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Our Programs In the News

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

March 14, 2018

Facebook Defends Its Use Of Secret Courts To Handle Sexual Harassment Cases

Source: Emily Peck, HuffPost

Facebook isn’t typically shy about proclaiming its support for women. After all, chief operating officer and “Lean In” author Sheryl Sandberg built her brand on feminism. Last year, the tech giant even took the rare step of publicizing its own rules and practices on sexual harassment. But on one critical policy, Facebook is awfully wishy-washy: forced arbitration. Facebook is one of many companies that requires employees to take legal disputes, like discrimination or wage claims, to private courtrooms. The process has come under fire for its role in silencing victims of sexual harassment, especially in the wake of the Me Too movement. In a series of conversations with HuffPost over the past few weeks, Facebook representatives took part in a strange dance: They defended the company’s use of forced arbitration, but also said Facebook was considering its position on a bipartisan bill that would make forced arbitration illegal in sexual harassment cases.

Campaign Workers In Illinois Push For Protections

Source: Mary Cullen , NPR Illinois

Accusations of harassment from a campaign worker against her supervisor and close aide to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, Kevin Quinn, led to Quinn’s firing last month. Madigan is still struggling with the ripple effects from Alaina Hampton’s claims, with some observers predicting this could be the downfall for the powerful politician. Hampton’s story has also brought attention to how political campaigns deal with sexual harassment. Organizers with a national movement to unionize campaign workers say with the high-pressure and temporary nature of campaign work, there’s often a push to ignore problems like harassment.

Workplace monitoring gets personal, and employees fear it's too close for comfort. They're right.

Source: Robert Reed, Chicago Tribune

“Are the bathroom breaks too long? Are you chatting with co-workers? Wasting any time? These devices show if you’re working at maximum efficiency,” says Paula Brantner, senior adviser at employee rights group Workplace Fairness.

Another nagging concern: What if this sensitive personal information is hacked? What are the rights of employees whose personal records are at risk and may be misused?

March 13, 2018

The Tipping Equation

Source: Catrin Einhorn and Rachel C. Abrams , The New York Times

But servers and bartenders also face abuse from another front: the millions of Americans who dine out every year and who, because of the custom of tipping, wield outsize influence over one of the largest groups of workers in the country — three million strong, according to federal data.

Wage Theft in Restaurants

Source: The Editorial Board, The New York Times

New York could soon join seven other states that have done away with the unjust policy of letting employers pay waiters, bartenders and other tipped workers less than the minimum wage, a move that would help lift thousands of low-income families out of poverty.

March 12, 2018

D.C. voters to decide in June if tipped workers should get same minimum wage

Source: Fenit Nirappil , The Washington Post

D.C. voters will decide whether to require restaurants to pay the minimum wage to waiters, bartenders and others who earn a “tipped wage” — a low base rate plus tips. The D.C. Board of Elections on Wednesday authorized a ballot measure for the June 19 election that would gradually increase the hourly wage — currently $3.33 — made by restaurant workers until it matches the city’s minimum wage for other workers by 2026. Initiative 77 pits the restaurant industry against progressive groups in a city with some of the nation’s most generous mandates for worker benefits.

Walmart Moves for ‘Alternative Resolution’ in Labor Dispute

Source: Hassan A. Kanu , Bloomberg Law

Walmart Inc. sees a chance to resolve a long-running fight with labor organizations, thanks to changes at the Trump labor board. A Walmart lawyer contacted National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Peter Robb (R) Feb. 20, seeking to “discuss a potential alternative resolution” to a case with potentially major implications, according to emails obtained by Bloomberg Law. The litigation involves questions about union-affiliated workers’ groups and the limits of peaceful worker strikes on a job site. The move came around the same time that McDonald’s also started settlement talks in another major labor case before the NLRB. The company initiated talks with agency lawyers about resolving unfair labor practice charges by workers at franchisee restaurants in January, according to a court filing.

March 9, 2018

Florida’s Governor Will Sign Bill Expanding Workers’ Comp Benefits for First Responders

Source: Abe Aboraya , ProPublica

Right now, Florida first responders can get medical coverage under workers’ comp if they get PTSD on the job, but not lost wages. About a third of states have similar laws. But that’s about to change. The Florida Senate approved a bill on Saturday that would cover lost wages for first responders with PTSD, and the House followed suit on Monday. Today, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he would sign the bill. Changing the law has not been easy. Legislation was introduced after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in June 2016. But the bill languished in Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature last year, and a related measure’s prospects were uncertain this year. After the Feb. 14 high school shooting in Parkland, in which 17 people died, the bill’s main opposition backed off.

Aging Parents And Women's Day: Let's Look At Inequality In Caregiving

Source: Carolyn Rosenblatt , Forbes

Women in our country have gotten a lot of attention lately with focus on sexual harassment, domestic violence and unequal treatment by employers. There is another important area that is not getting attention in the focus on women: the role of caregiver for aging parents. This role, too, spreads responsibility very unequally on women compared with men in many families.

March 8, 2018

House Dems offer bill to protect workers' tips

Source: Lydia Wheeler , The Hill

House Democrats are pushing legislation to stop employers from being able to pocket a portion of workers’ tips. Democratic Reps. Katherine Clark (Mass.) and Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) introduced the Tip Income Protection Act on Wednesday in response to a proposed rule from the Department of Labor (DOL) that will allow employers to pool the gratuities earned by employees who make the full minimum wage and split them with nontipped workers. Opponents have argued there’s nothing in the regulation to stop employers from stealing tips for themselves. Clark and DeLauro’s bill, however, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to make all tips, even those that are pooled, the property of the employee not the employer.

West Virginia teachers' triumph offers fresh hope for US workers' rights

Source: Mike Elk, The Guardian

West Virginia teachers expressed joy on Wednesday as officials settled a historic nine-day strike to conclude the first statewide work stoppage since 1990.

March 7, 2018

High housing costs and long commutes drive more workers to sleep in cars

Source: Patrick Sisson , Curbed

This squeeze—increasing housing costs and stagnating wages—has created a scenario where some people working full-time jobs are living in homeless shelters, or in some cases, camping out in parking lots and along highways.

West Virginia teachers' nine-day strike ends with 5 percent pay raise

Source: Gina Cherelus and Ian Simpson, Reuters

A nine-day strike by West Virginia teachers ended on Tuesday with state officials approving a 5 percent pay raise for all state workers, giving a boost to some of the lowest-paid educators in the country.

March 6, 2018

U.S. Immigration Policy Threatens Shake-Up In Home Health Business

Source: Ina Jaffe, NPR

On a rare rainy night in Albuquerque, two dozen students are learning the proper way to care for older people. Teacher Liliana Reyes is reviewing the systems of the body — circulatory, respiratory and so on — to prepare them for an upcoming exam. These students are seeking to join a workforce of about 3 million people who help older adults remain in their homes. They assist these clients with things like bathing, dressing, and taking medication on time. About a quarter of these workers are immigrants. But as Congress and the White House consider changes to immigration policy, some people in the home care industry worry that there won't be enough people to care for the nation's growing number of elders.

The U.S. needs national paid leave, not a public relations stunt

Source: Eileen Appelbaum , Salon

Trump, touting the Republican tax cut law, is taking credit for new worker-friendly policies from some of America’s largest corporations, including one-time bonus payments and paid leaves. Starbucks and Walmart, for example, recently announced they are adding paid leave benefits or expanding long-standing paid leave policies.

