Workplace Issues Today
A large union in Lebanon is threatening to strike if the government decreases wages as part of its new 2019 budget. The cabinet has been meeting frequently to create a budget that will address the country’s large deficit. Employees fear that wage and benefit cuts will be part of the new budget, and are threatening to go on strike and protest if that is the case. Protests have already occurred in the public sector, as bank employees have gone on strike.
See Ellen Francis, Reuters, May 17 2019
Nearly 4,000 mental health workers at Kaiser have authorized a strike that will begin in June if a new contract is not finalized. The strike that has been authorized is “open-ended” meaning that it has no set end date. Union members have stated that they do not wish to go on strike, but feel that it has become necessary. Management believes that this strike is a tactic that the union is using to encourage management to meet their financial demands.
See Cathie Anderson, The Sacramento Bee, May 17 2019
On Thursday, executives from global retailers stated that as artificial intelligence becomes more advanced, stores will offer more training to employees. Many fear that automation and AI are taking away jobs- retailers “played down” this threat by stating that the jobs are not gone, and retailers intend to train employees to do other things as jobs are automated. Execs have stated that AI’s strength lies in completing repetitive tasks. However, robots are not good at interacting with people and so employees will still be needed for customer-facing work.
See Emma Thomasson , Reuters, May 17 2019
Three restaurants in the Bay Area, in California will be required to pay almost a quarter-million dollar to employees in back pay due to minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping violations. In addition to back pay, restaurant owners must pay nearly twenty thousand dollars in civil penalties. Not only did restaurant owners fail to pay employees appropriately, a lot of employees were paid in cash- which resulted in the aforementioned recordkeeping violations.
See George Kelly, The East Bay Times, May 15 2019
More than two million workers will benefit from legislation that was passed on Tuesday, that expands the rights of domestic laborers in Mexico. Many of these laborers are women, who were not recognized as part of the labor market or receiving protections. Now, domestic laborers will have legal rights, written contracts, and benefits including minimum wage and maternity leave. Additionally, the new legislation regulates teen labor by banning domestic work for individuals under the age of 15 and limiting the amount of time that older teenagers can work per day.
See Paulina Villegas, The New York Times, May 15 2019
On Tuesday, the NLRB released a memo regarding the classification of Uber drivers’ labor. The NLRB has decided that Uber drivers should be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This means that Uber drivers are not entitled to benefits or employee protections. As a result of drivers being classified as independent contractors, Uber does not have to award workers access to healthcare, pensions, or other benefits which would cost the company a lot of money.
See Megan Cerullo, CBS News, May 15 2019
Amazon has created technology that packages customer orders, a job that has previously been completed by human employees. The new technology is intended to replace workers, which could result in more than 1,000 job losses across the country. The order-packaging machines cost $1 million each, and pay for themselves in less than two years. These machines are another example of how Amazon is attempting to automate warehouse tasks in order to reduce labor costs.
See Jeffrey Dastin , Reuters, May 13 2019
Facebook announced that it will be raising the minimum wage for all contract workers, with the highest wage coming to $20 per hour in the Bay Area. The pay increases are in response to scrutiny over employee wages and increasing costs of living. The last time Facebook raised minimum wages was in 2015, the new wages are intended to reflect Facebook’s commitment to treating contractors better. Additionally, the company has committed to paying content reviewers $22 per hour in the Bay Area.
See Akanksha Rana & Arjun Panchadar , Reuters, May 13 2019
Unionized Macy’s employees have just authorized a strike, in response to more than four months of negotiations. The union has stated that it is hoping to achieve higher wages and less expensive healthcare. It is clear that the union, which represents more than 1,000 Macy’s employees, intends to strike if an agreement is not reached in a timely manner. The union representing Macy’s employees is the same union that represents the Stop & Shop employees that recently had a successful strike.
See Aviva Luttrell, Mass Live News, May 13 2019
The United Nations refugee agency has opened a camp that serves Venezuelans who have fled to Colombia in order to escape the crisis occurring in their home-country. Hyperinflation in Venezuela has made basic necessities, such as medicine, unaffordable for most citizens. The camp is temporary, and is intended to allow migrants to be housed while they look for jobs.
See Steven Grattan, Reuters, May 10 2019
As a result of delayed negotiations between teachers and the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, teachers are considering going on strike. A mediator has been invited to try to help teachers and management come to an agreement, if this doesn’t work the teachers have stated that they are prepared to go on strike in order to achieve better conditions. Teachers would like increased wages, smaller class sizes, and additional support staff as part of the new bargaining agreement. The district has stated that it cannot afford the wage increase that the union is requesting.
See Annie Sciacca, The East Bay Times, May 10 2019
The U.S. Consumer Price Index rose very little in April, meaning that the Federal Reserve will not intervene by changing interest rates. The Fed has may receive pressure to lower interest rates in response to low inflation. Economists believe that “temporary” factors may be halting inflation, as rent and healthcare costs have steadily increased. Another factor contributing to low inflation is high worker productivity that has kept labor costs stable.
See Lucia Mutikani , Reuters, May 10 2019
Historically, upward mobility within the Japanese labor market was largely reliant on age. This meant that young people were unable to develop their skills at work until they were older. Now, due to a labor shortage, firms are facing far less competition for their job openings which has resulted in faster career advancement for young people. Additionally, some employers allow workers to work from home, take more vacation days, and create their own goals.
See Stanley White & Kaori Kaneko, Reuters, May 8 2019
Teachers in Clark County, Las Vegas, will vote this week to determine whether or not to strike at the beginning of the upcoming school year. The proposed collective action is in response to the lack of a state plan to give teachers higher pay and greater resources. According to the union president, teachers are currently facing excessively large class sizes, and a lack of school supplies. Additionally, teachers are dissatisfied with their wages which they believe to be stagnant.
See Miranda Willson, The Las Vegas Sun, May 8 2019
Little Big Burger in Portland, Oregon has fired an employee following a strike. According the union, workers walked out in response to unsafe workplace conditions and understaffing. The day after the workers walked out they were suspended by management, and then one of them (a union member) was fired. The Little Big Union has stated that the fired employee had no past history of misconduct and was given no reason for her termination.
