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Workplace Issues Today

At a conference in London, government representatives made the case that governments should use their buying power to combat slave labor. To date, most efforts to prevent “supply chain slavery” have come from large companies. However, at the conference representatives argued that states have a responsibility to be involved in ending slavery, too. Speakers noted that governments are consumers and have the ability to tackle supply chain labor abuse by consuming ethical goods.

See Kieran Guilbert , Reuters, Mar 27 2019

Unionized dining workers at Tufts are preparing to strike over wages. Workers have received support from students, who recently attended an information session regarding the current state of contract negotiations. Union leaders have told students that they would prefer to avoid a strike but feel that it is necessary, unless University administration takes action soon. A significant portion of the session was devoted to informing students of what they can do if the strike does take place.

See Alexander Thompson, The Tufts Daily, Mar 27 2019

Lyft is planning to have its initial public offering (IPO) this Thursday. Subsequently, the company held an IPO roadshow yesterday, which led many Lyft driver to protest outside the Omni hotel. Despite being at the wrong location due to a last minute venue change, the drivers made their sentiments known. Lyft drivers wanted potential investors to know that the company's treatment of workers is poor and that their wages are constantly being cut, making it hard for them to earn a decent living. The protest yesterday coincides with the driver’s strike in Los Angeles and San Diego.

See Olivia Zaleski, Eric Newcomer, Bloomberg Law, Mar 26 2019

An NLRB judge ruled that arbitration confidentiality pacts are illegal in reviewing Pfizer Inc. v Rebecca Lynn Olvey. In May 2016, the company announced to its employees that they are subject to arbitration disputes and the confidentiality clause, which restricted parties from speaking out about the arbitration proceedings. Judge Locke held that while arbitration proceedings are legal, it is illegal, according to Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to restrict employees from discussing terms and conditions of employment, including arbitration.

See Daniel Wiessner, Reuters, Mar 26 2019

Senator Kamala Harris released her initiative to use federal money to raise teacher’s salaries. This initiative is part of her 2020 presidential campaign and is labeled as the largest investment in teachers in American history. The average salary increase is estimated to be around $13,500 or 23%. The education sector has been a major issue as it is hard to attract and retain teachers. Harris’ teacher pay proposal has the potential to strongly resonate with Democratic voters and give her an edge in seeking a nomination.

See Erik Sherman, Fortune, Mar 26 2019

The findings of a new survey managed by the Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry show that around half of the home care workers in Japan have experienced harassment while at work. 81 percent of participants who reported being harassed, stated that they had experienced psychological abuse. Abuse and harassment of home care aids is an issue- around 42 percent of respondents who reported abuse, reported physical abuse. When asked why harassment is occurring, respondents reported that their clients misunderstand the services that they provide, or simply devalue their work. Last year, the Nippon Careservice Craft Union, petitioned the labor ministry for better legal protections against harassment for domestic care workers.

See The Japan Times, Mar 25 2019

Analogic was recently found to be guilt-free in a pay discrimination suit, where the firm had been alleged of discriminating against female employees by paying them less than male counterparts. Analogic is a corporation that produces healthcare and security technology- the firm is based in the Boston area. The judge who ruled on the case noted that the agency who brought the suit failed to find an employment practice that would cause a wage inconsistency between men and women. Further, there was no statistically significant difference between men and women’s wages in assembler positions.

See Paige Smith, Bloomberg Law, Mar 25 2019

In South Africa, the power utility, Eskom, has increased electricity prices immensely. As a result, the operating costs of gold and platinum mines are increasing- which is projected to result in nearly 90,000 jobs being lost over the next three years. In Africa’s industrialized economy, nearly a quarter of the labor force is unemployed. As a result, job losses are highly politicized- especially in an industry like mining that has been struggling over the past decade.

See Nailed Mashishi & Onke Ngcuka, Reuters, Mar 25 2019

Musicians who play for the Chicago Symphony have gone on strike to protest low wages and inadequate pensions. Nearly 100 musicians have been on strike since the middle of March- their picket line has garnered support from local citizens and politicians. As a result of musicians striking, the Symphony has had to cancel over a dozen concerts. While the Symphony’s management is concerned about the strike, a fear of putting the financial future of the Symphony at risk has caused hesitation regarding raising wages.

See Caryn Rousseau, The Times Union, Mar 22 2019

Workers at South Korea’s Hankook Tire plant in Hungary reached an agreement with management on Thursday, following a 10-day strike over low wages. A labor shortage has impacted the car industry heavily in the country, which has led to an increase in strikes for improved wages over the past few months. The Hankook plant has over 3,000 employees. Management has just agreed to a 13.6 percent wage increase in order to end the strike.

See Sandor Peto, Reuters, Mar 22 2019

The convenience store Seven-Eleven is beginning a trial of shorter business hours in some of its Japan locations. Rather than staying open 24 hours a day, stores will remain open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., 6a.m. to 12 a.m., or 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. The trial will run for a few months in order to allow the company to determine which hours are best suited for various Japanese locations. While the difficulties that the firm faces have raised issues regarding the labor shortage, critics feel that convenience stores in Japan may continue to suffer due to an aging population and competition from online markets.

