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Our Programs In the News

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

October 20, 2017

Who's the Boss? Union Organizers Target Private Equity Owners

Source: Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg

The Los Angeles hotel workers’ union is getting ready to take on a new incarnation of management: private equity. Organizers are targeting the luxury resort Terranea, which was developed and is now controlled and operated by Lowe Enterprises, a real estate investment firm whose private equity arm manages more than $2.5 billion in assets. On Thursday, resort workers plan to confront their general manager and demand a fair process to unionize. They also plan to file a lawsuit accusing the company of failing to pay workers wages they’re owed -– the kind of illicit cost-cutting that they say exemplifies the worst practices of private equity -- and seek class-action status for the suit.

The Wage Gap Is Only Getting Worse, Especially for America's Senior Citizens

Source: Christianna Silva , Newsweek

Income inequality is rising and the wage gap is widening for American workers—and the problem is even worse for U.S. senior citizens, a new report shows. It’s so bad, in fact, that the income inequality numbers among the elderly in the U.S. resemble more a report out of a developing country than what would be expected of America. The gap between wealthy and poor seniors is one of the widest in any nation in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The only countries with wider gaps among seniors are Mexico and Chile, according to a study by the OECD and a CNN article.

October 19, 2017

A workplace epidemic of bullying LGBT employees

Source: Aimee Picchi, CBS MoneyWatch

The office should be a place where employees can focus on getting work done, but a good share of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers say they're getting harassed on the job.

Actresses—and Millions of Other Workers—Have No Federal Sexual-Harassment Protections

Source: Bryce Covert, The Nation

But there’s another reason actresses harassed by Weinstein may have been discouraged from reporting sexual harassment. Any who were working on a Weinstein film were almost certainly classified as independent contractors, not regular employees. And that means that the anti-discrimination and sexual-harassment protections of federal law didn’t apply to them.

October 18, 2017

Actors’ unions and Harvey Weinstein: Could he have been stopped?

Source: Amanda Marcotte , Salon

After both the New York Times and the New Yorker published lengthy exposés of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's long history of alleged sexual harassment or assault -- against pretty much any young woman who felt dependent on him for job opportunities -- a larger question has emerged: What can be done? Not about Weinstein in particular, as it seems that the film industry is ready to eject him from a position of power and influence. (As it largely did not do in the cases of Woody Allen and Roman Polanski.) But Weinstein is just one part of a much larger problem, which is so widespread and seemingly intractable that society needs more than Twitter hashtags to address it. The solutions will be multifaceted and complicated, of course, but one important piece of the puzzle is the role of unions. Work-related sexual harassment of the sort Weinstein is accused of dishing out is, ultimately, a labor issue.

Epithets, racist drawings at Tesla factory, ex-workers say

Source: Louis Hansen , The Mercury News

Three former Tesla factory workers charge in a new suit the company’s factory is a hostile environment for black workers, adding to earlier accusations of racial harassment. The men, who are African-American, claim in a new complaint filed Monday in state court that Tesla supervisors and workers used racial epithets and drew racist graffiti on cardboard boxes. Tesla has faced ongoing labor disputes and disruption this year. The company fired hundreds of workers this month after company-wide performance reviews. The new suit is the second by black employees charging Tesla failed to address racial antagonism at its factory. The electric vehicle maker also has a hearing before the National Labor Relations Board over claims it illegally tried to silence workers promoting a union.

October 17, 2017

Becoming a Steelworker Liberated Her. Then Her Job Moved to Mexico.

Source: Farah Stockman , The New York Times

The man from Mexico followed a manager through the factory floor, past whirring exhaust fans, beeping forklifts, and drilling machines that whined against steel. Workers in safety glasses looked up and stared. Others looked away. Shannon Mulcahy felt her stomach lurch. It was December 2016. The Rexnord Corporation’s factory still churned out bearings as it always had. Sometimes a bearing was rumored to have ended up in something notable — the retracting roof of the Dallas Cowboys football stadium or a nuclear submarine — giving the workers a feeling of greatness. But mostly, the bearings were unglamorous. Anonymous. Hidden from view. Like the workers themselves, they were rarely thought of beyond the factory walls. That was fine with Shannon Mulcahy. Being a female steelworker hadn’t been easy. But the factory anchored her otherwise tumultuous life. For 17 years. Until now. Shannon and her co-workers had gotten the news back in October: The factory was closing. Ball bearings would move to a new plant in Monterrey, Mexico. Roller bearings would go to McAllen, Tex. About 300 workers would lose their jobs.

Chicken Safety: Factory Workers Already Slaughter 140 Per Minute—New Law Could Make This Dangerously Faster

Source: Dana Dovey , Newsweek

Americans eat a whole lot of chicken—about 8 billion each year. In an effort to meet this demand, poultry farmers and some Republican lawmakers are hoping to do away with current regulations that limit the number of chickens workers can legally chop up in a minute. While the result may be good for the chicken farmers, advocates for factory workers say the change would be dangerous for people on the assembly lines. Increasing the speed could put workers at risk for serious injury. A letter from Anthony "Marc" Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, to the NCC notes that poultry workers, who must debone chickens as quickly as possible, are already at twice the risk of being injured on the job as other workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has openly stated that doing away with this rule and allowing lines to work at any speed could result in more injuries among the workers doing the deboning.

October 16, 2017

Google commits $1 billion in grants to train U.S. workers for high-tech jobs

Source: Brian Heater , TechCrunch

The nature of work is changing on a global level at a rapid pace. The growth of automation, robotics, AI and the like have the potential to displace jobs at an unprecedented rate. And Google will almost certainly be one of the driving forces behind that transformation. The search giant has regularly expressed a desire to help stem some of that negative impact, and now it’s putting its money where its mouth is to the tune of $1 billion. CEO Sundar Pichai announced Grow with Google at an event earlier today in Pittsburgh, PA. Over the next five years, the initiative will commit $1 billion to nonprofits aimed at training American workers and helping build business.

America's workers deserve to get paid for burning the midnight oil

Source: Patricia Smith and Sharon Block , The Hill

This summer, the Labor Department issued a formal “request for information” to get public feedback on which white collar employees should get overtime pay. In August, a federal judge in Texas purported to invalidate the Obama overtime rule in a far reaching and frankly unworkable decision. The judge didn’t just overturn the Obama rule, he also created a nearly impossible test for any future overtime rule to pass. Secretary Acosta is a lawyer and former law school dean. He surely understands the implications of this decision for any future overtime rulemakings, and by extension, the greater uncertainty it creates for businesses and workers around the country. In a time of rising income inequality and stagnating middle class wages, the question of who is entitled overtime is important for America’s workers and for restoring balance in our economy. It isn’t a time to leave workers in limbo, but time is running out for the Labor Department to act.