See Brooke Jackson-Glidden , Eater Portland, May 8 2019
The Tide Is Turning For Teachers Unions
Randi Weingaerten, President of American Federation of Teachers labor union, is altering its endorsement process. Weingaerten is ensuring that the enforcement process will be slower and more transparent so that members can have time to hear about the party’s white House contenders. She wants her union members to feel empowered by the organization’s 2020 endorsement process.
See Daneil Marans, HuffPost, May 7 2019
Christine Cieplinksi, Director of Labor Relations at UConn Health is claiming a gender discrimination case against UConn Health. Cieplinkso says not only was she was paid less than her male counterparts but she is suffered retaliatory action for a case she handled in the past regarding fraud and sexual harassment which led to the subject’s resignation. Cieplinksi filed her discrimination case in federal court and is awaiting next steps.
See MARC E. FITCH, Yankee Institute, May 7 2019
Japan’s back-breaking work culture is slowing changing as the new generation attempts to reshape it. Chihiro Narazaki used to work in sales for a Japanese Bank where she would stay late to complete routine paperwork because that was the norm of the organization. Narazaki left that company for Cybozu, a technology company where she sells software. She has a lot more autonomy, flexibility, and freedom to do her job. In her previous job, everything was hierarchical, so it reduced her exposure to certain tasks and projects. Although Narazaki loves the culture at her new job, she realizes that this shift in workplace culture hasn’t become the norm yet in Japan.
See Stanley White, Kaori Kaneko , Reuters, May 7 2019
The AFSCME Local 3299, which represents UC employees, has filed an unfair labor practices charge against the UC system. The employer has allegedly been engaging in negotiations that would allow low-wage employees to be replaced by contractors via outsourcing companies. The union represents more than 25,000 employers- many of whom have service jobs on UC properties. If UC is, in fact, engaging in negotiations regarding outsourcing service jobs, this would be in violation of the requirement of the employer to discuss this potential decision with employees and their representatives.
See Vanessa Arredondo , The Daily Californian, May 6 2019
Drivers across the globe are planning on a strike, the day before Uber goes public, in order to protest poor wages and treatment. Over the past week, the strike has been advertised and has received numerous signatures from drivers in major cities. Additionally, politicians have supported the decision to strike. Rideshare Drivers United- Los Angeles has been organizing the strike, and managing the various time zones that it will be taking place in.
See Janet Burns , Forbes, May 6 2019
In Taipei, flight attendants who work for the airline, EVA Air, held a protest yesterday to pushback against unfair labor practices. Employees have alleged that their employer released a report that states that another employer with unionized employees, pays the same wages to flight attendants. This report was released by the company right before a union vote. It appears that the report released by the company does not contain entirely valid information, and thus gives employees a “one-sided” view of the situation. Ministry officials have encouraged the company to negotiate fairly with the union and not do anything to disrupt union activities.
See Ann Maxon , The Taipei Times, May 6 2019
Scandinavian Air pilots went on a strike that led to thousands of flights being canceled, leaving passengers stuck. Fortunately, on Thursday the airline and unions in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden were able to meet an agreement, thus ending the strike. Union leaders negotiated an agreement that includes higher salaries and greater job security. The new agreement will last three years, and the airline appears convinced that the agreement is competitive in the Swedish labor market.
See Rob McLean, CNN Business, May 3 2019
In Colorado, a union representing thousands of grocery store workers has reached an agreement with King Soopers and City Market. The agreement came just in time, as workers were intending to strike over low wages, high health care costs, and other issues. Additionally, following the agreement that King Soopers workers reached, employees at Albertsons and Safeway were able to reach new agreements. These wins for unions are exciting as they come after months of negotiations.
See Joe Rubino, The Denver Post, May 3 2019
Boeing in South Carolina has been accused of firing three employees for union organizing. The employees who were fired were accused of failing to report a strike to the company. Allegedly, Boeing has impeded unionization efforts by attempting to halt elections from occurring, and leading an anti-union campaign. Additionally, once the union was able to get support- Boeing decided to appeal the election results with the NRLB. In response to the appeal, Boeing has been accused of anti-union activities.
See Michael Sainato, The Guardian, May 3 2019
Olecia James, a recent high school graduate at Cleveland Central High, had her grade point average tampered with to avoid giving her the salutatorian title due to her race. The school administration internally reduced James’ quality points from the school she attended prior to the high school merger, claiming that those classes were less rigorous. James originally had a 4.41 GPA, however, the Salutatorian distinction was given to a white male student with a 4.34 GPA, and consequently, James’ GPA was reduced to 4.33. The suit alleged that the school officials lowered quality points of black students who took classes at East Side while not altering the quality points of white students who took classes at Cleveland High School, actions indicative of racial discrimination.
See Minyvonne Burk, NBC News, May 2 2019
Over 200 women hockey players have organized together to show interest in creating a sustainable professional league for Women’s hockey. The group includes many of the world’s best hockey players, and they have decided to withhold participation from in any North American league under the current conditions. The group is demanding proper resources and investment. Players have complained that they do not make a sustainable living playing professional hockey, and monetary compensation is as low as $2,000 per season. The NWHL officials said they are open to negotiating and plan on offering increased salaries and a 50-50 revenue split from sponsorship and media rights deals.
See Rick Maese, The Washington Post, May 2 2019
Luke Paper Mill in western Maryland will be closing the mill in response to reduced customer demand and increasing input costs. Maryland state agencies are working with affected workers by providing state and federal funding, and grant options. The state’s labor and commerce departments are also partnering with local economic development offices to help displaced workers find employment.
See Associated Press, The Washington Post, May 2 2019
Employees at President Trump’s country club were told by managers to clock out, and then complete hours of “side work” before going home. All of the side work that employees were asked to complete was done off the clock, meaning that employees received no compensation for this extra labor. One employee who worked at a restaurant at the club, was allegedly told by managers to clock out and then stay to vacuum, polish utensils, and prepare the restaurant for the following day- sometimes he would stay past midnight to complete side work that he would not be paid for. Due to these allegations, the country club is now under investigation- so far, investigators have interviewed more than 20 former employees.