See The Japan Times, Mar 22 2019

Justin Rashad Long was fired last month from Amazon after speaking out about the work conditions in the Staten Island warehouse. Rashad, along with other Amazon workers claim that the long hours and work conditions are dangerous. Two days after Rashad was fired, Amazon abandoned their plan to move to Long Island City due to resistance from labor unions and concern for a fair process for workers. Rashad claims that his getting fired was in retaliation for his activism, and is filing charges for unfair labor practices.

See John Annese, NY Daily News, The New York Times, Mar 21 2019

Tesla, the car manufacturer, and one of its contractors are in violation of federal and state human trafficking laws. The company allegedly used contractors to mistreat immigrant workers on the B-1 business visitor visa, and have threatened to withhold pay to incentivize employees to continue working. The company was trying to bypass paying for employment-based visas, which is more costly. Notably, Judge Lucy H Koh of the US District Court for the Northern District of California stated, Tesla and Eisenmann Corp. are not liable under the False Claims Act.

See Laura D. Francis, Bloomberg Law, Mar 21 2019

Based on a Gallup poll taken last month, American’s view on trade is fairly split. 51% of American’s believe trade has a positive effect, whereas 42% believe trade has a negative effect on jobs for U.S workers. Despite the close split, American’s perspective has gradually become positive. From the poll, it was revealed that an increase in trade led to benefits in the US job market. Importantly, union membership does not strongly relate to how one assess the impact of trade on job opportunities, although this varies by gender and age.

See The Financial, Mar 21 2019

Japan recently expanded its foreign labor policies due to a shortage of blue-collar workers. As a result, Vietnamese workers are increasingly moving to Japan by acquiring technical trainee visas, in order to find work. However, once in Japan, Vietnamese workers are compensated poorly, forced to work long hours, and experience violence in the workplace. Additionally, laborers are charged high fees in order to acquire visas- by the time workers arrive in Japan, they frequently owe money to recruiters who helped them find jobs.

See Linda Sieg & Ami Miyazaki, The Japan Times, Mar 20 2019

Migrant laborers moving to Britain in order to find temporary blue-collar work are at risk of exploitation. Currently, the government is in the process of implementing two labor schemes in order to combat labor shortages. The first is for migrants from non-European Union countries who will work on farms for six months, and the other scheme is intended for workers from “low-risk” countries who may work for up to a year. Critics fear that the schemes may create “expendable workforces” that can be easily exploited. Additionally, visa and travel costs associated with moving to Britain can lead migrant workers to become trapped in debt to recruiters. Migrant workers also lack access to benefits associated with full citizenship such as unemployment benefits and housing.

See Kieran Guilbert , Reuters, Mar 20 2019

Illinois has just proposed a $15 minimum law; however, this legislation does not promise higher wages for workers with disabilities. Federal labor law allows some businesses to pay workers with disabilities less than the minimum wage. In Illinois, some workers earn less than $1 per hour. Lawmakers would like to change this by no longer allowing the 14(c) certification that enables employers to pay subminimum wages. In doing so, lawmakers believe that more than 10,000 workers with disabilities would benefit from increased wages.

See Dana Vollmer, NPR Illinois, Mar 20 2019

Three women who work at Organogenesis claim that management fired them on the basis of sex discrimination. Their supervisor, Oscar Ferrer, has repeatedly inquired about their plans for having children and told one of the women that he planned on firing a saleswoman before she got pregnant. Around the same time the comment was made, Ferrer placed the three women on performance improvement and objective setting plans. Acknowledging that the company was going through a workforce reduction, the women believed they were preselected for the pool of employees to be let go from the company based on these biases.

See Patrick Dorrian, Bloomberg Law, Mar 19 2019

Fiat Chrysler workers at the Ram Plant in Michigan found a noose hanging in the workplace, leading to a second investigation into racism at the factory. Nooses are typically understood to be a threat of violence towards African Americans, and this wasn’t the first account the plant has experienced racial aggression directed at a certain group of workers. The company has taken action by hiring a third party to look into who is responsible for hanging the noose.

See Gabrielle Coppola, Bloomberg Law, Mar 19 2019

Trump shared his opinion about General Motors idle car plant in Ohio over a series of four tweets yesterday, demanding that GM reopen the plant to create jobs for Americans. Trump’s campaign was founded on the idea of keeping jobs in America and discouraged outsourcing labor. General Motors and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union is scheduled to discuss next steps in September. Trump made his impatience known over his tweet, saying that the two parties should discuss the issue now, and included the current unemployment rate in his message.

See Neal E. Boudette, Tiffany Hsu, New York Times, Mar 19 2019

A former UPS employee filed a complaint with his local Occupation Health and Safety Administration regarding blocked exits at the warehouse where he worked. Soon after reporting hazardous workplace conditions, he was fired from his job. OSHA’s data shows that UPS is cited for blocking exits twice as much as competitors. Additionally, UPS has faced numerous lawsuits due to employees alleging that they have faced retaliation after reporting unsafe conditions.