October 13, 2017

The Barriers Stopping Poor People From Moving to Better Jobs

Source: Alana Semuels, The Atlantic

America used to be a place where moving one’s family and one’s life in search of greater opportunities was common. Of course, it wasn’t simply “moving” that mattered—it was that they moved to specific areas that were growing. But over the past 30 years, that regional income convergence has slowed. Economists say that is happening because net migration—the tendency of large numbers of people to move to a specific place—is waning, meaning that the supply of workers isn’t increasing fast enough in the rich areas to bring wages down, and isn’t falling fast enough in the poor areas to bring wages up. Why is this? Why have people stopped moving? The reason, economists believe, isn’t that there are the jobs or wages to entice people to move to economically vibrant cities like New York and San Francisco—there are—but that housing prices are so high there that they outweigh any gains people could make from the better wages. As a result, high-income cities are still appealing to many workers, but only highly skilled workers who can command salaries high enough to make it worthwhile to move. Low-income workers will end up spending much of their incomes on housing if they move, and so stay put.

Jeff Bezos Screws Over Workers At Amazon. Now He Wants To Do The Same At The Washington Post.

Source: Paul Blumenthal, HuffPost

Like most of the industry titans in the world of big tech, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos is no fan of labor unions. Since 1994, he’s fended away every effort by Amazon warehouse workers to unionize. But when Bezos purchased The Washington Post in 2013, he inherited more than 1,200 workers unionized with the Washington-Baltimore News Guild. That union now claims that Bezos and Washington Post management are trying to gut protections and benefits for workers in the latest contract negotiations.

October 12, 2017

More than 50% of workers subject to mandatory arbitration

Source: L.M. Sixel , Houston Chronicle

More than half the nation's private sector workforce is barred from the courthouse if they have disputes over pay, working conditions or discrimination, according to new survey of employers about their use of mandatory arbitration contracts. A report by Alexander J.S. Colvin, professor of conflict resolution at Cornell University, found that 56 percent of private-sector, non-union workers are subject to mandatory arbitration, preventing them access to the courts for a wide variety of legal claims including overtime and minimum wage violations, retaliation and discrimination for age, sex, race, national origin and disability. The arbitration contracts are typically a condition of employment.

Sexual misconduct allegations now cost powerful men their jobs. But not the White House.

Source: Z. Byron Wolf , CNN

It took years for the stories to emerge, but when they did, Harvey Weinstein lost his job at the company that bears his name. The same is true for Roger Ailes, the Fox News mastermind who changed cable news. He lost his job after allegations from women were reported. Bill O'Reilly's ratings were strong when he was plucked from his anchor's chair after allegations and reports of settlements with women. As the US comes to terms with sordid, uncovered tales of powerful men preying on women, the shift in acceptance of such behavior feels swift and gratifying; abusers are facing public scorn and consequences in the court of public opinion, if not criminal court. But there's one glaring exception. Incredibly, when there is not a corporate boss and the fate of the powerful man rests with voters, as it did in the case of Donald Trump, he gets a serious promotion. To the White House.

Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

Source: Mike McIntyre, IdeaStream.org

Workplace Fairness Senior Advisor, Paula Brantner, talks with Mike McIntyre about recent sexual harassment scandals in the news, and how to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace. Start at 12:11 to hear the whole interview.

October 11, 2017

Can This Executive Make Uber a Place Women Want to Work?

Source: Yoree Koh and Greg Bensinger, The Wall Street Journal

Can Uber Technologies Inc. become a place women want to work? The ride-hailing company is famous for its hard-charging culture. A February blog post written by former engineer Susan Fowler alleged the company had become tolerant of sexism and chauvinism, a revelation that prompted an internal investigation led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and led to the release in June of 47 recommendations on how Uber could improve its workplace. The responsibility for reforming Uber’s culture and carrying out many of the recommendations landed on the desk of Liane Hornsey, the company’s human-resources chief and a former Google and SoftBank executive.

Will the Supreme Court Unravel Public Employee Unions?

Source: Garrett Epps , The Atlantic

This term at the U.S. Supreme Court seems likely to end with an assault foretold—on America’s public-employee unions. It will come in a case called Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, which was granted review on September 28. Janus challenges—for the third time in five years—the financial stability of public employee unions. By coincidence, these unions are an important pillar of the Democratic Party. Janus will be the third attempt since 2012 to gut the unions by court order. Formally it poses a First Amendment question; but under the surface, its central issue is whether public-employee unions are helpful labor organizations or baneful big-government lobbies.

October 10, 2017

Here’s what to do if you’ve been sexually harassed at work

Source: Meera Jagannathan, Moneyish

Here’s what to do if you find yourself fending off unwanted sexual attention — physical or verbal — from a coworker or boss:

Think ahead to how you might handle it. “It’s very common that you just freeze” when you get sexually harassed, explains employment lawyer Paula Brantner, a senior advisor to the Workplace Fairness nonprofit. “The best way to keep that from happening is to kind of walk through in advance what you would do if this happened.” Sending a “loud and clear” message in the moment can both help establish that the overture was unwanted from a legal perspective, and potentially nip the problem in the bud, Brantner said.

Firm behind ‘Fearless Girl’ statue underpaid female workers: feds

Source: Chris Perez , New York Post

The financial firm behind Wall Street’s “Fearless Girl” statue has agreed to pay out $5 million to more than 300 women and 15 black employees — over allegations that it paid them less than their white, male colleagues. State Street Corp., which erected the makeshift monument earlier this year to promote gender equality, said they would cough up the dough this week after being audited by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Since at least 2010, hundreds of women were paid less than their male counterparts — in base salary, bonus pay and total compensation, according to federal officials.

No Class Action: Supreme Court Weighs Whether Workers Must Face Arbitrations Alone

Source: Yuki Noguchi , NPR

Suing one's employer can be scary enough, but it's even scarier doing it alone. Many employers are increasingly requiring workers to sign agreements requiring them to resolve workplace disputes about anything from harassment to discrimination to wage theft through individual arbitration. In other words, the language does not permit them to join forces with colleagues who might have similar complaints. Whether such prohibitions on collective arbitration are legal is at issue in a trio of cases heard by the Supreme Court this week. With Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch on the bench, many experts say a ruling against the workers in these cases could result in massive changes in how nearly all workplace disputes will be resolved, and how labor laws are enforced.