See Joshua Partlow & David A. Fahrenthold , The Washington Post, May 1 2019
The union that represents over 3,000 Stanford nurses has reached tentative bargaining agreements with management, just in time to avoid a strike that had been authorized. A union spokesperson has stated that the agreements include increased wages, “workplace-violence prevention provisions,” and protection of other benefits. A hospital spokesperson has stated that the hospital is glad to have come to an agreement. The union will vote on the agreements on May 8.
See Catherine Ho , San Francisco Chronicle, May 1 2019
Taxi drivers at Luton Airport have decided to go on strike for 24 hours in order to protest low wages and unfair conditions. Members of the union that represents drivers have expressed that they do not feel that they are earning minimum wage. Workers have also expressed that prior to the strike, they have attempted to communicate their concerns with the company, and they have tried protesting- striking is their last resort. While the employer has stated that it regularly evaluates driver pay, the union has expressed that driver wages have decreased due to the employer taking a larger commission out of drivers’ earnings.
See BBC News, May 1 2019
Uber’s upcoming initial public offering is estimated to be around 9 billion dollars, the largest IPO in history. Although early investors can expect to gain a lot from this IPO, the drivers that make the company possible won’t be gaining anything. Uber drivers are planning to go on strike on May 8th in seven US cities. Drivers find it difficult to earn a living wage as an app-based driver, and two-thirds of drivers depend on Uber as their largest source of income. In February, New York City passed a law that required ride-hailing companies to pay their drivers at least $17.22 an hour after expenses, a figure that's meant to account for idle time as many drivers spend half of their time waiting for their next job. Unions in other large cities are looking to push for a similar law, as well as ways to appeal the deactivation of a driver's account.
See Michelle Rodino-Colocino, International Business Times, Apr 30 2019
Google employees are lobbying to end forced arbitration altogether. The employees have organized a massive phone bank to inundate Congress with calls tomorrow. They’re demanding Congress to pass the legislation so that employees who bring sexual harassment or discrimination claims can have a fair trial in front of a jury. The organizers of this phone bank are also in communication with other tech companies and beyond, such as PayPal and Starbucks. It hopes to bring about change so that all workers have the same rights under the law. Companies such as Uber, Facebook, and Microsoft have changed their policies on forced arbitration during the height of the MeToo movement in 2017.
See Cat Zakrzewski, The Washington Post, Apr 30 2019
Philippine unionist are planning to protest at the presidential palace in Manila tomorrow for an increase in minimum wages among other issues. The nation’s police chief, Oscar Albayadlde warned the public from joining in on the protest, stating that these demonstrations are causing joblessness and will discourage investments from foreign companies. However, the Kilusang Mayo Uno, May 1st movement (KMU) are not wavering and will continue their plan to strike. They are lobbying for a national wage hike to address the rising costs of living and fundamental human rights in the workplace. An employee at a packing plant in the Philippines’ south saw one of their members shot and killed under police orders due to a strike last year.
See Michael Beltran, South China Morning Post, Apr 30 2019
The Labor Department decided on a case recently regarding the classification of gig workers, at an unnamed company. The question of whether or not gig workers are considered contractors or employees has become especially relevant since companies such as Uber and Lyft emerged, and made it easier for employees to enter the gig economy. In the case that the Labor Department decided on this week, the Department classified workers as contractors- thus, “…offer[ing] further insight into the nexus of labor law and innovations in the job market.” Critics have argued that it was inappropriate for the Labor Department to issue this decision via an opinion letter.
See Noam Scheiber, The New York Times, Apr 29 2019
Bangladesh government officials have produced a website, or a job portal, that is intended to help migrant employees by connecting individuals to licensed recruitment agencies. Evidently, there are “unofficial middlemen” who impose high fees on migrant workers, and otherwise abuse them as they attempt to gain employment. The job portal is intended to eliminate the need/ use of middlemen in order to combat these abuses faced by vulnerable migrant laborers. Additionally, on the job portal, workers will be able to identify jobs that best match their skills- which will aid employers in acquiring employees who have desirable skills.
See Naimul Karim , Reuters, Apr 29 2019
A new report produced by the New York Times discusses the abusive labor conditions that Syrian refugees experience as laborers on hazelnut farms in Turkey. Thousands of Syrian refugees work on Turkish hazelnut farms- the work is dangerous because it involves being attached to rocks by rope for most of the workday. Additionally, employers are frequently dishonest with workers regarding how much laborers can expect to be paid. Turkey’s labor laws do not apply to agricultural businesses with less than 50 employees, so hazelnut farm workers are especially prone to abuse due to a lack of legal protection. Other common abusive practices occurring on hazelnut farms, according to this report, include a lack of labor contracts, and “between-harvest loans” that create a system of indentured servitude.
See David Segal, The New York Times, Apr 29 2019
Following an industry-wide strike led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the South African government’s Registrar of Labour Relations threatened to deregister the union. The union has decided to pursue legal action in an attempt to remain registered, insisting that it remains in compliance with the law. The President of the union considers the deregistration threat a “political attack” and intends to meet with the Registrar on Tuesday.
See Paul Burkhardt, Bloomberg, Apr 26 2019
Mexican government officials have decided to create a special minimum wage for domestic workers in order to combat labor abuse. There are nearly 2 million domestic workers in the country whose rights have largely been overlooked, according to officials. In Mexico, there are different minimum wages for many different industries- however, many domestic workers do not even have labor contracts. The lack of government regulation of domestic labor places workers at risk of exploitation and abuse. This week, in order to address these challenges, the Supreme Court has banned the hiring of workers who are younger than 15 and required written labor contracts.
See Christine Murray , Reuters, Apr 26 2019
An unidentifiable individual has filed a claim against Google with the NLRB accusing the company of retaliation. The case accuses the company of retaliating against individuals who have been involved in collective action. As of now, the identity of the complainant has not been revealed- the attorney representing the individual who filed the suit has refused to reveal any information. This week, leaders from the walkout that took place recently accused Google of retaliation. Google has refused to comment, but previously stated that the company prohibits retaliation and has asserted that no retaliation has been taking place.
See Josh Eidelson & Mark Bergen, Bloomberg, Apr 26 2019
The Chevrolet Corvette factory in Kentucky will produce the next-generation sports version of its iconic sports car. The company will reveal the Corvette on July 18, 2019. In preparation, General Motors will be adding 400 workers to the site from plants that are at risk of shutting down. Notably, there are a total of 3,000 workers who will be displaced and the company is doing its best to transfer them to different locations.
