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Workplace Issues Today

This weekend, the new Ford Mustang was revealed as an all-electric vehicle. While electric cars are rapidly increasing in popularity due to their lack of direct emissions, analysts predict that their adoption will have a negative impact on autoworkers. The production of these vehicles requires much less manpower due to their straightforward design. Additionally, most of the parts required for the manufacture of these cars are produced overseas. As vehicle assembly is simplified, less labor and skill will be required to manufacture cars.

See Eli Rosenberg & Faiz Siddiqui , The Washington Post, Nov 19 2019

Bus assembly line workers at Proterra have decided to unionize, joining the United Steelworkers Local 675. Surprisingly, the firm's leadership has been incredibly supportive of unionization efforts. Following the union vote, Proterra voluntarily recognized the union. Many assumed that the firm's CEO, Ryan Popple, who previously worked as a finance executive at Tesla would take an antiunion stance. However, he views the union as a positive force- it has helped the firm align with environmental and labor advocacy groups which allows the firm to be more productive, overall.

See Sam Dean, Los Angeles Times, Nov 19 2019

A couple in Singapore was convicted of labor trafficking for exploiting female migrants. The couple forced three Bangladeshi women to work in nightclubs, subjecting them to abuse and confiscating their passports. An anti-trafficking law was enacted in Singapore in 2015, however, this is the first time that anyone has been convicted of such a crime. On Tuesday, the director of the Ministry of Manpower vowed to take action against labor trafficking, stating that there are two other similar cases unsettled in court.

See Beh Lih Yi , Reuters, Nov 19 2019

Last week, over 1,000 people gathered to strike at several McDonald's locations across East Detroit. The strike action was motivated after the recent sexual harassment case centering around McDonald’s former CEO. The strike exemplifies how workers are continually fighting for greater workplace democracy in the fast food industry.

See Eli Day, TruthOut, Nov 18 2019

Pennsylvania has seen a rise in preganancy discrimination lawsuits. Many pregnant women have cited that their hours were reduced or they were forced to work in conditions that posed harm to themselves. Multiple states have passed legislation which requires employers to provide reasonable accomodations, such as a chair, water, and additional restroom breaks, to pregnant employees. Pennsylvania currently has no such legislation.

See Justine McDaniel, Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov 18 2019

Company dress codes have recently come under fire for being vehicles of discrimination. In Japan, a recent survey has revealed that over 11% of companies require their female employee to wear heels to the office. In response to the dress code requirement of heels for female employees, the #KuToo campaign was started. The #KuToo campaign highlights the growing global trend of re-evaluating company dress codes.

See Japan Times, Nov 18 2019

South Korea has a culture that is obsessed with success. As a result of the culture's obsession with success, there is a harsh stigma around failure and it is a source of anxiety for many. Currently, South Korea has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. The government hasn't taken note of these statistics and have tried to implement policies to change the public's perception of failure. Moving forward, workplaces in South Korea will have to address how their workplace culture can be adapted to be more accepting of failure.

See Isabelle Steger & Sookyoung Lee, Quartz at Work, Nov 15 2019

This week the "Real Media Salaries" spreadsheet was circulated to employees at various national media outlets. The spreadsheet allowed for people to share their position, company, experience in years, race, gender, job location, duties and previous employment data, in addition to compensation details. Currently, the spreadsheet has received over 1,000 responses. The spreadsheet exemplifies the growing movement towards salary transparency that employees are pushing for in many workplaces.

See Eli Rosenburg , Washington Post, Nov 15 2019

Friday meetings at Google are well known events. The meetings started in 1999 and serve as a forum where employee can discuss topics and voice concerns with management freely. Recently, meeting notes have been leaked from internal sources to the media highlighting the growing tension between employees and executives. Due to persistent leaks Google has decided to cease their weekly friday meetings.

See Jennifer Elias, CNBC, Nov 15 2019

A spreadsheet detailing the salary information of over 900 journalists has gone viral. The “Real Media Salaries” spreadsheet asked journalists to record their title, where they work, race, years of experience, gender identity, and other relevant information which may impact compensation. This spreadsheet is part of the movement towards greater pay transparency. Creators of this spreadsheet hoped that this information could help young journalists who are just entering the field and do not know what a fair salary is might be.

See Eli Rosenberg , The Washington Post, Nov 14 2019

Thousands of French medical professionals working for the public hospital system are marching through Paris to protest cost cuts. Hospital workers are protesting in order to demand greater access to medical resources and more staff. Emergency room workers have been protesting off and on since March- this protest is an expression of anger that has been building up for many years. While the government is currently working on a support plan to help, healthcare workers feel that the plan will not be sufficient to adequately address the issue.

See ABC News, Nov 14 2019

Rembrandt Foods is closing its egg plant in Renville, Minnesota. This closure will result in 52 workers being laid off. The firm has not given a reason for the closure, however, the firm’s president stated earlier this week that the market for eggs is oversupplied. Additionally, the firm is struggling because consumers are beginning to favor cage-free eggs and many states are restricting the sale of products that do not consider animal-welfare.

See Kristen Leigh Painter , Star Tribune, Nov 14 2019

Workers at Pine State Biscuits, in Portland, Oregon have sought the help of city commissioners in order to resolve a labor disagreement with their employer. Pine state employees claim that their boss promised higher wages and increased health care benefits in 2013 when he testified in favor of earned sick leave and a living wage. Now, workers would like a guaranteed $15 per hour wage, and complete health insurance. Employees claim that their current wages are insufficient and that they avoid seeking medical care due to the costs associated with it. Pine State responded, stating that their intention has always been to provide a living wage, and that they currently provide two different health care plans and subsidize half of the premiums of both of these plans.