October 9, 2017

Why Aren’t Wages Rising Faster Now That Unemployment Is Lower?

Source: Karl Russell and Peter S. Goodman , The New York Times

Basic economics tells us that when workers are in higher demand, employers should have to pay more for their services. But in recent years, as unemployment has fallen below 5 percent in the United States, wages have not been increasing as fast as in the past.

California won’t require Uber, Lyft drivers to be fingerprinted

Source: David Kravets, Ars Technica

California regulators won't require ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to get fingerprinted as part of their background checks to operate in the Golden State. Taxi drivers, however, must be fingerprinted in California.

October 6, 2017

Jeff Sessions Just Reversed A Policy That Protects Transgender Workers From Discrimination

Source: Dominic Holden , Buzzfeed News

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed a federal government policy that said transgender workers were protected from discrimination under a 1964 civil rights law, according to a memo dated Wednesday to US attorneys across the country and heads of federal agencies. Sessions’ memo, obtained by BuzzFeed News, says, “Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.” It adds that the government will take this position in pending and future matters, which could have far-reaching implications across the federal government and may result in the Justice Department fighting against transgender workers in court.

How Unions Are Already Gearing Up for a Supreme Court Loss

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene , Governing

Late last week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will add a case critical to the future of public-sector unions to its docket. With President Donald Trump's appointment of conservative-leaning Justice Neil Gorsuch, many expect the court to rule against the unions. Such a decision would energize the recent resurgence of state laws that effectively reduce the power of unions in both the public and private sector. Expecting the worst, unions are already preparing for a potential exodus of members and a loss of revenue.

October 5, 2017

To close the gender gap in jobs, women need new laws and men need new attitudes

Source: Jenny Anderson , Quartz

A new report from the OECD about gender equality includes some good news: Roughly two-thirds of OECD countries have introduced new policies on pay equality since 2013, and more countries are also implementing paid paternity leave. But the research also highlights some less good news: the median female worker still earns almost 15% less than her male counterpart (on average, across the OECD) and that’s barely budged since 2010. The OECD asked representatives of 35 member countries to choose the three “most effective ways to tackle barriers to female employment.” Here’s what they said.

The Supreme Court Returns to Washington, and Workers Are on the Menu

Source: Ian Millhiser, The Nation

Less than one hour into the new Supreme Court term, which began on Monday, one of the Court’s embattled liberals warned that workplace protections that stretch back to the New Deal are in danger. With Neil Gorsuch, the man who occupies a seat that Republicans held open for more than a year in the hopes that Donald Trump would get to fill it, now beginning his first full term, the Court’s Republican majority appears emboldened. Last week, the Court announced that it will hear Janus v. AFSCME, a suit seeking to sabotage public sector unions. Then, it opened the term with three consolidated cases, all of which are likely to give employers a license to engage in many forms of wage theft.

October 4, 2017

Ben & Jerry’s Strikes Deal to Improve Migrant Dairy Workers’ Conditions

Source: Noam Scheiber , The New York Times

On Tuesday, the ice cream maker, which is based in Vermont, took a big step toward changing that, signing an agreement with a farmworkers’ group that establishes labor standards for the company’s suppliers in the state, and creates an enforcement strategy that encourages workers to speak up about violations.

What You Do While on Vacation Could Cost You Your Job

Source: Angela Rose, Reward Expert

Depending on federal and state laws, as well as your employer’s policies, your conduct while on vacation—or even just after hours—could have a direct effect on your job.

RewardExpert recently spoke with attorney Paula Brantner, senior advisor at Workplace Fairness, about the organization’s mission, common off-duty activities that may be prohibited by your employer, and what you should do if you think your rights have been violated.

October 3, 2017

Most people in America want paid leave — here's the real reason the US is the only developed nation that doesn't have it

Source: Rachel Gillett , Business Insider

As conventional wisdom goes, the need for paid parental leave is a polarizing an issue in the US. It's the best way to explain why the US is the only developed nation in the world that doesn't have it. But according to new research, most Americans actually agree that workers should get paid time off to take care of a new baby. According to a poll from our partner, MSN, 93% of Americans agree that mothers should receive some paid leave after new babies arrive. Nationally, 85% of Americans say fathers should be entitled to paid leave, while 88% of Americans say the same for adoptive parents.

Why the Economy Grows But Your Paycheck Doesn’t

Source: Sho Chandra, Bloomberg Businessweek

Sluggish wage growth stands out as the Achilles’ heel of the otherwise sturdy U.S. job market. With the economy almost at full employment, and more than eight years since the recession ended, a sustained pickup in paychecks remains elusive. Stagnant incomes -- one reason for Donald Trump’s presidential win -- mean that workers aren’t fully benefiting from solid demand for labor. Federal Reserve officials are watching for signs of faster earnings growth that would push inflation closer to their goal. Investors are keeping an eye on wages (among other data) to assess how fast the Fed will raise rates.

October 2, 2017

Supreme Court, spurred by Trump's lawyers, could achieve backdoor repeal of workers' rights laws

Source: David G. Savage , Associated Press

The Supreme Court opens its term on Monday with Trump administration lawyers arguing for a pro-business ruling that could bar workers from joining together to challenge the legality of their company’s workplace rules, including on wages and overtime pay. At issue is whether businesses may require employees to waive their rights to join with coworkers and instead agree to act alone to settle disputes before an arbitrator. If the high court agrees with the administration, the outcome could sharply restrict the rights of private-sector workers who do not belong to a union.

Melinda Gates Just Broke Down How Workplaces are Failing Workers (and the Rest of Us)

Source: Eric Mack , Inc.com

Gates points out that the modern workplace was designed for an era when one member of a household pursued a career while another dedicated all of their time to "the unpaid work of caring for family and tending to the house."

September 29, 2017

Multiple jobs, sleeping in cars and other ways Facebook workers struggle to get by

Source: Kathleen Elkins , CNBC

You often hear about the top-notch employee perks at Facebook: Its headquarters in Menlo Park offers free meals, dry cleaning and even a barber shop. What you don't often hear about are the contract workers, from bicycle mechanics to cafeteria workers, who keep everything running. Full-time employees "have free laundry, haircuts, free food at any time, free gym," Maria Gonzalez, a janitor at Facebook, tells The Guardian. "It's not the same for janitors. We just leave with the check." And despite Facebook's minimum wage of $15, which it established for all of its contractors in 2015, the paychecks don't go far around San Francisco, where the cost of living is 62 percent higher than the U.S. average.

