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Workplace Issues Today

As the GM strike continues, thousands of Canadian workers have been furloughed. Evidently, the strike that is occurring in U.S. plants is having a negative impact on Canadian facilities. Production at the GM plant in Ontaria, Canada has been fully halted as a result of the strike. Canadian union leaders have stated that Canadian workers support the strike, despite losing work because of it.

See Michael Wayland, NBC News, Sep 20 2019

Tesla’s Fremont location in California has been required to put up signs explicitly stating that workers can unionize, following anti-union efforts. An NLRB found the firm guilty of discouraging employees from wearing union-related apparel. Additionally, Tesla has a history of tension surrounding the issue of unionization. In order to ensure that employees are aware of their right to unionize, the board decided to order the firm to put up signs.

See Mark Matousek, The Greenwich Time, Sep 20 2019

According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, tens of thousands of former slaves have been denied adequate compensation due to police not understanding the nuances of the laws regarding slave labor. In a more recent case where over 90 workers were freed, police were unaware that all enslaved individuals are entitled to compensation- not just bonded laborers. Currently, bonded labor is the most common form of slavery in India with around 18 million individuals forced to work in rice mills, brothels, and fields.

See Roli Srivastava, Reuters, Sep 20 2019

The University of Pittsburgh has been found guilty of engaging in unfair labor practices which interfered with its graduate student union election. The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board official who decided on this case, has ordered that a new union election take place. According to the hearing, the University engaged in “coercive acts” such as sending intimidating and misleading emails, prior to the vote. Ultimately, the outcome of the vote was 675 students for joining the union, and 712 students against. Due to the narrowness of the results of the vote, the labor examiner had reason to believe that the University’s intervention did deter eligible voters from voting in favor of unionization.

See Janine Faust, The Pitt News, Sep 19 2019

Chicago teachers in North Shore School District 112 will be voting today to determine whether or not they would like to authorize a strike, in response to delayed contract negotiations. The past contract expired in the middle of August, and despite the help of a federal mediator, negotiations have yet to yield a satisfactory contract. Teachers are dissatisfied with the way that the district has asked them to use their minimal planning time, and with their pay increases, as well.

See Karen Berkowitz, The Chicago Tribune, Sep 19 2019

Renault and PSA Group may be facing a labor stand-off with their French employees, as they attempt to renew a three-year labor contract. Auto industry unions are particularly concerned about preserving jobs right now, as the shift towards electric vehicles begins to take place. According to the new EU rules, carbon dioxide emissions must be decreased significantly by the end of 2020. Cleaner vehicle models are more expensive to produce, and the demand for these types of vehicles is unclear.

See Gilles Guillaume , Reuters, Sep 19 2019

Earlier this week, 80,000 Kaiser employees announced their plans to strike in October. More than half of these workers are members of the SEIU, and the strike is intended to address issues such as pay inequality and patient-care shortcomings. The Sacramento Bee had the opportunity to speak with the CEO of Kaiser to ask questions regarding the upcoming strike, labor-management relationship, and workers’ concerns regarding Kaiser’s priorities.

See Cathie Anderson, The Sacramento Bee, Sep 18 2019

Bloomberg recently launched an investigation into sexual misconduct at Lloyd’s of London. The final report shows that women working for the insurance market described being subject to physical attacks and offensive comments. In response to this report, chief executive John Neal has expressed feeling “devastated.” Moving forward, the firm intends to create a hotline so that inappropriate behavior can be reported, and potentially implementing bans for sexual misconduct.

See BBC News UK, Sep 18 2019

The London Metal Exchange (LME) has decided to postpone its ban on tainted metal until 2025 in order to give producers additional time to comply with new guidelines. Tainted metal is the term used by the LME to describe metal that has been extracted by child laborers or involves the violation of human rights. The initial ban was in response to an upset regarding cobalt that was mined by children in Africa, and it was intended to commence in 2022. However, the deadline had to be pushed back because some producers are not willing to go along with the original guidelines.

See Pratima Desai, Zandi Shabalala, Tom Daly , Reuters, Sep 18 2019

Due to insufficient evidence, the MLRB has decided to dismiss two complaints filed by the union that represents police deputies in York County. In the aforementioned complaints, the union alleged that the county retaliated against employees who were engaged in concerted activity. While the MLRB found that the relationship between the union and management is hostile, no evidence of retaliation due to union-activity was uncovered.

See Tammy Wells , The Portland Press Herald, Sep 17 2019

When workers go on strike, some of their benefits shift from being funded by their employer to being funded by their union’s strike fund. Striking GM employees’ health insurance costs have just shifted to being covered by the UAW strike fund, which covers medical and prescription medications. GM workers have been on the picket line for two days now, because talks for a new collective bargaining agreement hit an impasse. However, negotiations between the union and GM resumed this morning.

See Bryan Woolston , Reuters, Sep 17 2019

The EEOC is encouraging Walmart to come to a “just resolution” with 178 female workers who have alleged that the firm discriminated against them, due to their gender. The allegations are primarily concerned with pay and promotion. The agency found reasonable cause to believe that Walmart was paying women less than their male counterparts. This is not an isolated event- in 2011 around 1.5 million women attempted to file a class action discrimination suit against the firm and there are at least 1,600 gender discrimination complaints similar to this one pending at the EEOC.