See Elise Herron, Willamette Week, Nov 13 2019

A union that represents greater than 500 employees at detention centers in Kentucky has filed an unfair labor practices complaint against Lexington. The union and its membership have accused Lexington of retaliation against leaders of the union and using involuntary transfers as a disciplinary tactic. Additionally, the complaint states that the city has withheld information from the police and failed to comply with procedures that are outlined in the collective bargaining agreement.

See Beth Musgrave , Lexington Herald Leader, Nov 13 2019

The Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada was recently investigated by USA Today, who discovered that the factory struggles with workplace safety and housing issues. The investigation revealed that a number of injuries have occurred at the factory, many of which have gone unreported despite the legal obligation to report such events. Additionally, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has sent inspectors to the factory more than 90 times in three years- other local factories were visited by OSHA once during that time period. Injuries, including amputations, occur at the factory so frequently that in 2018 there was, on average, more than one 911 call from the factory per day.

See Sergei Klebnikov, Forbes, Nov 13 2019

A recent study published in the Journal of Community Health revealed that around 50 percent of protective-service workers sleep less than seven hours each night. These workers collectively receive less sleep than any other occupation group studied. The second most sleep-deprived group consists of health-care support workers such as home health aides and nursing assistants. Authors of the study concluded that these findings are concerning because the individuals who are not sleeping enough have jobs that directly impact population health and safety.

See Meera Jagannathan, Market Watch, Nov 12 2019

Employment and pay growth have decreased at the fastest rate in four years in the UK. It seems that a slowing economy due to Brexit uncertainty has begun to impact the labor market. In addition to an unemployment increase, inactivity, or the number of working age people who have stopped seeking employment, has risen. While real earnings are estimated to have increased by nearly 2 percent, some political figures have argued that working families are being squeezed due to a decade of relatively small wage growth.

See Larry Elliott, The Guardian, Nov 12 2019

United Auto Workers members representing workers at Ford plants in the U.S. have started to report ratification voting information on a new four-year contract agreement. Only one plant has voted against the new contract, making it more popular than the last four-year contract which received a number of “no” votes, initially. The final vote will be available at the end of this week, and while it appears that the contract will pass, some of the larger plants have not yet voted. This tentative agreement was reached shortly after the GM strike. It is assumed that this strike impacted Ford’s bargaining as the firm did not want to face the kind of labor strife that GM experienced.

See Chris Isidore, CNN, Nov 12 2019

Hearst Magazines is one of the largest publishing companies in the United States. Hearst Magazines publishes many well known publications such as Cosmopolitan, Elle, Country Living, and many more. Today, employees at Hearst Magazines announced their decision to unionize. The decision was followed by a massive multi-media effort to garner support from print and digital staffers from across Hearst Magazine's 24 differing media brands. The unionizing effort at Hearst follows a trend of rising union participation in the response to the consolidation of the media industry.

See Kerry Flynn, CNN, Nov 11 2019

Research conducted at Sydney University by Professor Marian Baird has revealed a positive correlation between employer secrecy and the gender pay gap. Professor Baird's research also found that women’s average full-time total remuneration across all industries and occupations is 20.8% less than men’s. This statistic means that men on average make more than $25,679 a year more than women. Employer secrecy on wages allows companies to ignore the reality of the stark gender pay gap in the US economy.

See Melissa Davey, The Guardian, Nov 11 2019

The Southern Poverty Law Center has recently announced that it has formed a union. The infamous civil rights organization has made the decision to unionize not only as a political statement, but also to address real workplace concerns. The Southern Poverty Law Center has undergone rapid growth, and numerous scandals this past year, such as the firing of its co-founder Morris Dees. Amidst new leadership, the Southern Poverty Law Center acknowledges the importance of collective bargaining to ensure that the voices of workers are heard.

See Brendan O'Conner, Vice, Nov 11 2019

A former Villanova has filed a lawsuit against the NCAA over minimum wage violations. The filing comes a week after the NCAA announced that it will allow players to receive profits from their name, likeness, and image. The main argument of the lawsuit is that student-athletes are similar to student employees, and should be paid wages. The case denotes a trend of increasing conflict between NCAA and student-athletes over whether student athletes can be considered employees.

See Ely Cosgrove, CNBC, Nov 8 2019

Traders in London have been recently pushed for a shorter work day. Currently, Europe’s trading hours are longer than many other regions in the world. For example, the markets are open for 8.5 hours a day in Europe whereas the markets are only open for 6 hours a day in Asia. Proponents of the shortened work day contend that by decreasing the work day, the trading industry can attract more diverse individuals with differing life responsibilities, such as women who are mothers. Additionally, supporters assert that shorter hours can improve employee well being and mental health.

See Cassie Werber, Quartz, Nov 8 2019

Unconscious bias is a term that many human resource offices are familiar with. Many companies now require employees to take training courses to become aware of their unconscious biases. However, most people fail to realize how bias they are towards another person's accent. Research has shown that people with accents are seen as less intelligent and competent, and therefore struggle to find higher-status jobs.