Trump wants to make America great again by using the Supreme Court to gut the rights of non-union workers

Source: Sharon Block & Benjamin Sachs , Quartz

In a case called Murphy Oil, slated for the first day of the Supreme Court’s new term, the Trump administration is inviting the court to eviscerate the rights of employees who don’t have a union. Traditionally, workers have turned to labor unions in their fight for a better life. But unions have been under attack for decades, and there are fewer unionized workers today than there were before there was a right to unionize.

September 28, 2017

Marc Benioff got tired of the gender pay gap at Salesforce, so he spent $3 million to close it—twice

Source: Lianna Brinded , Quartz

While a lot of companies toil over policies to promote workplace diversity and equal pay, few invest major sums to immediately fix the problem. Benioff, who signed the White House’s Equal Pay Pledge, also requires that 30% of the attendees of every company meeting be women, and grants equality awards for trailblazers on equal rights in business, government, and nonprofits. The company has also been recognized as a top employer for women across different rankings.

Red-State Governments Are Trying to Take Back Your Minimum-Wage Hike and LGBTQ Protections

Source: Jimmy Tobias, The Nation

For at least a decade now, the far right has exploited its near-total domination of state government to clamp down on the mere possibility that progressive change could take root in the small specks of blue—the defiant, often Democratic cities—that hover in their midst.

September 27, 2017

In raising its minimum wage to $11, Target aims to retain workers

Source: Mitchell Hartman, Marketplace

So, what's are the bottom line issues that may be behind Target's decision to boost wages? Retention and recruitment, the company said. And that’s an economic necessity for retailers now, with very low unemployment pitting retailers against each other for talent.

Trump Administration Says Bias Rules Don't Cover Gay Workers

Source: Erik Larson, Bloomberg

The U.S. law that has protected workers from gender and racial bias for more than half a century should not be extended to cover gay and lesbian employees because that isn’t what Congress envisioned when it passed the bill, Trump administration lawyers told a federal appeals court.

September 26, 2017

Read this before making a First Amendment protest at work like Colin Kaepernick

Source: Maria LaMagna, MarketWatch

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, expression, assembly and the right to petition. The amendment prohibits the government from interfering in the free exercise of speech and religion.That’s why it may give government employees additional protection, since any action against an employee may be considered government action, said Paula Brantner, a senior adviser at Workplace Fairness, an employment law nonprofit.

Trump’s NFL furor exposes his complete disregard for American workers

Source: Max Cea, Salon

Big American companies are embracing a novel strategy to attract new workers: raising wages

Source: Preeti Varathan , Quartz

Target announced that it will raise its minimum pay to $11 an hour, with a goal of setting its lowest wage at $15 an hour by 2020. It was a rare leading moment for the discount retailer, which usually waits for its competition to raise wages before following suit. Other big American companies have inched up their base wages as well.

September 25, 2017

Leading the Legal War Against Fox

Source: Alan Feuer, The New York Times

So far this year, the lawyer Douglas Wigdor, a conservative Republican, has filed 11
suits against Fox News for defamation, sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

When Will the Economy Start Caring About Home-Care Work?

Source: Annie Lowrey, The Atlantic

Home-health and personal-care work is one of the country’s fastest-growing occupational sectors. But it is one marked by low pay and meager benefits, a problem that might become more urgent as the U.S.’s population continues to age. On top of that, care workers face high rates of wage theft, tax and benefits misclassification, and employer fraud, according to a new report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a think tank and advocacy organization.

September 22, 2017

Tesla Denies Claims That It Tried to Block Unionizing Effort

Source: Dee-Ann Durbin, Associated Press

Tesla Inc. is denying claims that it threatened to fire pro-union workers at its Fremont, California, factory and tried to prevent them from passing out union literature. The National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Tesla earlier this month, citing multiple incidents in which Tesla security guards allegedly refused to let off-duty employees hand out leaflets about the United Auto Workers union near the doors of the company's factory. Tesla workers further allege that they were prohibited from discussing worker safety concerns and were interrogated about union organizing efforts by Tesla human resources employees, according to the complaint.

Elizabeth Warren Introduces Bill to Ban So-Called "Right-to-Work" Laws

Source: Eric McAdams, Paste Magazine

Critics of “right-to-work” laws point out that they weaken unions and lead to decreased wages. In fact, a 2011 study of RTW states and non-RTW states showed that the biggest difference between workers in the two categories was that average and median wages were significantly higher in non-RTW states (by as much as 16 percent). Now, Elizabeth Warren is attempting to repeal these “right-to-work” laws by introducing a bill called the Protecting Workers and Improving Labor Standards Act.

September 21, 2017

Even College Doesn’t Bridge the Racial Income Gap

Source: Editorial, The New York Times

Education is supposed to be the nation’s great socioeconomic leveler. That belief, however, is not borne out in the data. Pay gaps between white and black workers have grown since 1979, even after controlling for education, experience and location, according to research by the Economic Policy Institute. In fact, racial pay gaps have expanded the most for college graduates, which makes it seem clear that discrimination is a leading cause.

Unions Are Training Hotel Workers to Face Down Immigration Raids

Source: Josh Eidelson , Bloomberg

Hotel workers in cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York have been gathering for training sessions recently on how to handle visits from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The sessions, organized by the labor union Unite Here!, teach workers how to effectively stonewall ICE agents, emphasizing employees’ right to refuse to answer questions or show identification.

September 20, 2017

Economists lobby for $15 minimum wage

Source: Matt Murphy , Lowell Sun

As activists ramp up their push to raise the minimum wage again, economists from many of the state's public and private universities are rallying to the cause, supporting a $15 an hour minimum wage as a way to lift families working at the threshold of poverty. Ninety economists have signed a letter supporting the gradual lifting of the minimum wage by four dollars over the next four years until it tops out at $15 an hour in 2021.

Home care workforce shortage affects caregiving

Source: Janet Taylor, The Citizen

Although New York state continues to expand programs and services to support in-home care for aging and disabled residents, the effectiveness of additional funding and infrastructure is impeded by the lack of home health aides to provide the services. The shortage of home care workers is largely due to factors such as low pay, lack of benefits, transportation barriers and costs, and often difficult working conditions.

Can Your Political Views Affect Your Job?

Source: Cliff Albert, KOGO News Radio 600 San Diego

Workplace Fairness Senior Advisor Paula Brantner discusses protections, and lack thereof, for workers who attend rallies, post political views on social media or voice political opinions at work.