See Daniel Wiessner , Reuters, Sep 17 2019

The NLRB has ruled that the George Washington University Hospital violated labor laws by revoking its recognition of the union representing hospital workers. When the labor union filed a complaint with the NLRB regarding hospital management’s failure to increase pay, the hospital tried to convince union members to leave the union by offering additional monetary benefits. Ultimately, management changed bargaining terms and then refused to bargain with the union. The NLRB discovered that the hospital unlawfully withdrew union recognition after two years of bargaining in bad faith. Moving forward, the GW Hospital plans to appeal the decision, and denies all of the union’s allegations.

See Lia DeGroot , The GW Hatchet, Sep 16 2019

The New Haven Board of Alders will be considering whether to approve or reject the new fire union contract, tonight. The new labor agreement will last for six years. It calls for both an 11 percent increase in wages, as well as an 11.5 percent increase in pension contributions over the life of the contract. Due to city regulations, the fire union’s contract has to be voted on by the alders within 14 days of its ratification.

See The New Haven Register, Sep 16 2019

Last year, determining pay contracts with teachers was quite contentious for the Brevard School District. In order to avoid aggressive bargaining, the district and teachers union have created an expedited bargaining schedule and vowed to work together. Negotiations are scheduled to begin today, and continue through Thursday. Last year, pay contract bargaining negotiations stalled in December which lead to months of collective action. It seems that both sides are now committed to working together, which will hopefully result in a smoother bargaining process.

See Rob Landers, Florida Today, Sep 16 2019

When the clock strike midnight on September 14th the current contract between the United Automobile Workers (UAW) and General Motors will expire, raising the stakes on current contract negotiations. The UAW is fighting to ensure job security, protect workers’ benefits, and increase base wages. On the other side of the negotiating table, General Motors is aiming to keep costs minimal in preparation of future market fluctuations. Additionally, current corruption scandals within the UAW complicates the current negotiations.

See Jamie L. LaReau, Sep 13 2019

As the industry has rapidly grows throughout the US, labor disputes in the yoga industry have ensued. This week approximately 100 yoga instructors across four YogaWorks studios, one of the largest yoga studio chains in the nation, asked management to recognize a union with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Issues of low pay, irregular scheduling, inadequate benefits, and their classification as independent contracts were all cited as reasons that led to the unionizing effort.

See Sarah Jones, The Cut, Sep 13 2019

Google has recently settled with the National Labor Relations Board over the issue of employee right to free speech in the workplace. The initial complaint was filed by Kevin Cernekee, an engineer who was fired from Google last year. Google cites that Cernekee was fired for downloading confidential company information onto his person devices. However, Cernekee claims that he was fired for voicing his conservative views, in a predominantly liberal workplace. Following the settlement, Google has announced that it will inform and remind employees of their federal rights to voice their opinions in the workplace on issues such as workplace conditions or the need for safety improvements. However, Google has not announced that it will create any policies regarding free speech in the workplace on issues not pertaining to the workplace.

See Rachel Lerman, Associated Press, Sep 13 2019

The Vista Unified School District board is about to embark on a $247 million-dollar construction project. School officials will soon vote on whether or not they will adopt a project labor agreement with local union workers. Project agreements function as a bargaining agreement between a contractor and organized labor, in order to standardize work conditions and expectations for workers on a large construction project. Opponents for union labor believe that organized labor is less cost effective, however, other San Diego organizations have used union labor and found it to be efficient.

See Deborah Sullivan Brennan, The San Diego Union Tribune, Sep 12 2019

A dozen leaders of a church in Southern California have been arrested for holding homeless persons captive and forcing them to panhandle to collect money for the church. The church has opened numerous affiliated organizations that claim to be invested in “restoring” drug addicts at their rehabilitation homes. The defendants were arrested earlier this week, and have been charged with conspiracy, forced labor, document servitude, as well as benefits fraud. The indictment states that victims were convinced to join the rehab organizations, and were actually held hostage and forced to work and give their welfare benefits to the church.

See Steve Gorman , Reuters, Sep 12 2019

The least amount of people in five months, filed for unemployment last week- with the number of unemployment claims dropping by 15,000. This is a signal that the overall labor market is healthy, despite some sectors of the economy experiencing challenges. Additionally, this may suggest that employers are putting greater effort into retaining employees, despite economic uncertainty. While this data may appear promising, it is important to note that last week included Labor Day- these figures are generally more unpredictable around holidays and transitions, such as the beginning of the school year.

See Reade Pickert, Bloomberg, Sep 12 2019

The California state Senate passed Assembly Bill 5, this week, which aims to classify gig economy workers as employees. Now, the bill will be voted on by the state Assembly- where it will likely be approved. If this bill is passed, people who work for firms like Uber will be entitled to employee status and the benefits that accompany it. Lawmakers who are pioneering this bill believe that ensuring that workers are classified appropriately and receiving the benefits that they are entitled to is an important step forward for workers' rights.

See Colin Dwyer, NPR, Sep 11 2019

In a recent case called M.V. Transportation, the NLRB ruled that employers can make changes to a union contract, even if the union objects. Previously, the precedent that had been established by the board was that in order to make contract changes, the employer had to have clear permission from the union. In this more recent case, the board established that changes can be allowed if the changes to the contract could reasonably be inferred as allowable according to the “plain terms” of the contract.

See Sean Higgins , The Washington Examiner, Sep 11 2019

This weekend, GM’s union leadership will be congregating in Detroit to evaluate a proposed contract. Union leaders will either accept the contract and bring it to their members for a vote, or encourage their members to go on strike. General Motors has been performing well financially over the past four years. As a result, the union has high expectations for this new contract. The current contract will be expiring this weekend- if management is unable to reach an agreement with union leaders, it is possible that a strike will occur.