See Fatima Hussein & Jasmine HanYe, Bloomberg Law, Mar 18 2019

Currently, workers who make over $100,000 per year are exempt from overtime pay. The Department of Labor is proposing a higher salary cutoff in order to increase the number of employees who are eligible to receive time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours a week. The DOL’s proposal is that the overtime pay cutoff is raised to $147,000. Due to this large increase, some businesses may be placed in a difficult situation where they have to increase salary levels or pay a substantial amount of overtime.

See Jaclyn Diaz , Bloomberg Law, Mar 18 2019

Unionized bus drivers in Scotland are voting to determine whether or not they will strike against Lothian Buses management for creating a “hostile” work environment. Union leaders have alleged that the company culture is hostile, workers are “bullied” by management, and face job insecurity. In December, an employee was fired and ten others were placed on suspension as the result of a Facebook group that was created by disgruntled workers. Following the ballot that workers hold themselves, employees feel confident that they will have to hold a legal ballot in order to be granted permission to strike.

See Ian Swanson, The Scotsman, Mar 18 2019

The owner of a casino in Hong Kong has been accused by construction workers of labor trafficking. Individuals who have alleged that they were forced to work, are seeking compensation for their labor, as well as the hardships that they experienced while being forced to work. Interestingly, the island of Saipan where this incident has occurred, is controlled by the United States. Imperial Pacific is the only entity that is allowed to run a casino on the island. There have been numerous labor incidents related to this project that have caused scrutiny.

See Farah Master , Reuters, Mar 15 2019

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union in South Africa submitted a request to strike to the South African labor court- this request has been rejected. The AMCU has been on strike since November, however, the union wanted to extend the strike- making it “industry wide.” The union is surprised that the request was denied, and intends to appeal the labor court's decision regarding secondary strike activity. Labor union judge, Connie Prinsloo, stated concerns that an industry-wide strike would threaten the South African economy.

See Tanisha Helberg & Mfuneko Toyana , Reuters, Mar 15 2019

On Thursday, dining hall employees at Tufts voted to authorize a strike. Workers voted to strike following over eight months of negotiations that have not resulted in a new contract. If the strike does occur, it will involve 175 employees. The workers unionized last spring in order to try to achieve benefits that are similar to those experienced by unionized dining hall employees at other universities.

See Katie Johnston, The Boston Globe, Mar 15 2019

Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are in the midst of finalizing their merger. Employee and Labor representatives are not in support of the merger as they believe the cons would outweigh the pros. The purpose of the merger is to strengthen the company's financial standing as they both have been struggling in recent years. However, thousands of positions may be at risk should the merger go through, which will severely harm the company. Labor representatives from Deutsche bank estimate that 30,000 positions may be cut as a result.

See Steven Arons, Nicholas Comfort, Bloomberg Law, Mar 14 2019

AFL-CIO, along with other labor groups are opposed to the New Green Deal proposed by Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandra Ocasio Cortez. In their letter to Markey and AOC, the union agrees that there needs to be change in order to address climate change, but the Green New Deal lacks specific solutions that address the job security of union members. They strongly feel that the reforms can cause “immediate harm,” and will not accept the proposal. Despite their sentiments on the issue, they are willing to discuss the issue in depth and seek a compromisable solution.

See Jessica Chasmar, The Washington Times, Mar 14 2019

The Supreme Court will address whether construction workers should be paid prevailing wages for the time period of hauling equipment to the public works jobs. The grinding crew members brought a case against their employers saying that their overtime rate should be based on the higher prevailing wage, rather than the standard wage. The state labor code mandates prevailing wages for workers involved in public works; However, a federal judge in San Francisco stated that California’s prevailing wage law does not cover transporting equipment to public work sites. The case has advanced and the California Supreme Court will deliver their opinion.

See Joyce E Cutler, Bloomberg Law, Mar 14 2019

Teachers engaged in more strike activity in 2018, than in the past three decades. Additionally, the first charter school strikes occurred. However, charter school teachers may lose their ability to strike if the NLRB allows states to determine whether or not teachers can legally go on strike. In 12 states, public school teachers are allowed to strike- if the NLRB decides to “decline jurisdiction” over charter schools, it may become much more difficult for teachers to engage in collective activity.

See Robert Iafolla, Bloomberg Law, Mar 13 2019

Near the end of this week, workers at Colorado grocery store chain King Soopers may vote to authorize a strike. Workers will decide between accepting the current contract proposal, or authorizing a strike. According to management, the new contract includes wage increases and no increase in health care costs. However, according to the union, the contract would cause workers’ wages to remain stagnant over the next three years, reduce hours, and increase health care costs. In anticipation of a strike, the grocery chain has begun hiring temporary employees.

See Joe Rubino, The Denver Post, Mar 13 2019

Due to the instability of the economy, large Japanese firms have begun offering small wage increases in an attempt to “beat deflation.” In the face of economic uncertainty, firms prefer to offer small wage increases in order to avoid committing to paying increased wages long-term. The spring labor offensive set expectations regarding wage increases intended to increase consumer spending and diminish the negative impact of inflation.