See David Welch,, LA Times, Bloomberg, Apr 25 2019
This past Tuesday, Andowah Newton, former VP of legal affairs and litigation counsel at LVMH sued the company for sexual harassment and retaliation. Newton claims that she was sexually harassed by a male colleague who made suggestive comments, leered at her, tried to kiss, and even lunged his body across hers to thrust his pelvis and genitals into her face. Newton has reported his behavior informally to LVMH personnel, but her case was not further as he worked for the legal department. Newton then took matters into her own hands and told him to stop harassing her through email which led to her manager to officially file the incident. The issue was escalated, however, at the expense of Newton’s treatment at the workplace.
See Amanda Robert, ABA Journal, Reuters, Apr 25 2019
The New England Health Care Employees Union has called off their strike against nursing homes planned for May 1st. Unions are requesting for a 4% raise for all nursing home caregivers and a reassessment of contracts to account for inflationary costs. Albeit in the middle of negotiations, the governor has acted in good faith by proposing additional state funding for nursing homes. Though it is unclear whether or not additional funding will be provided, potential work stoppage has been deferred for two weeks.
See Keith M. Phaneuf, CT Post, Apr 25 2019
Nearly three million Americans over the age of 55 have entered the workforce over the last three years. Older workers joining or rejoining the workforce have helped the economy immensely, however, experts believe that this growth may be slowing down. Many companies are currently struggling to find employees due to a labor shortage. As a result of less available laborers, companies have had to increase wages- however, the wage increases may not be profitable for much longer.
See Howard Schneider , Reuters, Apr 24 2019
The South African mining union, AMCU, that recently organized a successful industry-wide strike is facing deregistration. The labor registrar has stated that the union is “not a genuine trade union,” because it is not “function[ing] in terms of its constitution.” This decision comes just before the union prepares to enter wage talks in the platinum-industry. If the union is removed from the register, it can still organize strikes but companies would be allowed to forgo giving the union its fees.
See Felix Njini & Paul Burkhardt, Bloomberg, Apr 24 2019
The fast-fashion clothing company H&M has begun listing supplier information for each item of clothing that it produces. H&M is the first brand to do this, and the move is intended to provide greater transparency for consumers who do not wish to support labor abuse in the clothing industry. While advocates believe that this is a positive step forward, concerns have been raised regarding what this information may mean for consumers- more context may be necessary in order for this information to be useful. As of now, customers are able to view where their clothing was produced, as well as supplier/factory names, number of employees, and addresses.
See Sonia Elks , Reuters, Apr 24 2019
Late last month, Ford announced that they would be ceasing production of all passenger cars in Russia due to inadequate returns on invested capital. Over 900 employees will be let go due to this business disruption. Many employees are unsure of what to do once the plant closes as they have limited education and have been working at the plant for over 10 years. Ford has offered workers severance packages equal to up to 12 months’ salary, but union representatives are unhappy with it as workers in other plants have received up to 2 years’ salary. The union has organized demonstrations, pickets, and work to rule at the Vsevolozhsk factory and will halt productions if its demands are not met in the months before it closes.
See Daniel Kozin, Moscow Times, Apr 23 2019
Chinese workers in the technology industry have spoken out about the grueling “996” work standard. The 996 work standard is a philosophy endorsed by tech billionaire and Co-Founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma. It’s based on the idea of working from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week. Workers have been voicing their complaints through a Microsoft owned platform which lead to Microsoft’s involvement. Microsoft workers have published a letter on Github in solidarity with tech workers in China; in the letter, they pushed Chinese tech companies to comply with local labor laws, which limit workers to 40 hours a week, with a maximum of 36 hours per month of overtime. Over 150 companies have been listed to comply such as Huawei, Bytedance, and Ant Financial.
See Kari Paul, The Guardian, Apr 23 2019
Kim Jung Un is looking to strengthen economic ties with Moscow while his nuclear negotiations with Washington are at an impasse. Kim is expected to meet with Vladimir Putin in Russia on Wednesday or Thursday for the first summit between the leaders of North Korea and Russia since their past meeting 8 years ago. Labor will be a primary subject for Kim as it is one of the North's key exports and sources cash.
See The Japan Times, Apr 23 2019
Following the unionization of Mighty Good Coffee baristas, the coffee chain has decided to shut down. This means that the newly unionized employees are negotiating a cessation contract with their employer, following the news that they are all being laid off. After receiving news of the layoffs, employees held a demonstration outside of the coffee chain’s location- then met with employers to discuss severance pay. Employees are now discussing opening their own coffee shop where workers receive good pay and working conditions.
See Leah Graham , The Michigan Daily, Apr 22 2019
Following an 11-day strike, unionized Stop & Shop employees and management have come to a tentative agreement. Employees at over 240 locations returned to work on Monday, after the deal was established the day prior. The three-year agreement has not been made public yet, however, employees have stated that their demands regarding wages and benefits have been met. A spokesperson for the grocery chain stated that the first priority following employees returning to work, will be “restocking our shelves,” in order to continue serving customers.
See Sandra E. Garcia, The New York Times, Apr 22 2019
Norwegian airlines’ cabin crew at Charles de Gaulle airport is planning a strike from April 24 to April 26. While a formal strike vote has not taken place, union members generally seem supportive of the idea of engaging in collective action. 70 percent of the cabin crew is represented by the union. A cabin crew strike would likely disrupt the airline’s ability to engage in normal operations.
See The Daily Times, Apr 22 2019
Harley Davidson employees in Wisconsin have just finalized a new five-year labor contract which includes a 14 percent wage increase over the next five years. In addition to the wage increase, employees will receive a signing bonus, new incentive plans, and better pensions. This month the employees vetoed a different proposal due to issues like job security, and temporary workers. Fortunately, the union was able to work with management to come to an agreement to create the new contract which will ultimately impact over 1,000 workers.
See Sanjana Shivdas, Reuters, Apr 19 2019
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction union in Africa just ended a five-month strike by signing a wage agreement that will last for three years. The violent strike resulted in at least nine deaths, halted production, and negative financial outcomes for the company. The AMCU went on strike in November following its refusal to approve of a wage agreement that the company had negotiated with other unions. As a result of the strike, employees will now receive greater wages and benefits.