See David Welch, Bloomberg, Sep 11 2019

More than 30 Chipotle employees have filed complaints with the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, alleging that the restaurant chain has violated New York City’s Workweek Law. This law requires fast-food employers to schedule workers in a more safe and consistent manner. Workers have alleged that Chipotle has not sought employee consent prior to making last-minute schedule changes, and continues to ask employees to work consecutive closing and opening shifts. In addition to illegal scheduling practices, the DCWP has found that Chipotle has an unlawful sick leave policy.

See Amelia Lucas, CNBC, Sep 10 2019

With the 2019-2020 concert season rapidly approaching, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s musicians’ union has filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the NLRB. The union alleges that the orchestra’s management has not bargained in good faith regarding wages, and other conditions of employment. While it seemed that both sides were ready to reach an agreement earlier this week, management is insistent on reducing musicians’ wages by 20 percent. Now, the musicians have returned to the picket line.

See Sameer Rao, The Baltimore Sun, Sep 10 2019

Parental leave policies in Japan are very generous, and allow both men and women to take partial-paid leave for up to a year. However, few men in Japan take advantage of this opportunity. A male Asics Corp employee is suing the firm for alleged harassment following his paternity leave. This employee has expressed that while many people would like to take advantage of parental leave, their workplace makes it difficult to do so. There have been a number of cases similar to this one, which have produced the phrase, “patahara” which is short for paternity harassment.

See Ritsuko Ando , Reuters, Sep 10 2019

China Labor Watch has just produced a report which alleges that Apple, and manufacturing partner Foxconn, have been violating Chinese labor law during the production of the latest iPhone. At the largest iPhone factory in the world, CLW uncovered that around 50 percent of the labor force is temporary staff- otherwise known as dispatch workers. Chinese labor law does not allow for more than 10 percent of workers to be temporary. Apple has stated that the firm is working with Foxconn to resolve this issue.

See Mark Gurman, Bloomberg, Sep 9 2019

British Airways has been forced to cancel nearly all of its flights scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, due to a pilots strike. Around 195,000 customers were scheduled to fly on those two days. The strike comes as a result of stalled pay negotiations. British Airways has stated that it is ready to resume talks with the pilots union.

See Rachel Siegel, The Washington Post, Sep 9 2019

The United Parcel Service has announced that it plans to hire 100,000 workers this holiday season. This is the same number that the UPS intended to hire last year. UPS has stated that the number of workers has stayed the same, despite shifting consumer activity, because the postal service has invested in technology that automates package sorting. In order to attract enough seasonal employees, UPS has raised wages. In Atlanta, the minimum starting wage has gone from $10.10 per hour, to $14 per hour.

See Lisa Baertlein , Reuters, Sep 9 2019

The workers of Willy Street Co-op, a small chain of food cooperatives located in Wisconsin, recently participated in an election administered by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as part of an effort to unionize. The campaign to unionize emerged due to a controversial disciplinary policy regarding attendance that caused the workers to call for action. The election was administered by the (NLRB) on September 3rd and 4th resulting in a final ballot count of 249 to 40 in favor of joining the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE). With over 300 employees, the unionization of Willy Street Co-Op constitutes one of the largest NLRB unionization efforts this year the NLRB largest success in Wisconsin in more than two years. The successful unionization of Willy Street Co-op highlights a trend of cooperatives across the nation moving toward unionization.

See Alice Herman, Isthmus, Sep 6 2019

The Labor Department recently announce that the unemployment rate is currently resting at 3.7%, marking a historic low. However the rate of hiring is down significantly from an average of 192,000 new jobs a month in 2018 to 143,000 new jobs a month in 2019. More specifically, the mining industry lost 5,000 jobs in August and factory production is becoming severely anemic as it continues a downward trend toward a looming recession for two consecutive quarters. President Trump blames the Federal Reserve for the decrease in economic growth. However, economists fear that the US’s Trade War with China is a more significant factor in the stalling economy.

See Dominic Rushe, The Guardian, Sep 6 2019

Xcel Energy, a utility holding company based out of Minneapolis, called upon the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to resolve an on-going Labor dispute as members of the United Security Professionals Local 2 picket at the gates of their Monticello nuclear plant. The picketing began on August 31st after approximately 25 security guards belonging to Local 2 were locked out and replaced following the expiration of their contracts. Xcel Energy does not directly hire their security guards. Instead they outsource the task of procuring security to G4S, a large global security firm based in London. Local 2 had been in the midst of negotiating a new contract with G4S, but refused to waiver to G4S’s demand to accept a decrease in health benefits. Xcel is arguing to the NLRB that Local 2 has violated regulations by engaging in secondary picketing, and disrupting business operations. Local 2 has countered that their picket line is well within the rights of the law.

See Mike Hughlett, SC Times, Sep 6 2019

In February of last year, the NLRB asked interested parties to submit briefs regarding the circumstances in which misclassifying employees as independent contractors should be considered a violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA. The NLRB has determined that “under no circumstances” should worker misclassification be considered a violation of the Act. Parties in support of the misclassification violation asserted that misclassification essentially coerces employees in the exercise of their rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the Act. The NLRB disagrees, and has stated that unless employers respond to protected concerted activities with threats, employers have not violated Section 8(a)(1).

See Michael Stevens, JD Supra, Sep 4 2019

In recent years, numerous small business employees in Ithaca have engaged in concerted activities- and even formed unions. Many of these employees are millennials, which is consistent with national trends- in 2017, 76 percent of union members were younger than 35. Local examples of union organizing include workers at Nikki Green, who attempted to form a union in response to stagnant wages. Additionally, workers at Gimme Coffee successfully unionized and GreenStar employees have begun organizing.