See The Japan Times, Mar 13 2019

Adelante, a non-profit organization that assembled gift bags for events such as the Oscars and the Grammys, is facing a lawsuit brought by their employees. The employees are claiming discriminatory action because they segregated disabled employees from the non-disabled, and pay disabled employees less than the federal minimum wage-- a violation of Albuquerque and New Mexico wage laws. Adelante claims that their mission is to support people with disabilities and empower them. However, by placing workers in a segregated environment and having them perform repetitive tasks, they feel as if they are at a dead-end job with little to no opportunity for advancement. The employees will be challenging the national minimum wage laws, which was set in 1938, allowing employers to pay disabled employees less than the minimum wage.

See Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg Law, Mar 12 2019

Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra went on a weeklong strike as a result of failed negotiations to renew their contract. The musicians are seeking long term sustainability through salary, benefits, and pension structure. The musicians claimed that management has asked them to take a reduction in salary and benefits despite the increased revenue from sales. Now that the strike has ended, both parties have reached a consensus, which involves the orchestra downsizing by four players, and management agreeing to a pay increase.

See Business Times, Mar 12 2019

The lawsuit between Uber and the state of California has been finalized, where Uber is set to pay $20 million in settlement. The issue of the original lawsuit tackled the status of the drivers and whether they should be considered employees or independent contractor. The lawsuit was consolidated and granted class-action status from a San Francisco judge. However, because Uber made their workers sign arbitration agreements, the case then focused on the validity of Uber’s arbitration agreement. Yesterday, the judge found in favor of Uber stating that their arbitration was valid and enforceable—making class action lawsuits null and void.

See Jose Rosenblatt, Bloomberg Law, Mar 12 2019

A new bill proposal intended to protect fast-food workers would define “just cause” for dismissal as an “employee’s failure to satisfactorily perform job duties or misconduct that is demonstrably and materially harmful.” This bill is intended to protect a group of workers who face low wages, difficulty organizing, and lack job security. Unions have yet to make their opinions of the proposal known publicly. In the past, unions have disliked similar proposals because unions often use their ability to secure “just cause” protection in unionization campaigns.

See Jaclyn Diaz & Hassan A. Kanu, Bloomberg Law, Mar 11 2019

The N.C.A.A. does not allow colleges to pay student athletes for their labor- anything that is outside of tuition or costs related to college attendance cannot be paid for. This rule was brought into question during a “landmark” antitrust case where the N.C.A.A. claimed that student athletes do not receive additional compensation due to “amateurism.” U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that it is inappropriate for college athletes to not receive compensation for their labor. However, despite this decision athletes will continue to labor without pay because additional legislation is required to remedy this issue.

See Marc Tracy, The New York Times, Mar 11 2019

Nasrin Sotoudeh, a well-known human rights lawyer has been sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes. This disciplinary action comes after her being arrested for spying, insulting Iran’s supreme leader, and circulating propaganda. In 2010, she was imprisoned for a six-year term, but was released after serving only three years. Following her release, she was given the Sakharov human rights prize, from the European Parliament. The U.N. is currently investigating human rights violations in Iran.

See Babak Dehghanpisheh , Reuters, Mar 11 2019

Currently, 27 states have right-to-work laws that restrict unionization. Last month, a town in Illinois petitioned the Supreme Court to decide whether or not states should be allowed to establish right-to-work laws. One side of the argument is that local officials know what is best for their region economically, and should be able to decide whether or not to allow unionization to occur easily. The other side believes that right-to-work laws ultimately hurt workers and local economies.

See Robert Iafolla & Hassan A. Kanu, Bloomberg Law, Mar 8 2019

The Harvard Shop, which is managed by Harvard Student Agencies, was recently ordered to pay employees nearly $47,000 following claims that the employer had failed to pay employees in a “timely” manner. The HSA claims that its mission is to manage businesses that employ students in order to help students cover the costs associated with obtaining a Harvard education. This recent case, has many doubtful that the HSA is accomplishing its stated goals.

See The Harvard Crimson, Mar 8 2019

Unionized Southwest baggage handlers in Illinois do not wish to have their claims regarding biometric law violation be decided through the arbitration process. The workers claim that because Southwest keeps their work time through a fingerprint-based system, the Illinois biometric law has been violated. However, because their collective bargaining agreement does not mention the timekeeping system, the workers do not want this issue to go to arbitration.

See Daniel Wiessner , Reuters, Mar 8 2019

This past week, the DOL administrative law judge announced his decision that Oracle is liable for back pay for their women, Black, and Asian workers. The company underpaid these minority groups and steered them toward lower level positions within the company. The company’s pay records reveal that they showed an extreme preference for immigrant visa holders, of which they compensated less than their citizen counterparts. Oracle, along with other technology companies are facing litigation for equality issues.

