Workplace Issues Today
As the Verizon strike enters its 4th week, workers on the picket lines are now receiving financial support from the Communications Workers of America's strike fund. The 40,000 strikers consist of mainly installation and service workers for Verizon’s internet and cable products. As a result, the telecommunications company has hired thousands of temporary workers and continues to maintain that it has not suffered any negative financial side effects. The CWA and Verizon met on Monday, after Verizon submitted its "last, best offer", but the two parties are still far from an agreement.
See Aaron Pressman, Fortune, May 4 2016
Teachers returned to work this morning after calling in sick on Monday and Tuesday in protest of the possibility that they may not be paid if the Detroit School District runs out of funds. Over 1,500 teachers failed to show up on Monday and Tuesday, resulting in 45,000 children missing two days of classes. The struggling district is one of the worst performing in the country and has been receiving aid from both financial consultants and the state. Lawmakers have proposed a $500 million restructuring plan, which has been bashed by union leaders who argue the new legislation would nullify current labor agreements as well as limit collective bargaining in the future.
See Fox News, Associated Press, May 4 2016
After being fired from his job at Knight Transportation in Katy, Texas, earlier this morning, a gunman returned to the site and shot who is believed to have been his supervisor. Police believe this was a "retaliatory act" and have yet to name the gunman or his victim. One other coworker was injured and the gunman committed suicide shortly after. Police speculate that the worker was disgruntled after being terminated and retrieved the gun shortly after from his home. The investigation is currently ongoing.
See Mark Berman, Washington Post, May 4 2016
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's Labor Minister Mufrej al-Haqbani outlined new plans the country has that will help to reduce unemployment. Saudi Arabia has struggled to maintain strong employment levels, and now hopes to reduce the number of unemployed by 7% by 2030. New labor quotas will be implemented to encourage Saudi businesses to hire local workers. The country would like to also increase female participation in the labor force from 22% to 30%.
See Saudi Arabia Outlines Plans to Improve Unemployment Levels, The New York Times, Reuters, May 3 2016
At the end of 2015, skilled workers employed at a Volkswagen plan in Tennessee voted to unionize with the UAW. Despite these workers' decision to unionize, the 1,500 hourly employees at the plant voted against unionization. As a result, the employer has refused to bargain with the workers who are now represented by the UAW. Labor leaders from the union will meet later this month with the company's upper level management in Germany in an effort to resolve this dispute. So far, a complaint has been issued by the NLRB over VW's refusal to negotiate.
See Union Leaders to Meet with VW Officials in Germany to Resolve Dispute, BERNIE WOODALL, Reuters, May 3 2016
On Monday, the Chicago Teacher's Union issued a statement that it had not yet decided on a date for the potential strike it may hold. Now, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has taken issue with the union because it had previously issued a statement saying that a strike would not happen in May unless things escalated. The CTU lashed out against these comments saying that the city of Chicago had the money to resolve these issues teachers currently faced.
See Chicago Teachers Union has yet to Decide on a Date for May Strike, Juan Perez Jr. and John Byrne, Chicago Tribune, May 3 2016
On Sunday, a rally was held in Paris to protest new labor reforms. These reforms, which will make it easier for employers to negotiate with employees on working time, are in an effort to drop the country's unemployment rate below 10%. On Sunday, it is estimated that as many as 80,000 people joined the march. Youth wearing hoodies fought with police officers and three of them were detained.
See 80,000 People Protest Labor Reforms in France , The New York Times, Reuters, May 2 2016
According to survey results collected by the European Union, despite a recovering economy in Spain, the unemployment rate has still hovered around or above 20% for the last five years. This number is considerably higher than other struggling countries such as Italy, which has an unemployment rate of 11% and Portugal, which sits at 12%. This unemployment rate may be slightly higher due to many workers who have "off-the-books jobs". Despite this, Spanish officials do not expect the country's unemployment rate to fall below 15% before 2019.
See Despite Economic Recovery, Spain's Unemployment Rate Still at 20%, Peter Eavis, The New York Times, May 2 2016
On Sunday, labor leaders announced that approximately 1,000 Uber drivers had signed membership cards to join the Amalgamated Local of Livery Employees in Solidarity (Alles). After Uber settled a case for nearly $100 million with drivers in California and Massachusetts, workers won the right to form associations so that they could more easily bring issues to management's attention. Alles plans to work to better protect Uber drivers, and will also push for tighter regulations on ride-share companies.
See Uber Drivers Form Labor Association in New York City, Fortune, Reuters, May 2 2016
On Thursday, the charity International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), signed an agreement along with the government to build schools in the Ivory Coast in an effort to reduce child labor. The agreement also included plans to better protect and support victims of child labor. Cocoa plantations are large culprits of child labor. In 2011, $22 million was put toward a plan to reduce child labor in the industry by 70% by 2020. It is estimated that as many as one million children are employed by cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast.
See Increased Education Opportunities Used to Fight Child Labor, New York Times, Reuters, Apr 29 2016
In Chicago, teachers may go on strike at some point after May 16th, which would cause school districts to cancel final exams for students. With the threat of another strike, the Chicago Public School system is only able to guarantee that graduation will take place for seniors in the district. Administration would be able to take the place of teachers for graduation, but would be unable to host other typical graduation activities such as a luncheon. The teachers' union will meet on Wednesday to discuss things including the strike, although both sides remain committed to negotiating a new labor agreement.
See Chicago Teachers Strike May Cause Final Exams to be Cancelled , CBS News, Apr 29 2016
After 10 months of negotiations, Verizon sat down with union leaders to present a new contract. Included in the contract is more protection against layoffs and a 7.5% wage increase for employees. This contract comes after 36,000 Verizon employees went on strike two weeks ago, making it the largest strike since 2011. A majority of these workers had been without a contract since last August. The workers were upset that Verizon had sent over 5,000 jobs overseas and were hiring more non-union low wage workers.
See Verizon Presents Contract to Union Leaders, Ahiza Garcia, CNN Money, Apr 29 2016
The Communications Workers of America have complained to the National Labor Relations Board that T-Mobile has formed a company-controlled union in efforts to marginalize their efforts to unionize. Despite the illegal nature of this practice in the United States, T-Mobile formed “T-Voice”, which is made up of employee representatives. The wireless communications company is allegedly using this “sham union” to receive intel on employee desires and rollout new perks in an effort to diminish the need for the CWA to unionize the company.
See Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg, Apr 28 2016
After over two weeks of strikes, Verizon employees have allegedly began resorting to criminal acts such as damaging equipment, vandalizing, and cutting the company’s fiber-optic wires. 36,000 Verizon employees are currently in their 15th day of strike activities, the largest strike the United States has seen since the the communications company’s workers protested in 2011. The strikers are fighting Verizon’s use of hiring independent contractors as well as the company relocating jobs to Mexico. Verizon is offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.
See Matt Egan , CNN Money, Apr 28 2016
After Volkswagen ignored bargaining requests from 160 skilled trades workers in their Chattanooga plant, the National Labor Relations Board filed an official complaint. The tradesmen are represented by the United Auto Workers, after another NLRB decision earlier this month sanctioned the union election and upheld its appointment of the UAW. This would be the UAW’s first successful organization of a foreign automaker in the South.