See Felix Njini & Paul Burkhardt, Bloomberg, Apr 19 2019
Security guards at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria have decided to delay their plans to start the first of two strikes. The union has expressed that they have decided to postpone the strike in order to allow the company more time to make concessions. Union members are primarily motivated to strike due to a desire to achieve higher wages. Currently, the company only recognizes the GMB union- so workers are also fighting for recognition of the Unite union.
See BBC News UK, Apr 19 2019
Britain, hailed as a global leader in the anti-slavery initiative, is undergoing a review of its landmark 2015 law due to criticism that it is not being used effectively. Critics claim the law wasn’t being used to jail traffickers, nor was it enforced on firms to cease forced labor, or help victims. Currently, victims are able to enter the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) program in which they would have access to support ranging from healthcare to legal aid, while the British government determines whether or not to recognize them as victims. Once they’re recognized as a victim, support through the NRM program ends. Activists claim that the short period of support is problematic as it leaves victims at risk of homelessness, destitution or being exploited again. Two trafficking survivors have challenged the court on this policy.
See Kieran Guilbert, Reuters, Apr 18 2019
The Alaska State Employees Association has filed paperwork to halt the privatization of the state's main psychiatric hospital. The privatization was a result of a merger and would result in a potential loss of over 200 jobs. The union representative claims there may have been a breach of labor laws as the employer did not give employees a chance to show that the can do the job for cheaper. Arguments will be heard next week.
See Stamford Advocate, Apr 18 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc (TEPCO) has informed its subcontractors that foreigners coming to Japan for employment can engage in decommissioning work at the plant. Decommissioning work raises several concerns, particularly with radiation exposure. To prevent excess exposure, TEPCO has required foreign workers to have Japanese language abilities in order to accurately understand the risks communicated to them. Due to the new visa system, in which its goal was to bring in mainly blue-collar foreign workers, Japan is trying to increase its number of subcontractors. However, concerns about labor exploitations were raised; the Justice Ministry issued an ordinance requiring employers to pay wages equivalent to or higher than those of Japanese national. Notably, other major utility companies will not be following suit due to the risk of quality control, terrorism and information leaks.
See Japan Today, Apr 18 2019
The fashion company PVH, the owner of both Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, is investigating reports of labor abuse. Reports revealed that the Ethiopian workers who produce clothing for high-end stores have been subject to verbal abuse, low wages, and discrimination. Additionally, employees are forced to work overtime without compensation, and are not allowed to drink water at their workplace. PVH has vowed to conduct an investigation and “…take appropriate action if any violations are found.”
See Amy Woodyatt , Reuters, Apr 17 2019
Unionized part-time faculty at Columbia College are dissatisfied with their union’s lack of communication regarding bargaining issues. The union was preparing workers to strike- some members chose not to participate in the strike authorization vote because they did not have an understanding as to why the strike was deemed necessary. Members have expressed being, “…disappointed in the communication between union leadership and the rank and file…” In addition to issues present within the union, faculty say that they are not treated appropriately by management as a result of their union membership.
See Alexandra Yetter, The Columbia Chronicle, Apr 17 2019
Rutgers University was able to avoid a faculty strike by achieving an agreement with the faculty union late Tuesday night. The union has stated that the new agreement promises equal pay for female faculty members, and for members of color. Additionally, the union expressed that the lowest paid union members will be receiving a significant pay increase as a result of the new agreement. The new contract will also provide increased protections for graduate students, and allocate funding towards diversity hiring.
See Kelly Heyboer, NJ.com, Apr 17 2019
PVH, the parent company of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein are facing labor charges for worker misconduct. The company’s supplier factories in Ethiopia are being investigated for workplace violations. Workers were subject to verbal discrimination, overtime without pay, and fined for drinking water at their work stations. Ethiopia's labor market is heavily unregulated as it is one of the poorest nations in Africa. It does not have a minimum wage for workers and labor rights abuses are common in the manufacturing industry. The Workers Rights Consortium is monitoring the situation and will take appropriate action if violations are found.
See Amy Woodyatt, Reuters, Apr 16 2019
The Yale Law Women’s group has identified the top 10 law firms for gender equity and family friendliness. The student organization was created to advance women at the university, and in the profession. In creating the top 10 law firms, members of the organization examined over 50 law firm’s policies around family leave and gender equality. They also had firms complete surveys, from which they discovered that the issue of gender inequality has not improved Last year 36% of women made equity partner promotion, however, this year only 29.8% of the women did.
See Meaghan Tribe, Law.com, Apr 16 2019
The United Auto Workers were in negotiations with the Volkswagen unit back in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Originally it had intended for the company to negotiate a contract with a group of skilled trade workers, however, they have moved to withdraw the case. Prior to reaching its current state, the UAW representative had accused the automaker of illegally refusing to bargain with a unit of about 160 workers who voted to join the union in 2015.
See Daniel Wiessner, Reuters, Apr 16 2019
The unemployment rate in Turkey recently rose to 14.7 percent in response to the currency crisis that occurred last year. This unemployment rate is the highest that the country has experienced in almost a decade. The government recently produced a campaign that is intended to create jobs for 2.5 million people. However, unemployment is expected to continue to rise as the economy recovers from the crisis.
See Behiye Selin Taner, Reuters, Apr 15 2019
Amazon employees are currently on strike at four different locations in Germany. Employees are attempting to achieve a collective bargaining agreement that will include higher wages and better conditions. Management at Amazon argues that employees earn wages that are higher than the industry average. Additionally, management argues that the firm is not part of the retail and mail order industry, but the logistics industry. Strikes will last until Thursday in some locations, and deliveries will most likely not be affected.
See The Local Germany, Apr 15 2019
The Irish government employs hospital support staff, and may face a nationwide strike over an ongoing wage dispute. The trade union that represents support staff, Siptu, stated that it will be balloting nearly 20,000 workers to determine whether or not a strike will occur. Previously, the union intended to ballot fewer workers- recent developments have encouraged Siptu to expand the strike to 36 hospitals across the country.
