’s Ban on ‘Fight for $15' Buttons Broke the Law

Source: Patrick Dorrian , Bloomberg

In-N-Out Burger Inc. violated federal labor law when it told servers in Austin, Texas, they couldn’t wear “Fight for $15" buttons on their uniforms. The fast-food chain didn’t show the “special circumstances” necessary to allow it to avoid federal labor law’s general requirement that employees must be permitted to wear union insignia at work, a federal appeals court said.

July 9, 2018

Why the tax overhaul could lead to lower settlements for sexual harassment victims

Source: Samantha Bomkamp, Chicago Tribune

The tax overhaul law, written last year near the height of the #MeToo movement, could place a bigger financial burden on victims of workplace sexual harassment and make such cases more difficult and expensive to settle. But the tax code provision “was scribbled into the margins at the last minute, and not thought through very well,” said Paula Brantner, senior advisor of the nonprofit worker assistance organization Workplace Fairness.

Why the tax overhaul could lead to lower settlements for sexual harassment victims

Source: Samantha Bomkamp, Chicago Tribune

The tax overhaul law, written last year near the height of the #MeToo movement, could place a bigger financial burden on victims of workplace sexual harassment and make such cases more difficult and expensive to settle. But the tax code provision “was scribbled into the margins at the last minute, and not thought through very well,” said Paula Brantner, senior advisor of the nonprofit worker assistance organization Workplace Fairness.

Say Hello to Full Employment

Source: Annie Lowrey, The Atlantic

Around the country, and especially in central Iowa, the low unemployment rate has slowly but surely tipped the balance of power away from employers and towards workers, who here in the Hawkeye State have been able to demand higher wages, better working conditions, more generous benefits, training programs, and myriad other perks.

Thousands of Las Vegas casino workers will get panic buttons to report sexual harassers

Source: Alexia Fernandez Campbell , Vox

Two major casino operators, MGM Resorts International and Caesar’s Entertainment, agreed in contract negotiations with unions to give the panic buttons to workers who are vulnerable to sexual harassment. The labor contracts cover 36,000 service workers at the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, the Mirage, MGM Grand, Caesar’s Palace, and other iconic casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, according to the Culinary Workers Union’s Local 226. The panic button looks like a car remote, and when pressed, it alerts managers, who receive the name and room number of the employee who is signaling there’s trouble.

July 6, 2018

Randi Weingarten Has 'Hope in the Darkness.' And Also Some Fear.

Source: Hamilton Nolan , Splinter

For the past decade, Randi Weingarten has led the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers. She has been a prominent voice in battles over public education, organized labor, and national politics. In the dark aftermath of last week’s Janus ruling, which will almost certainly drain members and money from public unions nationwide, she spoke to us about how working class interests can possibly try to survive and thrive in the age of Trump.

Two amputations a week: the cost of working in a US meat plant

Source: Andrew Wasley, Christopher D. Cook, and Natalie Jones , The Guardian

Amputations, fractured fingers, second-degree burns and head trauma are just some of the serious injuries suffered by US meat plant workers every week, according to data seen by the Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. US meat workers are already three times more likely to suffer serious injury than the average American worker, and pork and beef workers nearly seven times more likely to suffer repetitive strain injuries. And some fear that plans to remove speed restrictions on pig processing lines – currently being debated by the government – will only make the work more difficult.

July 5, 2018

Chicago’s Minimum Wage is Rising, But is it Enough to Live On?

Source: Brandis Friedman , WTTW

Despite an increase this week to the city’s minimum wage, many Chicagoans still aren’t earning what some researchers call a “living wage.” The increase from $11 to $12 is one in a series of increases that began in 2014. But in Chicago, $13.05 per hour is considered to be a living wage for a single person living alone in 2016, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s living wage calculator. That’s for a single person. If you’re an adult with a child, a living wage would be over $26. That’s based on 2016 data, when the city’s minimum wage rose to $10.50.

Elon Musk reportedly yelled at Tesla employees as the company approached its Model 3 production deadline

Source: Alexandria Sage and Salvador Rodriguez , Reuters

Last week's big push also brought a rewrite of the employee attendance policy. After mandatory weekend shifts were assigned, two workers said, Tesla rescinded a policy promising workers at least one week's notice before weekend work.

June 28, 2018

Is This Supreme Court Decision The End Of Teachers Unions?