See Bernie Woodall and Daniel Wiessner, Reuters, Apr 28 2016
Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Cologne/Bonn, Dortmund, and Hannover airports in Germany went on strike this morning, resulting in hundreds of cancellations and delays. Verdi, a German labor union, called the strike and is pushing for a 6% salary increase for over 2.1million public service workers across the country. This is drastically higher than the 3% pay increase the German government has offered the union, prompting the Interior Minister, Thomas de Maizeiere, to deem the strike “totally inappropriate”. Delays are expected to continue throughout the day as major airlines such as Lufthansa have had to cancel up to 895 flights.
See Richard Weiss, Bloomberg, Apr 27 2016
Chobani employees were delighted yesterday as the company’s CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, announced that he would be granting them up to 10% of the greek yogurt manufacturer’s overall value. Each employee could, on average, receive up to $150,000 if the company were to go public via an IPO. Ulukaya’s decision stemmed from a desire to “create something special and of lasting value” that would reward his employees. The labor conscious CEO has also been a champion of higher minimum wages and support for refugees.
See Jeanne Sahadi , CNN Money, Apr 27 2016
In an effort to conserve energy, President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela has decided to shorten the country’s work week to encompass only Monday and Tuesday. The issue of paying public employees has yet to be announced. The nation has been plagued by the Zika virus, food and water shortages, and an economic crisis, resulting in Maduro’s vast unpopularity. Venezuelans have suffered from “rolling blackouts” as the government attempts to conserve power and electricity.
See Patrick Gillespie , CNN Money, Apr 27 2016
In the United States, over time globalization has led to many manufacturing jobs to be shipped overseas to countries where labor was relatively less expensive. As a result, many of the people who lost their jobs to this phenomenon have been left politically polarized, falling either on the far left or far right. In the south, some regional unemployment levels were as high as 12.8% in 2010 as the result of nearly 10,000 manufacturing jobs being relocated abroad after China entered the World Trade Organization.
See Voters Left Politically Polarized as a Result of Job Relocation, NELSON D. SCHWARTZ and QUOCTRUNG BUI, The New York Times, Apr 26 2016
On Monday, Volkswagen announced that it would be taking the case involving unionization among its workers in Tennessee to the U.S. federal appeals court. The case is over whether the United Auto Workers union (UAW) will represent some of the company's employees at this plant. The UAW filed unfair labor practice charges against the company after Volkswagen refused to bargain with 160 workers who voted to unionize with the UAW in December. This past month, the NLRB voted to uphold the UAW's election.
See Volkswagen Challenges NLRB's Ruling Over Union Election, BERNIE WOODALL, Reuters, Apr 26 2016
Last month, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed a bill that will help to protect fast-food companies from labor conflicts that happen within their franchises. The law prevents courts from applying the same logic imposed by the NLRB that makes corporations more liable for activities in its franchised locations. So far seven states have passed similar laws, which jeopardizes the NLRB's attempts to make large food corporations more accountable for the activities that happen in its restaurants.
See States Pass Law that Protects Corporations from Franchises Conflicts, ALAN PYKE, Think Progress, Apr 26 2016
On Sunday, Volkswagen indicated that it would be ready to meet demands of its workers just after one of their top managers was accused of using the carbon emissions scandal as an excuse to cut workers. Since this accusation in early April, VW has been working with labor groups in an effort to create a strategy that benefits both groups. VW has planned to set aside approximately 16.2 billion euros to pay for the results of their emissions scandal, which will be a net loss of 1.4 billion euros.
See VW Agrees to Involve Labor Groups in Future Cost-Cutting Strategies , The New York Times, Reuters, Apr 25 2016
In Greece, press unions have intensified their strike in protest of reforms that will affect their pension fund. As a result, the country will not publish news papers or broadcasts for the next several days. These journalists went on strike for two days last week and then decided to call for a strike that began on Sunday at 6am and will last until Wednesday at 6am. On Monday, no newspapers were printed and most online news channels did not hold their regularly scheduled broadcasts.
See Press Unions In Greece Call for Three-Day Strike Over Reforms, ABC News, The Associated Press, Apr 25 2016
On Tuesday, employees of Southern rail, who are unionized with Rail, Maritime, and Transport (RMT), will go on strike at 11am over safety being jeopardized as a result of new proposal that includes cost-cutting measures. The strike, which will last 24 hours, has been designed to impact commuter trains in an effort to create the maximum amount of disruption to normal operations. Certain lines will not operate as a result of this strike. The company's new proposal is to switch to driver-only trains, which will no longer make conductors responsible for opening and closing train doors.
See Employees of Southern Rail Strike Over Cost-Cutting Measures, Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, Apr 25 2016
On Thursday, Uber settled a class-action that all its drivers are to remain classified as independent contractors. By classifying its drivers as freelancers, it allows Uber to avoid paying typical costs associated with full-time employees such as social security payments and abiding by minimum wage laws. Under this settlement, Uber will be required to pay 385,000 drivers as much as $100 million who were complainants in the case. This is the largest number of drivers in history to file a class-action lawsuit.
See Uber Settles Class-Action Lawsuit, Drivers Remain Freelancers, MIKE ISAAC and NOAM SCHEIBER, The New York Times, Apr 22 2016
Data from the Labor Department released Thursday showed a number of positive trends in workforce stability and economic health. Jobless claims dropped to their lowest level since 1973, the number of individuals receiving jobless benefits reached a 16 year low, and first-time jobless claims have held below 300,000 for the longest stretch since 1973. Economists say these numbers indicate robust labor conditions.
See Jobless Claims Fall to Lowest Levels Since 1973, Victoria Stilwell, The New York Times, Bloomberg News, Apr 22 2016
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released an accusatory new report this week, alleging that officials at the University of Southern California (USC) interfered with a vote early this year that would have decided whether faculty members should form a union. The report claims that the university gave raises to some non-tenure track faculty and threatened that faculty would not be allowed to serve on university committees if they voted to unionize. It also singles out USC Provost Michael Quick, claiming that he created "a general atmosphere of fear making a free election impossible." The report calls for a rejection of the initial results and for a new, fair election.
See USC Accused of Tampering with Faculty's Vote in Union Election, Rosanna Xia, The Los Angeles Times, Apr 22 2016
As the strike of 40,000 Verizon employees continues, the telecommunications company has claimed that the strike has not had any impact on its financials. The company’s CFO still believes that the company will meet their expected targets for the year. This contradicts Verizon’s quarterly report, which stated that the company may “take an unspecified hit” due to the strike. Verizon had taken proactive measures, which included training replacement employees in the case of a strike.
See Aaron Pressman, Fortune, Apr 21 2016
The National Labor Relations Board is investigating cases to determine if employers who wrongfully classify their employees as independent contractors prevents those workers from the right to organize. The Teamsters have also rallied around the cause through their recently filed complaint against an employer of port truck drivers who allegedly prohibited the employees from exercising their Section 7 rights. Major decisions are expected this summer from both the Columbia University and Miller & Anderson cases.
See Brian Mahoney, Politico, Apr 21 2016
After two employees of the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center were killed due to domestic violence incidents, the hospital has been changing training and protocol in order to prevent future tragedies. The University hospital has introduced a new training program to educated and teach employees how to recognize the signs of domestic violence as well as prevention methods. Despite the fact that domestic violence affects 1 in 4 women, the hospital is one of the first employers to introduce an official domestic violence policy in the United States.