See Paige Smith, Bloomberg Law, Mar 7 2019

Algerian protesters are unhappy with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika plan to stand in the upcoming election next month. Hundreds of lawyers, along with members of the Algerian labor union UGTA, dressed in black robes to protest to re-election plan. Some officials from Bouteflika’s ruling FLN party were also at the demonstration, and public figures have resigned as a response to his candidacy. President Bouteflika has not spoken in public since his stroke in 2013, however, due to recent events, he issued his first warning to protesters saying that the unrest could destabilize the country.

See Lamine Chikhi, Reuters, Mar 7 2019

The Communications Workers of America New Jersey reached a favorable outcome this week with Governor Phil Murphy, in their four-year contract renewal. Around 32,000 state-worker-members will be paid 2% more annually under the new agreement, and improvements for employee health care plans are in place. The insurance savings would result mostly from a change in out-of-network reimbursements which may equate to as much as 3% of annual pay.

See Elise Young, Bloomberg Law, Mar 7 2019

This past week, the DOL administrative law judge announced his decision that Oracle is liable for back pay for their women, Black, and Asian workers. The company underpaid these minority groups and steered them toward lower level positions within the company. The company’s pay records reveal that they showed an extreme preference for immigrant visa holders, of which they compensated less than their citizen counterparts. Oracle, along with other technology companies are facing litigation for equality issues.

See Paige Smith, Bloomberg Law, Mar 7 2019

In Kerala, India, workers will now be given a three-hour break in the afternoon in an attempt to avoid extreme heat, in order to improve labor conditions. Most of the 3 million migrant workers in Kerala work in construction, agriculture, and other industries that require that they work outside. The labor commission is implementing a variety of labor initiatives in order to improve conditions for laborers. The focus on protecting workers from the heat comes after numerous reports of heat strike, and sunburn.

See Roli Srivastava , Reuters, Mar 6 2019

Many flights were cancelled in Kenya on Wednesday, grounding thousands of passengers, as aviation workers were out on strike. The strike was initiated following a proposal to have Jomo Kenyatta International Airport manage the airport, instead of the current management team. Riot police were summoned to end the strike- bringing clubs with them and arresting union leaders. Breaking up the strike was a priority for the government, as Kenya relies heavily on tourism.

See Thomas Mukoya & Omar Mohammed , Reuters, Mar 6 2019

The EEOC recently finalized a court ruling that will require companies with more than 100 employees to disclose information regarding how much workers earn by sex, race, and ethnicity. This obligation may begin as soon as this spring. This decision comes as companies are pushed to demonstrate that their compensation systems are fair. Employers already submit some demographic data to the EEOC- however, the new ruling would require even more intensive demographic reporting.

See Paige Smith, Bloomberg Law, Mar 6 2019

NetJets is facing an impending lawsuit for adverse employment action based on racial discrimination by a former pilot, Bachir Abdouni. The lawsuit was incited because one of Abdouni’s colleagues, Charles Hake, called him a “Jihadist.” This was not the first conflict the two had with one another. Three years ago, Hake had to evaluate Abdouini’s flight training and Hake was so critical of his performance that he not only berated and questioned Abdouini’s competency, but he made him sit in the passenger cabin for the remainder of the flight. The incident was reported, however, NetJets didn’t respond in support of Abdouini and as a result, made him sign a “last chance” agreement in order to return to work. The agreement includes a provision in which the employee must waive any bias claims they have against the company. NetJets is trying to seek for summary judgment because of the “last chance” agreement, and that the “Jihadist” comment didn’t stem from racial discrimination. The two parties have representation and will go to Court in the near future.

See Patrick Dorrian, Bloomberg Law, Mar 5 2019

Many technology companies in Silicon Valley are faced with pressure to address gender issues and pay inequity. Particularly, gender inequality has been a controversial issue at Google and upon their recent study to evaluate compensation for women and employees in minority groups, they discovered that men were paid less than women for doing comparable work. Critics of the study say that it is flawed as it did not control for employee’s starting salaries, which largely affects the findings. The company acknowledges that a mere comparison of salaries across similar job titles is a poor measure of equity, and will be undergoing an internal review to ensure processes are fair and equitable.

See Daisuke Wakabayash, New York Times, Mar 5 2019

The employment status for exotic dancers, for a long time, were classified as independent contractors. Recently, their status has been updated to qualify as employees due to the recent judgment from the California Supreme Court. Clubs and various institutions that employ exotic dancers have been slow in granting workers their full rights and benefits. Workers claim that they are subject to vulnerabilities as they have no legal protection or recourse, and thus are looking to unionize in an effort to protect their labor rights.

See Samuel Brawlow, Los Angeles Magazine, Mar 5 2019

Businesses in Australia have reported minimal growth in the last quarter, which has meant that incomes have stagnated as the economy has failed to expand over the past few months. A weakened economy has resulted in more cautious consumers- which only serves to exacerbate the problem. While the housing market has begun to suffer the labor market has remained strong.