See Monika Schmid, Quartz, Nov 8 2019

Last spring, more than 50 workers were laid off from their jobs at DePauw University Libraries. Since then, the University has increased its number of work study students, which may be in violation of federal work study laws. At this point, it is unclear how many workers were laid off and what their exact titles and job responsibilities were. However, replacing employees with student workers funded by the federal work study program is unlawful. Library HR has stated that their practices are lawful, and that they stand by their decisions which were made in an effort to establish a more “student-forward” standard.

See Alaina Stellwagen, The DePauw, Nov 7 2019

The Teamsters union will strike on November 16, with its 150 members at Detroit Medical Center. The union has attempted to establish a new contract for the past two years, and has reached an impasse. Steve Hicks, the union president, has stated that the union is planning a campaign against Detroit Medical Center. This campaign will involve encouraging unions to support DMC workers, and discouraging members from using good health insurance at DMC hospitals.

See Jay Greene , Crain's Detroit Business, Nov 7 2019

The legislation that was passed in May to combat workplace harassment makes it the responsibility of employers to prevent harassment within their firms. In order to ensure that this policy is enacted appropriately, it is crucial to define what constitutes harassment. The ministry has produced a draft, which will be reviewed by a number of parties before it passes. In the original draft, the labor ministry describes numerous categories of harassment with each category containing concrete examples of what is and is not considered power harassment.

See Japan Times, Nov 7 2019

The productivity of American workers has decreased tremendously in the most recent quarter, with growth in output failing to match hours worked. Nonfarm labor productivity has decreased by 0.3%, the largest decrease in nearly four years. The decrease in productivity was unexpected, and some economists anticipate that the decline will negatively impact an anticipated productivity increase. Economists initially anticipated productivity to increase in the third quarter by 0.9%.

See CNBC, Nov 6 2019

Lufthansa cabin crew members will participate in a two-day strike, following German court approval. Workers are striking over pay and pensions beginning on Thursday, with the potential to extend the strike beyond Friday if necessary. Due to the wide-reaching impact of the strike, the German airline attempted to prevent the strike by filing a claim with the courts. This strike will ultimately result in the cancellation of over one thousand flights, and it will impact nearly 180,000 passengers.

See Arno Schuetze & Tom Sims, Reuters, Nov 6 2019

Public sector employees intending to march at government offices in order to protest for increased wages were hindered by police in Zimbabwe. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has banned recent protests; this march has been viewed as a test. Public sector employees would like the President’s administration to increase their salaries in order to combat inflation.

See MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters, Nov 6 2019

A jury has just awarded the former operation of a Portland container terminal millions of dollars, after finding that union labor intentionally disrupted shipping traffic. Labor stoppages and slowdowns ultimately led to the terminal’s end. Union lawyers disagree that labor activity led to the closure of the terminal, stating that a variety of other factors led to productivity declines.

See KTVZ News Channel 21, Nov 5 2019

Fiat Chrysler and PSA may merge, which has the potential to impact UAW contract talks. Under the current merger proposal, Fiat Chrysler would give a lot of control to PSA. The merger and associated power shift has some UAW members concerned that the firms will force American workers to compete with European workers for product allocation. However, a larger firm can also mean a competitive advantage which leads to greater benefits for workers in the long run.

See Breana Noble, Detroit News, Nov 5 2019

Instacart shoppers have just begun a three-day protest concerning the firm’s tipping policy. Workers would like the firm to raise the default tip from 5% to 10%, as it was in 2016. Additionally, workers would like the “service fee” removed because it confuses customers. Instacart has been under fire a lot in recent months over pay and labor issues. This year alone, there have been three additional shopper walk-offs.

See Jessica Dumont , Grocery Dive, Nov 5 2019

The 4-day work week has been an idea pitched by many organizational psychologists, that believe that it could possibly lead to more productivity from workers. The theory behind the 4 day work week is that workers will be more motivated and effective at work in gratitude for the reduced work schedule. Microsoft’s Japan branch tested the theory out, with successful results as a positive correlation was found between a 4 day work week for employees and productivity.

See Cassie Werber, Quartz at Work, Nov 4 2019

Balancing work and motherhood is a challenge for many women in the workforce. As women become a larger portion of the workforce, workplaces must adapt to accommodate the needs of mothers. One aspect of motherhood that is particularly stressful for many mothers in the workplace is breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is highly recommended for children up to the age of 6 months. However,due to unsupporting workplaces, many mothers are left in dilemma where they must choose from pumping at work or giving their newborn child formula milk. New research has been produced by the University of Arizona revealing that mothers who aren’t supported to pump at work are less productive at their work tasks and in their ability to pump sufficient amounts of milk. The research is critical as it points to a need to develop more support programs for mothers in the workplace.

See Cassie Werber, Quartz at Work, Nov 4 2019

McDonald’s CEO, Steve Easterbrook, has been fired for having an improper, consensual relationship with an employee. McDonald’s swift decision of Easterbrook’s fate at the global conglomerate comes as surprise to many due to how McDonald’s has handled previous incidences of sexual misconduct in the workplace. The firing of Easterbrook is being perceived as a major shift in workplace policy for McDonald’s.

See Lila MacLellan, Quartz at Work, Nov 4 2019

After multiple weeks on the picket lines and 11 days of missed classes, teachers in Chicago are returning to their classrooms. The teacher’s strike in Chicago was the longest strike by teachers in Chicago since 2012. The strike was caused by months of unsuccessful negotiations with city official. Wednesday, union leaders met with city officials to vote on a new tentative deal that ensured pay increases over a five year span for Chicago educators.