See Melissa Jeltsen, Huffington Post, Apr 21 2016
The Conference Board has published “Help Wanted”, a report that highlights the increased labor shortages in manufacturing, technology, and small business industries. This labor shortage is a direct result of the county’s low unemployment rate of 5%. Employers have been struggling to find qualified employees that suit their business’ needs, which economist Gad Levanon believes will result in higher compensation for those who fulfill these needs. Contrastingly, employers may begin to hire less-qualified workers and put more effort into training programs to get their skills up to par.
See Mitchell Hartman, Market Place, Apr 20 2016
After the union representing Chicago Public Schools rejected a fact-finding report that supported teacher’s claims to economic gains in their contracts, teachers have demanded that the union submit to binding arbitration. The teachers have stated that they will strike despite the obvious suffering it would cause parents and students. The Chicago Teachers Union has called this demand a “publicity stunt”, further dividing the two parties. CTU president Karen Lewis is expected to address these demands later this afternoon.
See Chicago Sun Times, Apr 20 2016
Protests ceased after Anas al-Saleh,the oil minister of Kuwait refused to negotiate with employees while they were on strike. The strike lasted 3 days and resulted in the county’s crude production dropping by almost 50%. Workers were protesting potential wage and benefit cuts as well as layoffs. These anticipated concessions are fueled by the Kuwait government's takeover of public sector payrolls.
See CNBC, Reuters, Apr 20 2016
On Tuesday, Bernd Osterloh, was quoted in the German newspaper Handelsblatt saying that Volkswagen should cut bonuses for the company's management. Osterloh, who acts as the company's labor chief is not the first to propose this idea following the company's carbon emissions scandal. Volkswagen's second largest shareholder, Lower Saxony, has also argued that executive bonuses should not be paid out this year. Osterloh believes that these bonuses should be cut based upon moral principle.
See Labor Chief at VW Calls for Cuts to Management Bonuses, The New York Times, Reuters, Apr 19 2016
In Brazil, the Ministry of Labor has begun to publish a list of "dirty" companies in an effort to publicly advertise who is caught engaging in slave labor. Brazilians are frequently promised high wages in exchange for working on coffee plantations, however once there they are subject to terrible working conditions and armed guards prevent them from leaving the property. Unlike other coffee exporting countries, Brazil has been willing to publish information on these farms which allows groups fighting slave labor to give their input on how to best tackle the problem.
See Brazil Publishes List of Companies Engaged in Slave Labor, The New York Times, Reuters, Apr 19 2016
Airbnb has begun to negotiations with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in an effort to reach an agreement in which the company will promote unionized housekeepers for its short-term rentals. The company has been trying for several years now to partner with a union, but has been unsuccessful so far. The deal with the SEIU would include the company promoting a $15 an hour wage for the housekeepers. Some people within the SEIU have been hesitant to partner with Airbnb as they believe that they company has only exacerbated the housing crisis. If this partnership goes through, it will be the first major agreement between a union and a company that relies on short-term engagements.
See Airbnb Negotiates with SEIU to Promote Unionized Housekeepers, Sam Levin and Julia Carrie Wong, The Guardian, Apr 19 2016
The group, Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction (G.U.L.F.), has decided to resume protests at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum after the museum decided to expand its operations to Abu Dhabi. These protests will resume after a year-long break now that the museums upper management have refused to continue talks with G.U.L.F. The museum has been negotiating with the labor group for the past six years, but believes any further talks will continue to be unproductive. G.U.L.F. is concerned about the labor abuse that migrant workers face in Abu Dhabi.
See Labor Group to Protest Guggenheim Museum's Expansion Plans, COLIN MOYNIHAN, The New York Times, Apr 18 2016
In Kuwait, oil production was reduced by 60% when thousands of workers went on strike beginning Sunday. The employees of Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC), went on strike after the government proposed pay reforms for public sector employees. Representatives of KNPC have declared the employees' strike illegal. These changes to public sector pay could mean wage and benefit cuts for 20,000 oil workers. The workers' union did not say how long the strike was expected to last.
See Kuwait Oil Workers Strike Over Potential Pay and Benefit Cuts, The National, Apr 18 2016
Last week, an Appeals Court in California voted to throw out a ruling made by a lower court that threatened job protections and tenure for teachers in the California public school system. Those who supported the lower court's ruling believed that it should be made easier to fire teachers with poor performance despite their tenure. The nine students who were plaintiffs in this case plan to appeal this ruling. The court's decision was based on the fact that the plaintiffs could not prove that they were more adversely affected by ineffective teachers protected by these firing procedures than any other students.
See Appeals Court in CA Upholds Job Protections for Public School Teachers, Howard Blume, Joy Resmovits and Sonali Kohli , The Los Angeles Times, Apr 18 2016
On Thursday, workers across 300 cities in the United States gathered to protest in favor of increasing the federal minimum wage. In New York City, the protestors began in Times Square and marched down Broadway passing retail stores where other workers showed their support. These striking workers passed by Verizon employees who were on strike over contract negotiations and the two groups joined together in a chant. Currently the federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009, and the minimum wage for tipped employees is only $2.13 an hour.
See Worker Protest Federal Minimum Wage in 300 Cities, The Guardian, Apr 15 2016
On Thursday, workers in France held a violent protest in response to President Hollande's decision to move forward with his plan to implement a new labor bill. These protestors damaged cars, attacked job centers, and vandalized bus stops. Hollande's bill is meant to loosen labor laws in the hopes that it will encourage companies to increase their hiring, but workers fear it will remove most of the protections that are in place. So far, most of the protests that have been organized by union leaders have been peaceful. Despite this resistance, Hollande maintains that the bill will be pushed through.
See Violent Protests in France Erupt Over New Labor Bill, The New York Times, The Associated Press, Apr 15 2016
On Thursday, California fast-food workers decided to shift the focus of their efforts from the "Fight for $15" campaign to unionizing. Many workers have shifted their focus to unionization now that they believe that a $15 wage is in reach. The Governor of California recently signed new legislation that will incrementally increase the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour. Workers in California believe that unionizing will ensure that these future jobs they hold are "good". Despite this change in focus, the workers in California will continue to rally along with the rest of the country until all workers wages are at least $15 an hour.
See Workers in California Shift Focus Away from Wages to Unionization, Samantha Masunaga, The Los Angeles Times, Apr 15 2016
According to the United States State Department, reports of abusive work environments and forced labor have continued on Thai seafood ships despite regulations issued in the U.S’s 2015 global report. The annual global review of human rights practices uncovered approximately 2,000 enslaved workers and led to the punishments of offenders as well as the shutting down and seizure of many Thai fishing boats. These labor violations pushed Thai lawmakers to enhance policies on human trafficking as well as increasing punishments for offenders. Unfortunately the new laws’ lack of specificity in defining forced labor has led to these continued labor violations. The United States is expected to issue an additional report regarding human trafficking and will grade other countries’ track record in fighting these issues in 2016.
See Apr 14 2016
Protesters in favor of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour have chosen McDonald's restaurants around the globe as their center stage. The movement’s decision to protest in front of the famous golden arches stems from the belief that the company has the ability to make substantial impacts on the U.S. market and laws. The Service Employees International Union has bolstered the “Fight for $15” campaign by holding strikes for the past 4 years. These strikes are expected to continue in major cities such as New York, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, and even Paris.