Source: Anya Kamanetz & Cory Turner, NPR

Marianno and Strunk write, "By causing teachers unions to return to collective action on behalf of their members, the Supreme Court decision may, in the end, invigorate the unions that these court cases and the groups that sponsored them intended to incapacitate."

Workers Must Get Radical to Fight Back Against Janus

Source: Bryce Covert, The New York Times

Working Americans must now get radical to get heard. Even the lawyer representing the unions warned during oral arguments that when unions are denied agency fees, “they tend to become more militant, more confrontational.” The moment now necessitates it.

June 27, 2018

Read: the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Janus v. AFSCME

Source: Jennie Neufeld, Vox

The Supreme Court has ruled that public sector unions cannot charge fees to employees who decline to join a union but are covered by its collective bargaining agreement. In a 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the court ruled the fees are unconstitutional, a blow to labor unions in the United States.

The Price of Domestic Workers’ Invisible Labor in U.S. Border Towns

Source: Sarah Holder, CityLab

A new report based on interviews with 516 housecleaners, nannies, and care workers on the border, reveals high incidences of wage theft, abuse, and exploitation among these already vulnerable laborers.

June 26, 2018

“I’m Ready To Fight”: Thousands Of Marriott Workers Will Protest For Safer Conditions This Week

Source: Claudia Koerner, BuzzFeed News

So on June 27, several thousand Marriott workers are expected to protest in eight cities across the US, the union’s largest day of action against a single company in years. They’re seeking workloads that won’t result in injuries, a living wage, and more protection against sexual harassment and violence.

Opinion: The Minimum Wage Just Turned 80. Economists Don’t Give It Enough Credit

Source: James K. Galbraith, Fortune

The minimum wage is a pathetic little thing. First enacted in 1938 at 25 cents per hour, it was largely a sop to the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, one of the very few for whose members, even then, such a pittance might matter. Domestic servants and farmworkers—persons of color, not coincidentally—were excluded. And for most of the 80 years since, the effect of the federal minimum on wages and welfare has been small.

June 25, 2018

What to do if you’re forced to toe the company line on a sexual harassment case May 2, 2018

Source: Meera Jagannathan, Moneyish

Employment attorney Paula Brantner, a senior adviser to the nonprofit Workplace Fairness, argued that the power dynamics of a work environment mean that such a letter “just can’t be truly voluntary.” “You’re always part of a power structure and a supervision structure, so you always have to worry about your loyalties and what you need to do to protect your job,” she told Moneyish.

Amazon Workers Facing Firing Can Appeal to a Jury of Their Co-Workers

Source: Spencer Soper, Bloomberg Businessweek

Amazon is borrowing a page from union grievance processes that don’t apply to most corporate employees. But only about 30 percent of those who appeal their manager’s criticisms prevail, meaning they can keep their jobs or seek new ones within the company with different bosses, according to people familiar with the matter.

Americans Love Families. American Policies Don’t.

Source: Emily Badger and Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times

“There’s a basic inconsistency in saying we support families, we have family-friendly policies, when in fact we have the worst family policies of any developed high-income democracy,” said Dorothy Roberts, a professor of law and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. “We don’t have family-friendly policies at all.”

June 22, 2018

Retail workers say they're under pressure to get your emails

Source: Juliana Feliciano Reyes, The Philadelphia Inquirer

For the retail industry, customer emails are currency. Get that address, and a company can personalize customers’ future experiences, targeting them for discounts and promotions that could make them more likely to become repeat customers. The responsibility to capture those emails often falls to the sales associates working the floor.

A Question of Legitimacy Looms for the Supreme Court

Source: Linda Greenhouse, The New York Times

Any day now, perhaps as soon as Thursday, the Supreme Court will issue a decision that more than any other case this term will reveal to us the heart and soul of the Roberts Court at the end of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s 14th year.

June 21, 2018

NFL, Texans Want To Arbitrate Ex-Eagles Player's Injury Suit

Source: Cara Salvatore, Law360

The NFL and the Houston Texans want a court to send to arbitration claims that a pocked and scored field at NRG Stadium gave a former Philadelphia Eagles player a career-ending injury, saying the players' union agreed that injury claims like this can only be decided in arbitration.

This nonprofit isn’t promptly paying its workers. Should she blow the whistle when she leaves?