March 5, 2018

WorkZone: We still haven't figured out how to be ourselves on social media, without risky problems on the job

Source: Tim Grant, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Paula Brantner, a senior adviser at Workplace Fairness, a Silver Spring, Md.-based nonprofit that provides legal information to workers about their rights, said the group’s website saw a surge of visitors after the Charlottesville rally. The site had 3.5 million visitors in 2017.

“As tensions rise about the future of our country, people are feeling that it is important, now more than ever, to engage in political discourse and action,” Ms. Brantner said.

If the Supreme Court rules against unions, conservatives won’t like what happens next

Source: Shaun Richman, The Washington Post

If the Supreme Court rules against AFSCME in Janus, many unions will abandon exclusive representation altogether. Their primary motivation will be avoiding the “free rider” problem — being required to expend resources on workers who opt out of paying anything for those services. And new unions will form to compete in that abandoned space.

Uber and Lyft drivers' median hourly wage is just $3.37, report finds

Source: Sam Levin, The Guardian

Uber and Lyft drivers in the US make a median profit of $3.37 per hour before taxes, according to a new report that suggests a majority of ride-share workers make below minimum wage and that many actually lose money.

March 2, 2018

Disneyland workers struggle with low wages and homelessness

Source: CBS News, CBS News

The happiest place on Earth may not be a happy place to work. Some workers at Disneyland say they are struggling with homelessness and poverty because the theme park doesn't pay them enough to live on, CBS Los Angeles reports. Several Disney unions met to discuss wages Wednesday night in Anaheim, while hundreds of protesters showed up to demand a livable wage. One in 10 Disneyland employees has recently experienced homelessness, while two-thirds of workers don't have enough food to eat three meals per day, according to a new study from researchers at Occidental College and the Economic Roundtable. Low-wage workers in expensive regions -- such as Disneyland's location near Los Angeles -- are increasingly feeling the pinch as their incomes have failed to keep up with soaring real estate values and the cost of living.

A Horrifying Path to America for Hotel Workers

Source: Ariel Ramchandani , The Atlantic

In today’s fragmented, contractor-heavy economy, many hotels, restaurants, and other facilities no longer directly employ their workers. This employment arrangement may seem strange, but “it is very common for hotels in the U.S. to contract with labor recruiters in the Philippines (and other countries like Jamaica) to recruit temporary seasonal workers on H-2B visas,”

March 1, 2018

What the latest union case before the Supreme Court could mean for workers of color

Source: P.R. Lockhart , Vox

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that public sector unions fear could deal a heavy blow by potentially reducing their financial coffers and opening the door for declines in membership.

Labor's power in New York could minimize damage in Janus case

Source: Bill Mahoney , POLITICO

As the Supreme Court weighs a challenge to the ability of public employee unions to collect dues from non-members, many observers are warning of doom and gloom for labor if the court rules against the unions. In his State of the State address last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the case, Janus v. AFSCME, could "effectively end public labor unions." But in New York, where unions have more members than anywhere else in the country and labor’s priorities frequently enjoy bipartisan support, it's not likely that public employee unions will be obliterated if the court rules against them.

February 28, 2018

NLRB Throws Out Ruling in Conflict-of-Interest Controversy

Source: Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg

The National Labor Relations Board threw out its most important ruling of 2017—a 3-2 victory for major U.S. corporations—following an internal agency report that found that a potential conflict-of-interest had tainted the vote.

How Employers Already Compel Speech From Workers

Source: Sean McElwee, The Nation

But while the conservative justices may be sympathetic to the free-speech claims of workers and and union beneficiaries who don’t want to pay union dues, they seems far less interested in other forms of coerced speech in the workplace.

February 27, 2018

Apple is launching its own health care service for employees

Source: Lila MacLellan, Quartz

The setup suggests that US companies are growing as impatient as their employees with the state of American health care—and that better medical benefits will perhaps be the next great battleground in the war for talent.

Prime-Age Men May Never Return to U.S. Workforce, Fed Paper Says

Source: Shelly Hagan , Bloomberg

Men in their prime working years have left the labor force at an astonishing rate and they may never return if the state of the U.S. job market holds, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. A decline in demand for middle-skilled work -- a phenomenon dubbed “job polarization,” because more positions are concentrated at the higher and lower ends -- has played a role in keeping prime-age men out of the job market, Didem Tuzemen, an economist at the Kansas City Fed, wrote in the paper released this week. Without job polarization, Tuzemen estimated that 1.9 million more prime-age men would have been employed in 2016. Middle-skilled jobs are those that often involve routine tasks and are procedural or rule-based, making them easier to automate. On the other hand, low-skilled jobs are mostly service-oriented and high-skilled jobs involve analytical or managerial skills -- both of which involve responsibilities that are more difficult to replace with a machine or computer, Tuzemen said.

Civil Rights Act Protects Gay Workers, Appeals Court Rules

Source: Benjamin Weiser and Alan Feuer , The New York Times

A federal appeals court in Manhattan ruled on Monday that federal civil rights law bars employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation. The case, which stemmed from the 2010 dismissal of a Long Island sky-diving instructor, was a setback for the Trump Justice Department, whose lawyers found themselves in the unusual position of arguing against government lawyers from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The E.E.O.C. had argued that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars workplace discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin,” protected gay employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But the Trump Justice Department took the position that the law did not reach sexual orientation, and said the E.E.O.C. was “not speaking for the United States.”

February 26, 2018

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

Source: Karla L. Miller, Washington Post

Finally, your nonprofit employer’s board of directors has a fiduciary duty to ensure the organization is managing funds properly and not committing labor violations. Many boards have a whistleblower policy to protect workers who report such issues, says Brantner.

Paying disabled workers less than minimum wage is legal in the US. Alaska has now banned it.

Source: Alexia Fernández Campbell , Vox

Alaskan businesses can no longer pay workers with disabilities less than the state's $9.84 minimum hourly wage. The Alaska Department of Labor last week repealed a decades-old regulation that allowed employers to get an exemption to pay workers with disabilities less than the minimum wage if their disability limits their ability to get a job. Alaska's move was a surprising win for disability rights activists in a conservative state, making it the first red state to ban the practice. New Hampshire was the first state to do so in 2015, followed by Maryland in 2016. Paying sub-minimum wages to Americans with disabilities has been legal under federal law since 1938. These recent changes highlight America's shifting views about the best way to help people with disabilities live their lives.

Behind a Key Anti-Labor Case, a Web of Conservative Donors

Source: Noam Scheiber and Kenneth P. Vogel , The New York Times

In the summer of 2016, government workers in Illinois received a mailing that offered them tips on how to leave their union. By paying a so-called fair-share fee instead of standard union dues, the mailing said, they would no longer be bound by union rules and could not be punished for refusing to strike. The mailing, sent by a group called the Illinois Policy Institute, may have seemed like disinterested advice. In fact, it was one prong of a broader campaign against public-sector unions, backed by some of the biggest donors on the right.

February 23, 2018

Postal-Service Workers Are Shouldering the Burden for Amazon

Source: Jake Bittle , The Nation

Every day postal trucks drop off about 4,000 packages at a US Postal Service station in central Tennessee, where they’re unloaded by a team of around six USPS employees. Each person grabs a box, rushes to the only scanning machine, runs the bar code, and then places it in the proper gurney for its route. The process takes about 10 seconds, and it can be repeated as many as 200 times in an hour. Around one-third of the packages Amanda, a USPS clerk, handles are shipped by Amazon. As the Seattle-based tech giant commands an ever greater share of the retail market, the number of packages handled by the USPS keeps increasing. But employees say Postal Service management hasn’t responded to the surge in heavy items by investing in staffing or infrastructure. Instead, its leadership has cut costs and resorted to what union leaders call “management by stress.”

