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In the News

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

November 14, 2018

House Democrats plan to push for $15 federal minimum wage

Source: Alexia Fernandez Campbell , Vox

House Democrats are busy filling up their 2019 calendar. When it comes to labor policy, House Democrats say the top priority is to raise wages and create more jobs.

Caring for Your Company’s Caregivers

Source: Sarita Gupta and Ai-Jen Poo , Harvard Business Review

Until now, the burdens of this new world have fallen on workers, not their employers. Fully 68% of working family caregivers report making adjustments at work such as arriving late or leaving early, taking time off, changing jobs, turning down a promotion, or cutting back on hours.

November 13, 2018

If an app is your boss, what, exactly, are you?

Source: Alex Rosenblat , Fast Company

Because Uber drivers are classi?ed as independent contractors, not as employees, they do not bene?t from most workplace discrimination protections. In this way, the rating system provides one of the clearest signals that Uber has taken on the role of managing drivers as workers.

Editorial: Too Many Workers Are Trapped By Non-Competes

Source: Bloomberg

Why have wages been so slow to rise at a time when demand for workers has pushed the U.S. unemployment rate to its lowest point in nearly half a century? One answer: Contracts that tie millions of unspecialized workers to their jobs. In far too many cases, these so-called noncompetes are an unwarranted restriction on freedom to transact and a drag on growth.

November 12, 2018

How employers are trying to drive Election Day turnout

Source: Jena McGregor, The Washington Post

There are no federal laws requiring employers to give workers time off to vote. State regulations vary, from having no laws on the subject to mandating paid time off for several hours, according to the nonprofit Workplace Fairness. Many do not have consequences, however, for noncompliance, and even those states that do specify offering paid time off may require it only if employees don’t have enough time to vote before or after work.

Benefits and bonuses aren't making up for slow wage growth

Source: Annie Nova , CNBC

Airbnb And eBay Just Said They Would End Forced Arbitration For Sexual Harassment Claims

Source: Davey Alba and Caroline O’Donovan , Buzzfeed News

BuzzFeed News reached out to a bevy of technology companies, asking if they would consider following Facebook and Google’s decisions to end forced arbitration. The question was simple: “Will your company, in all cases, end your policy of requiring employee sexual-harassment claims to be settled in private arbitration?”

November 9, 2018

Google pledges to overhaul its sexual harassment policy after global protests

Source: Sam Levin , The Guardian

Google CEO’s, Sundar Pichai, said the company would overhaul its sexual harassment policies, meeting some of the demands of employees who organized historic walkouts across the globe. In an email to staff on Thursday, Pichai said Google would end forced arbitration for sexual misconduct claims, revamp its investigations process, share data on harassment claims and outcomes, and provide new support systems for people who come forward.

What a Democrat-controlled House means for labor laws and minimum wage

Source: Kari Paul , MarketWatch

The results of the midterm elections will likely bring more attention to key labor issues that would benefit workers, experts say, but passing legislation in a divided Congress will be difficult. After Democrats won a majority in the House, workers can expect a number of laws on the agenda meant to benefit them, labor relations attorney James Paretti, a partner at Washington, D.C. firm Littler Mendelson, wrote in a post-election analysis.

November 8, 2018

The Gig Economy Is Growing -- But Where Is It Headed?

Source: Scott Absher , San Francisco Chronicle

Despite its obvious growth, this new employment model has been heavily criticized due to its lack of protections for gig workers. Certainly there has been a move toward expanded protectionsfor gig workers: The California Supreme Court Ruling made it more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees.

Editorial: Tech Workers Flex Their Leverage in Collective Action

Source: The Valley News

Tech workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your golden chains. And probably not even those. Yes, labor militancy has emerged in a surprising new arena in recent months — the tech sector, where pay is high, schedules flexible and benefits rich.

November 7, 2018

Voters just gave nearly 1 million workers a raise in 2 red states

Source: Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox

Voters in two red states — Missouri and Arkansas — overwhelmingly approved ballot measures that will raise the minimum wage for nearly 1 million workers across both states.

Trump’s tax cuts will help the Walton family more than Walmart workers

Source: Kari Paul , MarketWatch

As some Walmart workers struggle to get by, the company’s owners are thriving. The Walton family, majority stakeholders of supermarket giant Walmart benefitted from an estimated $6.5 billion in tax breaks on share holdings over the last 16 years, according to an analysis from the union-backed group Making Change at Walmart.

November 6, 2018

The Seattle Minimum Wage Study Marches On

Source: Kevin Drum , Mother Jones

Low-income workers in Seattle, on average, earned about $17 more per week than they would have if the minimum wage law hadn’t changed. The researchers also come to a few other conclusions: All the gains accrued to experienced workers. Inexperienced workers earned the same weekly wages as before.