Source: Karla L. Miller, The Washington Post

Nonprofit organizations that depend on external funding sources often contend with unpredictable income fluctuations, according to Paula Brantner, senior adviser at the nonprofit Workplace Fairness...your nonprofit employer’s board of directors has a fiduciary duty to ensure the organization is managing funds properly and not committing labor violations.

June 20, 2018

The Deceptive Campaign to Keep D.C. Service Workers Underpaid

Source: Libby Watson, Splinter

Voters in Washington, D.C. will decide on Initiative 77, which would raise tipped workers’ wages to the regular minimum wage by 2025 and eliminate the “tipped minimum wage,” which is currently $3.33 an hour. Pass or fail, it will mark the end of a long and expensive campaign against the initiative, which has been defined by deceptive framing, phony lobbying groups, and outright lies.

Tesla Severance Offer Draws the Line on Worker-Safety Concerns

Source: Josh Eidelson and Dana Hull , Bloomberg

Language in a confidential severance agreement Tesla Inc. is using as part of the biggest job cut in its history is likely to deter dismissed employees from going public with worker safety concerns, according to employment-law experts.

June 19, 2018

Pregnancy Discrimination Is Rampant Inside America’s Biggest Companies

Source: Natalie Kitroeff and Jessica Silver-Greenberg , The New York Times

Throughout the American workplace, pregnancy discrimination remains widespread. It can start as soon as a woman is showing, and it often lasts through her early years as a mother.

Supreme Court Decision in Janus Looms Over Critical Public-Sector Jobs and Public Services

Source: Celine McNicholas and Heidi Shierholz , The American Prospect

The Supreme Court will soon issue a decision in the most recent of these challenges, Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. Our new Economic Policy Institute report argues that the decision in Janus will have significant impacts on public-sector workers’ wages and job quality as well as on the critical public services these workers provide.

June 18, 2018

Starbucks Discriminates Against Older Workers, According To Former Employees

Source: Angelina Chapin , HuffPost

In the past four years, Andrea has applied for 29 jobs within Starbucks, in areas like human resources and recruiting, that would allow her to spend less time on her feet. She’s been rejected from all of them, and only once landed an interview, even though she’s been with the company for 15 years, was voted manager of the quarter for her district in 2016 and earned a degree through the Starbucks scholarship program at Arizona State University.

Trump’s attacks on federal employee unions, pay and benefits draw bipartisan rebukes

Source: Joe Davidson , The Washington Post

President Trump’s aggressive efforts to upend the long-standing federal labor-management landscape by undermining government unions increasingly are the target of bipartisan rebukes. His workplace policies, including restrictive executive orders and proposed retirement cuts, are being hit politically and legally, from Republicans and Democrats and by multiple union lawsuits. The latest salvo in the broad-based rejection of Trump’s performance as boss in chief is a letter from two dozen House Democratic leaders asking him to rescind three executive orders that appear designed “to completely eradicate unions from the federal workplace.”

June 15, 2018

Spurred by #MeToo, a Harassment Task Force Reconvenes

Source: Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks , The New York Times

Ms. Nalls was one of several legal experts, entrepreneurs, nonprofit workers and labor advocates who spoke Monday at a meeting held in Washington by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In light of the #MeToo movement, which has shaken Hollywood, politics and other industries, the commission reconvened a task force it had created two years ago as part of a broad investigation into workplace harassment.

The Supreme Court case that could kneecap public sector unions, explained

Source: Dylan Matthews , Vox.com

2018 has generally been a good year for labor activists working in the public sector. A wave of teachers strikes in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Colorado has led to pay raises even in red states with Republican governors where teachers can’t collectively bargain. The strikes seem to suggest that public sector labor organizing, and labor unions, could be revitalized.

June 14, 2018

Cheesecake Factory held liable in $4M wage theft case

Source: The Associated Press , The Associated Press

California regulators have found the Cheesecake Factory and two of its contractors owe about $4 million to hundreds of janitorial workers in a wage theft case. The state Labor Commissioner’s Office said Monday that the 559 workers were underpaid at eight locations in Orange and San Diego counties. The office says the employees generally worked eight-hour shifts beginning at midnight but weren’t released until Cheesecake Factory kitchen managers conducted walkthroughs, which frequently led to more, unpaid work.

A minimum-wage worker can’t afford a 2-bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S.