See Matt Steecker, The Ithaca Journal, Sep 4 2019

American Airlines continues to struggle, following its emergence from bankruptcy in 2013. In terms of profit margins and reliability, American is underperforming compared to competitors such as Delta and United. As a result or poor performance and collective action resulting in slowdowns, American’s stock prices have decreased and summertime flight cancellations have given the airline a bad reputation amongst passengers. It appears that moving forward, significant changes will have to be made if American is to become competitive.

See Mary Schlangenstein, The Los Angeles Times, Sep 4 2019

General Motors has recently cut 350 jobs in its two Thailand factories, eliminating 15% of its Thai workforce. Thailand is a manufacturing hub for vehicles, with the industry accounting for around 10 percent of the Thai economy. General Motors has stated that it is doing everything that it can to support workers who have been impacted by the labor cuts. Additionally, the firm stated that the cuts were necessary and allowed the firm to appropriately scale its operation.

See Chayut Setboonsarng , Reuters, Aug 30 2019

Thousands of Kaiser Permanente employees in a number of cities along the west coast are planning to strike on Labor Day over inadequate wages, short staffing, and the high wages that company executives earn. This protest will lead up to the large-scale strike planned by the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions for October. More than 80,000 employees are planning to participate, which should make this strike the largest walkout in more than 20 years.

See Kevin Smith, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, Aug 30 2019

Contractors at Google’s Philadelphia office have just announced their intention to join the United Steel Workers Union. Of the contractors eligible to seek representation, 66 percent of them have signed authorization forms. Now, these workers have reached out to the NLRB so that they can vote. Currently, contractors receive far less pay and fewer benefits than their employee counterparts- which is why joining a union is an important step forward for these workers.

See Edward Ongweso Jr, Vice, Aug 30 2019

For over a month, Los Angeles city officials have declined the approval of a contract for cheap solar power. The city’s utilities labor union has expressed concerns, which has resulted in the delayed approval of the contract. Recently, the mayor closed three gas-fired power plants, and now with the new contract the union is concerned that more good paying jobs will be eliminated. However, under the contract with 8minute Solar Energy, the city would pay less than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is a record low price for power and would save residents money.

See Sammy Roth, The LA Times, Aug 28 2019

Authorities in Odisha, India have decided to expand a national scheme in order to address the exploitation of vulnerable workers. Odisha houses many migrants, who are driven there due to poverty. In order to address debt bondage, which traps migrant workers, the state intends to double the amount of paid work that it offers its residents who are most in need. Giving vulnerable citizens work near their home helps workers avoid debt bondage, and other forms of labor slavery and exploitation.

See Anuradha Nagaraj , Reuters, Aug 28 2019

California state employees hold important positions in many unions, and will have an influence over which candidates are endorsed by these unions in the presidential primary. Due to the large number of democratic candidates, it appears now that unions will wait until the primary to release their endorsements. There are a lot of presidential candidates who seem to be pro-labor, which means that it will be challenging for unions to choose someone to endorse.

See Emily Cadei, The Sacramento Bee, Aug 28 2019

After many meetings this summer, the newly established graduate student union at Harvard has reached three agreements with the University. Prior to these tentative agreements being reached, the union had not achieved an agreement with the University in over seven months. The new agreements include provisions that pertain to intellectual property, health, and safety, and the creation of a union-management committee.

See James S. Bikales & Ruoqi Zhang, The Harvard Crimson, Aug 26 2019

Following the President of Argentina’s interference in elections, executives and graduates have begun seeking work outside of their home country. According to head hunters and visa advisers, workers have been seeking job opportunities in Brazil, Chile, and Columbia. The struggling economy has been a large part of workers choosing to seek employment in neighboring countries. Currently, the unemployment rate is 10 percent and the poverty rate is somewhere between 27 and 35 percent.

See Aislinn Laing, Marina Lammertyn, Marcelo Rochabrun, Nelson Bocanegra, Reuters, Aug 26 2019

The union organizers behind the “Fight for $15” movement have now begun targeting rest-stop fast food workers. Highway rest stops are unique in that they are owned and managed by the government. The government’s oversight may help organizers establish a lasting relationship with fast food employees. This Wednesday, numerous fast-food workers at several different franchises will be filling claims of wage theft and announcing their intention to join the Service Employees International Union.

See Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg, Aug 26 2019

It seems that the decrease in retail jobs, which has been dubbed the “retail apocalypse,” has not improved. Between 2018 and 2019, the number of nonfarm jobs has decreased by 501,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are 146,400 fewer retails jobs than the bureau previously thought. These job losses can possibly be attributed to private equity, increased automation, and the push to raise the minimum wage.

See Business Insider, Aug 23 2019

White-collar workers in the tech industry interact frequently with blue-collar workers, and many consider blue-collar workers colleagues. However, many blue-collar workers are contractors who work for a different company. A nonprofit in the Bay Area is drafting standards for “responsible contracting.” These standards will allow tech firms to be graded based on their service jobs, in comparison to these guidelines.

See Melia Russell , The San Francisco Chronicle, Aug 23 2019

Currently, restaurants are facing the worst labor shortage in decades. Restaurants have been offering creative benefits and programs in order to hire enough labor. However, due to increased immigration enforcement, many restaurants are now having to let go of trusted employees due to their undocumented status. The restaurant industry does have a diverse workforce, which means that many laborers may not have appropriate documentation.