Senior Citizens Are Replacing Teenagers as Fast-Food Workers

Source: Leslie Patton , Bloomberg

Restaurants are recruiting in senior centers and churches. They’re placing want ads on the website of AARP, an advocacy group for Americans over 50. Recruiters say older workers have soft skills—a friendly demeanor, punctuality—that their younger cohorts sometimes lack.

November 5, 2018

Workplace Surveillance:Will New Techniques Spark Resentment

Source: Lorna Collier, Sage Business Researcher

Paula Brantner, a senior adviser to Workplace Fairness, an employee-rights advocacy group in Silver Spring, Md., says that unions have been able to “create some boundaries and limitations for the employer.” Employers with unionized workforces can still monitor their workers, but it must be done with employees’ consent and knowledge, she says.

Gig Economy Workers Often Don’t Realize How Much it Costs Them

Source: Eric Newcomer , Bloomberg

Here's an undeniable truth: The gig economy is built on the backs of workers who don't think about their costs. Uber drivers, for example, bring their own cars to work and pay their own expenses, but only some of them calculate their gasoline expenses and subtract that from their income.

Does the U.S. Still Have a 'Middle Class'?

Source: Caitlin Zaloom , The Atlantic

Steady work can feel uncertain, too, as some jobs no longer hold real promise of financial stability, let alone upward mobility. Across many states, for example, tax and service cuts have left teachers without raises even as they grapple with outsized classes, crumbling infrastructure, and ancient textbooks.

November 2, 2018

Here Are The Stories Women Are Telling During The Walkout At Google Headquarters

Source: Caroline O’Donovan , Buzzfeed News

Google employees protested the company's handling of sexual misconduct in the workplace at an orchestrated global walkout today, telling stories of harassment and a corporate culture that does not respect women.

Donald Trump’s Top Economic Adviser Thinks The ‘Federal Minimum Wage Is A Terrible Idea’

Source: Dave Jamieson , Huffington Post

Five days ahead of the midterm elections, President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser took to trashing the minimum wage. “My view is a federal minimum wage is a terrible idea ? terrible idea,” Larry Kudlow, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said in an interview with Washington Post Live on Thursday.

November 1, 2018

Freelancers rights come of age as gig economy booms

Source: Ziad Reslan , Techcrunch

From a modern take on labor unions in the shape of the Freelancers Union to legal tech startups trying to provide freelancers with simple and accessible contracts that protect their rights, freelancer protections are slowly catching up to the incredible growth that the gig economy has seen over the past few years.

U.S. workers see fastest wage growth in a decade, outpacing inflation

Source: Heather Long , The Washington Post

U.S. workers are seeing the largest wage increase in a decade, the Labor Department reported Wednesday, as companies compete harder for employees than they did in recent years.

Can you take paid time off work to vote? It may depend where you live.

Source: Tim Ryan Williams, Vox

These laws are little known and often rarely enforced, according to Paula Brantner, the executive director of the advocacy group Workplace Fairness. “It’s a right without a remedy,” she said; the penalties for breaking these laws are small. (Big companies certainly aren’t emphasizing the possibility of a day off in their get-out-the-vote publicity.) And a worker seeking to sue an employer might find it hard to determine damages.

So it’s on workers to know their rights and make time-off requests. Here are the laws for each of the 50 states, based on information collected by Workplace Fairness, along with the times the polls are open.

October 31, 2018

Defense Contractor Accused of Slighting Reservists in Hiring

Source: Noam Scheiber , The New York Times

L3, which had more than $6 billion in sales to the Defense Department last year, denied liability and any allegations of discrimination. But it agreed to several changes, including no longer asking about military status before extending job offers, training workers on the employment rights of reservists and making it easier for employees to schedule work around their military obligations.

Missouri and Arkansas To Vote On Raising The Minimum Wage On Election Day

Source: Dave Jamieson , Huffington Post

Voters in Missouri and Arkansas will decide next week whether to do what Congress hasn’t done in more than a decade: boost the minimum wage. Both states have referendums on the ballot on Nov. 6 that would bypass their legislatures to gradually raise the minimum wage employers are required to pay.

How employers are trying to drive Election Day turnout

Source: Jena McGregor , Washington Post

There are no federal laws requiring employers to give workers time off to vote. State regulations vary, from having no laws on the subject to mandating paid time off for several hours, according to the nonprofit Workplace Fairness. Many do not have consequences, however, for noncompliance, and even those states that do specify offering paid time off may require it only if employees don’t have enough time to vote before or after work.