A Supreme Court Showdown Could Shrink Unions’ Power

Source: Adam Liptak , The New York Times

The court will hear arguments on Monday about whether the government employees represented by Mr. Clover’s union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, must pay the union a fee for representing them in collective bargaining. Conservative groups, supported by the Trump administration, say the First Amendment bars forcing government workers from having to pay anything, and the court has sent strong signals that it agrees with that argument.

February 22, 2018

#MeToo on Main Street: Small businesses can't overlook workplace harassment

Source: Kate Rogers , CNBC

New data show small companies with fewer than five employees are less likely than their larger counterparts to have formal policies in place when it comes to sexual harassment in the office, but since the #MeToo movement began, 5 percent of small businesses say they have fired or suspended an employee. A survey of more than 2,000 small business owners found that half of small-business owners have a formal policy on how to handle harassment claims. But at businesses with zero to four employees, only 39 percent had such policies, compared to 85 percent of businesses with 50 or more employees, according to the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey.

As companies reveal gigantic CEO-to-worker pay ratios, some worry how low-paid workers might take the news

Source: Jena McGregor , Washington Post

A potentially embarrassing math calculation employers have long hoped to escape -- one that pay experts thought was dead following President Trump's election -- can no longer be avoided. In recent weeks, a few public companies have begun disclosing a ratio, required for the first time this year, that compares the pay of their chief executive to the pay of their median employee. At industrial giant Honeywell, the largest company yet to disclose, the ratio was 333 to 1. At Teva Pharmaceuticals, the Israel-based generic pharmaceutical company, it's 302 to 1. And at the regional bank Umpqua Holdings, it's about 55 to 1.

February 21, 2018

More companies invest in training to prevent sexual harassment — but it might not be doing much good

Source: Roger Showley, The Los Angeles Times

Attorneys who represent both employers and employees in sexual harassment cases said that while training is required, many bosses and their workers don't take the rules very seriously — that is, until there's a problem.

Behind the minimum wage fight, a sweeping failure to enforce the law

Source: Marianne Levine, POLITICO

As Democrats make raising the minimum wage a centerpiece of their 2018 campaigns, and Republicans call for states to handle the issue, both are missing an important problem: Wage laws are poorly enforced, with workers often unable to recover back pay even after the government rules in their favor.

February 20, 2018

I’m A Caregiver — & Any Paid Family Leave Plan Should Include Us

Source: Natalie Gontcharova , Refinery 29

While I’m lucky to only be under minor financial strain, working families lose an estimated $20.6 billion in wages each year because most U.S. citizens don’t have access to a comprehensive federal paid family leave program. Instead, we make do with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), under which you are allotted 12 weeks of leave to take care of a child or sick relative (however, only about 60% of all employees are eligible for it, since it only applies to companies with over 50 people and carries other restrictions).

Gorsuch deciding vote in key labor union funding case

Source: Associated Press , Associated Press

America’s union leaders are about to find out if they were right to fiercely oppose Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court as a pivotal, potentially devastating vote against organized labor. The newest justice holds the deciding vote in a case to be argued Feb. 26 that could affect the financial viability of unions that are major supporters of Democratic candidates and causes. The unions represent more than 5 million government workers in 24 states and the District of Columbia who could be affected by the outcome. The other eight justices split 4 to 4 when the issue was last at the court in 2016.

February 19, 2018

The Potential Downside of Unlimited PTO and Vacations

Source: Yael Grauer, Dice

Federal law doesn’t require employers to pay for accrued time off once an employee leaves a position, while employment laws on this vary from state to state. “Some states do require vacation time that has been accrued to be paid out upon the employee’s departure, and other states do not have that requirement,” noted Paula Brantner, senior advisor at Workplace Fairness, a non-profit that promotes employee rights.

The gig economy is lacking in this one important respect

Source: Annie Nova, CNBC

In a Senate hearing in early February on "Exploring the 'Gig Economy' and the Future of Retirement Savings," economists and business leaders proposed ways to fix the alarming reality that many people in this expanding labor market are not preparing for old age. Just 16 percent of independent workers have a retirement savings plan, compared to more than half of employees who have access to an employer-sponsored one.

Google's firing of James Damore was legal, labor board says

Source: Edward Moyer, CNET

Google didn't break the law when it fired James Damore over a memo that criticized the company's diversity policies and claimed tech's gender gap may be due to biological differences between men and women.

February 16, 2018

GOP Strands Labor Dept. in Tip Pool, as the Left Swarms

Source: Ben Penn, Bloomberg Law

Republicans and most of the business community are so far leaving the Labor Department to fend for itself in the battle over a tip sharing proposal that’s emerged as the most controversial workplace policy move of the Trump era. The DOL is under fire from a growing number of Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning organizations for the December proposed rule, which would make it easier for employers to require servers and other workers who earn tips to share them with kitchen staff who don’t.

Miami-Dade Might Bar Employers From Retaliating Against Evacuated Employees

Source: Brittany Shammas , Miami New Times

As Hurricane Irma barreled toward Florida last summer, some workers faced an impossible decision: follow evacuation orders and risk being fired, or stay in the path of what officials were calling a storm of catastrophic, never-before-seen proportions.

February 15, 2018

The Tipped Minimum Wage Is Fueling Sexual Harassment in Restaurants

Source: Bryce Covert , Rewire

The restaurant industry has a ready solution for sexual harassment at hand. “One simple way to reduce instances of sexual violence and harassment in the workplace would be to implement [one fair wage, or abolish the tipped minimum wage] for all workers,” says a new report from the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, which hosted the media call. “While this would not eliminate sexual harassment, it would enable women to stand up to abuse in the workplace and break through the normalization of sexual harassment in the industry.” Some states are considering doing just that. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced in his 2018 State of the State address that he would hold hearings to examine ditching the state’s tipped minimum wage of $2.90 an hour. Advocates are collecting signatures in Michigan to put a measure on November’s ballot raising the minimum wage to $12 for all workers, and a similar measure is being pushed in Washington, D.C.

Calls for paid family leave are getting louder

Source: Kathryn Vasel, CNNMoney

Momentum is building in the fight for paid family leave. A number of big companies made headlines in recent years by expanding benefits for new parents. And a handful of cities and states have set up their own funds to provide paid parental leave when employers do not. Paid parental leave has gained broad support among Americans and has become a major talking point for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The White House included a family leave plan in its 2019 budget proposal released Monday that aims to provide new parents with six weeks of paid leave. The budget didn't specify exactly how the benefit would work, but said the current unemployment insurance system, which workers and employers pay into and states administer, would serve "as a base." Adoptive parents would also be eligible for the paid leave.

February 14, 2018

How industries from Hollywood to Capitol Hill to modeling are tackling sexual harassment

Source: Meera Jagannathan, Moneyish

At this point, Brantner added, “it’s too soon to see whether or not whether we’ve had a true cultural shift.” “Are they going to be consistent, are they going to have policies that they uniformly enforce, are people going to feel safe coming forward, are they going to be protected from retaliation?” she asked. “Is the change real?”

February 13, 2018

AT&T, Walmart Bolster Their Tax Savings in Paying Worker Bonuses

Source: Lynnley Browning , Bloomberg

The surprise bonuses that corporations like Walmart Inc. and AT&T Inc. are bestowing upon rank-and-file American workers are currying favor with the public and President Donald Trump. But there’s another perk -- the companies can use the payouts to minimize their tax bills. It’s no secret that companies are allowed to deduct most compensation expenses from their taxable income as a cost of doing business. There’s a wrinkle this year, though -- since the corporate tax rate was slashed to 21 percent from 35 percent, big firms that account for the expense in 2017 stand to save tens of millions of dollars more in taxes than if they book the expense in 2018.

