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Our Programs In the News

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

May 23, 2018

Cheating workers out of wages is easier than ever

Source: Elizabeth C. Tippett , The Conversation

Two features alone, “rounding” and “automatic break deductions,” could result in the loss of up to 44 minutes a day – or US$1,382 a year at the federal minimum wage. Timekeeping software was the focus of a study I co-authored last year documenting how it could be used to facilitate wage theft. But it left a lingering question: Did companies actually use these features to shortchange workers?

Neil Gorsuch Just Demolished Labor Rights

Source: Mark Joseph Stern , Slate

The Supreme Court issued a 5–4 decision Monday in Epic Systems v. Lewis allowing employers to deprive their workers of their right to sue collectively. Its ruling, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, blasts a massive hole through post–New Deal labor law, hobbling employees’ ability to recover in court when their employers underpay them. It is difficult to overstate how devastating Epic Systems is to labor rights in America—and how far Gorsuch strays from federal law in order to implement his preferred economic policy.

May 22, 2018

McDonald’s workers block headquarters and chant, 'We can see your greedy side'

Source: Danielle Paquette, The Washington Post

About 150 cooks and cashiers blocked the entrance Monday to the McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago, protesting what they call unfairly low pay at one of the world's largest fast-food chains. The protest was organized by Fight for $15, a campaign funded by the Service Employees International Union that has been pressuring McDonald’s and other employers to lift wages since 2012. “We are cooks and cashiers who work behind the company’s counters, grills and fryers across the country,” the protesters said in a letter they delivered to the company ahead of its annual shareholder meeting Thursday. “And we are calling on McDonald’s to use its massive power and wealth to lift up people of color and our communities rather than keep us locked in poverty.”

Supreme Court Decision Delivers Blow To Workers' Rights

Source: Nina Totenberg , NPR

In a case involving the rights of tens of millions of private-sector employees, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, delivered a major blow to workers, ruling for the first time that workers may not band together to challenge violations of federal labor laws.

May 21, 2018

Civil Discourse - Talking politics at your dealership--or on social media--could cost your business employees and customers.

Source: Brittany Bungert, Iowa Auto Dealer

“A lot of people will say ‘It’s my First Amendment right to
say this opinion,’ and in most situations, it’s really not,” said
Paula Brantner of Workplace Fairness, a non-profit organization
that advocates for employee rights. “That’s not what the First
Amendment is about, and your employer typically has the
ability to shut those conversations down up to discipline and
termination if the employer considers them disruptive to the
workplace or, honestly, if they disagree.”

Uber Should ‘Do the Right Thing’ for All of Its Workers

Source: E. Tammy Kim , The New York Times

On Tuesday, the ride-hailing company Uber announced that it would no longer require its employees, drivers or passengers to submit to arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and assault.

Labor Department Sues Home Care Companies

Source: Chris Opfer , Bloomberg Law

The Labor Department filed a handful of lawsuits against home care providers for wage-and-hour violations, signaling that the DOL isn’t likely to soon revisit an Obama era rule that entitles domestic service workers to minimum wages and overtime pay.

May 18, 2018

Is Burgerville Union Success a Bellwether for Fast Food?

Source: Jaclyn Diaz , Bloomberg Law

Three weeks after a landmark vote that created the country’s first union for fast-food workers, a second group of Burgerville employees decided to join an affiliate of the Industrial Workers of the World. The win at the chain’s Gladstone, Ore., location adds about 20 members to the Burgerville Workers Union, but organizers hope that small number belies a growing movement in the industry.

Men like Bill O’Reilly get to make a comeback. Women who speak up about harassment lose their jobs.

Source: Anna North , Vox

Talk of a comeback for O’Reilly lays bare one of the crucial inequalities that has yet to be fully addressed as part of the #MeToo movement: A powerful man can cost his company millions as a result of harassment allegations and still land himself a new, highly visible job. But women, too often, are silenced, booted from their industry, and blackballed.

May 17, 2018

Let’s deliver the mail, not myths

Source: Mark Dimondstein , The Boston Globe

This is a good opportunity to underscore some important facts regarding the Postal Service, a national treasure belonging to all the people of the United States. Tax dollars do not fund Postal Service operations. Instead, it operates on earned revenue from postage and other products and services. As a self-funding independent agency, the Postal Service provides universal service at uniform and reasonable rates, delivering to 157 million addresses six (and sometimes seven) days a week, no matter who customers are or where they live.

Uber filed a motion to compel alleged sexual assault victims to settle some claims under arbitration

Source: Johana Bhuiyan , Recode

Uber announced today that it would no longer force plaintiffs alleging sexual assault to arbitrate their litigation against the company, but it still plans to enforce arbitration in other cases — which includes preventing riders from filing class action claims.

May 15, 2018

A New View of Antitrust Law That Favors Workers

Source: Cass R. Sunstein, Bloomberg

The most ambitious antitrust essay in recent years, and potentially the most important, comes from Chicago’s Eric Posner, along with Microsoft’s E. Glen Weyl (long associated with Chicago as well) and Columbia’s Suresh Naidu. Their central argument is that in the United States, many labor markets are not competitive. Employers have a ton of market power. They use it to suppress wages, often harming low-income workers in particular.

Healthcare, freelanced: Where will gig economy workers get coverage?

Source: Chris Taylor, Reuters

More Americans than ever are falling into that second category, a scrappy mix of the self-employed, solo entrepreneurs, freelancers and contract workers. More than 57 million Americans, or 36 percent of the workforce, freelance, according to a recent study by the Freelancers Union.