October 30, 2018

How Striking Hotel Workers Are Getting By, Without Paychecks

Source: Callum Borchers , WBUR

Union workers at seven Marriott hotels in Boston have been on strike for almost four weeks. Now their monthly bills are coming due.

How Unions Help Moms Take Maternity Leave

Source: Jonathan Timm , The Atlantic

In a peer-reviewed study to be published early next year in the journal Industrial and Labor Relations Review, a team of researchers led by the Vanderbilt University professor Tae-Youn Park found that union-represented women in the U.S. are 17 percent more likely to take maternity leave than similar women not represented by a union.

October 29, 2018

Private Equity Pillage: Grocery Stores and Workers At Risk

Source: Rosemary Batt and Eileen Appelbaum , The American Prospect

Since 2015 seven major grocery chains, employing more than 125,000 workers, have filed for bankruptcy. The media has blamed “disruptors”—low-cost competitors like Walmart and high-end markets like Whole Foods, now owned by Amazon.

Google Workers Fume Over Executives’ Payouts After Sexual Harassment Claims

Source: Daisuke Wakabayashi and Kate Conger , The New York Times

The query was part of an outpouring from Google employees after a New York Times article published on Thursday reported how the company had paid millions of dollars in exit packages to male executives accused of misconduct and stayed silent about their transgressions. In the case of Andy Rubin, the creator of Android mobile software, the company gave him a $90 million exit package even after Google had concluded that a misconduct claim against him was credible.

October 26, 2018

This Is What Living on Minimum Wage Looks Like

Source: Chase Castor and Alex Norcia , Vice News

The fight, though, rages on—and shows, really, no signs of slowing down. Though several states have pledged their support on the matter—in New York, for instance, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a plan in 2016 that would raise the minimum wage in New York City to $15 per hour by the end of 2019—protests, organized by Fight for $15, continue to crop up throughout the country.

NLRB denies union's call to revisit decision on workplace rules

Source: Daniel Wiessner , Reuters

The National Labor Relations Board has denied a union’s request to reconsider a major ruling involving Boeing Co that made it easier for employers to fend off challenges to workplace rules.

October 25, 2018

DOJ: Businesses Can Discriminate Against Transgender Workers

Source: Chris Opfer , Bloomberg Law

The Justice Department today told the U.S. Supreme Court that businesses can discriminate against workers based on their gender identity without violating federal law. Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the high court that a civil rights law banning sex discrimination on the job doesn’t cover transgender bias.

Supreme Court to Weigh Workers’ Right to Sue Their Employers

Source: Lauren Weber , The Wall Street Journal

Employers are still trying to figure out how to keep their workers from suing them, as three cases currently before the Supreme Court test the limits of firms’ ability to move disputes into arbitration and out of court and the public eye.

October 24, 2018

Women lose $513 billion a year in wages due to gender pay gap and math is worse for some

Source: Charisse Jones , USA Today

Women experience $513 billion in lost wages a year because of the stubborn pay gap that persists between them and their male peers, according to a new report from the American Association of University Women.

#MeToo and Women's Economic Empowerment

Source: Jared Bernstein and Kathleen Bryant , The American Prospect

Women in low-wage service-sector jobs face tremendous power differentials between themselves and their employers or customers, and they fear being easily replaced if they call attention to abuse.

October 23, 2018

Opinion: Real-time payroll deposits would make a huge financial difference for strapped workers

Source: Tim Chen , USA Today

The fundamental structure of America’s banking system has remained virtually unchanged since the 1950s. Yet one simple update could open the door to people who have been locked out of basic banking services for far too long. Millions of Americans today get paid twice a month, often on the first and 15th. But why? That made sense when payroll was entered manually and checks were cut by hand.

2 high-stakes ballot measures could boost wages for nearly 1 million workers

Source: Alexia Fernandez Campbell , Vox

Voters in two conservative states will have the chance to give hundreds of thousands of workers a pay raise in November. Ballot initiatives in Arkansas and Missouri would boost wages for nearly 1 million low-wage workers, whose incomes have hardly budged even as the US economy continues to grow.

October 22, 2018

Opinion: U.S. Labor Markets Aren’t Truly Free

Source: Mark Whitehouse , Bloomberg

The consolidation of American business has left people with fewer places to work, shifting the balance of power to employers. The evidence strongly suggests that employers do exercise their power to hold down wages.

Miscarrying at Work: The Physical Toll of Pregnancy Discrimination

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

Pregnancy discrimination is widespread in corporate America. Some employers deny expecting mothers promotions or pay raises, others fire them before they can take maternity leave. But for women who work in physically demanding jobs, pregnancy discrimination often can come with even higher stakes.