See Martin Wall , The Irish Times, Apr 15 2019
At a recent conference for game developers, workers participated in roundtables to discuss ways to organize and increase worker power. Game Workers Unite is a group that emerged last year that is advocating for unionization in the game development industry. Workers who develop video games frequently work long hours without overtime, experience layoffs, and earn minimal wages while company executives take home millions. While white-collar activism has been increasing in the tech space, game developers may be the first group to organize due to their long hours and the prevalence of cyclical layoffs.
See Sam Dean, The LA Times, Apr 12 2019
Cabin crew at Stobart Air threatened to strike- a move that would have grounded regional flights and negatively impacted customers. The airline spoke to the union and agreed to negotiate wages and workplace conditions in order to keep the strike from occurring. Management had been resistant towards beginning talks to discuss wages until the cabin crew voted to strike on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the airline has since stated that management is pleased with how negotiations are proceeding thus far, and is committed to fostering a collaborative relationship with workers.
See Barry O'Halloran, The Irish Times, Apr 12 2019
On Thursday, thousands of Stop & Shop workers went on strike to protest low wages and inadequate benefits. Union contract negotiations reached a standstill, even with the help of federal mediators, which began the strike. Many Stop & Shop locations have been forced to close. Stores will not be reopening until the company is able to recruit temporary workers. It is estimated that over 30,000 employees in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are participating in the strike.
See Nicholas Rondinone , The Hartford Courant, Apr 12 2019
Amazon raised its minimum wage for all workers to $15 an hour. In their recent letter to shareholders, they challenged their top retailers to follow suit. According to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, raising the minimum wage is an investment towards their employees that strongly benefits the company; their intention to raise the minimum wage wasn’t just to gain a competitive advantage, but rather it was “the right thing to do.” Large corporations such as Target and Costco have raised their minimum wage as a result; however, Walmart has not followed suit. Notably, labor union representatives have raised concerns about the potential degradation of the work environment and conditions as a result of increased wages.
See Sarah Perez, Tech Crunch, Apr 11 2019
T-Mobile and Spring have proposed a merger in order to build a 5G network, which will increase connectivity speeds over cellular wireless. Labor unions, particularly the Communication Workers of America (CWA), are unsupportive of the merger. Unions claim that the merger will eliminate over 30,000 jobs in the industry. In defense of T-Mobile, Sprint’s Chairman, Marcelo Claure, claimed that T-Mobile is being targeted by CWA for unfair labor practices, and this is because of the union's contractual relationship with AT&T. The merger between the two telecommunication companies is still on hold.
See Ken Blackwell, CNS News, Apr 11 2019
Pilots from the Northern Kentucky airport who transport amazon packages are prepared to go on strike. Pilots are speaking out about low wages, poor aircraft maintenance, and hindered contract negotiations; they claim that Amazon is driving down their quality of life through poor compensation of wages and benefits, in addition to working excessively long hours. Amazon does not employ the pilots directly, rather Amazon is leasing the aircraft via Atlas Air. Union representatives are hoping that these grievances will encourage Amazon to put pressure on Atlas Air to renegotiate the contract.
See Abha Bhattarai, Kevin Williams , Daily Republic, Washington Post, Apr 11 2019
Thousands of unionized hospital employees intend to strike today, in response to alleged unfair labor practices. Union representatives have stated that union members have voiced their concerns over low wages for months- management has responded by illegally silencing complaints. Hospital management claims that the union’s allegations are an attempt to justify “yet another strike.” Management has asserted that they would like to reach an agreement, while the union prefers to go on strike. The most recent strike is intended to last for one day only, and should not have an excessively negative impact on hospital patients.
See Cathie Anderson, The Sacramento Bee, Apr 10 2019
Unionized teachers at the Shrewsbury Colleges Group staged a two day walkout. Members went on strike in response to the way the colleges group intends to assess lessons. Management intends to combine two lesson assessment policies, where teachers are observed and then graded on a scale from one to four. This assessment plan was rejected by the union because members felt it was “subjective and unreliable.” As of now, another strike is planned for the beginning of May.
See BBC News UK, Apr 10 2019
Volkswagen employees in Chattanooga Tennessee have filed yet another petition to join the United Auto Workers. This is the third petition that employees have filed with the NLRB in the past five years. According to the petition, of the 1,709 employees that make up the bargaining unit, at least 30 percent of them are seeking union representation. Volkswagen management has declined to comment on the issue, and appears to be remaining neutral until the petition has been reviewed.
See The Washington Post, Apr 10 2019
Brain Rotherberg, UAW Public Relations chair, filed a petition with the NLRB to grant an election for all production and maintenance workers at Chattanooga's Volkswagen plant. The union first filed for the petition in 2016, but it was rejected on the grounds that it lacked substantial issues for review. The company has made it clear that they do not support the workers unionizing and has tried to placate the issue by raising the minimum wage to $16 an hour. However, workers are still unsatisfied and are frustrated that they lack the right to bargain.
See WTVC, WFTV9 ABC, Apr 9 2019
SEIU 49 has recently added 800 new members to their roster after a vote by Providence Portland Medical Center. There was an issue with tallying the number of votes, however, after much scrutiny, it was determined that the final number of votes (384-383) favored unionization. Workers felt that executives were obtaining high salaries at the expense of workers, which sparked their need for union representation.
See Oregon Business Report, Apr 9 2019
The Elgin Area School District U-46 has been in negotiations with the Elgin Teachers Association in renewing a new multi-year contract for over nine months. Contract negotiations have ranged from compensatory items, such as health insurance and rates of pay, to issues related to school programs, parent-teacher communications, along with other educational programs. Discussion on other issues is still in session, however, progress is slowly being made.
See Madhu Krishnamurthy, Daily Herald, Apr 9 2019
Thai government officials recently amended a law in order to “crack down” on slave labor and trafficking. Under newly amended legislation, offenders who are found guilty can be jailed and fined, with additional penalties reliant on whether or not the victim of forced labor was harmed. Human rights specialists believe that this legislation shows that the Thai government is taking forced labor seriously, and intends to protect migrant workers. Thailand was the first country in Asia to ratify the International Labor Organization’s forced labor protocol. However, in Thai legislation the definition of forced labor remains unclear and victims’ advocates are hesitant to praise legislative improvements until they are proven to be enforced consistently.