See Wayne Cole, Reuters, Mar 4 2019

According to India’s chief economic advisor, the next government will need to reform the land, labor, and finances sectors in order to improve India’s economy. The advisor feels that restrictive land and labor laws discourage investors from building new manufacturing plants in the country. This sentiment is backed by the fact that manufacturing has grown only 1.5 percent in the past three years. Additionally, India’s economic growth has slowed significantly which has been cause of concern for policymakers.

See Manoj Kumar , Reuters, Mar 4 2019

Air traffic controllers who work for Highlands and Islands Airport Limited will be going on strike in order to protest insufficient wages. Last week it was stated that strike action will begin in April and is intended to continue through the summer. While union representatives and Hial management have been engaging in talks in order to come to a solution, an agreement has yet to have been reached. In the upcoming strike, seven of Hial’s airports will be impacted.

See BBC News, Mar 4 2019

Southwest Airlines has decided to sue the union that represents its mechanics. The company is alleging that the union has caused slowdowns that have resulted in flight cancellations. Additionally, the company has alleged that mechanics have been unnecessarily deeming planes unsafe, in order to ground them and disrupt flights. As of now, the union has not responded to comment requests.

See Zach Wichter, The New York Times, Mar 1 2019

Bin workers in Birmingham who decided to pursue a strike, were recently granted permission to continue engaging in industrial activity. The workers are managed by the Birmingham City Council, which petitioned the court for an injunction against the strike. However, the request for an injunction was not granted because the court deemed industrial action to be appropriate. Currently, the workers are striking two days a week.

See BBC News UK, Mar 1 2019

Ryanair recently resolved a wage dispute with its German pilots union. The airline has been struggling to reach an agreement with its pilots for nearly a year. The union has been particularly focused on the issue of wages. However, the four-year agreement that the pilots reached with management includes a salary scale. Additionally, the agreement includes a "social" plan.

See George Varghese & Conor Humphries & Douglas Busvine, Reuters, Mar 1 2019

Nokia is set to meet with the National Labor Relations Board in late April regarding the shutdown of its Ohio factory in December 2017. Nokia will be outsourcing jobs as a result of the shutdown and did not discuss this with union representatives prior to the factory closing. The Communications Workers of American Local 4390 had an ongoing agreement with Nokia that was set to expire in May 2018. The union claims that the company did not provide relevant information that was requested and failed to negotiate alternative work options for the employees, resulting in 187 jobs that were affected.

See Andrew Wallender, Bloomberg Law, Feb 28 2019

Jose Martin Paz Flores, an undocumented worker, reported a workplace injury and as a result, was retaliated against by his employer, Tara Construction. Paz fell from a ladder while working on a drywall taper and the incident was reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA gave Tara Construction a serious citation, which is when an employer knows of or should know of a situation that has a definite chance of causing serious injury or death, as well as a monetary fine of $4,000. A few weeks later, Pedro Pirez, CEO of Tara Construction, contacted police to look into Paz’s identity and consequently, Paz was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Labor Department brought a lawsuit against Tara Construction claiming that Pirez engaged in retaliatory action, violating Section 11 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

See Fatima Hussein, Bloomberg Law, Feb 28 2019

Companies in the United States are increasingly beginning to use robots to automate tasks. According to data from the Association for Advancing Automation, shipments of robots increased by 16% from 2017. As companies look to cut labor costs, automation is becoming an attractive solution. Jobs that were done by workers, such as driving forklifts, can now be replaced by machines. Companies are now considering to reduce their labor outsourcing, and may even bring work back to the states despite higher cost US workers.

See Timothy Aeppel, New York Times, Reuters, Feb 28 2019

24-hour convenience stores in Japan, such as Seven-Eleven, are struggling to stay open late at night due to an ongoing labor shortage. A dispute between Seven-Eleven and a Japanese franchise recently brought this issue to light. Convenience stores are a large industry in Japan, and over 90 percent of them are open 24 hours a day. These stores meet the needs of consumers who desire the ability to shop at all hours, and also emphasis the role that they play in preventing crimes that occur at night. However, as a result of the labor shortage these stores are forced to adjust their hours.

See The Japan Times, Feb 27 2019

Following unproductive contract negotiations, faculty and staff of Community College Philadelphia voted to authorize a strike against their employer. 91 percent of union members voted to authorize the strike. The union is not planning to strike yet, but can do so if its demands are not met. The key issues in this dispute involve improving accessibility of support services for students, hiring more diverse staff, providing employees with a greater voice, and increasing wages appropriately.

See Ryanne Persinger, The Philadelphia Tribune, Feb 27 2019

Recently, law enforcement visited a support group for exploited domestic workers in the UK and demanded information regarding one of the group’s members. The Voice of Domestic Workers, an entity that provides support to domestic workers who have faced abuse at the hands of their employers, is concerned that this visit may deter workers from seeking help in the future. Foreign domestic worker abuse in the UK is an issue that is difficult to address because victims typically do not come forward to report abuse, and are fearful of police involvement.