October 19, 2018

Workplace Fairness: How to Provide a Work Environment that Improves Employee Satisfaction and Attracts Top Talent

Source: Matt Walker, Cardrates.com

“There are small businesses that may not have a dedicated HR staff or access to attorneys to consult, and managers who are not properly trained in the law,” said Paula Brantner, the Senior Advisor for Workplace Fairness, an organization that helps both businesses and employees understand workers’ rights. “We want to send a message to employers that a fair workplace is in everyone’s interest – to nip problems in the bud before they become legal problems, morale problems, or personnel issues.”

Uber is testing an on-demand staffing business called Uber Works

Source: Sean O’Keane , The Verge

Uber is testing an on-demand staffing business called Uber Works, according to the Financial Times. The service would make it possible for businesses to hire short-term workers for things like “events and corporate functions, such as waiters or security guards,” the report says. The company is trialing the service in Chicago after testing it in Los Angeles earlier this year.

How tech employees are pushing Silicon Valley to put ethics before profit

Source: Alexia Fernandez Campbell , Vox

The chorus of tech workers demanding American tech companies put ethics before profit is growing louder. In recent days, employees at Google and Microsoft have been pressuring company executives to drop bids for a $10 billion contract to provide cloud computing services to the Department of Defense.

October 18, 2018

Why Production Crew Members Are Especially Vulnerable to Workplace Abuse

Source: Daniel Holloway , Variety

While the crew members are protected by union representation and increasingly detailed policies about workplace behavior, the peculiar work arrangements that govern crew employment discourage them from reporting misconduct and limit their options for recourse. The itinerant nature of crew work complicates issues of liability around harassment and workplace abuse on set.

Racial Wealth Gap Much Smaller Among Union Members

Source: Christian Weller , Forbes

The lower wealth gap among union members by race and ethnicity follows from a number of factors that are directly related to their jobs. African-Americans, Latinos, and other people of color stand to gain more in terms of higher wages, greater job stability, and better benefits from a union than is the case for whites.

This is how getting fired is more financially devastating for women

Source: Jared Lindzon, Fast Company

“There is significant evidence that pay bias is something that can follow you throughout your career,” says Paula Brantner, a senior adviser for Workplace Fairness, a nonprofit organization that offers career resources and legal assistance. “If you’re underpaid and undervalued in your first job, then when you go to your next job, they look at what you’re making and continue to undervalue you, so as your career progresses you get further and further behind.”

October 17, 2018

Gig Economy Prime Target for Labor Department Opinions

Source: Jaclyn Diaz , Bloomberg Law

How to correctly classify workers as employees or independent contractors is a murky subject that continues to confound businesses and lawyers alike. That’s one reason why worker classification will likely be the subject of a Labor Department opinion letter soon, attorneys and former DOL staff from prior administrations say.

It’s official: D.C. Council has repealed Initiative 77

Source: Fenit Nirappil , The Washington Post

After hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign spending, tens of thousands of voters heading to the polls and hundreds of angry calls and emails to lawmakers, a contentious fight over restaurant worker pay in the nation’s capital ended with a quick vote by the D.C. Council.

October 16, 2018

The Employer Surveillance State

Source: Ellen Ruppel Shell , The Atlantic

The proliferation of surveillance is due, at least in part, to the rising sophistication and declining cost of spy technology: Employers monitor workers because they can. Perhaps the most common argument for surveillance—one often deployed by firms that make employee-monitoring products—is that it can make workers more productive.

McDonald’s Labor Case Gets Political

Source: Hassan A. Kanu , Bloomberg BNA

Attorneys for McDonald’s recently fired off a strongly worded missive against a former Bush White House ethics chief who said two GOP members of the National Labor Relations Board should sit out a case against the fast food giant.

October 15, 2018

The trucking industry is a “sweatshop on wheels.” Here’s how Kavanaugh could make it worse.

Source: Michael Arria , Salon

Kavanaugh’s judicial career indicates that he’ll consistently side with business over workers. In 2008, he dissented from a ruling that established undocumented workers as employees who can start a union. In 2016, he wrote for the majority in a case that overruled an NLRB decision which allowed Verizon workers to adorn their vehicles with pro-union messages.

Lower pay for disabled New Mexico workers raises fairness issues

Source: Andrew Oxford , Santa Fe New Mexican

For employers and the families of many such workers, the importance of these jobs is not in the wage but in the dignity and sense of worth that comes along with the work. Without this 80-year-old provision of the law, employers — mostly nonprofit service organizations — argue they could not afford to hire workers who need the extra support and accommodations that people with disabilities might.