May 14, 2018

What Makes Retail Workers Uniquely Vulnerable to Sexual Harassment

Source: Nandita Raghuram, Racked

Paula Brantner, a Senior Advisor at Workplace Fairness — an organization that promotes the fair treatment of workers — says similarly that typically harassers are not peers. Instead, they tend to be older, more advanced, or a manager. That can pose a problem because they control the schedule, how many shifts someone is working, or if they are scheduled to work when people tend to spend more money, she says. “They literally can decide whether or not you make enough money to live on.”

This may make workers feel as if they must endure the harassment because “they’re dealing with a person who has that much control over their financial stability and well being,” says Brantner.

Wells Fargo owes $97 million to California workers

Source: Matt Egan , CNN

A federal judge has ordered Wells Fargo to pay $97.3 million in damages to mortgage workers in California who weren't paid enough for their breaks. The judgment, handed down late Tuesday, comes after the court ruled in January that Wells Fargo (WFC) violated California's tough labor laws. The damages in the class action lawsuit are almost quadruple what Wells Fargo argued it should owe. The ruling applies to Wells Fargo mortgage consultants and bankers who worked at the bank in California between March 2013 and August 2017.

Get Your Mom a Flexible Workplace and Paid Leave for Mother's Day

Source: Alicia Adamczyk , Lifehacker

Among the many sacrifices parents make when they have children, one of the most pressing for working families is the financial hit a mother’s lifetime earnings take. A working paper published in January from Princeton University found that “the arrival of children creates a gender gap in earnings of around 20 percent in the long run, driven in roughly equal proportions by labor force participation, hours of work, and wage rates.” (While this study used data from Denmark, the country’s wage gap is “nearly the same size” as America’s.) The wage gap exists, and a significant portion of it can be credited to motherhood.

May 11, 2018

The Trump administration wants to give teens more chances to work with dangerous machinery

Source: Alexia Fernández Campbell , Vox

The new rule would expand the agency’s current exemption, which lets teens do some hazardous work only as part of an apprenticeship or student learning program — usually no longer than an hour a day. The new rule would remove the time limit, according to Bloomberg. The idea is to give teens more training, and businesses more flexibility, in apprenticeships. But critics say it will lead to more teen deaths and injuries at work, which generally had been declining.

At the VA, a Law Meant to Discipline Executives is Being Used to Fire Low-Level Workers

Source: Jasper Craven , The Nation

Instead, the law appears to have been used primarily to discipline low-level employees, according to VA data—and it has resulted in a weakening of due process for those recommended for removal, as well as the curtailing of their right to appeal, effectively superseding worker protections secured by unions in collective-bargaining agreements.

May 10, 2018

When Black Men Are Harassed

Source: Adia Harvey Wingfield, Slate

But as black men, some of them also faced unique forms of sexual harassment that heavily affected the ways they navigated professional work environments.

How a Supreme Court Decision This Spring Could Cut Union Rolls by 726,000

Source: Eric Morath, The Wall Street Journal

Labor unions could lose hundreds of thousands of members if the Supreme Court determines this spring that public employees cannot be required to pay union dues, a new study finds.

May 9, 2018

Alleged Sexual Predators Don’t Need Letters Of Support

Source: Angelina Chapin, Huffington Post

When influential players in a workplace openly side with the accused, it becomes difficult for other employees with relevant information or other harassment allegations to come forward.

“’You think, ‘Wow, 65 of my peers are going to hold that against me or think I’m lying,’” said Brantner. “It really sends a strong message about the futility of speaking out.”

University Of California Workers Start 3-Day Strike

Source: Associated Press , Associated Press

Thousands of custodians, security guards, gardeners and other service workers at University of California campuses have started a three-day walkout to address gender pay inequalities and demand higher wages. Strikers gathered at sunrise Monday on the 10 campuses throughout the state, wearing green t-shirts and carrying signs that call for “equality, fairness, respect.”

In corporate America, too many bosses tell employees who to vote for

Source: Ganesh Sitaraman, The Guardian

When corporations monitor whether employees engage in political activities (and Hertel-Fernandez says that some do), employees are also more likely to respond to managers’ wishes.

May 8, 2018

Treating Workers Fairly at Rent the Runway

Source: Jennifer Y. Hyman , The New York Times

I am ashamed to say that until recently I was part of the majority: I am the chief executive of a company that gave different benefits to different groups of employees.

End of the gig economy? Don’t read too much into a California court ruling

Source: Elizabeth C. Tippett , PBS

Gig economy companies, like Uber and Lyft, overwhelmingly classify their workers as independent contractors. As a result, they don’t comply with basic employment laws, like minimum wage and workers’ compensation insurance. If courts decide these workers are misclassified and actually meet the legal test for employee status, gig companies can be on the hook for back pay or unpaid insurance premiums, as well as penalties for past noncompliance. So does this mark a turning point for the gig economy? Maybe not.

May 7, 2018

Why Fair Scheduling Laws Will Be The New Minimum Wage Battle

Source: Eillie Anzilotti , Fast Company

For states like Connecticut, which in recent years renewed its efforts to attract new businesses to the state, there’s been pushback to the legislation. Corporate lobbyists maintain that paying workers better or advancing just scheduling practices will cause the state to lose its competitive edge in attracting companies, says Zack Campbell, media and outreach director for CT Working Families.

How a California Court Ruling Might Affect Minor League Players

Source: David Waldstein , New York Times

On the surface, the plight of delivery drivers doesn’t seem to relate to minor league ball players; they are, after all, already considered salaried employees and not independent contractors. But in their ruling, the judges defined “work” according to the so-called “ABC” test, a broad standard that could also be applied to the players and enable them to be paid back for spring training, off-season workouts and overtime.