See Candice Choi, Apr 14 2016
Dangerous conditions on Amtrak tracks have resulted in the deaths of two of the rail service’s employees in Philadelphia. The accident occurred after an Amtrak train collided with a backhoe that was working along the tracks. The incident has resulted in Amtrak coming under fire as its safety procedures are scrutinized by union leaders. The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Ways Employees Division, the union representing the railroad workers, is calling for better measures to ensure employee safety and will be issuing more information as it becomes available through its independent investigation.
See Brittany Horn, The News Journal, Apr 14 2016
Early this morning, after 8 months of failed negotiations, tens of thousands of East Coast Verizon employees began picketing. Although the majority of strikers hail from the phone company’s wireline business, Verizon Wireless workers have also organized protests—signaling a potential disruption of customer service. The workers are fighting against slashed pension benefits and disadvantageous changes to company policies in regards to outsourcing.
See Noam Scheiber, The New York Times, Apr 13 2016
In a 2-1 decision, the National Labor Relations Board dismissed Volkswagen’s challenge to a union vote held in December. The vote unionized 160 of the German automaker’s maintenance workers under the United Auto Workers, but VW refused to engage in negotiations. Union workers had been concerned after Bob Corker, a United States Senator, stated that VW would reward a union defeat by introducing the production of a new SUV at the plant. Despite the union’s victory, Chattanooga is still planning to begin production of the company’s new SUV, relieving skepticism regarding the plant’s future.
See Erik Schelzig , ABC News, Associated Press, Apr 13 2016
In a 2-1 decision, the National Labor Relations Board dismissed Volkswagen’s challenge to a union vote held in December. The vote unionized 160 of the German automaker’s maintenance workers under the United Auto Workers, but VW refused to engage in negotiations. Union workers had been concerned after Bob Corker, a United States Senator, stated that VW would reward a union defeat by introducing the production of a new SUV at the plant. Despite the union’s victory, Chattanooga is still planning to begin production of the company’s new SUV, relieving skepticism regarding the plant’s future.
See Erik Schelzig , ABC News, Associated Press, Apr 13 2016
In a 2-1 decision, the National Labor Relations Board dismissed Volkswagen’s challenge to a union vote held in December. The vote unionized 160 of the German automaker’s maintenance workers under the United Auto Workers, but VW refused to engage in negotiations. Union workers had been concerned after Bob Corker, a United States Senator, stated that VW would reward a union defeat by introducing the production of a new SUV at the plant. Despite the union’s victory, Chattanooga is still planning to begin production of the company’s new SUV, reliving the skepticism about the plant’s future.
See Erik Schelzig , ABC News, Associated Press, Apr 13 2016
The American Federation of Teachers has begun to organize teachers at government-funded public charter schools under the supervision of the NLRB. The growing trend has resulted in debates regarding the use of private sector law in what are traditionally regarded as public entities. Due to the inconsistency of state laws, the lines have been blurred in the case of charter schools. Although the AFT’s recent successful union organizing efforts have gone mostly unopposed by school administrators, some NLRB complaints have been filed and have resulted in the reinstatement of unfairly fired teachers.
See Michael Rose , Bloomberg BNA, Apr 13 2016
On Monday in Ohio, a federal judge ruled that two men were guilty of trafficking young workers in order to employ them on an egg farm. An investigation into the situation began after federal agents raided a trailer where they found children from Guatemala who had been forced to work at this egg farm. Some of the children from Guatemala had been promised that if they came to the U.S. they would be given an education. Reportedly these traffickers forced the workers' families to sign over the deeds to their homes in exchange for the promise that their children would be able to attend classes.
See Men Found Guilty of Forced Labor on an Egg Farm in Ohio, The New York Times, The Associated Press, Apr 12 2016
On Tuesday, Deutsche Bank announced that it would put its plans to expand operations in North Carolina on hold as a result of the recent ruling that will remove protections against discrimination toward people based upon sexual orientation. The bank had initially planned to add 250 new positions to its technology division which is located in Cary, N.C. PayPal also announced recently that it will be postponing its plan to add an additional 400 jobs in the area in light of this ruling.
See Deutsche Bank Postpones Expansion in NC Following Bias Law Ruling, PETER EAVIS, The New York Times, Apr 12 2016
Air Traffic Controllers working at the Brussels airport decided to hold a wildcat strike, which caused all inbound and outbound flights on Tuesday evening to be put on hold. The workers decided to hold a strike over disputes regarding pension reform. Traffic at this airport has already been reduced following the attack that happened on the airport on March 22nd. Workers who participated in the strike reported to their superiors that they were either sick or "unfit to work".
See Brussels Airport Air Traffic Controllers Hold Wildcat Strike, ABC News, The Associated Press, Apr 12 2016
In California, many councils have voted to raise the minimum hourly wage for workers. However, there is a loophole in these agreements that sometimes prevent unionized workers from benefitting from the same wage increase as everyone else. These types of exemptions do not exist in federal and state level minimum wages, but because cities in California are raising wages on their own, some of these loopholes are appearing. Workers, who at times pay over $50 a month in union fees could now be making less than their non-unionized coworkers.
See Unionized Workers Could be Paid Less as Result of Wage Law Loopholes, Peter Jamison, The Los Angeles Times, Apr 11 2016
Verizon has been given until Wednesday of this week to resolve a contract dispute with its employees or they will strike. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America, which represent approximately 39,000 Verizon employees, have been without a contract since their previous one expired on August 1st, 2015. Most of these unionized workers are assigned to the company's landline division, which has experienced job cuts as a result of falling profitability.
See Verizon Employees Threaten to Strike on Wednesday, Scott Moritz, Bloomberg, Apr 11 2016
In New York, the internal affairs unit has decided to launch an investigation into the corrections officers conduct toward inmates. Up until recently, internal affairs had been hesitant to challenge the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association, an organization that represents approximately 20,000 members. The union holds a considerable amount of power in rural New York areas where prisons are one of the main employers. Through lobbying, the prisons have obtained good labor contracts for their members, and are largely well protected by lawmakers.
See NY State Internal Affairs to Investigate Correctional Officers' Conduct, MICHAEL WINERIP, MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ and TOM ROBBINS, The New York Times, Apr 11 2016
Even though California and New York passed plans to incrementally increase their minimum wages to $15 an hour, many are still divided on the issue. Those in favor of raising the minimum wage believe it will help to battle the growing inequality in the U.S. However, those opposed believe that a higher wage will put strain on struggling cities. In Massachusetts, the minimum wage is expected to increase from $10 to $11 an hour by January of 2017. Currently, the median wage of workers in Massachusetts is around $21.19 an hour so an increase to $15 is 70% of the state's median wage. This large minimum wage increase has the potential to greatly improve workers' welfare or it could lead to massive job cuts from companies.
See Impacts of a $15 an Hour Wage in Massachusetts , Evan Horowitz, The Boston Globe, Apr 8 2016
On Thursday, faculty of California State University campuses announced that they would be postponing a strike they had scheduled to happen next week. The teachers have reached a tentative agreement that may put an end to salary disputes. The strike, which was supposed to begin next Wednesday and last for five days, would have caused major disruptions across campuses in California. The faculty argue that they are underpaid in comparison to their colleagues and demand a 5% wage increase. During negotiations, University officials maintained that they could only afford a 2% increase for these faculty. Details of the contract will be released on Friday.