October 12, 2018

How Sexual Harassment at Workplace can Affect Health for Decades

Source: Pooja Singh , Entrepreneur

The impact of workplace sexual harassment or sexual assault can result in lingering health problems years after the experience, a new study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal says. The study, “Association of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault With Midlife Women’s Mental and Physical Health”, set out to answer the following question: Do women with a history of sexual harassment or sexual assault have higher blood pressure, greater depression and anxiety, and poorer sleep than women without this history.

Amazon ditched AI recruiting tool that favored men for technical jobs

Source: Reuters, Reuters

Amazon’s machine-learning specialists uncovered a big problem: their new recruiting engine did not like women. The team had been building computer programs since 2014 to review job applicants’ résumés, with the aim of mechanizing the search for top talent, five people familiar with the effort told Reuters.

October 11, 2018

Why nearly 8,000 Marriott workers are striking in 8 cities

Source: Alexia Fernandez Campbell , Vox

Thousands of hotel employees are refusing to go to work at Marriott-owned hotels in eight major US cities, citing mounting frustration over stalled negotiations for higher wages and safety measures. As of Wednesday, nearly 8,000 housekeepers, bartenders, and other service workers had walked off the job at 23 hotels in Detroit, Boston, San Diego, San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Maui, and Oahu, according to their labor union, Unite Here, which represents more than 20,000 Marriott workers in the United States and Canada.

Leaked Whole Foods Email Clarifies How Amazon's Pay Raises Will Work

Source: Bryan Menegus , Gizmodo

An internal email sent today by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey clarifies certain aspects of the pay changes—slated to go into effect November 1—and muddles others. According to Mackey, workers making $14 or more currently will be bumped up by $1, while Team Leaders in the same situation will receive a $2 increase.

October 10, 2018

How Companies Can Build Better Sexual Harassment Policies

Source: Laura Entis, Fortune

That’s why workplace sexual harassment training must extend beyond clear violations, or the message becomes “you can walk right up to that line, and as long as you don’t cross it, it’s fine,” Brantner says. Instead, the focus needs to expand to include concrete details on the “the kind of climate and culture that we want to have in the workplace.”

New York Sexual Harassment Law Deadline Has Employers in a Hurry

Source: Robert Iafolla , Bloomberg BNA

Some employers in New York may have to sprint to meet the Oct. 9 deadline to adopt sexual harassment prevention policies and provide them to workers. The state moved forward quickly, passing legislation in April, opening up public comment in August on draft documents, and issuing its finalized guidance, model policy, and model complaint form Oct. 1.

Starbucks now offering backup daycare benefit to US workers

Source: The Associated Press , The Associated Press

Starbucks' U.S. employees have a new benefit: subsidized backup care for children and adults. The company says employees will get up to 10 backup care days each year to use when regular care is unavailable. More than 180,000 employees will be eligible. In-home backup care for kids or adults will cost employees $1 per hour. Care in a childcare center costs $5 per hour.

October 9, 2018

AFL-CIO's Trumka Is Optimistic About the Midterms

Source: Reid J Epstein, The Wall Street Journal

“People are looking for candidates who will change the rules of the economy to make it work for them,” Mr. Trumka said. “There are a lot of non-labor candidates who realize that unless the rules of the economy change, too many people are going to be left behind.”

Study: Lingering illnesses can trouble women for years after assault, workplace harassment

Source: Laura Geggel, The Washington Post

These health problems can include high blood pressure, poor-quality sleep, anxiety and symptoms of depression, the researchers found after doing medical exams of about 300 women.

October 8, 2018

UPS Union Ratifies Labor Deal Even Though Members Turned It Down

Source: Thomas Black, Bloomberg

United Parcel Service Inc.’s union ratified a five-year labor agreement for employees -- even though a majority of members who voted turned it down.

Pensions Get Bolder in Challenging Private Equity on Investments’ Human Cost

Source: Michael Corkery, The New York Times

Now, pension leaders are showing a new willingness to confront private equity over the human impact of its investments. Minnesota’s pension plan temporarily halted investments in one of Toys “R” Us’s former private equity owners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, after hearing that 30,000 workers laid off amid the retailer’s bankruptcy had been denied severance.

October 5, 2018

Is Amazon's Minimum Wage Increase a Step Forward or Just a Savvy PR Move?