May 4, 2018

A loophole in federal law allows companies to pay disabled workers $1 an hour

Source: Alexia Fernández Campbell , Vox

Rock River Valley Self Help Enterprises, an Illinois nonprofit, billed itself as a vocational training program for people with disabilities. But it essentially operated as a subcontractor for local factories, providing menial tasks to workers with developmental disabilities.

Saying #MeToo Is Harder for Low-Wage Workers

Source: Lia Russell , The American Prospect

Restaurant workers, home-care aides, and domestic workers and others in the service industry often put up with abusive patrons and managers—but unlike Hollywood actors, they have far fewer employment opportunities to available to them.

May 3, 2018

How a Common Interview Question Fuels the Gender Pay Gap (and How to Stop It)

Source: Claire Cain Miller , The New York Times

Aileen Rizo was training math teachers in the public schools in Fresno, Calif., when she discovered that her male colleagues with comparable jobs were being paid significantly more. She was told there was a justifiable reason: Employees’ pay was based on their salaries at previous jobs, and she had been paid less than they had earlier in their careers. Ms. Rizo, who is now running for the California State Assembly, sued. In April, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in her favor, saying that prior salary could not be used to justify a wage gap between male and female employees. It’s the latest sign that this has become the policy of choice for shrinking the gender pay gap.

Uber, Lyft and other gig jobs may face a shakeup under new California work rules

Source: Andrew Khouri and Tracey Lien , Los Angeles Times

The rise of independent contracting has delivered benefits for some, such as greater flexibility for workers and lower costs for employers. But it also ensnared some people in low-wage jobs without benefits, working schedules that can change daily. Now, following a state Supreme Court ruling Monday, businesses across California could be forced to reclassify swaths of their workforces as employees, with profound effects on workers and companies. By toughening requirements for when a worker is actually an employee, the California Supreme Court won praise from labor advocates who say the move will put more dollars in the pockets of previously misclassified workers.

May 2, 2018

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

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.

California Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Gig Workers

Source: Bryan Menegus , Gizmodo

In a unanimous decision yesterday, California’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of independent contractors seeking employee status from a last-mile delivery service in a case that could have wide ramifications for Uber, Lyft, Amazon, Instacart, and other companies buoyed by the sweat of the gig economy. First filed in April of 2005, the suit alleged that drivers for Dynamex had been misclassified as independent contractors.

May Day protesters demand better rights for workers

Source: Sheena McKenzie and Sarah Tilotta , CNN

Demonstrators across the globe took to the streets on Tuesday to demand better working conditions, as part of rallies marking International Workers' Day. Held on May 1 each year -- known as May Day -- the rallies date back to the 1880s. At the time, labor movements around the world were campaigning for safeguards such as eight-hour workdays and trade unions.

May 1, 2018

A New York company must pay $5.1 million for demanding religious practices from employees

Source: Gene Marks, The Washington Post

According to the original lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2014, United Health Programs employees were being forced to follow an internal “Harnessing Happiness” system started by an aunt of the owners in 2007 that required them to engage in activities such as prayers, religious workshops and “spiritual cleansing rituals.”

How Wall Street Bought Toys ‘R’ Us And Left 30,000 People Without Jobs

Source: Leticia Miranda, Buzzfeed News

As other private equity–backed companies like Toys ‘R’ Us fail to pay down debt in a rapidly changing retail environment, experts are predicting that more minimum-wage retail workers may soon find themselves without jobs.

April 30, 2018

Sex Harassment Complaints in New York Fall Into an Enforcement Maze

Source: Vivian Wang, The New York Times

There is no single investigative body or agency charged with hearing complaints of sexual harassment or abuse by state officials. Nor is there a uniform statewide definition of sexual harassment.

High Hopes, Hazy Role for Labor Department’s Second-in-Command

Source: Ben Penn, Bloomberg Law

Employers and conservatives are familiar with and optimistic about Patrick Pizzella, who was sworn in as deputy labor secretary April 17. Pizzella endeared himself to management lawyers while a senior DOL official in the George W. Bush administration and during his more recent term as a member of the panel that settles federal workforce labor disputes.

April 27, 2018

Arizona teachers want more than a raise. They want public schools funded again.

Source: Alvin Chang , Vox

Arizona teachers are planning a walkout on Thursday if the governor and state legislature don’t increase teacher pay, restore education funding, and promise not to implement more tax cuts. They would join a wave of teacher groups striking across the nation, from West Virginia to Oklahoma to Kentucky.

Amazon and Tesla Facilities Named Among the Most Dangerous Workplaces in America

Source: Melanie Ehrenkranz , Gizmodo

On Wednesday, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) released a report singling out 12 companies that most put their workers at risk, and Amazon and Tesla both made the list. “Every day there are workers who don’t come home to their families because of tragedies we know could have been prevented,” Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of National COSH, said in a statement. “This year, we’ll identify several companies who received specific warnings about safety hazards and failed to correct them. Workers paid the ultimate price for these failures.”

April 26, 2018

Estée Lauder is now paying employees $10,000 to adopt and giving parents 20 weeks of paid leave

Source: Leanna Garfield , Business Insider

Starting May 1, Estée Lauder employees in the US who choose to have, foster, or adopt a child will get 20 weeks of paid leave— regardless of sex, gender, and sexual orientation. And if they conceive of that child themselves, they will receive an additional six to eight weeks of paid time off. The new offerings are part of the company's expanded family-benefits program. Employees at Estée Lauder can now also seek up to $10,000 for adoption fees. Both hourly and salaried employees are eligible, as long as they work at least 30 hours per week and have been with the company at least three months.