See Faculty at Cal State Postpone Strike Over Tentative Contract, Rosanna Xia, The Los Angeles Times, Apr 8 2016
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is expected to review whether graduate students should be considered employees of a university. If the NLRB finds that they should not be considered employees, these graduate students could lose their right to unionize. The NLRB had previously considered them to not be employees until a case in 2000 when the board sided with the "students". The board then sided with the universities in a case just four years later. Thus the board has commonly flip-flopped over its view on this topic. At this time the NLRB has not set an exact date to address this issue.
See NLRB to Review Whether Graduate Students Qualify as Employees, Yuki Noguchi, NPR, Apr 8 2016
When the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act - otherwise known as welfare reform - was passed in 1996, its goals were to reduce the number of people on welfare by making government benefits “temporary” (5 years or less) in order to encourage people to seek work. Those who couldn’t find work, or who didn’t volunteer or get job training, would eventually be removed from welfare. While welfare reform succeeded in reducing the number of people on welfare from 13 million in 1995 to 3 million today, results are mixed in that many are still unemployed, still living under the poverty line, and are now faced with diminishing aid and benefits such as food stamps. A delayed tenet of welfare reform was to remove access to food stamps after three months if adults weren’t employed at least 20 hours of week; many states have chosen to implement this requirement this year as of April 1st, leaving many without food stamps. Welfare reform also changed the way states received federal assistance, with funding appropriated in large blocks without delineating the way it should be used. As a result, states may allocate the money towards college scholarships and foster care, instead of skills training and helping people with attaining and keeping jobs that would keep them above poverty level.
See Welfare reform, meant to encourage employment, reduces aid, food stamps, job training as poverty remains , Alana Semuels, The Atlantic, Apr 7 2016
According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, 45% of employees in the private sector do not have a retirement savings plan through their job. While they can set up retirement accounts on their own, in reality only 5% do so. Due to growing concerns that many middle-class workers will slide into poverty due to the expected shortfall in personal retirement savings and dwindling Social Security benefits, California state senator Kevin de León wrote a bill in 2012 proposing the feasibility of what is now known as the Secure Choice Retirement Plan, a state-run entity that would help workers automatically contribute 2-5% of their wages towards the plan, unless they opt out. MyRA, which was launched last year by the Obama administration, exists as an option for workers with no employer-sponsored retirement plan, but it has a limit of $15,000.
See California plans public retirement plan to help those with no employer-sponsored retirement benefit, James Rufus Koren, The LA Times, Apr 7 2016
While the 5 percent unemployment rate appears consistent with a jobless rate conducive to stable inflation and possible economic expansion and full employment, economist Jared Bernstein argues that underemployment remains too high at 9.8 percent. Previous economic booms and expansion cycles will typically see underemployment rates as low as 7 percent. Underemployment, referred to as U6 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is a measure of three categories – the unemployed, part-timers who would rather be full-time, and “marginally attached” employees who are not working or actively searching, but would take a position if a good opportunity became available. The underemployed figure generally concerns the “the involuntary part-timers” continuum, where whether a worker is working as much as desired reflects the strength of the labor market. U6 rose steeply due to the Great Recession, but other foundational changes may have contributed, including a shift to service industries and “just-in-time” staffing scenarios.
See Underemployment rate remains high despite low unemployment figures, Jared Bernstein, The Washington Post, Apr 7 2016
The Labor Department finalized details on Wednesday that would mandate that the advice financial advisors give their clients needs to be in their best interest, potentially reducing sales fees and commissions. The rule came about due to a White House Council of Economic Advisers study that found that advice given to consumers resulting from conflicts of interests on behalf of their financial advisors resulted in losses of $17 billion. Under the new fiduciary rule, advisors can no longer only recommend a “suitable” investment (which may result in a sizable commission for the broker); they must recommend an investment that suits the client’s best interests. Critics of the rule argue that the rule will raise regulatory and liability costs, making it difficult for advisors who work on commission with small investors. Supporters say that argument is exactly why the rule was needed, that hidden fees and large commissions aren’t necessary to offer a low-income investor the best benefits.
See Labor Department outlines “fiduciary rule” for retirement advisors; mandates client’s best interests , Chris Arnold and Marilyn Geewax, NPR Online, Apr 6 2016
The frequently bandied-about wisdom these days is that the U.S. economy is returning to normal in terms of job growth, while wage growth remains average or stagnant – perceptions that may be misleading and incomplete. While it’s true that the economy has experienced the most consecutive months of job growth in history, the jobs being created reflect a change in the nature of the employment relationship. Previous economic recoveries usually signal increased growth in “standard full-time” positions; these jobs have actually had a slight decline. What’s risen post-recession is the number of “alternative” work arrangements – such as independent contracting and temporary work – that result in fluctuating work schedules and lack of benefits. While such work can be “full-time”, this type of employment has led to “full-time job seeking” where workers have to patch together the salary and benefits they need. Similarly, wage growth may appear to be depressed due to the growth in cheap labor and contracting jobs, and the retirement of high-wage employees from the work-force as Baby Boomers begin to retire. Continuously-employed individuals, who haven’t experienced job loss, have continued to earn higher wages.
See U.S economy recovering into a new “normal” that reflects shifts in nature of work , Derek Thompson , The Atlantic, Apr 6 2016
Last Thursday in France, school teachers, air traffic controllers, train operators as well as many other professionals went on strike over the governmental changes that have been imposed by President Hollande. Hundreds of thousands of workers took to the streets in protest of the current state of the country rather than just its labor issues. France’s current unemployment rate has hovered around 10% and nearly a third of those unemployed are ages 15 to 24. Those who did not participate in the strike were forced to commute to work on overcrowded trains as a result of the limited service that was offered because of the strike.
See France’s Massive Strike Over More than Just Labor Issues, CELESTINE BOHLEN, The New York Times, Apr 5 2016
On April 4th, the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed a new bill that will aim to raise the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2018. After this, it is expected that the hourly wage will be increased by $1 every year until 2022. Businesses in the state who employ less than 25 employees will be given a cushion of one extra year to abide by these new wage restrictions. Despite these plans to increase the hourly wage, there is a loophole that they can be suspended if job growth declines or retail sales struggle.
See California to Raise Minimum Wage Incrementally Through 2022, Michael R. Blood and Don Thompson, Los Angeles Daily News, The Associated Press, Apr 5 2016
On Monday, the California Supreme court ruled that employers cannot deny a worker a place to sit just because they prefer that the person stand while doing their job. The court's opinion was in response to lawsuits brought by cashiers at the CVS drugstore chain and tellers at Chase Bank who said they were wrongly denied a place to sit while working and clarifies state labor regulations that require employers in California to provide workers with "suitable seats" when the nature of their work reasonably permits the use of seats. In CVS' case, cashiers also stock shelves and perform other tasks that require them to stand, which would allow CVS to classify their jobs as "standing jobs" and deny them seats while working. But the court rejected that interpretation, saying that it ignored the "duration of those tasks, as well as where, and how often, they are performed." and called for an assessment of employees' tasks and duties at particular work stations and not their overall duties when determining whether a seat is provided for the employee. The decision was a victory for millions of California workers who have been denied a place to sit while they perform repetitive tasks in fixed locations.