Source: Tracy Jan , The Washington Post

The economy’s booming. Some states have raised minimum wages. But even with recent wage growth for the lowest-paid workers, there is still nowhere in the country where someone working a full-time minimum wage job could afford to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment, according to an annual report released Wednesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

June 13, 2018

Tesla Cutting About 9% of Global Workforce

Source: Tim Higgins, The Wall Street Journal

Tesla Inc. on Tuesday said it will cut about 9% of its workforce in an effort to deliver its first profit during a make-or-break period of building a mass-market electric car.

If the Robots Come for Our Jobs, What Should the Government Do?

Source: Neil Irwin, The New York Times

Some of the potential answers are big, bold ideas that have gained traction in particular ideological circles. A universal basic income — the idea that the government simply give each citizen enough money every month to support basic needs — has fans among both free-market libertarians and socialists.

June 12, 2018

Teens face a gender pay gap, too. Here’s how to help them navigate it.

Source: Joanna Nesbit, The Washington Post

In the informal sector, parents had different expectations of female and male babysitters, including expecting girls to do more household tasks and spend more unpaid time in before-and-after conversations with parents. They also paid boys more.

A brief (and depressing) history of LGBT workers’ rights

Source: Lydia Dishman, FastCompany

Today, memorials, events, and pride parades happen all month long in an effort to recognize the impact that LGBT individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally. However, in the absence of sweeping federal legislation (and several recent legislative measures that aim to curtail rights), LGBT workers are still under threat on the job.

June 11, 2018

Roseanne’s hard lesson: The First Amendment protects you, not your job

Source: Maria LaMagna, MarketWatch

Managers could take issue with social media posts and potentially discipline an employee, she said. “Right now, a lot of people are speaking out about things they didn’t speak out about before. Generally in terms of our political debate, that’s a good thing,” Brantner said. “But if you’re doing it at work, there are risks.”

Wage theft settlements by top US companies amount to billions

Source: Valerie Bolden-Barrett , HR Dive

Large U.S. corporations have paid out billions in recent years to resolve claims that they denied workers overtime pay, forced them to work off the clock and engaged in other activities that shortchange them, according to a co-authored report by activist group Good Jobs First and Jobs With Justice Education Fund, a nonprofit.

Musk Fails to Quell Safety Doubts With Head-Scratching Data

Source: Josh Eidelson and Dana Hull, Bloomberg

Tesla Inc. would need to release more information than Elon Musk gave shareholders to set the record straight on the electric-car maker’s work-safety record, according to former occupational health officials who worked under the Obama administration. The rate of injuries per person at Tesla is 6 percent below industry average so far this year, after being “a little bit above” average last year, the chief executive officer said during the company’s annual meeting Tuesday. The carmaker aims to lower the rate to half the auto industry average, he said, without saying by when or giving more specifics. It’s difficult to assess Musk’s comments without more detail.

June 8, 2018

McDonald’s Plans Corporate Job Cuts, ‘Eliminating Layers’

Source: Julie Jargon , The Wall Street Journal

McDonald’s Corp., battered by price wars and struggling to revive its U.S. burger business, said it will cut layers of managers as part of a half-billion-dollar plan to shrink administrative expenses by the end of next year. The latest reorganization comes as the fast-food chain has been working to turn around its crucial U.S. division for more than three years.

California cites Bay Area restaurants for $10 million wage theft

Source: Natasha Mascarenhas, SF Gate

Showing an aggressive approach to the multibillion-dollar problem of wage theft in California, state investigators have cited seven Bay Area restaurants for more than $10 million in stolen wages.

June 7, 2018

4.3 million Texan workers don’t get paid sick leave, report finds

Source: Allie Morris , Austin Bureau

An estimated 4.3 million Texans who make up roughly 40 percent of the state’s workforce don't have access to paid sick days, raising the likelihood they show up to the job ill or let sick children go to school, according to a new report from an advocacy group. Hispanic, low-income and part-time workers in Texas are the least likely to be able to accrue paid sick leave, according to the report by the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

America may soon face its biggest labor strike in decades

Source: Chris Isidore , CNNMoney

The Teamsters and UPS could be heading toward the nation's largest strike in decades. On Tuesday, the union announced that members voted more than 90% in favor of going on strike, if a deal is not reached before the current labor contract expires on August 1.