How Big Is the Minimum-Wage Workforce in Your State?

Source: Mike Maciag , Governing

The last time the federal minimum wage increased, Barack Obama was only a few months into his first term as president and the country was mired in the depths of the Great Recession. Nearly nine years later, a small segment of the workforce is still earning $7.25 an hour or less. The latest Labor Department estimates indicate that just over 1.8 million hourly workers were paid at or below the federal minimum last year. While that's a small part of the overall workforce -- a mere 2.3 percent of hourly workers -- it makes up a larger portion in some states.

April 25, 2018

What Caused the Decline of Unions in America?

Source: Dwyer Gunn , Pacific Standard

The second half of the 20th century brought big, bold changes to the economic status quo in countries all over the world. Globalization and the invention of new technologies meant that companies in developed nations could produce goods for much less money in far-away factories or at home with the help of sophisticated machinery. These forces undoubtedly explain part of the decline in union density and influence in the United States; fewer workers employed in the union-dominated manufacturing sector meant fewer union workers.

The Way We Work Is Killing Us

Source: Brigid Schulte, Slate

In the United States, workers work among the longest, most extreme, and most irregular hours; have no guarantee to paid sick days, paid vacation, or paid family leave; and pay more for health insurance, yet are sicker and more stressed out than workers in other advanced economies.

April 24, 2018

NFL Cheerleaders: Minimum Wage for a Job Where You Don't Even Get to Pick Your Own Hair Color

Source: Suzanne Lucas , Inc.

Can you imagine a job where you have strict rules on what you can wear, what your hair color is, how much you weigh, and with whom you can speak? And with that job comes a minimum wage paycheck? And that women work very hard to get this job? That would describe an NFL Cheerleader, according to an interview at The Daily with Former New Orleans Saints' "Saintsation" cheerleader, Bailey Davis. Davis was fired for an Instagram post where she wore lingerie. Now, admittedly, it's not a whole lot of clothes, but it's actually more clothing than a lot of the uniforms Davis wore while dancing. It's kind of hard to stomach the hypocrisy.

Public Servants Are Losing Their Foothold in the Middle Class

Source: Patricia Cohen and Robert Gebeloff, The New York Times

In recent years, though, the ranks of state and local employees have languished even as the populations they serve have grown. They now account for the smallest share of the American civilian work force since 1967.

April 23, 2018

Another Safety Probe Hits Tesla After Subcontractor Breaks Jaw

Source: Dana Hull and Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg

Safety agencies are resource-constrained, so Cal/OSHA’s decision to open the second inspection this week was significant, said Deborah Berkowitz, a former chief of staff for the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

How the Loss of Union Power Has Hurt American Manufacturing

Source: Louis Uchitelle, The New York Times

But the reality is that when organized labor dug in its heels — as it did regularly in the United States until late in the 20th century — manufacturing companies thought twice about shutting a factory and transferring production to another country.

April 20, 2018

Trump is right to want to help workers hurt by trade. But he’s doing it wrong.

Source: Heather Boushey and Todd N. Tucker , Vox

President Donald Trump’s threats to levy sweeping trade tariffs on China and other countries have provoked near-universal condemnation, from Democrats as well as Republicans. These critics say tariffs will raise prices and invite foreign countries’ retaliation while doing little or nothing to bring back the glory days of bountiful middle-class manufacturing jobs. They have a point. But these objections have been a little too knee-jerk and unreflective.

The Teacher Strikes Show That Workers Are Really, Finally, Fed Up

Source: Eillie Anzilotti , Fast Company

First there was West Virginia, where teachers in all 55 counties went on strike for nine days. Now, there’s Oklahoma, where thousands have walked out. And Kentucky. There are rumblings of a teacher strike in Arizona. The strikes share many commonalities: Dissatisfaction over low salaries and constricted benefits have united teachers and public employees, who took to social media channels like Facebook to galvanize and coordinate walkouts to call for raises and improved benefits.

April 19, 2018

The Restaurant Industry Ran A Private Poll On the Minimum Wage. It Did Not Go Well For Them.

Source: Lisa Graves and Zaid Jilani , The Intercept

One of the nation’s most powerful anti-minimum wage lobbying groups tapped a longtime Republican pollster to survey the public about a range of issues impacting the industry. A significant chunk of the survey focused on attitudes toward the minimum wage — and many members of the powerful lobby group aren’t going to like the results. The poll — which was presented on a slide deck obtained by The Intercept and Documented — found that seven in 10 Americans want to see the minimum wage raised even if it means that they’d have to pay more for meals. It also found that the industry’s various talking points against raising the wage are mostly falling flat with the general public.

White House Said to Freeze Labor Board Funding

Source: Hassan A. Kanu , Bloomberg Law

The Office of Management and Budget won’t let the National Labor Relations Board spend money allotted to the agency by Congress because the White House wants to take some of it back, sources familiar with the situation tell Bloomberg Law. The move comes as NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb has cited looming budget cuts to justify controversial proposals to overhaul the labor board and shrink its field office foot print. Robb, who Trump appointed as the board’s general counsel last year, is considering stripping the board’s regional directors of some of their authority and revamping board investigations to speed the process. Sources said the cash freeze won’t force any drastic changes by NLRB leadership to make ends meet. It shows, however, that the Trump administration believes there’s some fat that could be trimmed at the labor board.

