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In the News

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

October 18, 2018

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It’s official: D.C. Council has repealed Initiative 77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

September 12, 2018

6 Tips to Balancing Your Day Job With a Side Hustle

Source: Elyssa Kirkham, Student Loan Hero

Brantner advised checking your employee handbooks, too, to see if your company has a policy governing secondary employment. It’s not uncommon for companies to require their employees to submit their side gigs for managerial approval.“If you need to be cleared, you’d want to do that and have the appropriate manager sign off,” Brantner said. You might be tempted to keep your gig a secret, but that “could put you at risk of losing your main job,” she added.

Americans Want to Believe Jobs Are the Solution to Poverty. They’re Not.

Source: Matthew Desmond , The New York Times

But one of the most effective antipoverty solutions is a decent-paying job, and those have become scarce for people like Vanessa. Today, 41.7 million laborers — nearly a third of the American work force — earn less than $12 an hour, and almost none of their employers offer health insurance.

September 11, 2018

Why Job Hunting While Pregnant Is Such a Minefield

Source: Kate Andrews , Slate

And according to A Better Balance, a New York–based organization of lawyers that advocates for women’s rights in the workplace, an estimated 250,000 pregnant workers each year are denied accommodations (such as a specialized chair for the cubicle or the right to bring a water bottle into a warehouse)—and who knows how many more are afraid to ask in the first place.

‘They have taken away our vote:’ Michigan approves minimum-wage hike and paid sick leave, setting up clash

Source: Jeff Stein , Washington Post

The fight over Michigan’s paid family leave and minimum-wage policy reflects broader battles occurring in several states and cities across the country, as progressive groups have tried turning to public ballot initiatives to get around deadlocked or GOP-controlled legislatures.

September 10, 2018

Amazon has patented a system that would put workers in a cage, on top of a robot

Source: Matt Day and Benjamin Romano , Seattle Times

A patent Amazon has received would pair humans and machines. In this case, the humans would be in a cage. Illustrations that accompany the patent, which was granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office in 2016, show a cage-like enclosure around a small work space sitting atop the kind of robotic trolleys that now drive racks of shelves around Amazon warehouses. The patent was called “an extraordinary illustration of worker alienation, a stark moment in the relationship between humans and machines” by researchers who highlighted it in a study published Friday.

Harvard Is Vaulting Workers Into the Middle Class With High Pay. Can Anyone Else Follow Its Lead?

Source: Eduardo Porter , The New York Times

Critically, unions covering Harvard’s in-house janitors, cooks and guards — which had been losing ground to outside contractors — were empowered to bargain hard for pay and benefits without fear of encouraging more outsourcing. What’s more, contractors themselves became more union-friendly once the university took over the determination of wages and benefits.

September 7, 2018

Whole Foods Is One of The Ripest Union Targets in America

Source: Hamilton Nolan , Splinter

There are several reasons to try to unionize Whole Foods now. It is a possible foot in the door to organizing a broad swath of blue collar Amazon workers, which is one of the most important goals for all of organized labor. It is a powerful part of an industry that is already partly unionized, and a union Whole Foods would mean a Whole Foods that is not undercutting union competitors.

September 6, 2018

As wage gap widens, its mystery persists

Source: Courtland Milloy , Washington Post

On occasion, we have managed to hold people accountable if they discriminate on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation. Those who have called the police on black people for napping or picnicking have found themselves, at minimum, trending as the latest hashtag. Politicians caught using racist dog whistles get called out. And rightfully so. But none of them control America’s financial system. The loss of income doesn’t just hurt your feelings. It cuts into your life chances, undermines family stability, makes a mockery of civil rights law, turns the American Dream into a nightmare echoing a national history of racial exploitation, starting with slavery. Who is responsible for that?

Will Paid Leave For Family Caregivers Catch On In The U.S.?

Source: Howard Gleckman , Forbes

Why do so few workers use paid leave to care for sick or aging relatives? In part, Lynn says, it is because they are unaware they are eligible for benefits. In part, it is because caring for parents carries a workforce stigma that bonding with children does not.

September 5, 2018

A New Kind of Labor Movement in Silicon Valley

Source: Rick Paulas , The Atlantic

Some tech activists imagine a more sustained labor movement—if not a broad-based union, then at least some strong industrywide coalition, including both blue-collar and white-collar workers, that can seek long-term change rather than one-off concessions.

I Work at the Happiest Place on Earth. Why Can’t I Pay My Rent?

Source: Rebekah Pederson and Glynndana Shevlin , The New York Times

In the op-ed video above, Disneyland employees explain why they love working at the amusement park and resort but still can’t afford to pay for basic expenses. Glynndana Shevlin and Rebekah Pederson are among thousands of Disneyland workers demanding the park pay them a living wage. Shevlin has worked at Disneyland for nearly 30 years but says she has struggled to pay for food and rent. And to save money, Pederson sometimes sleeps in her car and uses a Starbucks bathroom to brush her teeth before going to work.

September 4, 2018

Enjoy Labor Day, If You’re Lucky Enough To Get Paid Holidays

Source: Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post

With paid holidays being optional, it should come as no surprise that lower-wage workers are less likely to enjoy them than higher-wage workers. As HuffPost reported in 2015, the majority of workers on the bottom of the economic ladder are not offered paid holidays at work.

The emerging plan to save the American labor movement

Source: Dylan Matthews , Vox

Labor unions in America today are in crisis. In the mid-1950s, a third of Americans belonged to a labor union. Now, only 10.7 percent do, including a minuscule 6.4 percent of private sector workers.