Airlines Sue Washington State Over Paid Sick Leave Law

Source: Benjamin Romano , Tribune News Service

Airlines are suing Washington State to avoid complying with the mandatory paid sick leave law that took effect Jan. 1. Airlines for America, a trade association that includes Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Parcel Service and others, argues that the paid sick leave mandate, when applied to Washington-based pilots and flight attendants who spend most of their working hours outside of Washington, is unconstitutional and contravenes the federal Airline Deregulation Act. It also claims airlines already provide paid sick leave benefits, negotiated through collective bargaining agreements that in some ways are more generous than what Washington now requires.

February 12, 2018

Restaurant Workers Are Left Behind in New York’s New Paid Parental Leave Program

Source: Ryan Sutton , Eater

The United States remains the only major industrialized country without a paid parental leave program, and given President Donald Trump’s vague support for the issue in last week’s State of the Union address, the status quo does not appear to be in jeopardy. Some of the country’s biggest corporations have stepped in to fill the benefits void: Starbucks offers six weeks of fully-paid leave to baristas, Anheuser-Busch offers 16 weeks, and Netflix actually offers a full year. But in the greater hospitality industry — one of the country’s largest employers — just six percent of workers in 2016 reported having access to any form of paid leave, less than half of the national average. The consequences of this reality are nothing short of devastating: The bulk of the nation’s culinary talent can find both their finances and job at risk if they perform the very basic and biological act of having a family. A new law in New York, spearheaded by Governor Andrew Cuomo, will start to make things a little easier on new parents — but it’s still not enough, especially for lower- and middle-income restaurant workers.

The ‘Manly’ Jobs Problem

Source: Susan Chira , The New York Times

Insults, groping — even assault. That kind of sexual harassment came along with being one of the very few women on a construction site, in a mine, or in a shipyard. Those professions remain male-dominated and the harassment can seem, for countless women, to be intractable. But what if the problem isn’t simply how their male co-workers behave? What if the problem is the very way society has come to see the jobs themselves? Some jobs are “male” — not just men’s work, but also a core definition of masculinity itself. Threatening that status quo is not just uppity — it can be dangerous. This dynamic plays out in workplaces of all classes and crosses partisan political lines. But it is particularly stark in the blue-collar jobs that once scored a kind of manly trifecta: They paid a breadwinner’s wage, embodied strength and formed the backbone of the American economy.

February 9, 2018

Labor Unions to Take Party Over Ideology in Midterm Elections

Source: Chris Opfer, Jasmine Ye Han, and Tyrone Richardson , Bloomberg Law

Labor unions have some tough choices in this election year, as they decide whether to focus on the congressional candidates who align closest with them or help those best positioned to give Republicans the boot. Labor groups, with some notable exceptions, have long put the majority of their political dollars to work for Democratic candidates. With a tricky Senate map that includes some moderate Democrats running in states that went for President Donald Trump in 2016, several union officials told Bloomberg Law they may move more of that money to candidates who are not completely on the same page when it comes to the issues.

Anti-union challengers are on the verge of victory at Supreme Court

Source: Richard Wolf , USA TODAY

Dianne Knox describes herself as "a child of the '60s." Pam Harris grew up a butcher's daughter in a proud union household. Rebecca Friedrichs was secretary of her local teachers' union. Mark Janus supports the rights of workers to organize. But as the lead plaintiffs in four successive Supreme Court cases challenging the power of public employee unions, Knox, Harris, Friedrichs and Janus take pride in helping conservative groups reach a tipping point in their decade-long, anti-union campaign. What Knox in 2012, Harris in 2014, Friedrichs in 2016 and Janus in 2018 have done is put the justices within one vote of overruling a 40-year-old precedent that allows the unions to collect fees from non-members for the cost of representation. In a case that will be heard later this month, the court appears to have that additional vote in the form of Justice Neil Gorsuch.

February 8, 2018

Florida Bill Seeks to Stop Arrests Of Injured Immigrant Workers

Source: Michael Grabell and Howard Berkes , NPR

A new bill under consideration by Florida lawmakers would stop insurance companies from dodging workers compensation payouts by aiding in the arrest and deportation of unauthorized immigrants who are injured on the job. Legislators and advocates have been pushing for the measure since last summer, when ProPublica and NPR documented more than 130 cases in which immigrants who had suffered legitimate workplace injuries were flagged to law enforcement agencies by their employers' insurers. The workers faced felony fraud charges for using a fake ID when they sought medical care. Meanwhile, the insurers often avoided paying the workers' compensation benefits legally due to all employees injured at work. Some workers were detained by federal immigration agents and deported without getting proper medical treatment for serious injuries.

Care workers need support to handle the emotional impact of our jobs

Source: Paul Case , The Guardian

It’s incredible how much emotional labour social care workers take on but rarely discuss. We work intimately, often alone, with some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We see, hear and intervene in situations that can be distressing. We witness the realities of abuse, poverty and addiction. Processing the emotional impact of our work takes time and effort. I do not wish to paint our work as relentlessly grim; there is much joy, laughter and reward in our work from supported people and colleagues. But our emotional labour, and how we are supported by our employers to perform it, is an important issue to discuss.

February 7, 2018

Low-Wage Workers Say #MeToo Movement Is A Chance For Change

Source: Yuki Noguchi , NPR Morning Edition

The campaign to speak out against workplace sexual harassment began with women in Hollywood and in the media — those in positions of relative power and privilege. Now, women in retail, agriculture and domestic work — where harassment rates run very high — say they, too, are starting to feel the impact of the #MeToo movement. "It's had an incredibly dramatic impact in our industry," says Saru Jayaraman, president of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a group that advocates for better working conditions. Policymakers are now considering policy proposals that her group has been pushing for years, she says. It's also made a difference for people like Isabel Escobar. She recalls climbing the stairs with cleaning supplies at a client's home in Chicago 15 years ago. The owner's adult son stood waiting for her at the top of the stairs, naked. She fled.

Trump administration faces audit of proposed rule that could let bosses keep tips

Source: Danielle Paquette , The Washington Post

The Labor Department's Office of Inspector General said Monday it was launching a review of how Trump administration officials crafted a proposed rule that would allow employers to keep tips. The move followed reports that the department had ignored an economic analysis that found such a measure would drain “billions” from workers' pockets. “The Office of Inspector General is initiating an audit of the rulemaking process used by the Wage and Hour Division related to its proposal to rescind portions of its tip regulations issued pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act,” the Office of the Inspector General said in a statement Monday.

February 6, 2018

At Tesla’s Factory, Building The Car Of The Future Has Painful And Permanent Consequences For Some Workers

Source: Caroline O'Donovan , BuzzFeed News

Terrill Johnson was installing car trunks at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, when he heard the sound that would define his next few years, if not the rest of his life. “It was a big, loud pop,” he said. In one movement, Johnson had blown out his elbow and his shoulder. “Once the pop came, the pain came.” That was September 2015. Johnson went on leave for his injury, but on workers’ compensation he earned considerably less than the roughly $1,700 he had earned every two weeks while on the job. Now, two surgeries and more than two years later, he’s still waiting for his workers’ compensation case to be resolved, and trying to make ends meet in one of the country’s most expensive metropolitan areas with just the earnings from his workers’ comp check plus Social Security disability payments from the state.