See California Court Rules Employer Must Provide Seats for Employees , SUDHIN THANAWALA, ABC News, The Associated Press, Apr 5 2016
Chicago teachers hope to maintain their momentum following their one-day strike Friday. The Chicago Teachers Union went on strike in hopes of reaching a new deal with the city, as well as more funding for education state-wide. Union leaders aim to ride momentum from the strike towards developing a broader movement to counter the largely anti-union administration of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. The governor slammed the strike as "shameful" and disrespectful, while Chicago school officials filed a complaint with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board seeking monetary damages from the union. Meanwhile, contract talks between Chicago schools and CTU continue, with an arbitrator expected to rule in the next few weeks.
See Chicago teachers aim to build momentum from one-day strike, Juan Perez Jr.and Kim Geiger, Chicago Tribune, Apr 4 2016
A highly controversial trade union law was voted into action Monday by Cambodia's parliament, igniting tensions among the country's textile workers. About 100 protesters clashed with authorities outside of the National Assembly as the bill was passed, resulting in a number of injuries. Cambodian lawmakers passed the bill while ignoring recommended changes by labor groups, who charge that the new law limits labor rights by setting strict rules in an effort to prevent workers from striking. Cambodia's largest economic engine is its $5 billion textile industry with over 700,000 union workers. Protests over pay have troubled the country frequently over the last decade, sometimes resulting in violent crackdowns by the government. The bill's defenders believe it will stabilize the industry and reassure the brands for which goods are produced.
See Protests ignite as Cambodia passes new trade union law, Prak Chan Thul, Reuters, Apr 4 2016
National corporations are making their voices heard in protest of last week’s passing of a North Carolina bill that removed protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and which also prevented any North Carolina community from extending protections beyond existing state law. Notably, current state law does not provide for protections against sexual orientation discrimination. Bank of America, based in Charlotte and the state’s largest corporate employer as well as major donor to state political campaigns, is one of 90 national companies which denounced the bill, stating “such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business”. Other national firms against the measure include American Airlines, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Facebook, and Paypal. The state governors of New York, Washington, and Vermont, as well as the mayors of New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle, have issued bans on official state travel to North Carolina.
See Bank of America, 90 other national companies seek repeal of North Carolina law, James B. Stewart, The New York Times, Apr 1 2016
Five players from the U.S. women’s national soccer team filed a complaint yesterday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation of paying the reigning World Cup champions thousands of dollars less than U.S. male soccer team members at nearly every level of competition. The U.S women’s team won the World Cup last summer for the third time, a first-ever achievement that was the most-watched soccer match in U.S. television history, and has won an Olympic gold medal in four of five tournaments. The revenue generated by the women’s team has been comparable with that of the men’s, generating $20 million more in 2015 according to a USSF report. While the women’s team earn a $1350 bonus if they win a game, the men’s team are guaranteed a $5,000 bonus even if they lose. Projections for the 2017 financial year expect that the women’s team will earn $5 million in profit, while the men are expected to earn a net loss of $1 million. The women’s team is being represented by prominent attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who represented Tom Brady during Deflategate as well as the landmark 1992 McNeil v. National Football League that introduced unrestricted free agency in pro football.
See Reigning World Cup champions file equal pay complaint with EEOC; paid almost 4 times less than men’s team, Bill Chappell, NPR Online, Apr 1 2016
New York governor Andrew Cuomo reached a wage agreement with state legislature leaders last night, approving a minimum wage increase to $15 for New York City by 2018, with phased-in gains for the rest of the state. Long Island and Westchester will reach the $15 threshold in six years. In areas north of Westchester, the minimum wage will rise by 70 cents a year for the next five years, hitting $12.50 by 2021, with the possibility of increasing to $15 dependent on current economic impact. Also approved last night was a phased-in 12 week family leave plan, funded by deductions from employee pay, and available to state residents beginning in 2018 who have worked more than six months at a job. Income tax cuts to families earning less than $300,000 were also approved.
See Cuomo, legislature reach budget agreement, approves $15 minimum wage, 12-week paid family leave, Jesse McKinley and Vivian Yee, The New York Times, Apr 1 2016
Qatar, host country for the 2022 FIFA World Cup of men's soccer, continues to be guilty of human rights violations despite five years of promises to address the issue, reports Amnesty International. The human rights organization has been collecting testimonies from 132 construction workers and 99 landscaping workers, many of whom hail from India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. The number of migrant workers working on the expanded soccer stadiums is expected to increase as the event approaches, possibly by 36,000 in the next two years alone. The International Trade Union Confederation had previously reported that hundreds of workers in Qatar die each year; it projects a possible 4,000 workers dying before the World Cup.
See Migrant labor abuses continue unresolved as Qatar prepares for 2022 FIFA World Cup, Michael Kaplan, The International Business Times, Mar 31 2016
The increase in the number of Americans who don’t have traditional jobs has been greater than the rise in overall employment over the last decade, growing by 9.4 million, or 5.7 percent, from 2005 to 2015. These aren’t just the likes of Uber employees, but anyone who works as an independent contractor, a temporary employee or on-call. This growth is often derived from technological advances making such work easier, but its impact is that employers are successfully redirecting the traditional burden of social insurance – health insurance, paid medical leave, worker’s compensation, retirement plans – onto employees. Trading social insurance benefits from traditional employers for higher pay and flexibility may imply that employees are in control, but half of the period from 2005-2015 was marked by high unemployment, indicating that employers maintained the upper hand – and used technology to build teams of non-employees.
See As alternative work arrangements soar, workers take on burden of social insurance, Neil Irwin , The New York Times, Mar 31 2016
For the fourth time this month, protesters took to the streets in France to protest pending labor reform, as President Hollande continues to struggle against low popularity figures and a resistant unemployment rate hovering at 10 percent. Hundreds of thousands of workers and students were estimated to be involved, higher than previous protests, and while most gatherings were peaceful, several involved violence, including hooded youth jumping on cars and throwing projectiles in Paris, Lyons, and Nantes. More than 100 people were arrested, and at least 13 officers were injured. President Hollande had already removed a clause capping severance pay awards earlier this month before releasing the reform proposal; Wednesday's protests, which continued into Thursday, came after he backed down on another proposed bill that would remove French citizenship from convicted terrorists.
See Fourth wave of protests against French labor reform closes Eiffel Tower, impacts travel, schools, Lucien Libert and Morade Azzouz, Reuters, Mar 31 2016
The proportion of people in China over the age of 60 will increase from its current 16.1% to 25.2% by 2030, causing concern given that the proportion of working age people, aged 16-59, will drop by almost 10% percent in the same time frame. Since 2012, the labor force has shrunk by 26 million from its peak, leading to labor shortages even with a slowing economy and layoffs. Chinese officials are concerned about having a shortfall in pension funds to support the growing numbers of retirees. Part of the reason for a shrinking workforce comes from China’s “one child” policy, resulting in a decrease of child-bearing women; some families in rural areas would selectively abort in order to have a male child. The Chinese government has discontinued its one-child policy, allowing families to have two children in order to spur economic growth. It also plans to raise the retirement age.