See The Guardian, Nov 1 2019

Two pressing issues in the workplace are employee training and development practices and the effects of the workplace on mental health. Training and development practices have been emphasized in many companies due to a growing skills gap in the workforce. Mental health has been prioritized in many workplaces as researchers have identified the effects that the workplace can have on an employees' mental health. Traditionally, both issues have been viewed in isolation of one another. However, experts have contended that the issues must be seen in relation to one another to be solved.

See Marc Zao-Sanders, Quartz, Nov 1 2019

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Google Walkout. The Google Walkout centered on over 20,000 employees who walked out of their jobs in order to protest how google had handled accusations of sexual misconduct toward employees by Google executives. In response to the protest, Google issued an apology and my substantial changes to their sexual harassment policies. Although, the underlying issues behind the initial walkout have been resolved the walkout remains important today as it marks a significant change in the relationship between labor and management at Google. Since the walkout labor has becoming increasingly critical of management at Google, and have voiced their perspectives.

See Shirin Ghaffary, Vox, Nov 1 2019

Following a letter from U.S. senators regarding blocking cocoa imports due to child labor concerns, a team from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is visiting the Ivory Coast to investigate cocoa production. Banning Ivory Coast cocoa from the United States would have drastic consequences for chocolate companies. For this reason, the U.S. is investigating labor abuse allegations prior to implementing a ban. Ivory Coast should have eliminated child labor from supply chains by 2005, although some progress has been made, it is doubtful that child labor has truly been eliminated.

See Peter Whoriskey , The Washington Post, Oct 30 2019

Journalists and other employees at WHYY, a public media station in Philadelphia, will vote today regarding whether or not to unionize. The vote is in response to poor working conditions, which have led to high turnover. When employees presented management with their intent to unionize, management would not voluntarily recognize the union. Managers opted to have a formal vote, which will take place today.

See Juliana Feliciano Reyes, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct 30 2019

On October 10, TriMet met with union representatives in an attempt to negotiate a new contract for Portland area transportation workers. The new contract will cover almost 3,000 workers. Management came to the bargaining table with a number of proposals, which were not favored by the union. For example, TriMet wants to eliminate a mechanic training program, which is viewed by employees as a way to access a higher skill, higher wage career within the industry. Bargaining is scheduled to continue tomorrow, and if an agreement is not reached soon an arbitrator will choose one side's final offer.

See Don McIntosh, NW Labor Press, Oct 30 2019

Labor trafficking, which involves forcing or coercing an individual to work, is deemed an "invisible" crime. Frequently, labor trafficking does not involve online "footprints" which makes it difficult for investigators to detect it and ultimately prosecute individuals who are involved. This crime disproportionately impacts vulnerable members of society, such as new migrants to a country. Additionally, law enforcement is often unaware of labor trafficking laws, so these cases are confused with other crimes.

See Julie Dahlstrom, WBUR, Oct 29 2019

Upwards of 300 law students at Harvard have signed a petition, urging the law school Dean to support dining hall staff by extending hours and addressing staffing issues. In the letter, students addressed their displeasure with "hectic" mealtimes, the strain faced by employees, and a list of demands. The list of demands includes re-implementing the former dining hall schedule, scheduling employees for eight hour shifts, and notifying employees of scheduled shifts at least seven days in advance.

See Michelle G. Kurilla, The Harvard Crimson, Oct 29 2019

A nursery in California that specializes in drought-tolerant plants, is known for its focus on innovation and efficiency. In response to the rising minimum wage, the nursery anticipates much higher costs associated with labor. Other nurseries/ growers are investing in automation in order to combat rising labor costs. Takao Nursery has decided that the key to success will be moving plants, not people. The firm is currently working with a company to design trays that can be moved with forklift, in order to increase efficiency and profits through cost reduction.

See Nursery Management, Oct 29 2019

In today’s economy, unemployment rates are at record lows. Additionally, job expansion rates are at historic highs, with the quantity of private sectors jobs growing at a rate of 1.7% increase a year. However, job quantity is not a major issue for the US economy, job quality is. Despite the strong job market, only 40% of Americans report that they have good, well-paying jobs.

See Jared Bernstein, The Washington Post, Oct 28 2019

Two newly passed New York state laws are protecting workers from discrimination on the basis of their hairstyles. Choice of hairstyle is a personal issue for most people that include cultural and religious aspects. The new laws protect employees with natural hair textures, braids, dreadlocks, facial hair, or clothing that is worn in accordance with religious practices such as hijabs and turbans. Relaxing restrictions on workplace hair policies is another step towards more inclusive workplaces.

See Jamie Herzlich, Newsday, Oct 28 2019

Student loan debt affects a significant portion of Americans. Student loans have always been known to cause financial stress, but recently studies have been conducted to measure how student loans add to workplace stress. Employers have noticed the severe effects that student loan debt can have on employee morale, productivity, and overall health. For this reason, some companies have started benefit packages which help employee pay off student loan debt and other financial wellness programs.