Medicaid Work Requirements Are Yet Another Burden for Trans Workers

Source: Cyrée Jarelle Johnson , The New York Times

The overlapping issues of health care and employment discrimination remain pivotal ones for transgender communities. They became more so last month, when the Trump administration decided to allow states to institute work requirements for Medicaid. The unemployment rate for trans people is three times higher than the national average, according to a 2015 survey produced by the National Center for Transgender Equality — a rate that results, in many cases, from anti-trans job discrimination. These new rules create a double bind for the most vulnerable trans people: Find work amid rampant prejudice and mistreatment, or lose critical medical coverage. In Kentucky, the first state to adopt work requirements, one in four transgender people report losing a job, being passed over for a promotion or not being hired because they are trans.

February 5, 2018

Pacelle Resigns as CEO of HSUS

Source: Nonprofit Times, Andy Segedin

The nonprofit sector is particularly susceptible to harassment, Brantner said. Organizations are often small and underfunded, without human-resource departments and mechanisms in place to report misconduct. Some individuals might choose not to report harassment due to concerns that the fallout might harm the organization’s mission. The tight-knit nature of the sector also makes other employment options difficult, according to Brantner.

California men are jumping at the chance to take paid family leave

Source: Phillip Reese‏ , Sacramento Bee

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took time off to care for his newborn daughter in 2015 – and again after the birth of his second daughter in 2017 – he became part of a wave of California men using paid family leave. About 85,000 California men took paid family leave in California during the 2017 fiscal year, double the number that took paternity leave in 2009, according to the latest figures from the California Employment Development Department. The number of women taking paid maternity leave during that period increased by a modest 6 percent. Under a long-standing California program, women can take up to 12 weeks of disability payments following a birth. After 2004, women and men could also take up to six weeks of paid family leave. The state pays for the benefits using worker State Disability Insurance (SDI) contributions. Workers can also pay into a voluntary plan; employers don’t pay.

After Everything, Workers Are Still Scared to Report Harassment at Work

Source: Katie Van Syckle , The Cut

Despite the rise of the #MeToo movement, the majority of employees who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace still don’t feel comfortable reporting it, according to a new study from the Society for Human Resource Management. Researchers found that although 11 percent of employees said they were harassed in the last year, 76 percent of this group didn’t report it. Workers said 87 percent of the harassment they experienced was verbal and typically included sexual comments and unwanted advances. But they feared inaction or retaliation if they reported their experiences to superiors.

February 2, 2018

USDA Spares Poultry Workers Faster Line Speeds, But Hog Workers May Not Get So Lucky

Source: Eleanor Goldberg and Dave Jamieson , HuffPost

Apparently not all regulated industries are getting what they want out of the Trump White House. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it was rejecting a petition from the poultry industry that would have allowed chicken slaughterhouses to ramp up line speeds. That USDA decision came just two weeks after the government agency proposed a rule that would allow hog plants to do away entirely with maximum line speeds. The poultry proposal came under heavy fire from consumer and work safety advocates, who argued that lifting the speed caps in slaughterhouses could endanger employees and the public because it would require faster work and less time for food safety inspections. Poultry workers and their allies even protested outside USDA headquarters recently while wearing diapers ― a nod to the fact that some plant workers say the pace is so unrelenting they don’t have enough time to use the bathroom.

Fired for being pregnant: Another kind of discrimination women face at work

Source: Elissa Strauss , CNN

In June, Whitney Tomlinson felt nauseated at work. She was pregnant at the time and was experiencing the condition commonly, and misleadingly, known as morning sickness. Tomlinson, a 30-year-old single mother and packer at a Walmart Distribution Center in Atlanta, told her supervisor that she wasn't feeling well. In response, he explained that in order for him to give her a break, she would need a note from her doctor. So off to her doctor she went. The doctor didn't identify any worrisome pregnancy complications but did suggest that Tomlinson avoid heavy lifting while at work and wrote a note suggesting as much. Tomlinson didn't think this would be much of a problem, as she often got help with heavy lifting, including before becoming pregnant. Upon her return to work that afternoon, Tomlinson handed her supervisor the note. He read it and then told her to take it to human resources. She would be getting a break, yes, but it wasn't the one she had hoped for. It also wasn't legal, according to a new complaint filed on Tomlinson's behalf with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

February 1, 2018

When Nature Strikes

Source: Julie Cook Ramirez , HRExecutive.com

As Hurricane Irma geared up to unleash her fury on Florida and the Eastern seaboard this past September, Gov. Rick Scott issued an evacuation order, telling Florida residents, “You need to go now.” As with every major weather event, some heeded his warning, others didn’t. Among those who chose to stay put, many said it was a matter of keeping their job.

Abercrombie Agrees to Pay $25M Over Staff Clothing Claims

Source: Jon Steingart , Bloomberg Law

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. agreed to pay $25 million to settle claims by retail employees who say their wages were diminished by a requirement to wear company apparel. The Fair Labor Standards Act considers uniforms used for work a business expense to be covered by the employer. Some states, such as New York, require employers to either provide laundry service or reimburse the expense. Disputes arise when clothing can pull double duty as a work uniform and as ordinary attire. The settlement would cover about 258,000 employees at Abercrombie & Fitch, Abercrombie Kids, Hollister, and Gilly Hicks stores in New York, Florida, Massachusetts, and California.

January 31, 2018

Amazon, Berkshire, JPM form healthcare company to cut costs

Source: Caroline Humer, Ankur Banerjee , Reuters

Amazon.com Inc, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co will form a healthcare company aimed at cutting costs for their U.S. employees, they said on Tuesday, sending shares in the broad healthcare sector sharply lower. The independent company will be “free from profit-making incentives and constraints,” they said. It will initially focus on technology to provide “simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare” at a “reasonable” cost for its more than 500,000 employees in the United States, they said.

There's a Sexual-Harassment Epidemic on America’s Farms

Source: Ariel Ramchandani , The Atlantic

The agricultural industry in the United States is full of workers who are undocumented or on temporary work visas, people who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

January 30, 2018

Tronc Is Building A Shadow Newsroom Full Of Scabs, L.A. Times Staffers Fear

Source: Ashley Feinberg, Dave Jamieson, and Matt Ferner , HuffPost

As lunch was winding down Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times cafeteria, Bruce Upbin, one of several newly hired but as-yet-unannounced assistant managing editors, sat alone at a table speaking a little too loudly into his headphone mic. Upbin was a mystery to much of the newspaper’s staff, which had just voted to unionize the week before. He was one of several similarly unannounced middle-manager types who had come aboard in recent weeks. Although he and the others were listed in the Times’ human resources software as having editorial titles, they were reporting to Rob Angel, the Times’ chief business development officer. These new L.A. managers had also been working on the second floor, despite the newsroom being on the third. And, of course, there was the bizarre fact that they had yet to be introduced to any of the actual newsroom staff of about 400. One L.A. Times employee, who spoke to HuffPost on the condition of anonymity, overheard Upbin say they were creating a national newsroom outside of the union, to service all of Tronc’s markets.

Trump Appointee Is Trying to Squelch Us, Labor Board Staff Says

Source: Noam Scheiber , The New York Times

The Trump administration’s efforts to reverse the direction of federal labor policy appear to have accelerated with a proposal to demote the senior civil servants who resolve most labor cases. Under the proposal, those civil servants — considered by many conservatives and employers to be biased toward labor — would answer to a small cadre of officials installed above them in the National Labor Relations Board’s hierarchy. The proposal could pave the way for a pronounced shift in the day-to-day workings of the agency, making it friendlier to employers named in complaints of unfair labor practices or facing unionization drives.