September 19, 2017

Trump to nominate management-side lawyer Peter Robb for NLRB general counsel

Source: Daniel Wiessner, Reuters

President Donald Trump will nominate Peter Robb, a management-side labor and employment lawyer from Vermont, to be the National Labor Relations Board’s next general counsel, the White House said on Friday. Robb has been with Vermont-based law firm Downs Rachlin Martin since 1995 and in the past few years published articles critical of NLRB rules designed to speed up the union election process and board decisions that struck down common workplace rules. He must be confirmed by the Senate.

Fearing revolt from businesses, D.C. to shift focus away from worker protections

Source: Peter Jamison, The Washington Post

Ari Schwartz, lead organizer for the pro-labor coalition D.C. Jobs with Justice, said activists will continue to push elected officials to adopt stronger workplace laws. “Why should legislation that is going to help people in the city get better jobs, get living-wage jobs, be on a moratorium?” Schwartz said. “I don’t understand how anyone can rule out considering things that people need and policies that are going to help people, on some arbitrary timeline just because the business community is up in arms as they always are.”

September 18, 2017

House Republicans are trying to block an Obama-era program to track the gender pay gap

Source: Anna North, Vox

Advocates for equal pay suffered a setback on Wednesday, as Republicans in the House voted against an amendment that would have protected funding for the collection of pay data by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Last year, the EEOC under President Obama announced it would require private employers with more than 100 workers, and federal contractors with more than 50, to report their employees’ compensation broken down by sex, race, and ethnicity. The requirement, aimed at shedding light on persistent racial and gender disparities in Americans’ pay, was supposed to take effect in March 2018. The Trump administration blocked the requirement earlier this year but left the door open for the EEOC to resubmit revised pay reporting requirements for review.

Google puts women in lower level, lower paying jobs, new lawsuit says

Source: Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY

Google is being sued for gender pay discrimination, turning up the heat on the Internet giant already facing allegations it shortchanges women. Three female former Google employees are seeking class-action status for the complaint filed Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court. The lawsuit is being brought by three women — Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri — who say they quit Google after being placed at lower job levels, resulting in lower pay and denying them promotions and moves to other teams that would advance their careers. The plaintiffs allege women at all levels are paid less than men and that women are assigned to lower job tiers with less opportunity for upward mobility.

September 15, 2017

Mining safety agency proposes relaxing inspection rule for hard rock mines

Source: Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

The Mine Health and Safety Administration is trying to relax a hard rock mining inspections rule that was published just three days after President Barack Obama left office, by allowing examiners to do their reviews while miners are working and letting companies not record hazardous conditions if they’re immediately corrected.

Google Sued by Women Workers Claiming Gender Discrimination

Source: Erik Larson , Bloomberg

Three women who worked at Google in recent years sued in San Francisco Superior Court alleging that the company continues to pay women less than men for equal or similar work, according to a copy of a complaint provided by their lawyer.

September 14, 2017

This is what happens when you pay women to take maternity leave

Source: Alessandra Malito, MarketWatch

Of 186 countries, 96% require some form of paid maternity leave, according to the World Policy Analysis Center, a nonprofit policy research group. The U.S. is only one of a few that does not.

The Gender Pay Gap Narrowed in 2016. But Only by 2 Cents.

Source: Grace Donnelly, Fortune

This led to a 0.9 percentage point improvement in the gender wage gap in the since last year. Women earned 80.5 cents to each dollar men earned in 2016, compared to 79 cents in 2015.

September 13, 2017

Teamsters chief fears U.S. self-driving trucks may be unsafe, hit jobs

Source: David Shepardson, Reuters

The head of the 1.4-million member International Brotherhood of Teamsters union is mounting an aggressive effort to convince Congress to reject new rules to speed the deployment of self-driving trucks, warning they could lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and reduce road safety. James P. Hoffa, who has headed the union since 1999, said on Tuesday that Congress could help major trucking companies ultimately get rid of drivers by automating vehicles, which would also pose serious risks to American drivers.

Evacuate for hurricane, lose your job

Source: Gaby Del Valle, The Outline

In the days before the storm made landfall, workers across the state were faced with a terrible choice: evacuate or keep your job. The Orlando-based labor advocacy group Central Florida Jobs with Justice is conducting a survey to determine whether employers across the state are letting their staff evacuate and giving them adequate time to prepare for the storm.

September 12, 2017

Google Employees Organize Their Own Study of Gender Pay Gap

Source: Melanie Ehrenkranz, Gizmodo

In April, the US Department of Labor accused Google of gender pay discrimination. The tech behemoth denied the allegations, and when the DoL requested historical salary records from the company, Google argued that the endeavor was too expensive. Lucky for Google, good Samaritans at the company have led efforts to compile the wage data. The New York Times acquired a spreadsheet created by Google employees that reveals that men are on average paid more than women at the company. It isn’t a comprehensive salary record, but it includes about 2 percent of Google’s workforce, featuring both salary and bonus information for 2017.

Are elite universities 'safe spaces'? Not if you're starting a union

Source: Thomas Frank, The Guardian

Once Trump’s members are seated on the Labor Board, there is every likelihood they will revisit the matter of graduate student teachers and reverse themselves on the question, which would in turn permit university administrations to refuse to negotiate and even to blow off the results of these elections.

September 11, 2017

Worried about being fired? Some in FL have few job protections if they evacuate

Source: Joseph Cranney and Ryan Mills , Naples News

During emergencies, such as when a Category 5 hurricane is bearing down on South Florida, Naples government considers all of its employees as essential personnel. In addition to police and firefighters, officials from all of the city’s departments — including utilities, streets, building, finance and purchasing — are asked to keep City Hall running, even as the rest of Naples' residents are taking shelter. For City Manager Bill Moss, that’s a necessary part of government. Moss said a new hire in the Naples community services department walked off the job Wednesday after learning about emergency responsibilities for Hurricane Irma, which could make landfall in Florida this weekend. That employee will be fired, Moss said. Moss said all of the city’s new hires are informed they might be required to work during hurricanes. The city provides emergency shelter for its employees at government buildings or other lodging, such as local hotels, Moss said.

Support for labor unions is at decade high, poll finds

Source: Ginger Adams Otis, New York Daily News

Union approval is at its highest level among Americans in a decade — but still not as high as it once was. A Gallup Poll released for Labor Day found 61% of adults in the U.S. approve of labor unions — the highest percentage since 2003, when approval was at 65%. The 2017 approval rate is up 5 percentage points from last year and 13 points above the all-time low of 48% in 2009.

September 8, 2017

Would Laws Aid Gig Workers or Kill Growth? Lawmakers Get Earful

Source: Tyrone Richardson, Bloomberg BNA

Sharing-economy groups and employee-rights advocates clashed at a congressional hearing Sept. 6 over the need for new laws in response to the industry’s burgeoning workforce. Gig workers for sharing businesses like Uber and Lyft are largely considered independent contractors, who don’t get minimum wage and overtime protections and aren’t entitled to unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation insurance.