April 18, 2018

Senate Bill to Curtail Labor Rights on Tribal Land Falls Short

Source: Noam Scheiber , The New York Times

Organized labor managed an increasingly rare feat on Monday — a political victory — when its allies turned back a Senate measure aimed at rolling back labor rights on tribal lands. The legislation, called the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, would have exempted enterprises owned and operated by Native American tribes from federal labor standards, even for employees who were not tribal citizens.

Tesla says its factory is safer. But it left injuries off the books

Source: Will Evans and Alyssa Jeong Perry , Reveal

An investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting found that Tesla has failed to report some of its serious injuries on legally mandated reports, making the company’s injury numbers look better than they actually are.

April 17, 2018

Long days and second jobs: How teachers get by

Source: Tim Talley, Melissa Daniels, Michael Melia and John Raby , Associated Press

Hundreds of thousands of American schoolteachers work second jobs to boost their income. They speak of missing time with family, struggles to complete lesson plans and nagging doubts over whether it’s worth the sacrifices to stay in their profession.

NYC will require sexual harassment training for workers

Source: Jackie Wattles and Julia Carpenter , CNNMoney

The largest city in America will soon require employers to put their workers through annual training aimed at preventing sexual harassment.

April 16, 2018

Amazon patents device to track workers’ hands

Source: Ally Marotti, Detroit News

Paula Brantner, senior adviser at employee rights organization Workplace Fairness, said technology is pushing boundaries in the workplace and employees have few rights to deny it.

“Everybody wants those Amazon jobs,” Brantner said. “If you don’t want to wear the wristband, someone else will.”

Giving new moms paid leave is essential. But so is helping them return to work

Source: Kathryn Vasel , CNNMoney

Even though the US remains the only developed nation that does not mandate some sort of paid leave to new mothers, companies have increasingly been taking matters into their own hands. They're also adding other benefits like gradual return to work programs, lactation rooms and more flexible schedules.

With Pickets and Lawsuits, Unions and Developers Go to War

Source: Charles Bagli , The New York Times

Anti-union ads are showing up in the subways and in the newspapers targeting “union boss Gary LaBarbera.” In the courts, the two sides have traded lawsuits and complaints claiming corruption and unfair labor practices. This month, in the most visible skirmish yet, thousands of union lathers, electricians, laborers, ironworkers and carpenters from work sites across Manhattan poured into the intersection of 40th Street and Seventh Avenue near Times Square for a rally against the city’s largest developer, Related Companies.

April 13, 2018

Unions brace for big changes under Republican-led U.S. labor board

Source: Daniel Wiessner , Reuters

As Republicans take control of the U.S. agency that enforces federal labor law, unions are bracing for decisions that could make it harder for them to solicit support and boost their ranks by limiting their ability to contact workers.

Tesla Workers Claim Racial Bias and Abuse at Electric Car Factory

Source: Josh Eidelson , Bloomberg

A federal trial is scheduled to start in 2019. Whether it gets to trial or not, the process threatens to bring unwanted scrutiny and unwelcome disclosures about Tesla’s culture, and the treatment of sub-contracted staff who play key roles in the attempt to meet Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s ambitious production goals.

April 12, 2018

Women Can't Have Prior Salaries Used Against Them, Court Says In Equal Pay Case

Source: Bill Chappell , NPR

Employers can't pay women less than men just because they made less at a previous job, a federal appeals court has ruled. The continuing gender pay gap is "an embarrassing reality of our economy," the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its opinion. The court said a woman's prior salary, whether considered on its own or along with other factors, can't be used to justify paying a female employee less than her male counterpart. To do so perpetuates discrimination, the court's majority opinion said. Citing studies that show American women lose some $840 billion annually because of the wage gap, the court wrote, "If money talks, the message to women costs more than 'just' billions: Women are told they are not worth as much as men."

In Historic Move At Labor-Skeptic 'Chicago Tribune', Newsroom Pushes To Form Union

Source: David Folkenflik , NPR

One of the nation's oldest and most prestigious regional newspapers, The Chicago Tribune, could soon have a unionized staff. On Wednesday morning, journalists from its newsroom informed management that they are preparing to organize and that they have collected signatures from dozens of colleagues.

April 11, 2018

Women Can't Have Prior Salaries Used Against Them, Court Says In Equal Pay Case

Source: Bill Chappell, NPR

Employers can't pay women less than men just because they made less at a previous job, a federal appeals court has ruled. The continuing gender pay gap is "an embarrassing reality of our economy," the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its opinion.

Pro Cheerleaders Say Groping and Sexual Harassment Are Part of the Job

Source: Juliet Macur and John Branch, The New York Times

But they quickly learn that performing at sporting events is only a small part of their job description. They are also required to fulfill what often is the unsavory side of the job: interacting with fans at games and other promotional events, where groping and sexual harassment are common.

April 10, 2018

Women Harassed at Uber May Finally Get a Payday. But How Much?

Source: Peter Blumberg, Bloomberg

Like the drivers’ case in Los Angeles, Sagafi’s complaint was brought under a California law that gives employees the right to step into the shoes of the state labor secretary to bring enforcement actions over labor code violations. He said workers bringing harassment claims would ordinarily be required under their contracts to resolve disputes through arbitration. But complaints based on the state’s Private Attorneys General Act can’t be forced into arbitration, he added.

Men account for nearly 1 in 5 complaints of workplace sexual harassment with the EEOC

Source: Michael Alison Chandler, The Washington Post

Some male celebrities, including former NFL player Terry Crews, have come out as survivors of sexual misconduct. But overall, few men have spoken out about their day-to-day experiences of sexual harassment at work, though surveys and other data show it is not uncommon for them.