See Lila MacLellan, Quartz, Oct 28 2019

Following an earlier National Labor Relations Board decision, workers at Ithaca Coffee Company have been emboldened in their efforts to unionize. Currently, workers at Ithaca Coffee Company have called for a boycott of the Triphammer location of the small, local coffee chain. The effort is being led by William Westlake, an ILR student who formerly worked for Ithaca Coffee Company at their Gateway Commons location. Following the unionization effort of Spot Coffee in Buffalo, NY, the effort to unionize Ithaca Coffee Company shows a trend of unionization efforts amongst small coffee chains in upstate New York.

See Edwin J. Viera, Ithaca Times, Oct 25 2019

Recently, Google has made many headlines over its contentious relationship with workers over organizing efforts. Currently, the Google Calendar app is a source of controversy. Employees believe that Google is using the Calendar application as a way to gain information on whether or not employees are trying to unionize. The employees concern is raised by the fact that the Google Calendar app reports any staffer that creates an event that requires more than 10 rooms or invites more than 100 employees. Google contends that the applications reporting system is used as a way to remind employees not to spam their coworkers with event invites. However, the dispute highlights the growing contention between Google and its employees.

See Angela Chen , MIT Technology Review, Oct 25 2019

As teachers continue to strike in Chicago, students have 5 days of school. One teacher, Anna Lane, found a way to incorporate the strike into her lesson plan. Days before the strike, Lane began to implement labor history into her curriculum. She facilitated conversations with her students about the issues at stake, and allowed them to voice their opinions on the matter. Other teachers throughout Chicago’s public schools took actions similar to Lane and used the strike as a tool to teach. As a result many students have taken direct action and joined teachers on the picket lines.

See Jack Crosbie, The Atlantic, Oct 25 2019

As lawmakers in Greece prepare to vote on a new bill intended to make the country more attractive to investors, state workers marched in Athens in protest of new legislation. The bill proposal includes plans to outsource garbage and cleaning services. Workers are concerned about job losses and diminishing bargaining power. The reforms are intended to grow the economy, following the country's third bailout program.

See Renee Maltezou, Reuters, Oct 24 2019

Following inequality protests, state workers and students are striking peacefully in protest of Pinera's reforms. Thousands of workers, including individuals from the healthcare and education sectors, are participating in large strikes. Government officials have imposed a 10 p.m. curfew in order to calm riots. Pinera's proposed reform package includes a minimum wage, increase in state pensions, and stabilization of electricity costs- critics believe this is not sufficient.

See Dave Sherwood & Natalia A. Ramos Miranda , Reuters, Oct 24 2019

Ford has readjusted its profit outlook for the year, following a disappointing third quarter. Losses have been attributed to higher warranty costs, discounts, and poor performance in China. Ford is undergoing a global restructure, which includes cost cutting and changing its products sold in global markets. Now, Ford may also need to face the UAW to negotiate a new labor agreement.

See Ben Klayman & Paul Lienert, Reuters, Oct 24 2019

While Chicago Public School teachers are still out on strike, teachers at a nearby suburb are planning their own collective action. Teachers in the suburb, Addison, have filed their intent to strike notice with plans to strike as soon as Thursday. Addison teachers have not had a contract since the beginning of the academic year, despite union efforts. According to union leadership, Addison teachers are struggling to achieve better pay and benefits.

See Madeline Buckley, The Chicago Tribune, Oct 23 2019

Three years ago, Harvard unions attempted to merge- this move was blocked by the University. Now, the unions are attempting to merge again, and it seems that Harvard intends to reject their proposed combination once more. The request to merge unions was filed with the University nearly a month ago, and Harvard has yet to respond. However, a university spokesperson has stated that a written statement explaining the University’s position will be released soon.

See Ruoqi Zhang, The Harvard Crimson, Oct 23 2019

Earlier this month, sustainability schemes employed by chocolate producers appeared to be at risk when countries stated that they would be reconsidered due to producers’ slow payment of the living income differential. The LID is a program that targets farmer poverty. Now, the countries have stated that the sustainability schemes appear to complement the LID, and will simply be monitored moving forward. The hope is that moving forward, farmer incomes can be improved and chocolate production can become more sustainable.

See Ange Aboa, Reuters, Oct 23 2019

Towards the end of September, the NLRB proposed a change to the rule governing the employment status of graduate students at private colleges and universities. If this rule passes, it would eliminate graduate students’ rights to compensation, benefits, and unionization. The new proposal would essentially strip graduate student workers of their employee status. If passed, this could also mean that graduate students would no longer receive health insurance.

See Alexis Raskin, The Brown and White, Oct 22 2019

After an aluminum manufacturing firm fired a worker for writing a profanity on a company sign-up sheet, the employee pursued their wrongful firing in court- and won. The D.C. NLRB found that the firing was unlawful, and that the employee was protected under federal labor law. Now, the firm will be taking the court to the D.C. Circuit to receive another opinion. The firm’s lawyers will be arguing that the firm had the right to fire the employee on the grounds of vandalizing company property, and making a comment that may have harmed other workers.

See Daniel Wiessner, Reuters, Oct 22 2019

In the present economy, hourly workers are under more stress, and especially prone to burnout. Currently, hourly workers are in high demand and firms are struggling to fill service job openings. In order to retain shift workers, it is crucial that managers recognize and address employee burnout. This can be done by creating opportunities for more fluid communication, allowing employees to build new skills often, and giving workers greater agency in their scheduling.