American workers labored harder in second quarter, revised productivity figures show

Source: Jeffry Bartash , MarketWatch

The productivity of American firms and workers rose somewhat faster in the second quarter than originally estimated, though the long-term trend remained weak. The government on Thursday said productivity increased at a 1.5% annual pace in the spring, up from an initial 0.9% estimate. Productivity rises when workers supply more goods and services in the same amount of time. The upward revision stemmed entirely from workers producing more goods and services. Output was revised up to show a 4% increase instead of 3.4%, the Labor Department said Thursday.

September 7, 2017

Justice Department to Drop Pending Overtime Appeal

Source: Chris Opfer, Bloomberg BNA

The Justice Department Sept. 5 asked a federal appeals court to dismiss the DOJ’s appeal in the ongoing battle over a stalled Obama overtime rule that was expected to make some 4 million workers newly eligible for time-and-a-half pay. The move comes five days after a federal judge in Texas shot down the rule, which would have doubled the salary threshold (to $47,000 per year) under which workers are automatically entitled to overtime pay for all hours beyond 40 a week. Judge Amos Mazzant said the DOL overstepped its authority by focusing too heavily on workers’ pay, rather than their job duties, to determine overtime eligibility.

How Hurricane Harvey Is Affecting Houston’s Restaurant Employees

Source: Amy McCarthy, Eater

And restaurant employees — nearly 330,000 Houstonians work in the leisure and hospitality industry — are particularly vulnerable in events like natural disasters, especially when restaurants are forced to close their doors en masse.

September 6, 2017

The latest fight for employee rights: work schedule predictability

Source: Larry Buhl, Marketplace

Efforts to boost the minimum wage have gotten a lot of attention lately and proponents have scored some major victories. But workers’ rights advocates are now asking: What good is a wage boost if workers don’t know how many hours they’re working every week? Employee advocates say work schedule predictability is the new minimum wage. A bill signed into law recently made Oregon the first state in the nation to regulate work schedules to give employees more predictability over their work time and their lives outside of work.

Labor Day spillovers: How a unionization revival could help millions of workers not in unions

Source: Jared Bernstein, The Washington Post

What could precipitate a positive shock that could lastingly reverse the negative trend in union density? Silvers and other to whom I posed this question had the same answer: centralized bargaining. Especially given the depth of opposition and the existence of the “gig economy” (where the “workplace” hardly exists), organizing one establishment at a time is a recipe for further stagnation. As EPI’s president, Larry Mishel, put it, “We need a design where people have collective bargaining rights as restaurant workers, as opposed to one where they gain those rights one restaurant at a time.”

September 5, 2017

To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now

Source: Neil Irwin, The New York Times

In the 35 years between their jobs as janitors, corporations across America have flocked to a new management theory: Focus on core competence and outsource the rest. The approach has made companies more nimble and more productive, and delivered huge profits for shareholders. It has also fueled inequality and helps explain why many working-class Americans are struggling even in an ostensibly healthy economy.

Here’s the most significant thing Democrats could do to help working families now

Source: Ronald Klain, The Washington Post

There’s energy in the Democratic Party around big ideas, such as single-payer health care or a universal basic income. But the most significant thing Democrats could do to help working families right now isn’t designing a grand new program — it’s getting in the trenches to fight for a simple old idea. Specifically, trying to stop the Trump administration from denying millions of workers the overtime pay they have earned.

September 4, 2017

One Effort to Close the Gender Pay Gap Won’t Get a Try

Source: Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times

Pay transparency, alone, would not have solved the pay gap problem. But without it, employees and regulators won’t have evidence that a problem exists at any particular company — and employers will face less pressure to fix it.

Why Congress Made Labor Day a National Holiday

Source: Olivia B. Waxman, Time

But perhaps one of the most eloquent explanations of why the federal government saw fit to declare the holiday can be found in a Congressional committee report on the matter.

September 1, 2017

How Unions Help Race And Gender Wage Gaps

Source: Judith Ohikuare , Refinery 29

Unions may be conceptual for many workers who have never been a member of one. In 2016, membership rates hit 10.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a decrease from the year before. Though there are only 14.6 million American workers in unions, interest in unions remains relatively high, particularly among young people, even when considering party affiliation.

This Labor Day, remember workers deserve free speech rights, too

Source: Shaun Richman, Vox

On Labor Day, alongside stories about parades and final trips to the beach, we can expect to read the usual depressing statistics about the decline of labor unions in the United States. The problem with this coverage isn’t the facts, which are undeniable — it’s the tone of inevitability.

August 31, 2017

Uber's new CEO has track record of closing gender pay gap

Source: Sara Ashley O'Brien, CNN Money

Expedia announced in 2016 it had achieved gender parity, meaning men and women are paid equally in equivalent roles. This year, the company reported 50 percent of its U.S. employees are women, better than the national rate (47 percent).

The Trump administration’s ongoing attack on workers

Source: Jared Bernstein and Ben Spielberg, The Washington Post

Labor Day will soon be upon us, and while it is important to celebrate the American workforce, we must also unpack the anti-worker campaign being carried out by the Trump administration.

August 30, 2017

How hurricanes affect construction jobs

Source: David Yanofsky, Quartz

It’s a trend that has shown itself in the most devastating hurricanes to hit the US in recent decades: the storm lands and in the following months construction jobs grow faster than the national average.

Why All Americans Need Strong Labor Unions

Source: William Barber II, Newsweek

Dr. King understood that with a union, the sanitation workers could win better pay, alleviate horrific working conditions, and secure better lives for their families. The fight for union rights was central to his conception of a Poor People’s Campaign – and it will be to our effort as well.

August 29, 2017

How do you deal with bigotry from a boss?

Source: Meera Jagannathan, Moneyish

“It may be every day you’re asked to do something as a person of color that your coworkers in the same situation are not asked to do,” Paula Brantner, a senior adviser to the Workplace Fairness advocacy nonprofit and veteran employment lawyer, told Moneyish. “Or your work is not being recognized in the same way. Or you are not being asked to socialize or be mentored or given the same opportunities to advance in the company.”