See David Yaffe-Bellany , The New York Times, Aug 23 2019

Today, Japan and South Korea agreed that in order to resolve their conflict over wartime labor, dialogue is needed. The foreign ministers of each country had a conversation, in which they believe they made some progress. Ultimately, the meeting reaffirmed the need for continued dialogue around the issue. More recently, the feud has begun to negatively impact trade between the two countries- which has encouraged the countries to engage in further discussion.

See Hyonhee Shin & Ami Miyazaki , Reuters, Aug 21 2019

Following the takeover of Uniper, a German energy group, labor representatives are requesting that the shareholder Fortum discloses its future plans for its two companies. Recently, the ratings agency S&P gave both firms a “BBB” rating- which means that the acquisition of Uniper could be negative for both groups. Workers are afraid that the merger will mean a downgrade, and negatively impact employees.

See Christoph Steitz, Reuters, Aug 21 2019

Reuters has uncovered that Philips may have been involved in a scheme involving the sale of medical equipment to Brazil. A whistleblower has alleged that following his disclosure of the scheme, he was fired by the company. This individual claims that in 2010, he began noticing irregularities in contracts between Philips and Brazil’s ministry of Health. He suspects that payoffs were involved in securing the government business. Currently, Philips has stated that it is being cooperative with Brazilian authorities while the investigation into the matter takes place.

See Brad Brooks , Reuters, Aug 21 2019

The International Association of Machinists union in North Charleston has brought a case against Boeing. The union has alleged that the firm fired five employees who supported the union. A director for the NLRB has recently ruled that the claims brought against Boeing have merit, which means that the case will now be heard by a judge. In the meantime, the union will most likely file an injunction to allow the employees to return to work.

See David Wren , Post and Courier, Aug 19 2019

Rather than resuming talks with U.K. pilots, Ryanair has chosen to attempt to block an impending strike by seeking an injunction. The hearing will take place the day before the strike is set to begin. Ryanair is still selling tickets for the days that the strike is set to take place. The union’s general secretary has called this move further evidence of the “bullying tactics” the airline has utilized regularly. The airline has declined to comment on the issue.

See Siddharth Vikram Philip & Peter Flanagan, Aug 19 2019

Unionized workers for Hyundai Heavy Industries in Korea have decided to stage a walkout this week. This strike is part of the general industry strike that is set to occur. The walkout will occur for three hours on Wednesday of this week. Workers are striking in order to protest the government’s plan to restructure the shipbuilding sector. Government policies have led to more than 100,000 lost jobs in the industry, already.

See Yonhap, The Korea Herald, Aug 19 2019

Currently, religious nonprofits that receive federal contractors are exempt from rules that cover hiring and firing on the basis of religion. However, the Labor Department has proposed a new rule that would expand this exemption to allow more federal contractors to take advantage of it. Critics are concerned that this rule would allow federal contractors to discriminate against workers for a wide variety of reasons. The Trump administration will be challenging additional protections for gay and transgender workers this fall.

See Noam Scheiber, The New York Times, Aug 16 2019

Following the suit filed by female soccer players against the United States Soccer Federation, the players were engaging in talks over unequal pay with the USSF. The talks have been unsuccessful, and the female players have decided to bring the matter to the courts. The suit was initially brought in March, where the women alleged that they receive inferior pay in comparison to their male counterparts, despite having greater performance. A spokesperson for the USSF has stated that the federation is disappointed that the issue was not able to be resolved during mediation.

See Andrew Downie & Jahmal Corner, Reuters, Aug 16 2019

Morro Bay will be embarking on a $124 million sewer project, with the intention of beginning the project this fall. In a meeting on Tuesday, the city council voted against a project labor agreement that would have meant that part of the project worth $30 million would have been completed by local unions. While the council would like to hire locally, residents are concerned that the project costs too much- hence the vote against union labor which would be more expensive.

See Nick Wilson, The Tribune, Aug 16 2019

Import prices have been trending low lately, which seems to allude to inflation pressures. Prices unexpectedly increased in the month of July, despite this, the report from the Labor Department has suggested that inflation may remain moderate. This would allow the Federal Reserve to decrease interest rates in order to limit the economic disruption that has occurred as a result of the U.S. trade war with China.

See Lucia Mutikani , Reuters, Aug 14 2019

The founder of Barstool Sports, a popular blogging company, has threatened via twitter to fire employees who engage in unionization efforts. David Portnoy wrote in a tweet to employees who may be interested in organizing a union, "I'll fire you on the spot." His tweet has received backlash from New York state labor regulators, Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the AFL-CIO. Each entity has responded, reminding Portnoy that anti-union behavior is unlawful and that all employees legally have the right to engage in collective action and union organizing.

See Aimee Picchi, CBS News, Aug 14 2019

American Airlines has accused mechanics unions of an intentional slowdown that has resulted in more than 900 flights being cancelled within the last two months. The airline is seeking compensation for the damages associated with the aforementioned cancelled flights. American claims that the unions have caused significant losses financially, and damaged the airline's relationship with customers.

See Leslie Josephs, CNBC, Aug 14 2019

As a result of striking fuel drivers, the Portuguese government has begun rationing fuel consumption. Drivers are striking indefinitely, and for the second time this year due to delayed talks with their employer regarding higher wages. The Prime Minister of Portugal has stated that despite fuel rationing, minimum services are still able to be provided. Additionally, he has called for government intervention in order to aid drivers and their employer in resolving the dispute quickly.

See Catarina Demony , Reuters, Aug 12 2019

Agile management is essentially a set of principles that is intended to help employees work more efficiently. Common practices associated with this management style include breaking large goals down into smaller tasks, and daily meetings. When this approach is successful it has the potential to speed up the completion of large projects. However, it often demands that employees deviate from the traditional way that people work.