See Steve Kramer, Workforce News, Oct 22 2019

Neurodiversity has been a growing issue in workplaces, regarding diversity and inclusion initiatives. Neurodiversity refers to differences in brain functions due to conditions such as autism, dyslexia, ADHD, etc. Many companies, such as Microsoft, have implemented programs to support neurodiverse workers in the office. However, Ultranauts, an engineering firm in New York founded on proving that neurodiversity isn’t a hindrance in the workplace, has completely restructured their business practices to adapt to the needs of the neurodiverse worker.

See Robbie Wojciechowski, BBC News, Oct 21 2019

ASDA, a grocery store chain owned by Walmart, recently informed workers that they must sign the new flexible contract or they will be terminated. The announcement comes close to the holiday season when many workers are financially vulnerable. The proposed contract strips many additional benefits, such as paid breaks and not working on Bank holidays from workers. Management at ASDA asserts that the contract is fair due to the increase in wages that workers will receive when signing the contract.

See Dan Ascher, BBC, Oct 21 2019

Recently, Google has found itself at odds with employees over various workplace issues. Today, in Switzerland, a group of employees met to discuss unionization efforts. The action was done in defiance of Google’s previous attempt to cancel the meeting. Google stated that they canceled the previous meeting due to the fact that the company only hosts meetings planned in conjunction with Google’s site leadership team. The actions of Google workers in Zurich highlights a trend of workers unionizing at Google, and more broadly in white-collar industries.

See Shirin Ghaffary, Vox, Oct 21 2019

The Chicago Teachers’ Union has entered its second day of its strike. Over 300,000 Chicago students are out of school, as the city government continues to negotiate with its teachers. Insiders assert that the union and the city government remain far apart from a satisfactory resolution, and speculate that the strike will continue through the weekend. The Chicago Teachers’ Union is fighting for smaller class sizes, an increase in wages, and more monetary resources for schools. The Chicago Board of Education has asserted that monetary resources are inadequate to meet the full demands of the Chicago Teachers’ Union.

See Dakin Andone and Holly Yan , CNN, Oct 18 2019

Employees at Mack Trucks recently went on strike. The impact of that strike has trickled down to workers at Volvo Trucks North America, as Volvo laid off 3,000 employees due to a lack of engines and transmissions from a Maryland plant that Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks North America share. The layoffs are temporary, but will still have a severe economic impact on many. The example of Volvo workers conveys the effect that striking auto workers can have on second tier suppliers.

See Alan Adler, Freight Waves, Oct 18 2019

Domestic workers, such as nannies, housekeepers, and caretakers, work in a vulnerable industry in the American labor force. Historically, the industry of domestic workers has not been organized. However, in Philadelphia domestic workers have joined forced with the Pennsylvania Domestic Workers Alliance to propose the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights to the Philadelphia City Council. The Domestic Worker Bill of Rights is a piece of legislation that would establish basic legal protections for domestic workers. In July, US Senator Kamala Harris and US Representative Pramila Jayapal introduced a similar piece of legislation on the federal level, the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights Act, that fights for rights to benefits and overtime pay for domestic workers.

See Emily Neil and Lee Nentwig , Al Dia News, Oct 18 2019

Chicago Public School teachers began a strike today, after negotiations failed to produce a new labor contract. Teachers will be protesting at more than 500 schools, and holding a rally in the afternoon. 361,000 children have been impacted by the strike. While school buildings will remain open for children who need a plate to go during the day, all classes and activities have been canceled. Chicago teachers are hoping to achieve increased wages, smaller class sizes, and more support staff through their strike efforts.

See Reuters , The Guardian, Oct 17 2019

This week, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board finalized its ruling that the Philadelphia Police Department can implement a tattoo policy without union permission. The union had filed a complaint, stating that the police department should not be able to implement a policy that requires police to cover up offensive tattoos, without utilizing the collective bargaining process. Ultimately, the board has dismissed the claim in order to avoid infringing upon the department’s interest in acquiring the public’s trust.

See Anna Orso, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct 17 2019

The new collective bargaining agreement reached between the UAW and GM will mean higher wages and greater benefits for temporary workers. However, in order to reach this deal, the union agreed to tolerate the closure of three plants. 48,000 workers now have to ratify this agreement. At this point it is unclear whether or not workers will continue the strike while voting takes place.

See Paul Lienert & Joseph White , Reuters, Oct 17 2019

While GM and the UAW have reached a tentative agreement, the economic impact of the strike continues to increase. The strike led to more than $835 million in lost wages for employees, and $1.5 billion in lost profits for the firm. Additionally, the federal government lost $313 million in tax revenue, and the state of Michigan lost $18.5 billion. It has been estimated that since the strike began, 75,000 supply workers have lost their jobs or faced reduced hours.

See Dustin Walsh , Crain's Detroit Business, Oct 16 2019

Uber drivers intend to protest at the homes of billionaires who invested in the ride-sharing firm, following the company going public. On November 6, people who have invested in Uber will be able to cash out for the first time. Drivers are planning to demonstrate outside of homes and offices, in order to protest low wages. These demonstrations will be led by Gig Workers Rising and Mobile Workers Alliance- two groups which represent drivers in California.

See Lauren Kaori Gurley, Vice, Oct 16 2019

A new visa rule that has been proposed by the current administration has labor advocates concerned that wages may decrease for domestic farmworkers. H-2A workers’ wages are based on the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, which is calculated annually, and the federal minimum wage. Employers are required to pay workers the wage that is higher. The administration has proposed a change that will alter how the AEWR is calculated which would lower the hourly wage that employers must pay workers in order to help growers.

