september 12, 2008
WEEK 2 OF TAKE BACK LABOR DAY

Week One Roundup

On Labor Day, September 1, we launched the Take Back Labor Day blog project on the new and improved Today's Workplace blog.
Who's blogging? Intro to Take Back Labor Day Join the conversation!
today's workplace: the employee rights blog
The Importance of Labor Day: A Word from Our Co-Founder (Paul Tobias): Labor Day gives us a chance to review necessary changes in our labor/employment laws. Comment
Supreme Court Surprise (Ellen Simon): Three years ago, I was interviewed by Court TV about the John Roberts nomination. In preparation, I painstakingly reviewed his record. In so doing, I reached the unpleasant conclusion that Roberts was philosophically opposed to civil rights and other legislation for the public good which Roberts deemed to an improper exercise of congressional power. Comment
CEO's Home Isn't Where Your Heart Is (Bob Rosner): Who would you rather have leading your company? Casper the friendly ghost or a Genie who can make all of the company's wishes come true (even if he does have a comb over)? Let's face it, shy and retiring just doesn't cut it when you're responsible for the livelihood of lots of people. When it comes to effective CEOs, bigger always seems better. Or does it? Comment
By Next Labor Day, Let's Have Guaranteed Paid Sick Leave (Anne Ladky ): The first ?labor day? celebration was a march--10,000 workers took an unpaid day off to demonstrate in New York's Union Square in 1882 to promote the union cause. Now, the federal holiday is supposed to be a day of paying tribute to the American worker and recognizing the contributions that unions have made to American prosperity. It should remind us that we didn't always have an eight-hour day, a minimum wage, unemployment compensation, pensions, or other reforms that are fundamental to the quality of life we enjoy as Americans. Comment
Bush Shirks Role as Top Labor Cop (David Madland and Karla Walter ): Every year nearly 6,000 American workers are killed on the job and many more are bilked out of an estimated $19 billion in wages by their employers. Unfortunately, workers do not have the protections they need and deserve because President Bush's Department of Labor has failed to effectively police low-road employers, and unions--which give workers a voice on the job and help to ensure laws are followed--have been under attack and therefore shrinking in size. Comment
Three New Studies Link Employee Engagement to Achieving Key Workplace Metrics (Mark Harbeke): The Labor Day holiday implies adults in the workforce, but this day involves younger generations, too. Witness the millions of parents, and their kids, getting used to quickly changing schedules as the latter group goes back to school. Comment
Flexibility at Work: Asking it of our Leaders and Ourselves (Morra Aarons-Mele): Many of us will have seen the neat educational drawing from the 1950's: ?eight hours for work, eight hours for sleep, eight hours for leisure? for a balanced life. It feels so quaint, and speaks to a phantom work-family life that is reality for few Americans. Comment
A Labor Day Attack on Farmworkers (Bruce Goldstein ): Amid all the hype of political conventions, analysis of the Republican VP pick and Labor Day celebrations for the rest of the country, the Bush Administration will launch an attack on the nation's farmworkers. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, at any moment, will announce extensive changes to the H-2A guestworker program, slashing wages and reducing worker protections for hundreds of thousands of our nation's farmworkers. Comment
The Dignity of Work (Tom Jackson ): It's easy to forget the historic meaning of Labor Day, lost as it is in the haze of BBQ smoke, back-to-school sales and that last long weekend of summer's vacation season. In the diminished ranks of organized labor, now down to 8% of the working population, the holiday, once a celebration of victory over corporate greed and heartless work reveals nostalgia for days gone by, a nostalgia haunted by worries about the future. Comment
On Labor Day, a New TV Campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act (Michael Whitney ): Starting Labor Day 2008, workers' rights advocacy group American Rights at Work is taking to the airwaves with a national TV ad campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act. Comment
Southern Gulag: How 20th Century Slave Labor Undermined the US Labor Movement (Nathan Newman): Let us talk this Labor Day about slave labor in the United States. No, not the antebellum kind before the Civil War but the slavery that persisted well into the 20th century, the slavery that was integral not only to the southern economy but slaves owned by northern corporations and used to break strikes and keep the South a union-free reserve. And I don't mean some metaphorical slavery, but, as Douglas Blackmon writes in his recent Slavery by Another Name, the slavery of brutal forced labor, whips, death and sexual rape of black women?in many ways worse than that of the older form of slavery. Comment
Labor Day Reflections on Election Day Decisions (Cynthia Estlund): Labor Day is the one day of the year that honors working people ? those ?who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold,? in the words of one 19th century proponent of the holiday. These days find fewer workers delving and carving, and more of them word-processing or telemarketing. How are they doing this Labor Day? Comment
this week in the courts
Davis v. Indiana State Police ?(Seventh Circuit; No. 07-2543)
Decision Date: September 3, 2008
In an age-discrimination suit brought by a state police trooper, dismissal for failure to state a claim is vacated and remanded where plaintiff properly pleaded his claim that he was discriminated against due to age and that defendant was subject to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, with the burden of proof on defendant to demonstrate that it was excepted from the act.
Whitman v. Mineta ?(Ninth Circuit; No. 05-36231, CV-04-00018)
Decision Date: September 2, 2008
In an age discrimination case against the Federal Aviation Administration, the dismissal of plaintiff;s retaliation claim is reversed and remanded where the Supreme Court's decision in Gomez-Perez v. Potter superseded the district court's holding by clarifying that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act does permit retaliation claims against the federal government.
Jenkins v. England ?(Eighth Circuit; No. 07-2049)
Decision Date: September 2, 2008
In a Title VII case, the grant of summary judgment to defendant on hostile work environment claims is reversed and remanded where admissible portions of affidavits, improperly excluded in their entirety as hearsay, bring into dispute the material element of when the employer knew of the harassment.
news and issues
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Take Back Labor Day
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