September 3, 2018

Meet Teresa Romero, The United Farm Workers First Woman President

Source: Marissa Cabrera, NPR

For the first time in its history, a woman will become the president of the United Farm Workers labor union.

Why it’s an unhappy Labor Day for many workers | Editorial

Source: The Inquirer Editorial Board, The Philadelphia Enquirer

But the sad reality is many middle-class workers are struggling and feel worse off today than a decade ago, while conservative groups have launched an all-out assault on unions.

August 31, 2018

How two-tier unions turn workers against one another

Source: Alex Press, The Washington Post

“Two-tier” refers to contracts that divide a workforce into wage and benefit tiers based on their hiring date. Workers in both tiers are union members, but they toil under separate conditions. Usually, the lower-paid tier comprises workers to be hired after the contract’s negotiation, leaving them little recourse, even as they are forced to accept lesser terms.

Women & Workers Have Much To Lose With Brett Kavanaugh

Source: Seema Nanda, Refinery29

In Kavanaugh’s opinions on the right to unionize, on the right to picket, and on the right to be protected from accidents in the workplace, he has consistently ruled against workers. These decisions disproportionately affect women and other more vulnerable workers, who historically have less power in the workplace.

August 30, 2018

States ask Supreme Court to limit LGBTQ workplace protections

Source: Emily Birnbaum , The Hill

Sixteen U.S. states, including 13 attorneys general and three GOP governors, are asking the Supreme Court to limit protections for LGBTQ workers. The states on Aug. 23 filed an amicus curiae brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn a recent decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that held that workplace anti-discrimination laws extend to transgender workers. The states, led by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, are insisting Congress did not intend to protect lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer individuals when they passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The economy is booming, your salary is not: Blame the decline of unions

Source: Ellie Anzilotti , Fast Company

But what VanHeuvelen wanted to find out was to what extent these benefits affected individual outcomes, and in his paper, he found what he calls “remarkably robust” evidence that the presence of unions created benefits over the course of an individual’s career, and conversely, the absence of unions creates barriers to success on a highly personal level.

August 24, 2018

Dearth of a Salesman: Auto Dealers Struggle to Recruit, Retain Younger Workers

Source: Adrienne Roberts, The Wall Street Journal

Car dealerships are facing a roadblock: convincing workers in their 20s and 30s to work and stay in an auto retail business defined by long shifts, weekends on the selling floor, haggling and commission-based pay.

How New York Taxi Workers Took On Uber and Won

Source: Chris Brooks, Labor Notes

This summer, the scrappy union representing 21,000 taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers in New York City scored two groundbreaking victories against the world’s most valuable start-up company.

August 23, 2018

How the ‘Temp’ Economy Became the New Normal

Source: Jennifer Szalai , The New York Times

A number of books have been published in recent years about the brave new gig economy, but “Temp” examines the underlying cultural shift that made it all possible. An astounding 94 percent of American jobs created between 2005 and 2015 were for “alternative work.” Slow and steady growth used to be a cardinal virtue for the big American corporation. Now leanness and flexibility are prized, and nobody is spared. “In the end,” Hyman writes, “even white men were not protected from this new reality.”

NLRB Might Strengthen Class Action Waivers

Source: Hassan A. Kanu , Bloomberg BNA

Allowing discipline for filing a class action would give employers more power in enforcing class action waivers. Critics are concerned it would also further limit workers’ ability to individually enforce their own workplace rights following the Epic Systems decision. It’s possible the board will maintain the current rule but add exceptions, Trang Tran, the lawyer representing the workers who filed the case against Cordua Restaurants Inc., told Bloomberg Law Aug. 21.

August 15, 2018

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

Source: Anna Swartz , Mic

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

2 million CA workers may be impacted by independent contractor changes

Source: David Louie , ABC 7

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

August 14, 2018

The Wrong Way to Do Paid Family Leave

Source: Bryce Covert, The New York Times

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

Gig Employers Look to Labor Department

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

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

August 13, 2018

The Trouble With Trucking

Source: The Editorial Board, The New York Times

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

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

Source: Mike Elk, The Guardian

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

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

Source: Karla L. Miller, The Washington Post

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

August 10, 2018

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

Source: Meagan Flynn, The Washington Post

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

Medicaid Officials Target Home Health Aides' Union Dues

Source: Shefali Luthra, NPR

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

August 9, 2018

Study flags poor-quality working conditions for remote gig workers

Source: Natasha Lomas , Tech Crunch

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

Why You Should Care About Unions

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

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

August 8, 2018

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

Source: Melissa Locker , Fast Company

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

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

Source: Dave Jamieson , Huffington Post

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

August 7, 2018

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

Source: Alexia Fernandez Campbell , Vox

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

Starbucks Loses California Wage-Theft Case

Source: Nikita Richardson , Grub Street

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

August 6, 2018

How to respond to a joke about #MeToo

Source: Meera Jagannathan, Moneyish

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

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

Source: Emily Peck and Igor Bobic , Huffington Post

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

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

Source: Matt O’Brien , The Washington Post

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

August 3, 2018

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

Source: Tara Siegel Bernard, The New York Times

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

5 Things to Watch in the July Jobs Report

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

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

August 2, 2018

The college wage gap is real for Americans of color

Source: Stef W. Kight , Axios

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

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

Source: Alexia Fernandez Campbell and Alvin Chang , Vox

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

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