June 6, 2018

Report shows big banks shell out large sums in wage-theft disputes

Source: Aaron Elstein , Crain's New York Business

People who stock shelves, bus restaurant tables or pitch in on commercial-waste-collection routes are more vulnerable to getting stiffed on wages, but it's an issue among higher-paid workers as well. A study released today by Good Jobs First, an advocacy group, showed that banks, insurance firms and drugmakers have shelled out tens of millions of dollars to settle such disputes.

When Working in Disney World Means Being Stuck Living in a Cheap Motel

Source: Michael Sainato , Vice

The dozens of motels lining a 15-mile stretch of US Highway 192 just outside of Disney World have a secret inside: For the past two decades, they’ve increasingly served as home for many Disney World employees. Sometimes workers stay in the motels temporarily while they find permanent housing, others are forced by poverty and other circumstances to live in them for months or even years.

June 5, 2018

Fast-food workers demand pay increase: Are unions the answer?

Source: Frank Witsil , Detroit Free Press

Jamika Ruffin is a part-time Burger King cashier trying to make ends meet on about $9.25 an hour. "The money they pay me is not worth what you have to put up with when it comes down to these customers," said the single, 25-year-old Highland Park mother of two, adding that after taxes and child care expenses there's not much left. "It needs to go up more."

Former Houston Texans cheerleaders sue claiming harassment and unfair pay

Source: Ahiza Garcia, CNNMoney

Five former NFL cheerleaders are suing the Houston Texans for alleged harassment and unfair pay practices. "We were harassed, we were bullied and we were body-shamed for $7.25 an hour," said former cheerleader Ainsley Parish, who is among the five who are suing.

June 4, 2018

Workplace Navigator: I Work at a Nonprofit and I Want My Money

Source: Karla Miller, Enterprise

Nonprofit organizations that depend on external funding sources often contend with unpredictable income fluctuations, according to Paula Brantner, senior adviser at the nonprofit Workplace Fairness...But whatever the reasons, floating paychecks is unacceptable from multiple angles...
your nonprofit employer’s board of directors has a fiduciary duty to ensure the organization is managing funds properly and not committing labor violations. Many boards have a whistleblower policy to protect workers who report such issues, Brantner said.

Hey, D.C.: Reject the misleading signs and raise tipped workers’ wages

Source: Jared Bernstein and Ben Spielberg , The Washington Post

If you’ve dined out in the District lately, you may have run into a sign urging local diners to “Save Our Tips” and “Vote No on Initiative 77.” This campaign is partially supported by the other NRA: the National Restaurant Association, a powerful, deep-pocketed lobbying organization that opposes higher minimum wages. Their goal is to convince voters that there’s a sinister plot afoot to deprive workers of their earnings. Well, there is a deceptive plot afoot. It comes from the NRA and others opposed to Initiative 77, which would raise the pay of low-wage, tipped workers. Here are the facts of which voters should be aware.

Union activity ramps up ahead of Supreme Court decision on dues tied to collective bargaining

Source: Kris Maher , The Wall Street Journal

As organized labor braces for a Supreme Court ruling that could make it easy for public-sector workers to stop paying some dues, unions across the country are reaching out to hundreds of thousands of members to persuade them to keep paying dues.

June 1, 2018

Trump Moves to Curb Federal Employee Labor Protections

Source: Kalena Thomhave , The American Prospect

If an administration wanted to destroy the power of labor unions, it might first attack unions that are subject to executive orders. President Trump headed in that direction late last Friday, when he signed three executive orders that place new restrictions on federal employee labor unions.

Should D.C. restaurants pay minimum wage? The ballot measure debate gets heated.

Source: Fenit Nirappil , The Washington Post

Initiative 77 would phase out the lower “tipped wage” that allows restaurants and bars to pay those workers a low hourly rate as long as customer tips reach minimum wage. If it passes, the current $3.33-an-hour minimum wage for tipped workers would steadily rise to $15 by 2026.

May 31, 2018

“What did you make at your last job?”: why the salary question is bad for women and people of color

Source: Alexia Fernández Campbell , Vox.com

Asking applicants how much money they earned at previous jobs has long been a routine part of the hiring process. But this seemingly harmless question is a key culprit in the persistent gender wage gap in the United States, according to a growing number of civil rights groups and legal experts.

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