See China's workforce to drop 9.4% by 2030 due to aging society, low birthrates, Duncan Hewitt, International Business Times, Mar 30 2016
America’s care needs are increasing as baby boomers age and millennials give birth, with caregiving expected to be the largest employment sector by 2020. Almost 70 percent of mothers and 90 percent of fathers are in the workforce; in addition, one in nine people older than 65 are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s - all of which requires caregivers in order to continue or grow economic productivity. Yet a survey shows that 65 percent of domestic workers don’t have health insurance, only 4 percent have insurance provided by their employer, only 2 percent receive retirement funds from their employer, and fewer than 9 percent have employers who pay into Social Security. The average wage for caregivers is $9 an hour, compared to double-digit figures for golf caddies and grocery bag handlers, leaving many of them unable to save for their own care needs. The Pentagon, continuing a tradition since the 1940s, still subsidizes on-site care centers for its military families, but by and large the economic and social scope of caregiving remains unquantified due to the “invisibility of unpaid care” performed by both workers and family members. America's fathers are increasingly involved with parenting and with care issues, but without the social or workplace support needed for them to do more.
See Caregiving job growth to outpace others by 2020, in order to allow others to work, Anne-Marie Slaughter, The Atlantic, Mar 30 2016
Prospective job applicants are still “whitening” their resumes in order to get a callback, a study from the University of Toronto and Stanford University reports. The study shows that despite attempts by companies to become more diverse, hiring realities haven’t changed much, and applicants still find limited job prospects. This backs up research from the University of California at Santa Barbara that diversity initiatives in place at companies are frequently ineffective, resulting only in white employees believing that minorities are being treated more fairly. In the Toronto/Stanford study, 59 black and Asian students were interviewed, with 36% divulging the fact that they had whitened their resumes, while two-thirds noting that they knew someone who had. Applicants will whiten names, remove professional associations and activities that identify race, as well as adding experiences considered “white.” They were 1.5 times less likely to do so if the job description indicated a diversity-friendly workplace. Further, of two resumes sent to 1,600 employers, the whitened resume was twice as likely to receive a callback, even from companies that supported diversity.
See Corporate diversity programs largely ineffective; whitening resumes still a trend, Bourree Lam, The Atlantic, Mar 30 2016
The Supreme Court has split 4-4 in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, the highly anticipated public employee union case that weighed mandatory union agency fees against free speech violations for nonmembers. The case, closely watched as a barometer for public union support in an election year, was a challenge to the 1977 case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which found in favor of unions being able to collect fees from nonmembers with regard to negotiations but not for political activities. With the Court deadlocked, the decision affirms the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit which had elected to abide by the 1977 ruling. It is unlikely that this ruling will rest, pending the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice to replace Antony Scalia who had been seen as the swing vote in a court currently balanced between liberal and conservative justices.
See SCOTUS stalls on public employee union fees case; unions win right to collect agency fees, Robert Barnes, The Washington Post, Mar 29 2016
China is preparing to downsize its state-owned steel and coal industries by laying off more than 1.6 million workers – the country’s largest restructuring of state jobs since the early 2000s - despite an increasing trend of labor strikes throughout the country. The number of strikes has risen from approximately 1200 during the years of 2011-2013, to over 2700 protests in 2015 alone, with projections that it will continue to grow in 2016. The government is promising to help the laid-off find new employment by allocating $15.6 billion over the next two years, in part out of concern that continuing unrest will coalesce into a larger political movement. Many of the striking workers are unaware of the breadth of China’s unrest – which has affected almost every province - due to strict restrictions on communications and social media. Poor working conditions, lack of enforcement of labor laws, late and/or poor wages, and lack of benefits have contributed to the protests, which have sometimes turned violent, as in the case of a migrant worker in Ningxia who set fire to a bus, killing 17 people.
See China prepares for massive layoffs despite rapid growth of labor unrest, strikes, James Griffiths, CNN, Mar 29 2016
Although Japan’s plan to get more women into its shrinking labor force – “womenomics” - has suffered a setback by scaling back from its original lofty goal (filling 30% of executive positions with women by 2020), at least one company, Calbee, is likely to meet the goal due to strong commitment from its leadership. Calbee chairman Akira Matsumoto, who has more than tripled the number of female managers since he took his post in 2009, feels that larger companies such as Toyota and Nissan need to provide strong leadership in order to convince the rest of corporate Japan to follow suit. Obstacles towards the plan remain an ingrained comfort level with male leadership, as well as a lack of childcare centers. Over 72,000 children remain on waitlists to be accepted into childcare centers; the low number of childcare centers is due to the very low pay provided to nursery teachers.
See Japan’s plan to increase women in leadership suffers setback due to lack of childcare, persistent sexism, Mariko Oi, BBC News Online, Mar 29 2016
Women and minority managers who support diversity in the workplace had lower ratings during performance evaluations, while white male executives experienced no effect in performance ratings, reports a new study that queried 350 executives on diversity-valuing behaviors in the workplace. To verify initial survey results, 307 people were asked to evaluate a proposed hiring decision, while being given the reasons for hiring and a photograph of the hiring manager. All managers were rated less positively if they hired someone who looked similar to them, unless they were a white male manager.
See Women, minority managers receive poorer evaluations for promoting diversity, Ellen Brait, The Guardian, Mar 28 2016
A deal between lawmakers and unions that would raise California’s minimum wage on a slower timetable, to $10.50 an hour next year and $15 by 2022, rather than the fast-tracked $15 minimum wage originally proposed, is nonetheless creating some uncertainty amongst workers and employers alike. While workers greeted the news with relief, with many working multiple jobs in order to afford rent and essentials, others are anxious as they contemplate what their employers might do in order to cut costs. Employers in the slim-profit margin restaurant industry, for example, will have to raise wages for their tipped staff, who may already be earning up to $35 an hour with tips. Other staff who already earn $15 an hour may be demanding wage increases given their colleagues are being given raises. Restaurants may have to raise prices, as well as re-think their menus in order to hire fewer staff.
See Deal that boosts California’s minimum wage creates anxiety for employers, employees, Ruben Vives, Victoria Kim, Shan Li and Frank Shyong, LA Times, Mar 28 2016
North Carolina’s new “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act” will overturn Charlotte’s effort to extend bathroom rights and other protections to LGBT members, prohibit increasing minimum wage or other living wage initiatives, and prevent certain protected groups from filing discriminatory employment lawsuits in state courts. Representative Dan Bishop, who founded the law, stated that the purpose of the law is to correct a change in the state’s public accommodations law that the city of Charlotte should not have made, while clarifying state workplace-discrimination statutes and guarding against “invented classes” that would demand legal protections in the future. Critics of the law argue that forcing individuals to file complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in order to determine whether a lawsuit can be filed in federal court will give employees only six months to file a case in a process described as laborious. The new law may also effect the amount of federal funds that North Carolina receives for higher education.
See New North Carolina law removes LGBT from protected classes; decreases other workplace protections, Michael Gordon, The Miami Herald, Mar 28 2016
The Chicago Teacher's Union recently announced that it will hold a one day strike scheduled to occur on April 1st. The teachers are hoping that this strike will draw attention toward to contract negotiation issues they face and the school district's growing financial issues. This strike mean that 400,000 students will be unable to attend school next Friday. These students already had school cancelled on Friday March 25th as the result of "three furlough days" that are an effort to cut costs for the district by $30 million.
See Teachers in Chicago to Strike on April 1st Over Contract Negotiations, Emma Brown, The Washington Post, Mar 25 2016
In 2015, membership in the United Autoworkers Union rose for its sixth consecutive year to 408,639. Last year, the union gained approximately 5,200 new members marking a 1.3% increase in total membership. The union's membership peaked back in 2002 when it represented nearly 700,000 automobile workers. The Department of Labor reported that total union membership in the United States has grown from 14.6 million workers in 2014 to 14.8 million in 2015.