January 29, 2018

For low-wage school workers, lessons in survival

Source: Debbie Truong , The Washington Post

The list of the boy’s allergies was lengthy: peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, sesame, melons, chickpeas, kiwi fruit, most seeds. So when the 9-year-old at Lovettsville Elementary School in Northern Virginia was stung by a wasp and began complaining of a funny feeling in his mouth, Karen McCall knew what to do. McCall’s annual pay after accounting for health insurance deductions? About $28,000. And not nearly enough, in her estimation, for the responsibilities that she and others in her position must shoulder. There’s an emerging battlefront over schoolhouse salaries, and it involves compensation for the employees who play supporting roles in schools — the teaching assistants, bookkeepers, bus drivers and custodians who shepherd students to class, care for them in classrooms and clean up after them.

Supreme Court may deal major blow to labor unions

Source: Richard Wolf , USA TODAY

The nation's powerful public employee unions stand to lose membership, money and political muscle at the hands of the Supreme Court this year. The only question appears to be how much. On the court's docket next month are fees paid in 22 states by police, firefighters, teachers and other government workers who decline to join unions that must represent them anyway. But much more is at stake in a nation with declining union membership and growing economic inequality. After three tries in 2012, 2014 and 2016, the high court is poised to reverse its own 40-year-old precedent and strike down the so-called "fair share" fees as unconstitutional. The 1977 ruling said workers did not have to pay for unions' political activity. The verdict expected by June would allow them to contribute nothing at all.

January 26, 2018

Trump NLRB Appointee Finds a Way Around Conflict of Interest Rules

Source: Ian MacDougall , ProPublica

A Trump administration appointee to the National Labor Relations Board benefited the interests and clients of his former law firm when he cast the deciding vote to undo rules protecting workers’ rights in two cases last month. The decisions, which were both resolved 3-to-2, are instances of what some former NLRB members describe as a side-door means of evading government ethics requirements — a way to do indirectly what conflict of interest rules prevent the appointee from doing directly.

Salaried or Hourly? The Gaps in Family-Friendly Policies Begin to Close

Source: Claire Cain Miller , The New York Times

As the labor market tightens, employers have been competing for highly educated workers by trying to make it easier for them to do their jobs and also have families — benefits like egg freezing or reduced schedules for new parents. Now, some employers are beginning to address the same challenge for lower-wage workers, starting with paid family leave. On Wednesday, Starbucks announced raises and stock grants for all employees in the United States, along with new benefits aimed specifically at workers with family caregiving responsibilities: paid time off to care for sick family members and paid paternity leave for hourly employees.

January 25, 2018

When you cannot sue your employer

Source: Rachana Shanbhogue, The Economist

Another criticism of arbitration agreements, voiced by Ms. Carlson, the news anchor, is that they silence victims. Often the proceedings have confidentiality clauses attached that prevent the employee from speaking about the case, thereby protecting repeat offenders. Paula Brantner of Workplace Fairness, an employee-rights charity, contends that, without the threat of litigation and the negative publicity it brings, companies have less of an incentive to root out bad behavior.

Exclusive: 5 Women Sue Monster Energy Over Abusive, Discriminatory Culture

Source: Emily Peck , HuffPost

Even as he awaits a criminal trial for allegedly strangling his girlfriend during a business trip in 2016, Brent Hamilton is still the head of music marketing at Monster Energy. John Kenneally is a vice president at Monster despite three women accusing him of bullying, harassment and retaliation. Another manager, Phillip Deitrich, regularly humiliated a female subordinate in front of co-workers and sabotaged her ability to work effectively, according to a sex discrimination lawsuit she filed. He still has a job. She left the company. Hamilton, Kenneally and Deitrich are at the center of four lawsuits that women filed against Monster last year. Hamilton stands accused of assault, and the three lawsuits involving the other two men are about sexual discrimination, HuffPost has learned. A fifth lawsuit, filed in 2016 by a woman who worked in the company’s human resource department, alleges she experienced harassment that was enabled by the company’s female former head of HR.

McDonald's 'joint employment' trial delayed amid settlement talks

Source: Daniel Wiessner, Robert Iafolla , Reuters

McDonald’s Corp and a U.S. labor board are in talks to settle a case claiming the fast food company is liable for purported labor law violations by its franchisees, leading a judge on Friday to pause a trial that began in 2015. Administrative Law Judge Lauren Esposito in Manhattan said that even though the trial is expected to wrap up as soon as next week, McDonald‘s, its franchisees, and the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel should have a chance to pursue a settlement.

January 24, 2018

Workplace Fairness Talks to WTOP on Sexual Harassment

Source: Veronica Robinson, WTOP News Radio Washington, DC

Senior Advisor Paula Brantner talks with Veronica Robinson at WTOP about the legal standards for sexual harassment in the workplace, and how to deal with office relationships.

State union membership grew by 75,000 in 2017: Report

Source: James T. Madore , Newsday.com

Unions in New York State had a net gain of 75,000 members last year, a reversal from the loss recorded in 2016, new federal data show. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week that the ranks of private-sector and government unions in the state totaled 2 million in 2017, up nearly 4 percent from a year earlier. The bureau did not release data for Long Island and the state’s other nine regions. Labor experts and union activists said there are about 250,000 union members in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Union membership in the state has been on a roller coaster ride in recent years.

Sexual-Harassment Suit Naming Ad Agency Shines Light on Client Dealings

Source: Lara O’Reilly, The Wall Street Journal

The suit focuses attention on how sexual-harassment issues on Madison Avenue can extend beyond what happens inside ad firms. Staffers can be vulnerable in their dealings with clients, a power dynamic familiar in other industries where handling and entertaining business partners is a core part of the job.

January 23, 2018

How the Labor Movement Is Thinking Ahead to a Post-Trump World

Source: Rachel M. Cohen , The Intercept

The American labor movement, over the past four decades, has had two golden opportunities to shift the balance of power between workers and bosses — first in 1978, with unified Democratic control of Washington, and again in 2009. Both times, the unions came close and fell short, leading, in no small part, to the precarious situation labor finds itself in today. Just over 10 percent of workers are unionized, down from 35 percent in the mid 1950s. Potentially, though, a wave of Democratic victories in 2018 and 2020 could give labor groups one last chance to turn things around. With an eye toward that moment, labor’s leading strategists are coming together to build a program that avoids the mistakes of the last two rounds. “If there’s anything we’ve learned from the Fight for $15 and a union is that the need for real transformative demands are important,” said Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice. “People want demands that are worth the risk.” Gupta’s group is exploring proposals like the idea of universal family care and “co-enforcement,” under which community-based organizations would partner with workers to help enforce progressive labor laws.

Voices Of America's Contract Workers: It's 'Feast Or Famine'

Source: Emily Sullivan , NPR

One in five people in America's workforce identifies as a contract worker, according to a new NPR/Marist poll released Monday. These workers are overwhelmingly male, and most are under 45. Close to half of contract workers say their income changes month to month, or seasonally. Many workers cite frustration and stagnation as reasons for abandoning traditional, permanent positions. Many of them love the flexibility that such jobs offered. Some make close to $250,000 a year; others, $11 an hour. Those without benefits say they prayed not to get sick and feel stress over planning for retirement.