Male-dominated car dealerships struggle to attract women workers

Source: Claire Ballentine, Jeff Green, Bloomberg

Women make up about 19 percent of U.S. dealership employees and most of those are support staff, according to the latest estimates from the National Automobile Dealers Association

Trump targets Obama rule on workers’ tips

Source: Lydia Wheeler, The Hill

The Trump administration is planning to quash an Obama-era rule that prevents employers from pooling workers’ tips. The change could allow restaurants to share tips waiters receive, for example, with untipped employees such as kitchen cooks. The Department of Labor (DOL) announced its plan to change the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulation in its semi-annual Unified Regulatory Agenda in July. The agency said the change would only apply to employers that pay tipped employees the full minimum wage directly. It would not apply to employees who make less than the minimum wage and earn tips to supplement their pay, also known as tip credit.

August 28, 2017

OSHA scrubs worker deaths from home page

Source: Ian Kullgren, POLITICO

The federal department charged with protecting workers erased data on workplace deaths from the home page of its website Friday — and changed its policy to disclose fewer fatal accidents in the future. For the past several years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had maintained a running list of workers killed on the job — including the date, name and cause of death — near the top of its home page. The list included every worker death reported to OSHA, regardless of whether the company was issued a citation. On Friday, the box on the home page disappeared and was replaced with information on how companies can voluntarily cooperate with OSHA to reduce safety risks.

Happy Women’s Equality Day. Now Let’s Get to Work.

Source: Sarita Gupta, Talk Poverty

Women’s earnings are still approximately 20 percent less than men’s. And the gender pay gap persists even though women are more likely to earn bachelor’s degrees than men, and do one and a half times as much unpaid care work.

August 25, 2017

Uber drivers have made more than $50M in the first month of tipping

Source: Joe Mullin, Ars Technica

Uber US and Canada manager Rachel Holt told several press outlets that the company's drivers have earned $50 million in tips since that feature was added. In-app tipping became available nationwide in mid-July.

Half the jobs in America pay less than $18 an hour. Can Trump help?

Source: Heather Long, The Washington Post

Half of the jobs in America currently pay less than $18 an hour, according to Labor Department data. That’s about $37,000 a year if someone works full-time

August 24, 2017

Hollywood Fails Latest Test of Diversity With Fall TV Lineup

Source: Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

For all Hollywood’s talk about diversity, the major broadcast networks have made little progress this year in hiring more women and minorities, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and confirmed by the companies.

Morgan Lewis Partner Said to Be Up for Labor Board Seat

Source: Chris Opfer, Bloomberg BNA

Management lawyer John Ring is at the top of a short list for a Republican seat on the National Labor Relations Board, sources familiar with the situation told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 22.

August 23, 2017

Yes, you can legally be fired for attending a political rally

Source: Chloe Morrison, Nooga.com

So a person can legally be fired for attending a white nationalist rally, and the opposite is also true: A person could be fired for protesting white nationalists.

Nonprofit organization Workplace Fairness has resources for workers and worker advocates, and aims to help them understand these issues more.

Why Google Could Lose

Source: Trey Kovacs, US News and World Report

It is shocking that racist slurs are considered protected speech under labor law just because no one was purportedly intimidated and violence was not imminent. Certainly it is important to protect worker rights, but are racist insults really something that labor law should protect?

Secret Service Out of Overtime Money for 1,100 Employees

Source: Louis C. LaBrecque, Bloomberg BNA

Roughly 1,100 Secret Service employees will work overtime hours in excess of a statutory pay cap during calendar year 2017, the agency said Aug. 21. This means the employees, who are part of the agency responsible for guarding President Donald Trump and his family, won’t get paid for all of their overtime unless the cap is raised.

August 22, 2017

Trump Pick to Oversee Worker Protections Promoted Sweatshops on Remote US Islands

Source: Noah Lanard, Mother Jones

Without specifically naming Pizzella, he wrote that “Pat, the team leader of the Congressional delegation,” put a different spin on it, saying, “See? Working conditions are not as horrible as the press would have us believe.” On the way out, he recalled, they got a “special treat”: discounted clothes.

What the Science Actually Says About Gender Gaps in the Workplace

Source: Stefanie K. Johnson, Harvard Business Review

When workplace practices aim to support underrepresented groups, that does not mean they are unfairly biased against overrepresented groups. It just means that we need more than good intentions to change biased behavior.

August 21, 2017

What Will Trump Do to American Workers?

Source: Paul Krugman, The New York Times

Don’t just watch Congress, keep your eyes on what federal agencies are doing.

Fleecing America’s builders

Source: Maryam Jameel, The Center for Public Integrity

Weak oversight allows subcontractors in particular to shortchange workers on government projects with little fear of being caught or barred from future contracts. Meanwhile, their overseers often maintain clean labor records and continue to win government business.

August 18, 2017

Why do 20% of Americans consider their workplace to be an office hell?

Source: Arwa Mahdawi, The Guardian

According to a recent study, however, it also plays a highly detrimental part in many of our lives: work is making many Americans very miserable indeed. A massive 20% of workers say they face hostile or threatening environments at work, according to the American Working Conditions Survey, one of the most in-depth studies of its kind. This hostility can take a number of forms, including sexual harassment and verbal bullying.

Why Subway Workers Keep Finding Dead Bodies in Their Break Rooms

Source: Tom Hays, Associated Press

When someone takes their life by jumping in front of a train, police need to find a place to put the mutilated body until a medical examiner truck arrives. Sometimes, transit workers say, that place is their break room or bathrooms. And naturally, they don't like it. Some say they have been traumatized by unexpectedly coming upon a stowed body.

August 17, 2017

Women Should Not Have to Choose Between Employment and Safety: In Garment Factories They Do

Source: The Fashion Law, The Fashion Law

Garment manufacturing, as a whole, is still rife with sexual abuse, physical dangers, and slavery for those working within it - and increasingly growing profits for Western retailers tied to it.

Here’s Another Way Working Mothers Are Penalized

Source: Clio Chang, The New Republic

When left to the goodwill of corporations, these disparities will only persist. Even tech companies, which are lauded for their forward-thinking family-friendly policies, sometimes offer different benefits to white-collar and blue-collar workers within the same organization

August 16, 2017

The Persistent Problem of Gender Inequality

Source: Amanda Montañez, Scientific American

Data from the past few decades show that despite progress toward gender equality, many challenges persist. Women are still disadvantaged compared with men where access to economic and social opportunities is concerned. Some of these so-called gender gaps, such as the dearth of women in government, stem from societal attitudes about gender and leadership. Others arise from factors that by definition disproportionately affect women, such as restrictions on reproductive health care.

Wells Fargo Scandal Helps Consumer Advocates in CFPB Rule Fight

Source: Sara Merken, Bloomberg BNA

Wells Fargo’s latest scandal is providing consumer groups new ammunition as they try to save a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule banning companies from using mandatory arbitration clauses.