April 9, 2018

More and more companies have monopoly power over workers’ wages. That’s killing the economy.

Source: Suresh Naidu, Eric Posner, and Glen Weyl , Vox

For a long time, the conventional wisdom was that wage growth had slowed because of rising competition from low-paid workers in foreign countries (globalization), as well as the replacement of workers with machinery, including robots (automation). But in recent years, economists have discovered another source: the growth of the labor market power of employers — namely, their power to dictate, and hence suppress, wages. This new wisdom has displaced a longstanding assumption among economists that labor markets are competitive. In a competitive labor market, employers must vie for workers; they try to lure workers from other firms by offering them more generous compensation. As employers bid for workers, wages and benefits rise. An employer gains by hiring a worker whenever the worker’s wage is less than the revenue the worker will generate for the employer; for this reason, the process of competition among employers for workers ought to result in workers receiving a substantial portion of the output they contribute to.

Teacher Strikes Show That Workers Have Newfound Power

Source: Conor Sen , Bloomberg View

Workers once thought jobs were scarce, so they didn't agitate for more pay. Now that perception is starting to change. The best example of this may be the teacher unrest in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona. Teachers are a prime example of captive labor. Teacher credentials in each state cost time and money, a sunk cost that discourages employment switching across state lines. Two months ago, the plight of teachers in these four states -- places with stagnant or falling wages over the past decade -- looked like evidence for that theory of employer concentration and bargaining power. But then something changed. These uprisings are being heralded as showing the importance of unions, but … the unions aren't new. For more than a decade, teachers' unions couldn't overcome the fiscal and political realities of these states. The main thing that changed was the workers' psychology -- being fed up and being willing to fight for a pay raise.

April 6, 2018

Seattle bans lower wages for people with disabilities

Source: Daniel Beekman , The Seattle Times

The Seattle City Council voted Monday to ban employers from paying people with disabilities less than the city’s minimum wages. Since the city adopted its minimum-wage law in 2015, employers have been allowed to seek special certificates to pay such workers less. Members of the Seattle Commission for People with DisAbilities lobbied for ending the practice, describing it as blatantly discriminatory. As of last summer, only two people were being paid subminimum wages under city-issued certificates, said Shaun Bickley, a commission co-chair.

The tax cuts were supposed to help workers. Unions say they’re not.

Source: Danielle Paquette, The Washington Post

Unions that represent about 6 million workers in the United States are urging companies to reveal how they’re spending tax-cut savings: On hiring and raises, like the Trump administration predicted? Or is the windfall benefiting mostly shareholders? Some of the country’s largest labor groups — the Teamsters, the Service Employees International Union, the Communications Workers of America and the American Federation of Teachers — said Wednesday they had requested breakdowns of how a dozen companies, including American Airlines and Pepsi, are investing the extra cash.

April 5, 2018

Amazon wristbands could track workers’ hand movements

Source: Ally Marotti, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

However, some argue the technology could led to discrimination. Even if the wristbands don’t use GPS tracking, they could tell a company if a woman taking is longer bathroom breaks than co-workers or whether a disabled employee is moving more slowly, which could reflect negatively on their job performance, said Paula Brantner, senior adviser at employee rights organization Workplace Fairness.

UPS seen at ‘breaking point’ as pilots lament outsourcing

Source: Michael Sasso , Bloomberg News

United Parcel Service was already in trouble with Wall Street over a long-term investment plan to cope with soaring e-commerce. Now the company is clashing with its pilots union because of a short-term fix for the same challenge. Aviators are angry that UPS has turned to third-party cargo airlines to help make up for a shortage of aircraft capacity. Accusing UPS of years of poor planning and insufficient investment, the Independent Pilots Association has complained to an industry arbitrator that the courier is violating its labor contract by outsourcing flying that should be done by its own pilots.

“I feel mentally numb”: more teachers are working part-time jobs to pay the bills

Source: Alexia Fernández , Vox

Public school teachers have been known to work second jobs during the summer, but they are more likely than ever to also juggle multiple jobs during the school year. During the 2015-16 school year, 17.9 percent of public school teachers surveyed worked another job, according to the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (After-school coaching and other extracurricular activities are not counted as part-time jobs in the survey.) It’s the largest percentage reported in more than 10 years and is slightly higher than it was at the height of the Great Recession. Public school teachers are now about five times more likely than the average full-time US worker to have a part-time job. Only about 3.3 percent of full-time workers in the United States had a part-time job in 2016, based on averages calculated with figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Tiffany Haddish says an NDA prevents her from revealing who bit Beyoncé

Source: Meera Jagannathan, Moneyish

Lawyers tell Moneyish what you need to know before signing a nondisclosure agreement...Verbal agreements don’t count. “Don’t trust anything that’s not part of the written agreement, and if the written agreement deviates from what you’re being told, then you need to clarify that pretty quickly,” Brantner said.

April 4, 2018

New York Envisions a State-Run Retirement Plan for Private Workers

Source: Tara Siegel Bernard , The New York Times

New York is close to joining a growing list of states that are creating a retirement plan option for private sector employees who do not have access to 401(k)-like programs at work. The New York program was included in Friday’s budget deal, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to sign.

Mike Isabella’s restaurants used nondisclosure agreements to silence sexual harassment accounts, lawsuit alleges

Source: Maura Judkis and Tim Carman, The Washington Post

Chef and restaurateur Mike Isabella’s company used nondisclosure agreements to prevent employees from speaking out about sexual harassment, lawyers representing his former manager allege in an expanded lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court

April 3, 2018

Teachers are striking all over. What is going on?