See Kieran Guilbert , Reuters, Feb 27 2019

Mayor Bill de Blasio will be ending his Renewal education initiative. The initiative was an attempt to improve low-performing, struggling public schools with additional support through extending school hours, supplemental courses, and the like. Teachers around the country had hoped that the program would be successful however, it was impeded by bureaucratic procedures and uneven academic results since the program’s inception. In an interview with Mr. de Blasio, he stated that the program was a sensible approach at the time, however, if he could do it over again, he would act differently. Looking at the statistics, the Renewal program was only 25% effective. As the program begins to phase out, the city will engage in comprehensive school support where they will directly fund and provide academic support to schools that need it the most.

See Eliza Shapiro, New York Times, Feb 26 2019

Australia is taking an enormous effort in tackling modern day slavery. According to the Global Slavery Index by Walk Free, Australia holds 15,000 human trafficking victims. Last month, the Australian Border Force (ABF) detained and deported dozens of people from their raids. Many victims come from overseas, predominantly from the Southeast Asian region. Upon each raid, victims are interviewed by ABF officials to determine who the ringleader is. The Australian government is offering support and extended stay before they return home, or obtain an alternative visa.

See Michael Taylor , Reuters, Feb 26 2019

The United Auto Workers union filed a lawsuit against General Motors last Tuesday to prevent the closing of plants in three different states: Ohio, Maryland, and Michigan. UAW alleges that doing so is a violation of their current contract. The plant in Lordstown, Ohio is set to seize production this upcoming week on March 8th. Earlier, in November, GM made an announcement stating that the three plants will be “unallocated.” UAW representatives state that the company purposefully chose that word, to avoid contract breach, however, it has the same meaning as idle or close. The two parties have attempted to reach a solution but were unfruitful. UAW representatives are determined to ensure their contract is honored.

See The Washington Post, Feb 26 2019

In-N-Out has been trying to ban employees from wearing buttons that read “Fight for $15.” The Firth Circuit ruled that banning employees from wearing buttons violated workers’ rights to communicate and improve their workplace conditions. The fast-food company petitioned this decision, where it was rejected by the Supreme Court. Attorneys for the firm believe that due to the Janus v. AFSCME decision, the high court should hear their argument- however, some attorneys believe that the justices may be allowing lower courts to define the confines of the Janus decision.

See Robert Iafolla & Hassan A. Kanu, Bloomberg Law, Feb 25 2019

Australian fast-fashion companies are employing workers who are engaged in a “system of entrenched exploitation,” in countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam. According to Oxfam Australia, nine out of 10 workers who make clothing for fast-fashion companies are unable to earn a living wage. This means that they are often unable to afford food and medical care, some workers are unable to live with their children because they cannot pay for childcare. Recently, Australia became the second country to adopt an anti-slavery law, which allegedly worsened the conditions for garment workers because the policy encouraged garment company owners to decrease wages in order to remain competitive.

See Beh Lih Yi & Naimul Karim , Reuters, Feb 25 2019

Following an appeals court ruling in favor of a woman’s claim that her employer had paid her less than her male counterparts, the judge deciding the case passed away prior to the decision being officially issued. The ruling was issued 11 days after the death of the judge, which led the Supreme Court to determine that the decision should not stand because a deceased judge should not have been allowed to participate in the decision. This case may return to the high court following the appeals court’s new ruling.

See Lawrence Hurley , Reuters, Feb 25 2019

In California, a casino alleged of violating federal labor laws has petitioned the Supreme Court in hopes that they will rule that federal labor laws do not apply on tribal land. Previous cases have resulted in a precedent that makes it easier for casino workers to organize- many feel that NLRB involvement in tribal-owned businesses and casinos is necessary in ensuring that workers’ rights are preserved. According to the AFL-CIO, approximately 600,000 individuals are employed by tribal businesses. However, tribes have expressed that they would like sovereignty, and the ability to govern their businesses without federal oversight.

See Tyrone Richardson & Hassan A. Kanu, Bloomberg Law, Feb 22 2019

Domestic workers in Guinea-Bissau are subject to extreme physical abuse, sexual abuse, and exploitation as a result of being excluded from national labor laws. Many domestic workers are girls under the age of 13, and 80 percent of them work more than 14 hours each day. There are few jobs available for women in this country, many women are forced to engage in domestic labor in order to be fed and housed. Lawyers and activists are trying to establish better protections for domestic laborers, but face a lot of obstacles in doing so.

See Nellie Peyton , Reuters, Feb 22 2019

Scotland’s largest teachers’ union, the EIS, has rejected a 9% wage increase. The union intends to start a strike ballot, and then engage in a walkout if management does not offer a more favorable wage increase. This pay dispute has been ongoing, with management only having a fortnight to offer a better wage plan before the strike ballot will occur. In order for the teachers to strike, 50% of the members in the bargaining unit need to be present for the vote and at least 40% of the members of the unit must be in support of the strike.