See Kate Cimini , The Ukiah Daily Journal, Oct 16 2019

Seven full-size Scabby the Rat inflatable statues have been placed outside of the Public Ledger Building in Philadelphia. The rats have been inflated in response to Heights Advisors, a development firm, that has been hiring non-union labor to renovate the inside of the building. Building trading members have not disclosed more information regarding the choice to avoid union labor.

See David Murrell , Philadelphia Magazine, Oct 15 2019

Workers who clean and maintain office buildings in Philadelphia are unionized, earn a reasonable wage, and receive good health insurance. However, workers are concerned that their benefits are at risk as they have struggled to establish a new contract with the organization that negotiates on their manger’s behalf. The current contract expires on Wednesday, and workers may strike on Tuesday if an agreement is not reached by then.

See Juliana Feliciano Reyes, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct 15 2019

One of the leading copper producers in the world, Antofagasta Minerals, has just established a new labor agreement with a supervisors’ union. The contract covers supervisors at the firm’s top mine in Chile. Included in the agreement is a 1 percent salary increase, a signing bonus, and other employee incentives.

See Dave Sherwood, Reuters, Oct 15 2019

On Sunday, 3,600 Mack Truck workers went on strike. The workers are on strike over a number of issues such as wages and job insecurity. Negotiations will reconvene on October 21st.

See CBS, Oct 14 2019

Target is one of the biggest retail chains that led the way in increasing wages for their workers. In 2017 Target pledged to increase hourly wages to $15 a hour by 2020. However, workers claim that the wage increase has only hurt their financial stability as their hours have been slashed.

See Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN, Oct 14 2019

GM workers are entering their 5th week of striking. In hopes of ending strike GM management has agreed to keep workers’ share of health care costs at the same rate of 3%. This is currently one of the best health care insurance deals for automobile workers.

See Phoebe Howard , Detroit Free Press, Oct 14 2019

A new ranking released by labor activists, have cited major chocolate companies like Godiva and Hershey as having an issue with child labor in their supply chains. With most of the world’s cocoa being grown in West African nations that are plagued by instances of child labor, activists have looked toward industry giants to tackle the issue by changing their practices and implementing more ethical techniques.

See Japan Times, Oct 11 2019

On Thursday Governor Newsom signed bills in favor of strengthening California’s workplace protection laws. The new laws signed related primarily to sexual harassment. The new laws will specifically give victims additional time to file complaints and prohibit mandatory arbitration as an employment condition.

See Taryn Luna, LA Times, Oct 11 2019

The Nevada Labor commissioner has provided an advisory opinion on how employers should implement a new law that requires employers to provide employees with paid leave by 2020. The advisory opinion addresses many questions regarding notice requirements, leave increment, and the status of part-time employees.

See Christine Pulfrey, Bloomberg Law, Oct 11 2019

Thousands of County employees in Santa Clara are continuing a strike into its second week, with no intention of backing down. The strike consists of both picketing and walkouts, in hopes of achieving higher wages and combating unfair labor practices. This strike was authorized in August following a union vote, and came about as the result of many months of negotiations that were unable to produce a satisfactory contract.

See Grace Carroll , The Stanford Daily, Oct 10 2019

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five adults in the U.S. are living with a mental illness. Stigmas surrounding mental health can frequently result in discrimination in the workplace. Mental health challenges and stress in the workplace are incredibly costly, financially and otherwise. Implementing an anonymous employee assistance program and encouraging mental health days, are two things that can be done to help bring mental illness in the workplace out of the shadows.

See Samantha Todd, Forbes, Oct 10 2019

As the GM strike continues, workers struggle to make ends meet while receiving $250 per week in strike pay. According to other workers in Michigan, business has been slow because GM workers lack spending money. A convenience store owner has stated that since the strike began, two thirds of his business has been lost. Additionally, many people have stated a belief that the GM strike will have a political impact as many workers feel “abandoned” by the current administration.

See Tim Reid , Reuters, Oct 10 2019

According to former employees, emerald miners working for Canada’s Fura Gems, have been working in unsafe conditions. Managers fail to provide basic safety equipment such as masks and safety glasses. According to Fura managers, these allegations are false. The firm claims to take worker safety seriously, and has also stated that this specific location is in the process of adopting more safety standards.

See Julia Symmes Cobb , Reuters, Oct 9 2019

In August, employment openings fell to a one and a half year low. Less hiring and job openings may indicate that the U.S. economy is beginning to cool, following a long period of growth. However, there have yet to be signs of a recession- there are still a good number of job openings. The decrease may be owed, in part, to the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China which has harmed business confidence.

See Lucia Mutikani , Reuters, Oct 9 2019

flies under the United Airlines name. The Association of Flight Attendants have been in mediation with this airline for three years, in an effort to establish a new contract. In response to the delay, flight attendants will be protesting at three airports. Flight attendant wages at Air Wisconsin start at only $15,000 per year, which is certainly a poverty wage.

See Ted Reed , Forbes, Oct 9 2019

In response to a federal probe into union corruption, the Detroit Three Automakers and the UAW are reorganizing the operations of their training centers. Two of these centers have been the focus of a recent federal investigation. At this point, 11 people have been charged and 9 convicted of misappropriating union funds. New operation models for the training centers will be largely dependent on contract negotiations involving the UAW and GM.