Source: Sean Rossman , USA TODAY

Teachers across the country are striking and protesting en masse, shutting down school systems and putting the pressure on state lawmakers to meet their demands. At least four states this year have mobilized, often with similar gripes.

Supreme Court rules auto service advisers are exempt from overtime pay

Source: Lydia Wheeler, The Hill

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that service advisers at car dealerships are exempt from federal overtime pay requirements. In a 5-4 decision, the court held that service advisers are exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime provisions because they are salesmen primarily engaged in servicing automobiles. “A service advisor is obviously a ‘salesman,’” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in delivering the majority opinion for the court.

April 2, 2018

Labor Dept. proposal takes aim at workers' frequent schedule changes

Source: Carrie Mason-Draffen, Newsday

Scheduling for some employees could become a lot more predictable under proposed state regulations that would penalize employers who call workers in or cancel their shifts without adequate notice.

A New York City official wants to give workers the right to ignore after-hours emails

Source: Jena McGregor , The Washington Post

On the first day of 2017, a new law went into effect in France giving workers the legal right to avoid responding to work email or text messages on days off or at all hours of the night. A bill proposed by New York City Councilman Rafael L. Espinal Jr. seeks to bring the same idea to the city that never sleeps.

March 30, 2018

All 22 Women Senators Call For Senate To Address Sexual Harassment

Source: Danielle Kurtzleben, NPR

In a letter written to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the 17 Democrats and five Republican senators ask that their chamber take up legislation to overhaul the sexual harassment complaint process on Capitol Hill.

Au Pairs, an International Class of Domestic Workers, Are Suing for Labor Protections

Source: Prachi Gupta, Jezebel

While the term is often imbued with a sense of vaguely continental grace due to its origins as cultural exchange between privileged European families, in reality, au pairs are a deeply vulnerable class of domestic workers who have little recourse for workplace abuse or wage theft, and it’s precisely because they are usually regarded as guests, rather than workers in another’s home.

March 29, 2018

Labor Dept. ‘Cut the Red Tape’ Summit a Business Affair

Source: Ben Penn, Bloomberg Law

When the Labor Department convened top stakeholders in October for a closed-door briefing on reversing regulations, business representatives filled the room almost exclusively, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg Law.

A Find at Gap: Steady Hours Can Help Workers, and Profits

Source: Noam Scheiber, The New York Times

The study shows that more predictable and consistent hours aren’t just compatible with profitability, they can significantly improve a store’s bottom line.

March 28, 2018

Retirement planning: Many states looking to help workers without employer plans save

Source: Mary Esch , The Associated Press

New York is among a growing number of states considering legislation to create government-sponsored payroll-deduction retirement programs for small businesses, which financial planners say could be a relatively painless way to help Americans reverse a dismal record of saving for their golden years. With an estimated 55 million Americans lacking access to retirement plans at work, 40 states have considered legislation since 2012 to establish state-facilitated retirement programs for private-sector workers. Five have enacted state-run programs and two, New Jersey and Washington state, have launched marketplaces connecting employers with low-cost private-sector retirement plans.

As Trump Targets Immigrants, Elderly Brace To Lose Caregivers

Source: Melissa Bailey , The Washington Post

After back-to-back, eight-hour shifts at a chiropractor’s office and a rehab center, Nirva arrived outside an elderly woman’s house just in time to help her up the front steps. Nirva is one of about 59,000 Haitians living in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a humanitarian program that gave them permission to work and live here after the January 2010 earthquake devastated their country. Many work in health care, often in grueling, low-wage jobs as nursing assistants or home health aides. Now these workers’ days are numbered: The Trump administration decided to end TPS for Haitians, giving them until July 22, 2019, to leave the country or face deportation. In Boston, the city with the nation’s third-highest Haitian population, the decision has prompted panic from TPS holders and pleas from health care agencies that rely on their labor. The fallout offers a glimpse into how changes in immigration policy are affecting older Americans in communities around the country, especially in large cities.

March 27, 2018

Older American Workers Are Losing Their Legal Protections

Source: Peter Gosselin, Pacific Standard

At the age of 50, the federal law that seeks to protect older American workers from age bias has been enfeebled by court decisions that have widened loopholes for employers and narrowed the ways employees can seek redress.

Unequal Rights: Contract Workers Have Few Workplace Protections

Source: Yuki Noguchi, NPR

Contract workers and freelancers have few legal rights, compared with those hired as employees. Under federal law, a contract worker lacks the right to sue for sexual harassment or gender discrimination, for example, because workplace civil rights laws do not apply.

March 26, 2018

What Happens If Someone Breaks a Non-Disclosure Agreement?

Source: Nicole Einbinder, Frontline

“Many people, after they’ve been through something like this, they didn’t want it to happen, they didn’t bring it upon themselves and they just want to put it behind them and go on with their lives,” said Paula Brantner, senior adviser for Workplace Fairness, a nonprofit organization that promotes employee rights.

Trump Labor Board Member Forgot About Conflict of Interest, Watchdog Says

Source: Chris Opfer and Hassan A. Kanu , Bloomberg Law

National Labor Relations Board Member William Emanuel (R) violated a White House ethics pledge by participating in a closely watched case involving his former law firm, the NLRB’s inspector general concluded in a report obtained by Bloomberg Law. Although Emanuel told Inspector General David Berry that he didn’t realize former firm Littler Mendelson represented a business in the seminal Browning-Ferris Industries case, he previously flagged the litigation for lawmakers as one that he might need to sit out, according to Berry’s report. Emanuel then joined the rest of the five-member board in directing its top attorney to ask an appeals court to drop the case. Joint employment liability is a central labor policy question.