See Sue Shellenbarger, The Wall Street Journal, Aug 12 2019

The Department of Justice has recently decided to challenge the right of immigration judges to be represented by a union. In a petition filed last week, a spokesperson for the department stated that the judges should not be allowed to be represented by a union because judges are management officials. Today, the National Association of Immigration Judges has stated that the challenge is an attempt to silence immigration judges. Additionally, the association disagrees that the judges should be considered management officials because they do not create policies or manage staff.

See The Washington Post, Aug 12 2019

Immigration authorities recently raided numerous agricultural facilities in Mississippi, and arrested 680 people. One of the targeted facilities has a history of serious immigrant labor abuse allegations. Last summer, the company settled a suit brought by the EEOC over sexual and physical assault and abuse against Hispanic laborers. The firm has not admitted to any of the alleged crimes, and paid millions of dollars to settle. Additionally, the firm has stated that its employees brought the suit in order to seek U.S. visas.

See Mica Rosenberg & Kristina Cooke , Reuters, Aug 9 2019

Foxconn Technology Group, the company that produces the Amazon Echo, has been accused of continuing to allow abusive labor practices. Last year, the firm was criticized for employing high school interns and demanding they work unlawful overtime, in order to cut labor costs. Both Amazon and Foxconn responded to critics by promising to improve factory conditions and follow labor laws. The most recent investigation into this matter by China Labor Watch has uncovered that the firms have not followed through, and have actually decreased wages in the factory by 16 percent.

See Matt Day & Debby Wu, Bloomberg, Aug 9 2019

The Canadian economy lost 24,200 jobs last month due to a decline trade. Additionally, the Canadian currency has weakened in response to the decline in jobs. Employment has declined for young people and for women, as well. The number of private-sector employees has decreased by nearly 70,000.

See Kelsey Johnson , Reuters, Aug 9 2019

Michigan road workers are on strike due to contract negotiation issues. The unionized workers went on strike last week due to poor treatment and 14 months of negotiations that have failed to produce a new contract. Due to the strike, many road improvement projects have been delayed. The union has expressed that its members intend to strike until a fair contract is reached.

See Shawn D. Lewis, The Detroit News, Aug 7 2019

According to Stop & Shop's parent company, the 11 day strike that occurred in April had a negative impact on the chain's finances. In fact, the strike cost the company $345 million in the second quarter. Despite these losses, the company does not project that the chain will continue to struggle due to the strike during the second half of the year. While Stop & Shop's performance was negatively impacted, other brands owned by Ahold performed well.

See Stephen Singer, The Hartford Courant, Aug 7 2019

It has been nearly 400 years since the West African slave trade came to North America. However, today slavery is still prevalent- more than 40 million people are estimated to be trapped by various forms of modern slavery or exploitation. In Africa, slavery persists at alarming rates with more than seven people experiencing exploitation for every 1,000.

See Angela Ukomadu & Nneka Chile, Reuters, Aug 7 2019

The construction industry in the U.K. is heavily reliant on foreign labor. Post-Brexit rules which will only allow high-skilled workers to live and work in the country permanently will likely cause a shortage of low-skilled labor. Foreign workers who are not classified as “high-skilled” will only be allowed to remain in the country for a year at a time. In the U.K. nearly half of all builders are foreign workers.

See Olivia Konotey-Ahulu, Bloomberg, Aug 5 2019

Telangana, a top cotton producer in India, will begin mapping out its cotton supply chain this month. This project is being done in collaboration with the ILO in order to end child labor in cotton fields. The director of Telangana’s child and bonded labor agency has stated that this project is relevant because more than 80 percent of child laborers have been found to be working in agriculture. Additionally, experts claim that the cotton supply chain is the most difficult to map due to the numerous production stages that it goes through before it reaches its final form.

See Anuradha Nagaraj , Reuters, Aug 5 2019

Actress Emma Watson has partnered with activist group, Time’s Up UK to launch a sexual harassment legal advice line for female workers. A number of activist groups have come together to fund this service to ensure that it is free for women who will use it. The group, Rights of Women’s senior legal officer has stated that sexual harassment has remained a hidden issue despite reaching “epidemic levels.” The advice line is ultimately intended to aid women by increasing awareness of workplace rights and empowering women to hold harassers and employers accountable.

See The Guardian, Aug 5 2019

The Federal Reserve decreased interest rates this week, and it appears that the unemployment rate has remained steady. However, the number of new production jobs in sectors including manufacturing and construction, has decreased. In 2018, an average of 58,000 production jobs were added each month- in 2019 the current average is around 23,000. This decrease may be due to the trade war and the strength of the dollar compared to other currencies.

See Neil Irwin, The New York Times, Aug 2 2019

U.S. payrolls have increased, yet again, by 164,000. The total number of employed individuals in the U.S. has now reached a record-high 163.4 million workers. Currently, it appears that the unemployment rate has remained steady, at 3.7 percent. This can likely be owed to more people entering the labor market due to an increase in job openings. However, while job openings have increased it appears that the average number of hours that an employee works has decreased.

See Jeff Cox, CNBC, Aug 2 2019

According to Christopher Brown, a health scientist for OSHA, measles surveillance in the workplace needs to improve to prevent unnecessary transmission. Measles cases are at a 27-year high, and in past outbreaks, transmission occurring at work has been common- especially in the healthcare sector. Brown wrote a letter recently, urging both local and state health departments to report measles outbreaks in order to allow researchers to study infection patterns. This year alone, the CDC has accounted for more than 1,100 measles cases- a 300 percent increase since 2018.