See Ian Thibodeau & Daniel Howes, The Detroit News, Oct 8 2019

The foreign manufacturer that produces baby pajamas sold at Costco, has been blocked from shipping products into the U.S. On the first of this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection placed detention orders on goods imported from a number of countries due to allegations that the goods may have been produced by children, or older forced laborers. The Costco baby pajamas manufacturer has been accused of holding minorities against their will in a camp and forcing them to make clothing items.

See NBC News, Oct 8 2019

The current administration has proposed a new rule that would allow employers to share tips with a wider variety of workers in the restaurant industry. Additionally, this would allow employers to give non-tipped responsibilities to servers who rely on tips. Restaurant industry managers are onboard with this proposal; however, workers’ advocates have concerns. Critics of this rule have asserted that managers could use tips to reduce the amount of the firm’s money that is spent on compensating kitchen workers.

See Scott Horsley , NPR, Oct 8 2019

The United Auto Workers union continues its strike against General Motors in Michigan. This week marks the 4th week of the strike. As the strike drudges on, workers remain hopeful that they will come to a satisfactory agreement with General Motors. But, workers are not afraid to remain vigilant in their strike against the automobile giant.

See Phoebe Wall Howard , Detroit Free Press, Oct 7 2019

Complaints of employment discrimination on the basis of disability, have steadily increased in Ireland. A recent report from the Central Statistics Office displayed figures conveying that people with disabilities were at greater risk for unemployment than people without disabilities. Due to this critical societal issue, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has announced that they will use their statutory powers to craft protective legislation for the disability community in Ireland.

See Jack Power, The Irish Times, Oct 7 2019

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will be hearing 3 cases involving allegations of LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace. The Court will be determining whether or not Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which grants protections on the basis of race, protects sexual orientation and gender identity. Currently the Federal Equal Employment Commission (FEEC) holds that it will include gender identity and sexual orientation as a protected class in all cases they review, whether or not the state which the case originates from holds the same view. The Court will be examining whether or not the FEEC has that authority.

See Richard Wolf, USA Today, Oct 7 2019

Although there is a rising risk of recession, the economy seems to be growing at a moderate pace. Activity in the service sector has hit a three year low, in part due to uncertainty surrounding tariffs and trade issues. This is concerning because the service sector accounts for greater than two thirds of the economic activity in the U.S. It seems to be the strong labor market that continues to drive the economic expansion that has been occurring for nearly 11 years.

See Lucia Mutikani , Reuters, Oct 3 2019

As Egypt’s current IMF program quickly comes to an end, the government is discussing seeking additional support from the International Monetary Fund. Previously, the IMF aided the country when it was tackling fiscal and monitoring reforms. The new agreement would intend to address structural reform. Regardless of whether or not a new agreement comes to fruition, Egypt will continue to take advantage of post-program monitoring for the duration of the loan. The IMF has stated that Egypt needs to continue attracting investment, and integrate women and younger people into the labor market to lower unemployment and improve its economy.

See Patrick Werr & Ulf Laessing, Reuters, Oct 3 2019

More than 20 Subway franchises in Australia have been ordered to pay nearly $55,000 (U.S. dollars) in back wages to current and former employees following a multi-year investigation. In addition to back wages, franchises were fined for neglecting labor laws. According to detectives, 18 of the 22 Subway franchises investigated had failed to comply with labor laws by not paying minimum wage, compensating employees appropriately for holidays and overtime, and keeping adequate employment records.

See Theresa Braine, New York Daily News, Oct 3 2019

The Chicago Teachers Union and employees for Chicago’s school and park districts recently gave notice of their intent to strike. This means that the city may experience three different labor groups striking during the same month. If all three groups strike at the same time, it is unclear if this will help or hinder their cause. While it will certainly put pressure on city officials, it may result in a lack of public sympathy for the cause due to how disruptive a mass strike would be.

See Hannah Leone, The Chicago Tribune, Oct 2 2019

A new study has revealed that despite a strong labor market, approximately 1 in 7 working-age men in the U.S. are not employed. This proportion is higher than it was before the Great Recession, and is a serious cause of concern due to the unique challenges and stigmas associated with male joblessness. Unemployed men are at risk for premature death and generally indicate lower well-being and life satisfaction.

See Aimee Picchi, CBS News, Oct 2 2019

General Motors Co. employees represented by the United Auto Workers are still on strike, with today being day 17. GM and the UAW resumed negotiations today, however, an agreement has not yet been reached. The union presented the firm with a counterproposal, and it appears that GM has yet to respond. According to a statement given by the president of the union, it seems that challenging topics at the bargaining table include fixed costs, declining sales, and the compensation of temporary workers.

See Breana Noble, The Detroit News, Oct 2 2019

Hungary is in the process of reinventing its economy. Previously, the country was attractive to foreign investors due to its cheap labor. Now, in order to sustain growth the country is shifting towards a more capital-intensive economy which requires the creation of new technologies. To this end, the government is offering cash subsidies for investments in the private sector that involve innovative technology in some capacity. Previously, in order to be eligible for the subsidy the investment had to create new jobs- this is no longer the case. If companies create new technology, adopt new machinery, or introduce new competitive processes they are eligible for a cash subsidy of up to 50 percent of the value of the investment.

See Gergely Szakacs & Krisztina Than, Reuters, Oct 1 2019