New York workers may soon get the right to stop answering work email after hours

Source: Lydia Dishman , Fast Company

New Yorkers who are bombarded with a barrage of after-hours communication may soon get a respite. A proposed “right to disconnect” bill would prohibit private employers in New York City from requiring employees to check and respond to email and other electronic communications during non-working hours. Workers already spend an overwhelming majority (78%) of their waking hours thinking about their jobs during the week, according to an Adobe study. It also revealed that 41% of waking hours on a typical day off are spent working or thinking about work.

March 23, 2018

IBM reportedly targeted older workers in layoffs affecting tens of thousands

Source: Chris Welch , The Verge

ProPublica and Mother Jones today co-published an exhaustive report that alleges IBM has for years disregarded age discrimination laws in an attempt to push out employees over 40 and replace them with younger workers. The company is believed to have laid off around 20,000 US employees over 40 years of age over the past five years, though the actual number is believed to be “almost certainly higher.” Those employees — some of them let go after careers with IBM that spanned decades — saw their jobs either given to “less-experienced and lower-paid workers” or sent overseas. The damning investigative report is culled from a questionnaire filled out by over 1,100 former IBM employees who shared their experiences, interviews, official company documents, and more.

The omnibus bill blocks a Trump rule that would allow bosses to keep workers’ tips

Source: Alexia Fernández Campbell , Vox

House Republicans passed a spending bill Thursday that includes an important amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act. It bars employers from keeping tips earned by workers. The text, written by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), was added to the bill to block a proposed Trump administration rule that would have allowed employers to pocket the tips of millions of workers — a move that could cost service workers $5.8 billion a year in lost tips. The amendment would soften the blow of the new tipping rule the Department of Labor (DOL) is developing. The rule, which the agency proposed in December, would repeal an Obama-era regulation that made official what had been the common view for decades: that tips are the sole property of the workers who earn them. It would essentially allow employers to share their workers’ tips with other staff, or keep tips for themselves, provided they pay workers the full minimum wage. The provision in the spending bill would prevent employers from pocketing the tips, but would not stop them from pooling tips earned by servers to share with non-tipped employees.

March 22, 2018

U.S. companies are pressuring their workers on how to lobby and vote

Source: Alexander Hertel-Fernandez , The Washington Post

U.S. businesses are cultivating a new political resource: their own workers. When Republicans wrote their tax bill late last year, many companies pushed their employees to support specific policy provisions and to let their lawmakers in Washington know. UPS, for instance, hosted employee town halls with Republican politicians to advocate for the bill. Vice President Pence even urged a group of CEOs to visit their companies’ cafeterias to get employees to help lobby for the bill. Episodes like this one have become much more common across companies large and small in recent years. Why do businesses try to turn their employees into lobbyists? And does it work?

Giant Oil Trader With No Women in Top Jobs Says Change Must Come

Source: Andy Hoffman and Agnieszka De Sousa , Bloomberg

Commodity houses must do more to get women into top jobs, according to Vitol Group, the biggest independent oil trader, and a firm that like others in the industry staffs its leadership committee entirely with men. “We accept that it’s not good enough,” Chairman Ian Taylor said in an interview in Lausanne, Switzerland. “It’s an industry problem.” There are no women on the executive leadership committees of Vitol, Glencore Plc or Trafigura Group Ltd., the three biggest independent oil traders and two biggest metals traders. Bloomberg News reported this week that of the top 40 commodity trading houses, only 4.2 percent of such jobs are held by women.

March 21, 2018

Push to Settle McDonald’s Case, a Threat to Franchise Model

Source: Noam Scheiber, The New York Times

An adverse decision for McDonald’s could have enormous implications for the franchise business model, affecting millions of workers in the fast-food industry and beyond. Employees at disparate franchise locations could seek union representation to deal directly with parent companies, rather than be left to work out disputes with franchisees.

In Seattle, domestic workers don’t have the same protections as others—but that could change

Source: Kelsey Hamlin , Curbed Seattle

In a study of 174 Seattle-area caretakers, house cleaners, and gardeners, local labor rights organization Working Washington found that local domestic workers are presented with similar struggles to those in other states and countries: They perform a high-risk job with few workplace protections.

March 20, 2018

Inside Nike, Women Staffers Circulated Survey About Workplace Behavior

Source: Sara Germano and Joann S. Lublin , The Wall Street Journal

A group of female employees at Nike Inc. last year circulated an informal survey about alleged inappropriate behavior by men at the world’s largest sportswear maker, people familiar with the matter said, a move that preceded the ouster of two veteran executives last week. The women were frustrated with what they saw as pay disparity and a gender imbalance at highest ranks of Nike, the people said, amplified by the exit of several female senior operating executives last year.

Meet the Food Industry’s Fair Wage Crusader

Source: Poornima Apte , Ozy

Such partnerships are not new to Jayaraman. Sarita Gupta, the executive director of Jobs With Justice, experienced it full on when the Trump administration nominated Andrew Puzder, a fast food executive with a history of alleged labor violations and spousal abuse, as labor secretary. Gupta, who had collaborated with Jayaraman for years, reached out for ideas on how to derail Puzder’s nomination. Jayaraman helped Gupta gather names of women for a sit-in that would disrupt the Senate hearing if it came to that. It didn’t (he withdrew his nomination). The key takeaway for Gupta? Jayaraman is not afraid to take direct action.

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