See Rina Chandran , Reuters, Apr 8 2019
The U.S. law that disallows slave-made goods from entering the country, has only captured $6.3 million worth of goods. It is estimated that every year, $400 billion in goods made by slave-labor enter the United States market. While the U.S. strives to be a leader in the fight against slave labor, it has become clear that the agency that enforces the law regarding what goods may enter the country, is underfunded. Of the 62,450 Customs and Border Protection workers, only six of them are tasked with preventing slave-made goods from entering the country.
See Jason Fields, Reuters, Apr 8 2019
A law has been proposed in Texas that would allow companies to dodge unemployment taxes by classifying gig economy laborers as independent contractors. This proposal has upset advocacy groups, as well as small business owners who fear that tech companies will become more difficult to compete with if they are able to avoid the costs associated with employee classification. The owner of a small cleaning service company explained that he provides numerous benefits to his employees, including health insurance and paid vacation. Tech companies would be able to avoid all of the aforementioned costs if their employees were to be classified as independent contractors, thus allowing them to charge their customers lower fees.
See Erin Douglas , The Houston Chronicle, Apr 8 2019
Many amazon workers who suffer injuries on the job, often due to repetitive stress impacts while fulfilling demanding hourly quotas, have to deal with delayed or denied workers compensation benefits, or are denied light duty even recommended to do so by their physicians. One employee's surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome was delayed over a year due to the workers compensation insurance delaying authorization; the same employee had to return to work earlier than the doctor had recommended, and was not granted work place accommodations until a year later when the court date against Amazon drew near. The same insurance company initiated short-term surveillance to determine the employee's activity level. Another employee was denied workers compensation pay and light duty, and was then terminated for finishing her route late, due in part to her injury as well as a faulty delivery truck. In April 2018, Amazon was listed on the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s list of most dangerous places to work due to the company’s pattern of unsafe working conditions.
See Amazon employees with workplace injuries often struggle for income, benefits, support, Michael Sainato, The Guardian, Apr 5 2019
The Department of Labor is reviewing several complaints filed by the Communication Workers of America union which is alleging that almost $100 million in back pay is owed to employees of General Dynamics, a federal contractor that operates several call centers across the country. Wage theft generally occurs due to unpaid overtime or mis-classification of employees into lower-paying jobs. The suit has energized employees to seek unionization in order to improve wages and working conditions. An October 2018 report found properly classifying call center workers in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, alone would infuse $9.7 million into the local community through wage increases, and create nearly 200 jobs over the next four years. Currently, minimum prevailing wages are set for federal contractors based on location and job duties.
See Communication Workers union seeks $100 million in back pay in largest wage theft case involving federal contract work, Michael Sainato, The Guardian, Apr 5 2019
Labor unions are eyeing the upcoming 2020 presidental race with wariness and a plan to do things differently, with several big unions having been burned during the contentious 2016 campaign when union leaders backed Hillary Clinton over the more stridently pro-union Bernie Sanders, causing dissension among union members. As Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination met early this week in Washington with union groups to seek endorsements, union leaders were working behind the scenes to generate unity and to stress that input from front-line/rank and file union members was important in selecting which candidate to back. There may be less controversy this time around due to the number of presidential contenders aiming for office, and unions may opt to forego endorsements until after the primaries have completed. The eight presidential candidates who met with union groups on Monday were nonetheless eager to propose various agendas favoring labor interests, from restricting corporate power and corporate mergers, to being critical of laws scaling back the collection of union dues, to raising salaries and fighting poverty under today's minimum wage levels.
See Labor unions will approach 2020 presidential race carefully to avoid 2016 pitfalls, Evan Halper, The Los Angeles Times, Apr 5 2019
Earlier in March Google cut short the contracts of temporary workers who were part of the personality team for Google Assistant, Alexa. These workers have been integral to the development of Alexa and ending their contracts abruptly struck a nerve among not only those that were affected but also the full-time workers; a general sentiment is shared among employees that a wrong against the TVC’s is a wrong to all, especially with the growing labor movement taking place within the company. The TVC’s created a coalition asking Google to respect the terms of their contract and to pay out the remaining length of the contracts that were shortened. The letter has over 900 signatures from Google workers, and the letter raises concern for how the company treats its temporary workers.
See Julia Carrie Wong , The Guardian, Apr 3 2019
Japan is giving everyone a 10-day vacation at the end of April in honor of coronating its new emperor. Although some people are happy with the extra vacation time, 45% of respondents in a survey conducted by a Japanese newspaper felt unhappy with the extra time off. Women felt burdened with the increased household chores, hourly paid workers will forgo income for those 10 days, and investors are horrified that they won’t be able to trade in the stock market for 6 business days. The 10 day holiday is an opportunity for workers to take a break as Japan has a non-stop work culture. The Japanese government has already attempted to address the issue by putting into effect new labor laws that cap the length of the work week.
See Alexandra Ma,, Business Insider, Apr 3 2019
Norwood Jewell, former Vice President of United Auto Workers, and representative of Fiat Chrysler plead guilty yesterday in Detroit Federal court to conspiracy to violate the labor-management relations act. Jewell was involved in a multi-million dollar bribery scheme in which Fiat Chrysler executives bought the influence of union leaders through gifts and bribes disguised as funding for a training center to benefit workers. UAW spokesman, Brian Rothenberg, made a statement promising to ensure transparency and accountability in the future. In exchange for pleading guilty, Jewell is subject to face a year and fifteen months in prison.
See Gus Burns, MLive, Apr 3 2019
Teachers in Morocco went on strike at the end of March to protest the government’s education policies and their lack of response to their contractual demands. Ninety percent of the teachers, many of which are represented by one of the five unions in the education sector, was involved in a consecutive three-day strike. The government has penalized strikers by deducting sums from the protester's wages. Union representatives claim that this practice is a violation of Moroccan Labor law, as the law guarantees them the right to protest peacefully and maintain the freedom of unions. The unions are urging teachers to march before Parliament on Tuesday at 4 PM to protest against the introduction of the framework law on education.