See Carolyn Crist , Reuters, Aug 2 2019

The most recent sign of inflation that could encourage the Federal Reserve to decrease interest rates, is labor costs rising at a slower pace. It appears that economic growth is slowing down after 10 years of expansion. Manufacturing in the Midwest has declined for a second month and is now at its lowest level in years. The Employment Cost Index (ECI) has increased by just 0.7 percent for two consecutive quarters.

See Lucia Mutikani , Reuters, Jul 31 2019

Following Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co’s refusal to let a group of U.S. democratic lawmakers visit their plant in Mexico, the company is facing criticism over labor conditions. Currently, Democrats belonging to the House of Representatives are negotiating a trade deal involving Canada, the U.S., and Mexico- with Trump’s administration. The success of the agreement is heavily reliant on Mexican labor reform. House Democrats are unhappy with Goodyear because it is clear that workers in the firm’s plant in Mexico are subject to poor conditions and exploitation.

See Andrea Shalal , Reuters, Jul 31 2019

Scabby the Rat is a giant inflatable rodent that is displayed outside of firm offices in New York City during union labor disputes. The rat is used as a symbol of organized labor and union protests. However, many fear that Scabby the Rat may soon be banned due to a number of cases where the NLRB has determined that inflatable balloons are unlawful. The NLRB has taken the position that the use of inflatable balloons constitutes a form of disruptive, illegal picketing.

See Michael Gold , The New York Times, Jul 31 2019

In 2017 DoorDash Inc. began including tips in drivers’ base pay. This means that drivers did not receive tips given through the app on top of their wages, but that the company was using tips to pay employees their base wage. Customer complaints and news coverage have led Doordash to reverse this policy, with more details soon to come regarding a new compensation plan. Amazon uses a similar wage model, which has led consumers to distrust web-based firms to tip employees honestly. In order to ensure workers are receiving their tips, costumers can choose to tip with cash.

See Eric Newcomer, Bloomberg, Jul 29 2019

A few years ago, a memo was released inside Amazon that described a new grocery chain that would combine online and in-person grocery shopping. Fresh foods would be available for customers to shop themselves, while nonperishables would be shopped by employees and brought to customers. When Amazon acquired Whole Foods, the memo’s imaginary store seemed to disappear. However, now it appears that Amazon is ready to take on the challenge of creating a new way to sell food. If Amazon creates a new grocery chain, this will undoubtedly impact the grocery labor force and the industry at large.

See Karen Weise, The New York Times, Jul 29 2019

Greenhouse flower and vegetable growers in Canada are facing a labor shortage due to a rapidly growing cannabis industry. Cannabis producers are able to pay more competitive wages due to how lucrative the industry is. The greenhouse sector in Canada employs 16% of agriculture workers. Cannabis growth combined with a record low unemployment rate has made it increasingly difficult for greenhouse employers to recruit and keep workers.

See Kelsey Johnson , Reuters, Jul 29 2019

Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants staged a protest at LAX on Thursday due to delayed contract negotiations. Negotiations have been taking place for two years. Employees are particularly concerned with negotiating for better wages, retirement benefits, and workplace protections. According to the airline, a mediator has been brought in to help the union and management reach an agreement.

See Kevin Smith, Los Angeles Daily News, Jul 26 2019

On Thursday, Alaska’s ferry system was closed for a second day due to a strike in response to stalled negotiations. Over 400 members of the Inlandboatman’s Union of the Pacific participated in a walkout to protest contract negotiations that have been taking place for three years. This walkout occurred during peak tourism season, and because of this the state has claimed that this action will be “detrimental” to future negotiations and the community.

See Yereth Rosen, Reuters, Jul 26 2019

In California, legislation has been passed that makes it difficult for gig work companies to classify employees as independent contractors. Companies such as Uber and Lyft have been trying to work with unions to strike a deal that would enable them to continue to classify employees as independent contractors, and thus avoid the costs of giving employees benefits. On Thursday, the Teamsters wrote a letter to the governor of California stating that the union is in opposition of proposals that would allow technology platforms to avoid reclassifying employees.

See Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg, Jul 26 2019

Nearly 5,000 unionized national park workers in South Africa are threatening to strike due to inadequate wages. If the strike does occur, it will halt day-to-day services and operations at 21 wildlife preservations. Unions chose to declare a dispute against the national parks due to many months of stalled wage negotiations. The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration has been informed of the issue and will work with the appropriate parties to try to move negotiations forward.

See Vernon Wessels, Bloomberg, Jul 24 2019

Two years ago, Australia experienced a booming home building sector which led to very high demand for construction workers. Now that home building has decreased, the construction sector which employs almost a tenth of the Australian workforce, is struggling tremendously. The central bank has just listed unemployment and underemployment as its two most pressing issues. The decline in building projects has meant that construction workers have been laid-off and unable to find work.

See Tom Westbrook, Reuters, Jul 24 2019

On Tuesday night, Verizon announced its plan to build a tech campus in San Jose where an estimated 3,400 employees will work. To create this campus, Verizon has leased 640,000 square feet in buildings and will soon undertake the process of developing these offices into a new tech hub. The firm anticipates that the new campus will be finished in 2021. Verizon is just one of many firms who have recently begun to expand in San Jose- tech development continues to bring tremendous economic growth to the city.

See George Avalos, The Mercury News, Jul 24 2019

In addition to raising wages in response to a tight job market, restaurants are getting creative and offering more competitive bonuses in order to attract and retain employees. Currently, restaurants are struggling to find low-skilled workers who are willing to work for low wages and few benefits. Companies like McDonalds are offering to pay for college for employees, in order to attract young people. Chipotle has begun offering bonuses for employees who reach sales targets, in addition to offering tuition-reimbursement.