See United Autoworkers Union Membership Grows for Sixth Consecutive Year, The New York Times, Reuters, Mar 25 2016
On Thursday, new rules were finalized by the Labor Department to minimize construction worker's exposure to silica dust. The dust, which is common in many construction materials, can cause lung disease and increase cancer risks when inhaled over time. While industry employer groups are calling the move costly, time-consuming, and irrelevant, it has put workers at ease. According to the Labor Department, about 2.3 million U.S laborers are exposed to silica dust while working.
See DOL Passes Law to Reduce Workers' Exposure to Silica Dust, Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, Chicago Tribune, Mar 25 2016
According to research, if you look at the wages of workers who were 30 in 2014, when accounting for inflation, they are actually lower than the wages of those who were 30 just 10 years ago. This research has also found that the 30 year old workers today are actually paid the equivalent to what people made back in 1984. Even worse, those who are 30 today without a college degree make even less than what people their age made 30 years ago. Despite this lack in wage growth, tuition for public colleges has actually grown by nearly 30% just in the last 10 years.
See Millennial Workers Wages Stagnate While Costs for College Rise, Brendan V. Duke, Real Clear Policy, Mar 24 2016
In London, the Aslef and RMT unions have begun the first of three 24-hour strikes that are scheduled to happen. The workers, who are employed by the London Underground, claim that they went on strike over concerns for the safety of the older Piccadilly Line. The Piccadilly Line is the only one that connects passengers to Heathrow airport, however there are alternative services available to travelers such as buses. The RMT union has also scheduled two additional strikes that will occur on April 19th and April 21st.
See Michael Hiltzik, BBC News Online, Mar 24 2016
On Thursday, the French government is scheduled to outline a bill that proposes changes that would relax the restriction on a 35-hour workweek. These new reforms could mean that French citizens would put in 12-hour shifts that could amount to as much as a 48-hour workweek. The French government believes that these reforms could lead to increased economic growth in a country that currently has an unemployment rate at around 10%. In addition to changes in the workweek, several other labor rules will become less strict under this bill.
See French Government to Outline Bill That Will Relax Labor Laws, The New York Times, The Associated Press, Mar 24 2016
Employees, represented by the Service Employees International Union, have decided to postpone a strike they had scheduled to take place in 10 major U.S. airports on Tuesday. It was estimated that as many as 2,000 employees were planning to participate in the strike. The employees decided to postpone their strike in the wake of the Brussels attack. The majority of these workers are baggage handlers, security workers and airport cleaners. These workers are striking over retaliation against unionization and wages.
See U.S. Airport Workers Postpone Strike After Brussels Attack, Luz Lazo, The Washington Post, Mar 23 2016
On Wednesday, the Labor Department released a final version of the rule that will require employers to disclose if they hired a consultant to dissuade workers from joining a union. This rule will be implemented on all agreements made after July 1st. The Department of Labor has decided to implement this law so that workers are aware if there is someone who is trying to influence them when they are planning to organize.
See Employers Required to Disclose Use Anti-Union Consultants , NOAM SCHEIBER, The New York Times, Mar 23 2016
The British Medical Association announced that the junior doctors it represents will all participate in a strike that is scheduled to happen on April 26th and 27th. Initially the strike was only going to include emergency care staff. This new development could mean that only senior medical staff would be providing emergency cover during those two days. In addition to the strike at the end of April, just junior doctors assigned to emergency care will be holding their own strike from April 6th to April 8th. These strikes are in response to the government's imposition of a new contract despite the junior doctors complaints.
See Junior Doctors in Britain to Strike Over Contract Disputes , Esther Addley, The Guardian, Mar 23 2016
On Monday, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said that Qatar must implement policies established in December that will improve the working conditions for migrant laborers. According to a team within the ILO that recently visited the country, Qatar should be given one year to improve conditions before an "ILO commission of inquiry" should take action. Qatar has hired hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in order to build the stadium that will host the soccer World Cup in 2022. On Tuesday, the governing body of the ILO will review the report and recommendations formulated by the ILO team.
See ILO May Give Qatar One Year to Improve Migrant Workers Conditions, The New York Times, Reuters, Mar 22 2016
On Tuesday, nurses employed by the Los Angeles Medical Center, which is owned by Kaiser Permanente, returned to work after a strike that lasted the past week. Nearly 1,000 registered nurses, who are represented by the California Nurses Assn., began to picket starting March 15th. These nurses were demanding higher wages and increased staffing. These striking nurses comprised approximately 75% of the total nurses employed at this hospital. Kaiser has offered increase these nurses pay so that their wages are 20% higher than other nurses in Southern California.
See Nurses at L.A. Medical Center End Strike and Return to Work, Samantha Masunaga, The Los Angeles Times, Mar 22 2016
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employees at a plant operated by Tyson Foods Inc. should be awarded $5.8 million in unpaid wages. The court ruled 6-2 in favor of the workers who filed the class action lawsuit. Tyson had argued that some of the workers who filed the lawsuit were actually fully compensated. Tyson reportedly underpaid its workers for the time they spent putting on protective gear and walking between work stations. The company reported based its pay on the assumption that it took each worker the same amount of time to perform these tasks.
See Supreme Court Rules Tyson Foods Must Pay $5.8M to Workers, Greg Stohr , Bloomberg News, Mar 22 2016
This week, the governing body of the Chicago Teachers' Union is expected to vote on a potential one-day strike that could happen on April 1st. Many are torn because taking action could mean a disruption in school for children within the district. In a statement, the Chicago Public Schools announced that it will withhold pay for any teachers that are not in work on April 1st. This could be as much as $10 million in pay if every teacher doesn't report to work.
See Chicago Teachers' Union to Vote on Strike this Week, Juan Perez Jr. , Chicago Tribune, Mar 21 2016
In a statement issued on Sunday, the top republican for the New York State Senate, John Flanagan, said that they are not close to signing off on Governor Cuomo's new proposition to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour. The senate is currently considering options such as a lower wage for younger workers or eliminating the wage hike if there is an economic downturn. Union groups said they will settle for nothing but the full proposal.
See New York State Senate Has Yet to Decide on Cuomo's Wage Plan, ERIN DURKIN, New York Daily News, Mar 21 2016
The online blog, onlabor.org, which is run by two law professors at Harvard, found that Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland has sided with unions on the majority of cases he has presided over. President Obama nominated Judge Garland to take the vacant seat that was held by Justice Antonin Scalia. There are 22 appeals cases that Judge Garland has written the majority opinion for. These cases, which were originally reviewed by the NLRB, involved some labor dispute. In 18 of those opinions, Judge Garland has sided with the NLRB's decision that the employer was at fault.
See Supreme Court Nominee Garland Consistently Sides With Unions, Dave Boyer, The Washington Times, Mar 21 2016
According to research conducted by Citigroup, many developed countries have promised workers pensions that far exceed what the countries are capable of paying. Investors who unknowingly purchased government backed bonds from these countries could be at risk. The report claims that there are twenty countries within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that have collectively promised an estimated $78 trillion in pensions with almost no ability to cover the cost.
See Countries Promise Workers Pensions They Can't Afford, MARY WILLIAMS WALSH, The New York Times, Mar 18 2016