January 22, 2018

Labor Board Looks to Settle McDonald’s Joint Employer Case

Source: Chris Opfer and Ben Penn , Bloomberg Law

The National Labor Relations Board is looking to settle a high profile lawsuit against McDonald’s USA LLC in which board attorneys previously said the fast food giant should be on the hook for possible labor violations by franchisee restaurant owners. NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb (R) Jan. 17 asked an administrative law judge to pause the case against McDonald’s and various franchisees so they can discuss settling the lawsuit, according to a copy of the motion obtained by Bloomberg Law. The board, under previous general counsel Richard Griffin (D), had argued that McDonald’s was a joint employer of franchisee workers claiming their bosses interfered with the workers’ right to organize and retaliated against them for participating in walk-outs and demonstrations. Robb told the ALJ that the board’s lawyers are already in discussions about a “global” settlement of “all pending charges” against McDonald’s and its franchisees.

Home-Care Workers Clocking 24-Hour Shifts Are Being Paid for Only 13 Hours

Source: Michelle Chen , The Nation

When they work on-call shifts, New York’s home-care workers know that means the workday basically never ends. Workers say their real workday is simply nonstop, round- the-clock stress, and the state appeals court has agreed in several cases. Under the state’s arcane regulations, however, the health-care agencies that employ them are allowed to pay them for only half of a 24-hour shift and discount the remaining on-duty hours as three hours of meals and eight hours of “sleep.” But following key decisions striking down the rule, Governor Cuomo’s Department of Labor issued “emergency regulations” to restore the unjust status quo. And so many of the state’s hardest-working, lowest-paid health-care workers returned to their on-call shifts to toil around the clock at half the pay.

January 19, 2018

Bonuses are great, but tax law windfall should include workers' retirement perk

Source: Robert Reed , Chicago Tribune

The new federal tax law is prompting some large corporations to dole out bonuses to employees — usually $1,000 each. But CEOs should consider awarding another perk: A boost in workers’ retirement funds. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of cash bonuses (hello, boss!) but typically they are quickly spent and soon forgotten. However, higher company contributions to employee 401(k) retirement accounts, as a few enlightened corporations are giving, will pile up over the years. Those gains can provide employees with greater savings while helping to ease an impending U.S. retirement crisis. Amid this tight labor market, shrewd companies should consider doing both bonuses and retirement funding — not out of the goodness of their hearts but because it’s a smart way to attract and keep talent.

Wolf will seek dramatic revamp to overtime rules

Source: John Finnerty , CNHI Harrisburg

Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Wednesday he plans to seek a dramatic revamp of the state’s labor rules to force companies to pay overtime to more workers. Wolf said the change is intended to reflect wage changes in the four decades since the last time the state’s overtime rules were updated. “Because the overtime rules have not been updated, employees are covered by an exemption to overtime that was intended for high-wage, white-collar employees more than 40 years ago,” Wolf said. Because of the outdated overtime rules, a worker making as little as $24,000 a year, "which is below the poverty line for a family of four, can work more than 40, 50, 60 or more hours a week and is not guaranteed overtime at time-and-a-half,” Wolf said. Other Democrats and labor groups welcomed the move, which Wolf is taking without legislative approval. Business groups blasted it as a job-killing proposal that will likely be challenged in court.

January 18, 2018

How Automation Could Worsen Racial Inequality

Source: Alexis C. Madrigal , The Atlantic

As people consider the negative repercussions of such a change, the obvious problem is that many people drive for a living. Much of the discussion has focused on truck and taxi drivers. In part, that’s because of the scale: there are more than 3 million truckers of various kinds in America. In part, it’s because Lyft and Uber have concentrated attention on the ride-hailing labor market. Transit operators, however, have rarely entered the debate, even though there are more than twice as many bus drivers (687,200) as taxi drivers (305,100), at least as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The truck-driver discussion also slots nicely into the white working-class narrative around automation. Unionized, male factory workers were displaced by new machines; white, male truck drivers might be pushed out by self-driving big rigs. And it is true that automation threatens to displace many kinds of workers, as report after report has shown. But, in the specific case of driverless buses and the general case of employment, the African American experience of automation is specific, distinct, and important to consider. Not all job displacement is created equal.

Trump’s Labor Secretary Plays It Safe as Judgeship Talk Swirls

Source: Ben Penn, Bloomberg Law

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is keeping a low profile in this first year in office, possibly because he has his eye on another job. There is widespread discussion that Acosta, a former United States Attorney and law school dean, is biding his time for a spot on the federal bench. The secretary’s cautious approach to policy issues is starting to rankle business advocates who want the department to speed up its dismantling of the Obama labor agenda. That includes rolling back an overtime rule that would have made some four million workers eligible for time-and-a-half pay, stepping up oversight of labor unions, and refocusing the Labor Department’s litigation and enforcement strategies. Business representatives now see these ambitions as possibly driving Acosta’s risk-averse approach to the DOL, even as several of his executive branch counterparts are moving to aggressively disrupt other agencies.

January 16, 2018

Paying tipped workers better wouldn’t lead to fewer restaurant jobs

Source: Michael Paarlberg and Teófilo Reyes , The Washington Post

Sometimes the hardest patterns to see are those in which nothing happens. For decades, restaurant industry lobbyists have predicted that the sky would fall with each tipped-minimum-wage hike. After the successful adoption of single tiers in seven states and countless raises in others, it’s time to acknowledge that such Chicken Little scenarios have failed to materialize.

Workplace Lawyers Race Against the Trump Clock

Source: Rebecca Greenfield, Bloomberg

While employers across the U.S. paid a record amount in settlements for workplace violations last year, don’t expect this to mark the beginning of a trend. Think of it more as the storm before the calm, as labor lawyers rush to lock in payouts ahead of a shifting legal landscape.

January 15, 2018

American women are angry and this new podcast wants to hear their stories

Source: Maria LaMagna, Marketwatch

Workers who have complained, but never saw any action from the company to punish their harasser, are among those who need their voice heard, said Paula Brantner, a senior adviser at Workplace Fairness, a nonprofit based in Maryland. Among those: Older workers who realize the behavior they have had to endure during their careers should have been punished.

NAACP Honors Memphis Sanitation Workers Who Went On Strike In 1968

Source: Hansi Lo Wang, NPR

In 1968, 1,300 black men from the Memphis Department of Public Works went on strike after a malfunctioning truck crushed two garbage collectors to death. The strike led to marches with demonstrators carrying signs declaring "I Am A Man." Their organizing efforts drew support from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. before his assassination.

Workplace Raids Signal Shifting Tactics in Immigration Fight

Source: Natalie Kitroeff, The New York Times

The Trump administration is taking its campaign against illegal immigration to the workplace. The raids by federal agents on dozens of 7-Eleven convenience stores last week were the administration’s first big show of force meant to convey the consequences of employing undocumented people.

January 12, 2018

Nearly Half of Black STEM Workers Report Being Treated As Incompetent Because of Their Race.

Source: Dana Dovey, Newsweek

A new Pew Research Center survey gives a glimpse of what it’s like to be a black person working in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) job. The self-reported survey, which was published Monday and is based on a sample of 4,914 adults ages 18 and older, shows drastic differences in how workers of different races feel their ethnicity affects their current position. Results revealed that black workers report far more racial discrimination than other ethnic groups. Overall, black STEM workers were more likely than other workers to report that their race or ethnicity had made it harder for them to excel in their career, with 40 percent reporting that their race made it harder to succeed in their field. Only 31 percent of Asians, 19 percent of Hispanics and 5 percent of whites said the same.

The Trump administration just changed its overtime guidance — and business cheers

Source: Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

The Labor Department revived 17 opinion letters to employers issued during the final days of George W. Bush's second term, a move that represents a shift in how the department will enforce compliance with overtime and other wage requirements. The letters from the Wage and Hour Division, which were withdrawn once Barack Obama took office, provide interpretations of how the Fair Labor Standards Act applies in individual cases. The Obama administration stopped issuing these letters altogether, instead releasing broader "Administrator's Interpretations" that laid out how the department viewed employers' specific obligations under the law.