Source: Katie Herzog , The Stranger (Seattle)

Amazon's announcement this week that the company will be increasing its minimum wage to $15 a hour—and lobbying Congress to change the federal minimum wage to the same—was largely met with cheers. While $15 a hour might not be enough to survive in a city like Seattle, for hundreds of thousands of low-paid Amazon workers (many of whom, in this state, depend on Medicaid), this seemed like a positive step forward, and soon after the news broke, everyone from Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton was congratulating Jeff Bezos, newly minted American hero. But what will the increase mean, really?

Too Sick, Too Pregnant, Too Well Paid: Walmart Workers on Why the Company Fires Them

Source: Michael Sainato , Splinter

Ramos is one of several former Walmart employees who alleged to Splinter that they were wrongfully fired because they were making too much. Several other current and former employees alleged wrongful termination for becoming pregnant or getting sick. There is a pervasive fear among employees, they said, of any combination of these conditions leading to reprisal from management, including job loss.

October 4, 2018

More Deregulation Coming Soon, Labor Secretary Says

Source: Jaclyn Diaz , Bloomberg BNA

President Donald Trump’s deregulatory efforts will continue into the coming year, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta told a group of small-business owners Oct. 3. “There’s much more to come,” Acosta said at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event in Washington. “If you look forward into the upcoming year you’re going to see a lot more deregulation in addition to some great proactive policies.”

Amazon's hourly workers lose monthly bonuses and stock awards as minimum wage increases

Source: Eugene Kim , CNBC

Amazon's minimum wage increase for its hourly workers comes with a trade-off: no more monthly bonuses and stock awards. Amazon confirmed in an email to CNBC that the company is getting rid of incentive pay and stock option awards as it increases the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

October 3, 2018

Amazon was under intense political pressure to raise pay, but there's another obvious reason it’s giving workers more money

Source: Gina Heeb , Business Insider

When announcing plans to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour for all of Amazon's employees in the US, chief executive Jeff Bezos portrayed the move as a sort of moral reckoning. But political pressure aside, economists say Amazon was probably going to have to raise its wages anyway. In order to stay competitive in a tight labor market, they say, companies across the US will have to make similar moves.

D.C. Council takes initial vote to overturn wage hike for bartenders, servers - four months after voters approved it

Source: Fenit Nirappil , The Washington Post

D.C. lawmakers on Tuesday took initial steps to overturn an initiative that would have raised the minimum wage for servers, bartenders and other workers who rely on tips, just four months after voters easily passed the measure.

October 2, 2018

How raising the minimum wage keeps ex-cons from going back to prison

Source: Jacob Passy , MarketWatch

A new working paper from researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey and Clemson University in South Carolina examined how higher minimum wages and the availability of state-based Earned Income Tax Credits influence recently released prisoners.

While Congress Dithers, a Few Red States Are Trying to Raise the Minimum Wage

Source: Tonya Riley , Mother Jones

Voters in Missouri and Arkansas will decide at the ballot box in November whether to raise the minimum wage, an increasingly common tactic for the national fight for a fair wage. The federal minimum wage was raised to $7.25 an hour in 2009 and hasn’t budged since.

October 1, 2018

Starbucks requests rehearing following Supreme Court 'off the clock' wage decision

Source: John Breslin, Northern California Record

Paula Brantner, a senior adviser to Workplace Fairness, an advocacy group, said she welcomed the decision, describing it is as important because it defines the differences between California's labor laws and federal.

Brantner told the Northern California Record: "Most of the these cases have to be brought as class actions, when, such as in this case, the amount is a little over $100. It is the only way workers can band together."

Working While Homeless: A Tough Job For Thousands Of Californians

Source: David Wagner, NPR

One of the first steps to helping people out of homelessness is getting them a steady job. But what about the thousands of homeless Californians who are already working? Pinning down exactly how many Californians are working while homeless is not easy. Many try to hide it. But recent estimates suggest that it's not uncommon.

Why workplace bans on facial hair marginalize men of color

Source: Nadra Nittle , Vox

In addition to painting a very narrow image of what constitutes professionalism, bans on facial hair pose medical risks for men who suffer from razor bumps and can alienate men who wear beards for religious reasons.

September 28, 2018

Uber Driver Lawsuit Shows How A Lack Of Power Enables Income Inequality

Source: Erik Sherman , Forbes

A growing body of evidence shows that Uber drivers aren't getting rich from driving gigs. Many make far less than minimum wage in their states. So, it is unsurprising that many drivers have had bad experiences and, once in the middle of things, began to question how independent their roles as contractors really were. So, they brought a class-action lawsuit that came a sharp halt the other day by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Top Minimum Wage in U.S., $19, Is Planned for New York’s Airport Workers

Source: Patrick McGeehan , New York Times

As many as 40,000 workers at the three big airports that serve New York City are on a path to earning at least $19 an hour, the highest targeted minimum wage set by any public agency in the country and a major development in the battle over boosting income for those at the lower end of the pay scale. The pay increase, which was expected to be approved on Thursday by the commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, will raise the wages of tens of thousands of workers over the next five years. I

September 27, 2018

One thing millennials haven’t killed: the labor union

Source: Simone Stolzoff , QZ

Despite the association of labor unions with depression-era steelworkers, membership is on the rise for people younger than age 35, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were almost 400,000 more union members younger than age 35 in 2017 than there were in 2016.