See Hamza Guessous, Morocco World News, Apr 1 2019
Teachers at Chavez Prep Middle School in Columbia Heights went on strike this past week after the charter network announced that it would close its middle school campus. Teachers believe the campus closing is a retaliatory act against unionization effort, which is a clear violation of federal labor laws. However, the charter network states that the school is closing due to decreased enrollment; it plans on merging schools in its network, as well as closing another middle school the following year. The Chavez network denies the teachers allegations, saying that it is projected to lose 5 million dollars across all four of its campuses. Union representatives are skeptical and claim the closing of the campus can be attributed to poor allocation of funds, and the inability to reach an agreement between the teachers and management in negotiating a contract. The National Labor Relations Board is set to review the case.
See Perry Stein, The Washington Post, Apr 1 2019
The Philippines and China have a growing number of illegal workers. There is a growing concern for the number of Chinese workers in the Philippines, and natives are saying that they are taking jobs away from the locals. The Chinese ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua, stated that although it does not condemn any of their citizens to work in a foreign country illegally, in the circumstance that this is the case, they would want the foreign government to treat their citizens in a “professional” manner. China has many illegal workers from the Philippines and has handled their cases “professionally, in the spirit of their friendship and cooperation.”
See Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN, Apr 1 2019
Previous employees of the General Motors plant in Ohio are now trying to determine next steps, following the closure of their workplace. In 2017, union members agreed to make $118 million annually in concessions in an attempt to save the plant- only to have the plant shutdown a year later. Union members are disgruntled because they feel that they did everything that management asked of them to save the plant, “And still, we don’t have a product to build.” Management claims that the issue stems from a lack of demand for the vehicle that the plant was producing, not high employee wages.
See David Welch, Bloomberg, Mar 29 2019
Iceland’s economy has relied heavily on its tourism industry, following the banking collapse that occurred just over a decade ago. However, unionized tourism industry workers who are dissatisfied with their wages and hours have decided to go on strike in order to achieve better working conditions. Many employee contracts between unions and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise expired at the end of 2018, which has sparked an increase in collective activity and has inspired workers to participate in strikes. Negotiations are intended to continue, with a general strike starting on May 1 if satisfactory agreements cannot be reached before that date.
See Iceland Review, Mar 29 2019
Several thousand hospital support workers will soon be balloted in order to determine whether or not they will go on strike to protest low wages. A recent job evaluation completed by Irish government officials confirmed that workers were not receiving adequate annual pay increases. Paul Bell, an organizer for the union, expressed that employees should receive increased wages within eight weeks of a job evaluation. Unfortunately, nothing has been done in response to these findings in regard to increasing employee wages. Additionally, chefs employed in the healthcare sector will also be balloted as it was determined that their wages are not being increased appropriately.
See The Irish Examiner, Mar 29 2019
Prominent companies in the financial industry, such as JPMorgan, Nomura, and Goldman Sachs, are cutting jobs due to processes being automated. Many jobs are at risk as companies are identifying ways to lean out and become agile, one of the main outlets is through reducing headcount. JPMorgan Chase & Co. plans to dismiss hundreds of workers in the asset and wealth management line of business upon reviewing staffing levels; Nomura Holdings is planning to cut jobs on a global scale from its trading and investment banking businesses because it’s struggling to make a profit overseas. Goldman Sachs may also eliminate close to a hundred positions due to economic strains. A dozen other financial institutions plan on making similar reductions.
See Steve Dickson, Bloomberg Law, Mar 28 2019
The Kansas trial court convicted Ramiro Garcia and Donaldo Morales, both of whom are undocumented immigrants, for using someone else’s social security number which is a violation of the state’s identity theft laws. The trial court’s decision was overturned by the Kansas Supreme Court as they found it to be an improper effort to enforce federal immigration law. The case will now be heard by the US Supreme Court early next year. If the US Supreme Court overturns the decision, it would grant more leeway to prosecute undocumented immigrants for identity theft or other crimes.
See Laura D. Francis, Bloomberg Law, Mar 28 2019
McDonald's will no longer be lobbying against pay increases at the local, state, or federal level. The federal minimum wage, which has not changed since 2009, is still $7.25 an hour. In a recent press communication, Genna Gent, McDonald’s vice president of government relations said, “the conversation about wages is an important one; it’s one we wish to advance, not impede.” Gent further stated that pay increases should start phasing in. Notably, the average wage in corporate-owned stores exceed $10 an hour, however, for franchise stores, McDonald’s doesn’t have control over what their franchisees pay.
See Kate Gibson, CBS News, Mar 28 2019
Following an investigation conducted by the Thomas Reuters Foundation, some tea plantations certified by Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade were found to be mistreating their workers. The expose revealed that tea estates had been illegally deducting wages and fees from workers’ paychecks. These deductions meant that some workers were only earning 14 U.S. cents a day. Rainforest Alliance and major tea companies have stated that they are currently investigating the findings of the expose.
See Lisa Fuller , Reuters, Mar 27 2019
At a conference in London, government representatives made the case that governments should use their buying power to combat slave labor. To date, most efforts to prevent “supply chain slavery” have come from large companies. However, at the conference representatives argued that states have a responsibility to be involved in ending slavery, too. Speakers noted that governments are consumers and have the ability to tackle supply chain labor abuse by consuming ethical goods.
See Kieran Guilbert , Reuters, Mar 27 2019
Unionized dining workers at Tufts are preparing to strike over wages. Workers have received support from students, who recently attended an information session regarding the current state of contract negotiations. Union leaders have told students that they would prefer to avoid a strike but feel that it is necessary, unless University administration takes action soon. A significant portion of the session was devoted to informing students of what they can do if the strike does take place.
See Alexander Thompson, The Tufts Daily, Mar 27 2019
Lyft is planning to have its initial public offering (IPO) this Thursday. Subsequently, the company held an IPO roadshow yesterday, which led many Lyft driver to protest outside the Omni hotel. Despite being at the wrong location due to a last minute venue change, the drivers made their sentiments known. Lyft drivers wanted potential investors to know that the company's treatment of workers is poor and that their wages are constantly being cut, making it hard for them to earn a decent living. The protest yesterday coincides with the driver’s strike in Los Angeles and San Diego.
See Olivia Zaleski, Eric Newcomer, Bloomberg Law, Mar 26 2019