According to a recent study, less than a quarter of industrial sector S&P companies included worker safety data in their 10-K reports, which detail their financial health to their investors. For instance, Amazon and Dollar Tree did not include information in their 10-K reports about the OSHA inspections, citations, and fines they have received in the recent fiscal year. This lack of reporting health programs and occupational safety measures to investors aligns with the recent push from institutional investors wanting companies to be more transparent regarding their workforces. As a result, the SEC is currently drafting a rule that would require disclosures of "human capital" to be included in 10-K reports, and this could potentially encourage companies to improve their safety practices rather than disguise them.
See Bruce Rolfsen, "Most big companies share scant worker safety data in SEC filings ", Bloomberg Law, March 24, 2023
After rejecting an earlier contract proposal last month, Disney World service workers in the six unions that comprise the Service Trades Council Union coalition reached a tentative deal with the company this week. This new labor deal would raise the starting minimum wage to $18 an hour, which could influence an informal standard for base pay within the large tourism industry in Florida. Additionally, the contract would cover 45,000 Disney World workers, including the costumed performers, lifeguards, bus drivers, hotel housekeepers, and other essential service workers at the parks.
See Associated Press, "Disney World strikes deal with union workers to raise the minimum wage to $18 an hour ", NBC News, March 24, 2023
On Thursday, a federal appeals court ruled against President Biden's executive order of a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for federal employees. The White House has defended the vaccination mandate, citing the use of vaccines to prevent hospitalizations and serious illness due to Covid. Additionally, there were arguments that as the chief executive of the US, Biden wielded the authority to impose vaccination requirements just as a CEO of a company does. However, opponents of the order claim that it illegally and unduly encroached on federal workers' lives. This recent court decision upholds a preliminary injunction from early 2022 blocking the vaccine mandate.
See Associated Press, "Court blocks Covid-19 vaccine mandate for US government workers", CNBC, March 24, 2023
During the pandemic, the lowerst-earning workers received pay increases that produced significant real wage growth, but new analysis shows that these wage gains are unlikely to stick. These wage gains were precipitated by the breadth of job opportunities for low-wage workers after businesses reopened, as well as the stimulus spending policies. As a result of severed monopsony, layoffs early in the pandemic led higher wages as companies competed to attract and retain their workforces. Despite these gains though, low-wage workers in the US still lag far behind the highest income earners as these gains from the pandemic have not been sufficient to bridge the large wealth inequality gaps. It has been claimed that the continuation of social policies like strong unemployment insurance and increasing minimum wages are necessary to preserve the recent wage gains of low-income workers.
See Juliana Kaplan and Madison Hoff, "Low-wage workers got big raises during the pandemic. Now that's coming to an end. ", Business Insider, March 23, 2023
Recently, the NLRB found reason to charge Amazon with allegations of illegal union busting such as refusing to bargain with the union representing workers at its NYC warehouse, restricting access to its facilities, and disciplining union leaders. While the NLRB has not yet taken any formal actions against the company, these findings are a precursor to issuing a complaint. If the case is not settled, and Amazon is charged with these allegations, it could potentially interfere with the company's 2021 nationwide settlement with the NLRB. Furthermore, in January, it was found that Amazon violated labor law in its resistance to the unionization efforts at the same Staten Island warehouse in this case.
See Robert Iafolla, "Amazon faces Labor Board charges of illegal union busting ", Bloomberg Law, March 23, 2023
Given the turbulent current events and economic uncertainties, many employees have been experiencing anxiety which has caused them to think more about their mental health and productivity. In particular, a recent survey revealed that knowledge workers across the globe, especially black workers and younger workers, have been placing a higher priority on their mental health. As a result of these findings, workers have been reevaluating their work-life balance boundaries and long-term career goals. Organizations are also looking for ways to better support workers' mental health to reduce burnout and address the systemic issue of profit maximization at the cost of the workforces' wellbeing.
See Megan Leonhardt, "Workers of all generations finally agree on something: putting happiness above career ambitions", Fortune, March 23, 2023
Recently, a new trend in the US labor market has been coined "ghost jobs," emphasizing the uncertainty in both the labor market and economy. This trend refers to job postings that are technically open but unlikely to be filled as companies portray the impression that they are better off than they actually are. Ghost jobs have been drawing into question many assumptions about the economy and strength of the labor market because of the distortions they create.
See Chloe Berger, "'Ghost jobs' are the latest things workers need to worry about: that role you're applying for might actually be fake", Fortune, March 22, 2023
A recent workplace study has revealed that employees' anxiety has been on the rise, and that this has led many workers to prioritize job stability over career growth and salary increases. These responses align with a lot of uncertainty within the US labor market and economy as layoffs have been spreading. In particular, remote workers, who spend less face time with leadership and their teams, have been experiencing more anxiety compared to in-person workers and this has been impacting their productivity. As a result, it has been recommended that managers foster a sense of inclusion to mitigate unnecessary anxieties by creating cross-functional connections.
See Liz Fosslien and Sara Gottlieb-Cohen, "Research: remote workers are more anxious about layoffs", Harvard Business Review, March 22, 2023
On Wednesday, Starbucks workers across the country walked out in protest of the company's aggressive anti-union efforts on the day of its annual shareholder meeting. Many workers feel Starbucks has been violating its claimed commitment to workers' rights, and they are hoping that shareholders will approve a plan for a third-party assessment of these violations. This labor action also comes right before Starbucks CEO is anticipated to testify before a Senate committee regarding the alleged union busting.
See Michael Sainato, "Starbucks workers at over 100 US stores walk out ahead of shareholder meeting ", Guardian, March 22, 2023
In Los Angeles, the second-largest school district in America, all schools have been closed in response to the commencement of a three-day long strike by tens of thousands of school employees. These workers, who are part of the Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union, are seeking a pay increase that will help them meet the cost of living in LA. The strike is limited to three days and in response to the contract negotiation conflicts between the school district and union. In solidarity with these workers' efforts, the Los Angeles teachers' union had also called a strike to avoid crossing the picket line and show support. However, many parents in the district have expressed frustrations with having to figure out childcare coverage due to the school closures.
See Kurtis Lee and Souyma Karlamangla, "Los Angeles schools shut down after workers begin strike", New York Times, March 21, 2023