See Heather Haddon, The Wall Street Journal, Jul 22 2019

In Thailand, the number of human trafficking victims who have been rescued is anticipated to reach a record high this year. The increased number of trafficking victims is the result of a greater demand for cheap labor in Malaysia. This year alone, Thai officials have rescued 974 human trafficking victims- compared with 982 total in 2015. Thai Police Colonel Mana Kleebsattabudh, has stated that most of the rescued victims were recruited for factory work in Malaysia by middlemen or agencies.

See Nanchanok Wongsamuth, Reuters, Jul 22 2019

Kroger Co. is a large supermarket chain that has rolled out numerous initiatives over the past few years in an attempt to compete with Amazon. Most recently, Kroger has established a partnership with the British online grocer, Ocado Group Plc. It appears that this partnership has been forged in order to further advance online grocery fulfillment centers- as both firms have been developing these technologies independently up until this point. Ocado actually specializes in digital grocery shopping with its newest grocery fulfillment center boasting robots who shop for groceries, which are later packed by human workers. Robot shoppers have already proved themselves as incredibly cost effective, and one can anticipate that the partnership between Ocado and Kroger will alter the grocery shopping experience via automation.

See Sarah Halzack, Bloomberg, Jul 22 2019

California’s job growth this year has been strong. Last month, this growth was created by an increase in both residential and commercial building due to lower mortgage rates. Despite rapid growth and increased job openings, California is facing a tight labor market. In June alone, the labor force decreased by nearly 60,000 people which has created economic concerns regarding employers being forced to raise wages in order to fill positions.

See Margot Roosevelt, The Las Angeles Times, Jul 19 2019

The Greenstar workers organizing group is attempting to unionize all greenstar employees in order to address internal issues and create a more equitable workplace. This organizing push has been taking place for more than a year, and employees are beginning to raise issues of discrimination and inconsistent policy enforcement. Employees feel that unionizing efforts have exacerbated these issues, and have thus filed charges on a variety of issues with the NLRB.

See Matt Butler, The Ithaca Times, Jul 19 2019

Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Pramila Jayapal have proposed legislation that would ensure that domestic workers are covered by federal labor law. The National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights includes a more modern approach to workplace protections that specifically address the needs of domestic workers. The aforementioned protections include fair scheduling practices, and the creation of a wage and standards board. Due to the nature of domestic labor, workers have a particularly difficult time organizing and fear retaliation, which is why the establishment of the wage and standards board would be such an important step forward.

See David Madland & Adam Stromme, Fortune Magazine, Jul 19 2019

Governor Andrew Cuomo has just signed legislation that will advance farm workers’ labor rights. The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act gives workers the right to engage in collective bargaining and receive overtime pay, amongst other new protections. Additionally, the Act eradicates a New York state law that did not allow agricultural workers to unionize.

See WKBW Buffalo, Jul 17 2019

Senators in Ohio and Oregon have called for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to reject the import of cocoa that is being made with forced labor. An investigation conducted by the Washington Post uncovered that the Ivory Coast cocoa industry is still reliant on child labor. Following the publication of the aforementioned findings, two senators wrote letters to the CBP requesting that unethically produced cocoa be disallowed from entering the United States.

See Ayenat Mersie , Reuters, Jul 17 2019

Temperatures are rising rapidly, however, there are no federal guidelines that address working in extreme heat. The Occupation Safety and Health Administration has a number of recommendations regarding staying cool and safe when working in high temperature environments. These recommendations include implementing a buddy system and ensuring that new workers do not spend more than 20% of their first workday in the heat. Last week, representatives from Arizona and California introduced a bill that would require paid water breaks and access to water in dangerous heat conditions.

See Abdel Jimenez, The Chicago Tribune, Jul 17 2019

United Auto Workers and Detroit Three have just begun to engage in talks with Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler in order to produce new, four-year labor contracts. Recent plant closures and management scandals have created a tense bargaining environment. The key issues that will be addressed at the bargaining table include protecting factories and jobs, the role of temp workers, and health-care benefits.

See David Welch, Gabrielle Coppola, and Keith Naughton, Bloomberg LP, Jul 15 2019

A survey conducted by IHS Markit has shown that Italy’s business outlook has improved immensely this quarter. In fact, Italy’s outlook has improved more than any other country over the past four months. While survey participants reported optimism regarding future employment and capital expenditure, concerns about political uncertainty were reported, as well. The labor market has also shown improvements this quarter, with the employment rate rising to 59 percent.

See Gavin Jones , Reuters, Jul 15 2019

This year, Prime Day has proven itself to be an excellent marketing opportunity for U.S. retailers. Numerous retailers have begun offering sales that coincide with the dates of Prime Day. It appears that other retailers are “taking advantage” of Prime Day as a way to increase sales in July, and some have noted that the sales are beginning to rival Black Friday. However, at the same time, more than 2,000 Amazon workers are on strike in Germany, and many other protests have been planned across the U.S. and Europe. Workers are protesting poor pay and working conditions by engaging in work stoppages.

See Melissa Fares , Reuters, Jul 15 2019

A judge has ordered unions representing mechanics who work for American Airlines to fine workers whose actions result in flight delays. This order was issued to force mechanics to discontinue work slowdowns. The collective action that employees have been engaging in is part of an ongoing battle between the unions and the airline. Employees are upset about delayed contract discussions and have been protesting by engaging in slowdowns and using other tactics to disrupt airline operations.

See Dan Reed, Forbes, Jul 12 2019