August 15, 2017

No, a Fair Wage Is Not a ‘Free Lunch’

Source: Justin Miller, The American Prospect

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has long used its ample power and influence to convince economists, politicians, and influencers that raising the minimum wage—and enacting any other policies that benefit workers—will be an unequivocal job-killing, robot-creating catastrophe that devastates the very people those bleeding-heart liberals are trying to help. They’ve done a very good job of turning that threat into mainstream economic gospel (though the Milton Friedman wing of the economics profession didn’t require any persuading). That increasing the minimum wage will create untenable levels of job loss, leaving workers on the margins of the workforce without a foothold, has become a matter-of-fact policy assumption among not only conservative Republicans but many liberal economists as well.

Silicon Valley’s gender inequality is even worse than Wall Street’s

Source: Preeti Varathan, Quartz

The workplace culture that brought us pinstripe suits, “bro talk,” and The Wolf of Wall Street still outpaces Silicon Valley when it comes to gender representation, with the share of women in the workforce at big banks far ahead of most big tech companies. Women make up the majority of employees at three of the biggest US banks. The big banks’ overall numbers don’t tell the whole story. In addition to male-dominated trading desks, universal banks like Bank of America and JPMorgan run large retail franchises and other operations where women traditionally comprise a larger share of the workforce. At tech companies, by contrast, male-dominated jobs like programming make up the bulk of employees.

August 14, 2017

Why the First Amendment won’t protect Charlottesville white supremacists from being fired

Source: Leslie Albrecht & Maria Lamagna, MarketWatch

Talking about sensitive politics at work, posting on social media, or making donations to a political cause can also be grounds for firing, said Paula Brantner, senior adviser at Workplace Fairness, an employment law nonprofit. Employees sometimes mistakenly think giving a donation to a candidate is private, but it’s public record, and can cost you your job “if an employer says I don’t want someone who supports this candidate working with me,” she said.

The housing market has recovered; construction workers haven't

Source: Christopher Matthews, Axios

It's one of the great mysteries of the U.S. real-estate recovery: home prices nationally are just a touch below pre-crisis levels, and at all-time highs in many populous markets, as buyers scramble to grab what they can during a 30-year low for housing inventory. Yet homebuilders are moving at a snail's pace to meet this heated demand — they are breaking ground on just 849,000 new single-family homes per year, well below the 2007 rate of 1,036,000. This is having a spillover effect in jobs: Just 767,000 people are employed in residential-construction in the U.S., 20% below the figure a decade ago.

The latest RAND survey paints a disturbing portrait of the American workplace

Source: Sarah Kessler, Quartz

American jobs are grueling, according to a newly published RAND survey.

August 11, 2017

Amazon sued by transgender woman, husband for workplace harassment

Source: Daniel Wiessner, Associated Press

A transgender woman and her husband sued Amazon.com Inc on Wednesday, accusing the company of subjecting them to severe harassment and physical threats when they both worked at the retailer's warehouse in Kentucky.

Malls and Restaurants Schedule Workers at the Last Minute. Oregon Just Made That Illegal.

Source: Henry Grabar, Slate

Starting in July 2018, Oregon will require big companies in retail, hospitality, and food service to give employees schedules at least a week ahead of time, and offer stress pay to workers who don’t get a 10-hour break between shifts. By 2020, employers covered by the law will have to hand out schedules two weeks in advance.

August 10, 2017

Graduate Students on These 7 Campuses Are Fighting for Their Labor Rights

Source: Brandon Jordan , The Nation

Over the past academic year, graduate students across the country were busy organizing for better working conditions. Currently, there are 33 officially recognized graduate-student unions; 23 are fighting for university recognition. With increasing tuition and plummeting wages, meager health-care benefits and overwhelming workloads, these graduate students are coming together to demand better treatment and recognition. Here are seven schools where student organizing is at a fever-pitch.

Big Employers Say They Will Continue To Offer Health Plans To Their Workers

Source: Jay Hancock , NPR

The shrinking unemployment rate has been a healthy turn of events for people with job-based insurance. Eager to attract good help in a tight labor market — and unsure of the future of the Affordable Care Act — large employers are newly committed to maintaining health coverage for workers and often for their families, too, according to new research and interviews with business analysts. Two recent surveys of large employers — one released last week by the consulting firm Willis Towers Watson and the other out Tuesday from the National Business Group on Health — suggest companies are continuing to try to control costs, while backing away from shrinking or dropping health benefits for their workers.

August 9, 2017

The employee who wrote the Google manifesto was fired — and it's a good reminder why you should be careful of what you say at work

Source: Áine Cain and Rachel Gillett, Business Insider

James Damore, a Google senior engineer who authored an anti-diversity manifesto that was widely shared within the company, was fired Monday.

The incident and ensuing controversy is a good reminder for us all to think twice about being outspoken at work, and it highlights two important points about taking on controversial topics in the workplace:

Many People With Disabilities Are Being Paid Way Below the Minimum Wage, and It’s Perfectly Legal

Source: Ashley Dejean, Mother Jones

Chris Wilson is 33 years old and has Down syndrome. For the last three years, he’s worked at Kandu Industries, a packaging and assembly factory in Janesville, Wisconsin. He usually makes between $2 and $3 an hour, depending on whether he is packing brackets used in playground equipment or packaging food. Kandu Industries can pay Chris and roughly 150 other workers substantially below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour because of a 1938 provision in the Fair Labor Standards Act that permits employers, who apply to the Department of Labor for a waiver, to pay lower wages to people with disabilities. According to the department, about 20 percent of people with disabilities participate in the workforce, and of that group, about 3 percent, or approximately 195,000 workers, are being paid subminimum wages. These workers typically make well below the minimum wage, sometimes as low as “pennies per hour,” according to the Department of Justice.

Nissan Union Loss Underscores Labor’s Big Dilemma

Source: Justin Miller, The American Prospect

Late Friday night, the American labor movement was dealt yet another body blow—an increasingly common occurrence in the Trump era—as it became clear that the United Auto Workers had lost its long-shot bid to establish a union at a Nissan manufacturing plant in Canton, Mississippi. Workers at the factory voted 2,244 to 1,307 against unionization, a devastating landslide defeat for the Detroit-based union and worker activists who had been trying to organize since the plant first opened nearly 15 years ago. For decades, industrial unions have tried to make headway in the South, where manufacturers both foreign—like Airbus, Mercedes Benz, Toyota, and Volkswagen— and domestic—like Boeing—have set up shop, drawn by the region’s low wages and historic aversion to unions.

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