How universal free preschool in DC helped bring moms back to work

Source: Bryce Covert , Vox

The full-day, free, universal preschool program in Washington, DC, had a huge impact on the employment of mothers with young children according to new research shared exclusively with Vox by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a progressive think tank.

September 26, 2018

How Restaurants Get Away With Stealing Millions From Workers Every Year

Source: Dana Hatic , Eater

Allowing employers to manage differential payments leaves plenty of room for error, and a rampant disregard for follow-through on paying out earned wages. Miscalculation, whether intentional or not, sometimes means employees aren’t paid for their work. In some cases, tip pooling and strict overtime laws can set employees up to work more hours than they will get paid for. In others, management may pay workers a tipped wage for non-tipped work, like rolling silverware or polishing glassware.

Labor Secretary Eyes Gig Worker Policy

Source: Chris Opfer , Bloomberg BNA

The Labor Department is looking at changing regulations governing gig workers and other independent contractors, issues that have embroiled companies including Amazon.com Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. in legal battles, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said in an interview. “The workforce is changing. How we approach work is changing, and we need to start looking at our rules and recognize that what fit 20 or 30 years ago is not going to fit for the modern workplace,” Acosta told Bloomberg Law.

September 25, 2018

Uber drivers and other gig economy workers are earning half what they did five years ago

Source: Rani Molla , Recode

The gig isn’t as good as it used to be for people working through online transportation apps in the U.S. On average, drivers who transport people (Uber or Lyft) or things (Uber Eats or Postmates) through an app made 53 percent less in 2017 than they did in 2013, according to a new study by the JPMorgan Chase Institute that looks at online gig economy payments into Chase checking accounts.

Trump Administration Weighs New Overtime Pay Requirements

Source: Chris Opfer , Bloomberg

The department is eyeing January as a soft deadline to unveil a proposed regulation that would revise overtime eligibility under federal wage-and-hour law, a DOL spokesman told Bloomberg Law Sept. 24. A trio of department officials earlier the same day held the last of five scheduled listening sessions seeking feedback on when employers should be required to pay workers time-and-a-half wages for overtime.

September 24, 2018

California’s paid family leave program leaves many behind, report says

Source: Kevin Smith , Orange County Register

Those who work on a contract basis doing work such as driving buses, cleaning restrooms or drawing blood at a medical facility have no employer-provided paid leave and may not even be covered by the state’s program. California has a Disability Insurance Elective Coverage program to address self-employed workers and others working in the gig economy.

Workers Overdose on the Job, and Employers Struggle to Respond

Source: Jenny Gold , The New York Times

As the opioid epidemic continues to rage across the country, with a record 72,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2017, the fallout is increasingly manifesting itself at construction sites, factories, warehouses, offices and other workplaces.

September 21, 2018

How Does Saving For Retirement Affect Low-Income Workers?

Source: John Scott , Forbes

There’s little disagreement that saving for retirement is a good thing. But could helping poor people build savings through a retirement plan reduce or eliminate their eligibility for social assistance? The potential fly in the ointment is that as the retirement savings of low-income workers increase, their social safety net support could decrease—or be eliminated altogether.

Too Hot for Work?

Source: Michelle Chen , The Nation

In to a new study of occupational health in an era of climate change, a research team warns of a surge of work-related hazards directly tied to extreme weather events and intensifying carbon emissions. A warming atmosphere also elevates the risk of heart, lung, and renal problems, ranging from asthma attacks to chronic heart disease. And beyond the temperature itself, workers will be more exposed to allergens like pollen, waterborne pathogens, and cancer-causing UV rays. Some populations, such as pregnant women, will be especially sensitive to hot environments. And communities must prepare for huge demographic shifts due to climate volatility, including population displacement and migration related to catastrophic weather and “climate refugees.”