January 11, 2018

Puzder resurfaces in Trump's White House in spite of #MeToo movement

Source: Nancy Cook and Marianne LeVine , POLITICO

The #MeToo movement has created an atmosphere of zero tolerance for any claims of sexual harassment involving prominent men in entertainment, the media, business and Congress — but so far it seems that rule doesn’t apply in the Trump administration. Latest case in point: The White House is considering finding a role for Andrew Puzder, President Donald Trump’s first pick for labor secretary, who withdrew his nomination in February after old allegations of domestic abuse resurfaced, according to three people familiar with the discussions. It’s not clear what role Puzder might take in the administration, these people said, though it would have to be a non-Senate-confirmed slot given his withdrawal as labor secretary. Puzder, who denied the abuse allegations made by his ex-wife in a 1990 appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” also acknowledged employing an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper before dropping out.

Two Suits Catch Google in Middle of Gender Debate

Source: Jack Nicas , The Wall Street Journal

Former Google female employees last week sued the company for allegedly discriminating against women. On Monday, former male employees sued Google for allegedly discriminating against conservative white men. The dueling lawsuits illustrate the increasing tensions over differences in how men and women are treated in the workplace, an issue that has exploded as revelations of inequality and sexual harassment have rocked industries ranging from tech to entertainment to media.

January 10, 2018

Fast-Food Workers Claim Victory in a New York Labor Effort

Source: Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times

With labor unions seeing their influence wane, more than 200 organizations have sprouted nationwide to help low-wage workers. But nearly all these groups say they are hampered by a lack of dependable funding because, unlike unions, they cannot rely on a steady flow of dues.

Nearly three out of four women in computer-related jobs report discrimination in the workplace

Source: Shirin Ghaffary , Recode

About three-quarters of women who work in computer programming and other computer-related jobs say they’ve experienced discrimination in the workplace, according to a new report released by the Pew Research Center today. The study revealed a high percentage of women working in a wide swath of computer-related jobs suffered some form of discrimination, including sexual harassment. That compares with just 16 percent of men.

January 9, 2018

A new law gives NYC workers paid family leave for anyone they define as family

Source: Corinne Purtill , Quartz

Later this year, a new law will go into effect in New York City, allowing workers to use paid family leave to care for anyone they personally define as family, regardless of whether that relationship falls into neat biological categories. These changes are small but significant steps towards rectifying a dire situation in the US, where, in 2017, only 15% of employees had access to paid family leave. They’re especially important because they recognize a shifting social landscape in which the traditionally-defined “nuclear family”—a married man and woman and their minor children—describes an ever-shrinking number of US families’ actual living arrangements. They also acknowledge the breadth of human relationships that has always existed, and the reality that we don’t always have biological ties to the people we count on the most.

Number of OSHA workplace safety inspectors declines under Trump

Source: Suzy Khimm , NBC News

The number of federal workplace safety inspectors has fallen under the Trump administration, according to new data obtained by NBC News, raising questions about the government's efforts to protect workers and the long-term impact of the White House's move to slow hiring. In the months after President Donald Trump took office, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration lost 40 inspectors through attrition and made no new hires to fill the vacancies as of Oct. 2, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. OSHA's reduced staff reflects Trump's broader effort to slow the growth of the federal bureaucracy and is a part of the mass departure of civil servants across the government, from the Internal Revenue Service to the Environmental Protection Agency.

January 8, 2018

How to Recognize Sexual Harassment

Source: Geoffrey Riley, April Ehrlich, John Baxter, Jefferson Public Radio

We get a primer on sexual harassment and discrimination from Paula Brantner, former executive director and now Senior Advisor at WF.

Los Angeles Times Newsroom Voting on Whether to Unionize

Source: Sydney Ember , The New York Times

For Undocumented Workers On Vermont Farms, 2017 Was A Year Filled With Anxiety

Source: John Dillon, VPR

January 5, 2018

California proposes hotel 'panic button' bill to protect workers from assaults, sex harassment

Source: Jeff Daniels, CNBC

Two California state lawmakers Wednesday introduced a bill that would require hotels to provide housekeepers with a "panic button" to prevent violent assaults and sexual harassment. Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, jointly introduced the so-called hotel maid "panic button" bill with Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward. If it gets passed, it would make California the first in the nation to have a statewide law requiring hotels to provide employees working alone in guest rooms with a panic button. Also, the California bill would impose a three-year ban for any guest accused of violence or sexual harassment against an employee and keep a list of those accusations for five years.

The Supreme Court Case That Could ‘Overturn the Heart of the New Deal’

Source: Simon Lazarus , The American Prospect

Argued on October 2, this case could strip foundational safeguards in place for over 80 years, essential to ensuring millions of low-wage and non-union workers of their right to fair pay, job security, workplace safety, nondiscrimination, and other guarantees protected by state and federal law. The case gives the Roberts Court, with its newly reconstituted 5-4 conservative majority, a chance to escalate its pro-corporate activism to levels unmatched even by the famously anti-regulatory pre-New Deal Court of a century ago. If the Court reaches the result sought by business advocates, this would, as elaborated by two Seton Hall professors in a 2014 law review article, “effectively end the labor laws.”

January 4, 2018

Here's what Trump's tax plan means for blue collar workers, from cashiers to foresters

Source: Aine Cain, Business Insider

Reactions to the Republicans' new tax plan have indicated that many believe it favors the wealthy over everyone else. Business Insider's Bob Bryan reported that 8.5 million people may see their taxes increase this year, while 4.6 million middle class Americans might see a spike in taxes by 2025. In the short term, Business Insider's Lauren Lyons Cole reported that take-home pay is set to rise under the tax reform plan for most workers, but the majority of Americans won't get a ton of extra money. How much you save depends on how much you currently earn. Following is a look at how blue collar workers in a number of occupations, from fast food cooks to electrical power-line installers and repairers, could see their taxes change next year.

January 3, 2018

The Local Fight to End Sexual Assault in Low-Wage Jobs

Source: Tanvi Misra, CityLab

Hospitality and domestic workers suffer staggering rates of sexual harassment and assault. But they are among women still largely omitted from the #MeToo movement—and many federal protections.

In Michigan's bitter cold, outdoor workers share secrets to stay warm

Source: Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press

Government safety agencies, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, recommend employers monitor the physical condition of workers and make sure they drink enough to stay hydrated. In cold, people tend to drink less.

More workers say their bosses are threatening to have them deported

Source: Andrew Khouri, The Los Angeles Times

Complaints over immigration-related retaliation threats surged last year in California, according to the Labor Commissioner’s Office. Through Dec. 22, workers had filed 94 immigration-related retaliation claims with the office, up from 20 in all of 2016 and only seven a year earlier.

January 2, 2018

Hollywood’s Unions Had A Good Year — Except For Donald Trump & Harvey Weinstein

Source: David Robb, Deadline

It was a good year for Hollywood’s unions, except for two things: Donald Trump and the ever-widening sexual harassment scandal that came to involve many of their members as both victims and perpetrators. How the unions responded tested their mettle like never before and will continue to do so in the year and years to come. It was a year that saw the Writers Guild come perilously close to an industry-crippling strike, only to be averted with a last-minute deal that saved its failing health plan. It was a year that saw the end to the longest strike in Hollywood’s history – SAG-AFTRA’s 340-day walkout against the video game industry — and a year that saw the election or re-election of new presidents at all the major guilds and unions.

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