September 20, 2018

What’s at Stake in Washington’s Heated Battle Over Tipped Workers

Source: Sarah Holder , City Lab

The way tipped wages have historically worked is that employees have a significantly lower base salary than other workers, but one that’s supplemented by tips. In D.C., for example, tipped workers currently make $3.89. Tips are supposed to bring up their pay to the minimum wage of $13.25 an hour, and the law mandates that employers pay the difference if workers don’t make enough tips to cover it. By 2020, the city’s standard minimum wage will have increased to $15 (And the tipped minimum under 77 would be phased up accordingly.) But servers and tipped workers argue that often, wage theft means that minimum wage isn’t met; that it’s people of color and immigrants who are shafted most often; and that a salary dependent on tips encourages sexual harassment and abuse.

Wages Are Low and Workers Are Scarce. Wait, What?

Source: Annie Lowrey , The Atlantic

Across the country, there are more jobs available than there are workers looking for them, as the unemployment rate has dropped to a nearly two-decade low. Businesses are complaining of worker shortages, arguing they could do more and sell more and build more if they could just find the labor.

September 19, 2018

Millennials United: Labor Unions Enjoy a Youthful Surge

Source: Carly Stern , OZY

From nonprofits to digital newsrooms, and from Silicon Valley cafeterias to Hollywood writers’ rooms, unions are cropping up across workplaces with little or no history of traditional organizing.

Facebook sued over allegations of gender bias in male-targeted job ads

Source: Sarah Marsh , The Guardian

Facebook and a group of 10 employers are being sued by workers for alleged gender discrimination after job adverts on the social media site targeted male users and did not appear to women.

September 18, 2018

Mom claims she was let go for breasfeeding

Source: Sam Sosa, Fox 4 Port Charlotte, Fla.

We also reached out to national workers rights organization Workplace Fairness. Senior Advisor Paula Brantner said although federal law protects mothers breastfeeding in the workplace, there aren't laws protecting a parents right to bring a child to work. "In some work places, that would obviously be disruptive or even dangerous, which can make is difficult for working mothers who don't have childcare," said Brantner. "That's definitely something employers should take into account..."

Dangerous Jobs Also Put Workers at Risk of Opioid Dependency

Source: Michelle Chen, The Nation

A groundbreaking study in Massachusetts links dangerous workplaces to another crisis: The construction industry and related fields have a higher rate of opioid deaths than other industries. On the surface, the link between workplace injuries and opioid deaths seems obvious in only one aspect—they both disproportionately affect the working poor.

Warren Sees New Conflict in NLRB Bid to Unravel Obama-Era Worker Rules

Source: Josh Eidelson , Bloomberg

The case before the National Labor Relations Board deals with the right of companies to restrict workers’ online organizing efforts. In a letter sent to NLRB Chairman John Ring, a Trump appointee, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin joined Warren in demanding the recusal of NLRB member William Emanuel.

September 17, 2018

Why pulling an Omarosa and secretly recording coworkers is probably a bad idea

“It’s tempting when you see someone like Omarosa, who currently appears to be winning,” Brantner added. “(But) most people are not going to be in a situation where they have that much to gain — and they have a lot they can lose.”

Labor Board Moves Anew to Limit Employers’ Workplace Liability

Source: Noam Scheiber , The New York Times

The board announced on Thursday that it was set to publish a proposed rule redefining a company’s responsibility under labor law for workers engaged at arm’s length, such as those hired by contractors or franchisees.

Hurricane Florence is costing workers income. Blame federal labor laws.

Source: Alexia Fernandez Campbell , Vox

In storm-affected areas, the people who are most stressed out right now are workers who make less than $20 an hour. Low-wage, unskilled workers are considered hourly workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal law that governs workers’ pay.

September 14, 2018

The stock market boom has given CEOs a raise. What about average workers?

Source: Gretchen Frazee, PBS Newshour

As the PBS NewsHour recently explained, companies have a variety of options when it comes to spending their profits.

I Work 3 Jobs and Donate Blood Plasma to Pay the Bills

Source: Katie Reilly , Time

September 13, 2018

Some McDonald’s workers in Orlando to join one-day strike over sex harassment

Source: The Associated Press , The Associated Press

Emboldened by the #MeToo movement, McDonald’s workers have voted to stage a one-day strike next week at restaurants in Orlando and nine other cities in hopes of pressuring management to take stronger steps against on-the-job sexual harassment. Organizers say it will be the first multi-state strike in the U.S. specifically targeting sexual harassment.

Climate Change Is Becoming A Major Workplace Hazard

Source: Kate Sheppard , Huffington Post

As rising global temperatures and changing extreme weather patterns reshape the conception of “normal,” no one will be more affected than the workers who are sent out to the frontlines of climate change. That includes the farm laborers who harvest our produce under the summer’s hot sun, the firefighters who battle bigger and less predictable forest infernos, and the emergency responders sent out in the wake of major storms.




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