See Jamie McIvor, BBC News UK, Feb 22 2019

Yesterday, the U.S Court of Appeal for the Seventh Circuit ruled that in a racial harassment claim under Title VII, who the alleged harasser is, determines whether illegal conduct has occurred. Fred Gates, a black building engineer claimed that the Chicago Board of Education subjected him to a racially hostile work environment. Gates’ supervisor constantly threatened him and used derogatory language and racial slurs. The court affirmed that toxic language engaged by a supervisor is more severe than if similar misconduct was done by a coworker.

See Patrick Dorrian, Bloomberg Law, Feb 21 2019

The number of applications to receive unemployment benefits has decreased over the past week. However, the four-week moving average, which indicates the average number of initial claims, has risen to a one year high, indicating that the labor market is slowing down. According to the Labor Department, the number of claims for four states had to be estimated because of the recent holiday, which may have contributed to the decreased number of applications.

See CNBC, Feb 21 2019

Labor laws in Germany are being revised so that its policy on employee protections will become less stringent. By loosening the job protections for high earning employees in banking institutions, the government is able to safeguard against individual actions that can result in a company fallout. This change is also supposed to attract foreign talent, making it easier to recruit non-EU staff, and buffer against market chaos should Britain leave the EU without a compromise.

See Iain Rogers, Steven Arons, Bloomberg Business, Feb 21 2019

Yesterday, Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff decided that police records were to be made public under a landmark transparency law. Open government advocates saw Beckloff’s decision as a move towards the right direction since keeping old records private would prevent agents who were involved in misconduct from being punished. However, the issue is whether or not something that was agreed to under confidentially be later made to the public.

See BEN POSTON, MAYA LAU, Los Angelous Primes, Feb 20 2019

Hospital employees at USC voted 118-107 to disband a union that they formed three years ago. Following the results of the vote, the union brought claims to the NLRB that management had inappropriately influenced the election. Those claims have been negated, and the vote has been approved of by the labor board. Evidently, the union failed to follow procedural rules in regard to communicating disapproval of the vote with management on time. The union has until nearly the end of February to request that the NLRB’s decision be reviewed.

See Lila Seidman, The LA Times, Feb 20 2019

Bin workers (trash collectors) have gone on strike again in Birmingham after weeks of unsuccessful negotiations. “Rubbish” has already begun to accumulate on the streets, as no one is picking it up and disposing of it properly. Strikers are concerned that management is retaliating against individuals who participated in a strike that occurred in 2017. The City Council just had an emergency cabinet meeting to address this issue, wherein council members petitioned management to not pursue legal action against the union representing the bin workers.

See BBC News, Feb 20 2019

Following a walkout that took place for nearly a month, the leader of a nurses’ union in Portugal has decided to go on a hunger strike. The walkout that he helped lead was determined to be unlawful, and the government is threatening to penalize nurses who are still taking part in collective action against their employer. The union leader recognizes that a hunger strike is extreme, but intends to continue his strike until the government agrees to negotiate.

See Catarina Demony, Reuters, Feb 20 2019

West Virginia teachers are on strike to repeal a new education bill, Senate Bill 451. The bill would introduce charter schools to the state of West Virginia and allow a portion of public funded money to go towards private school tuition. This is a pressing concern for teachers and students because it takes funding away from public schools that could greatly benefit from it. However, supporters of the bill say that it would give families more options when choosing a school. The discord led teachers to go on strike. As a result, the state House of Delegates has decided to postpone the bill indefinitely, which opponents of the bill see as a victory.

See Sarah Jorgensen, Holly Yan, Steve Almas, Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN, Feb 19 2019

UK lawmakers are taking a more stringent approach to tackle the issue of slavery, worker abuse, and child labor in the fashion industry. In 2015, Britain was recognized as a global leader after passing the Modern Slavery Act. However, with fast fashion on the rise and constant high demand from consumers, critics argue that the law is not being utilized effectively to tackle the issue. In an effort to regroup, the government has already distributed over 17,000 letters to businesses reminding them to provide statements on how they will be tackling modern slavery. According to the United Nations, about 25 million people are estimated to be trapped in forced labor.

See Sonia Elks, Reuters, Feb 19 2019

The New York City Commission on Human Rights will be releasing a new law that states that discrimination based on hairstyle is considered racial discrimination. The development of this law was prompted by cases of workers receiving unnecessary feedback on their hairstyles in the workplace. As a result of the new policy, individuals found guilty of discrimination based on hairstyle will face a penalty of up to $250,000. Additionally, the Commission has the ability to force workplace policy changes and rehiring of workers who have faced discrimination.

See Stacey Stowe , The New York Times, Feb 18 2019

Irish community employment supervisors have decided to organize a strike in response to the government’s refusal to grant them an occupational pension scheme. In 2008, courts recommended that the state-sponsored enterprise give employees pensions. Striking employees are attempting to encourage the organization to follow through on that recommendation by granting pensions to supervisors in order to assist them during retirement. Since the announcement of the intended strike, the union representing supervisors has expressed concerns regarding the organization’s attempts to intimidate union employees.

See Jack Horgan-Jones, The Irish Times, Feb 18 2019

The graduate student union at Columbia has elected a new bargaining committee. This group of committee members is particularly invested in using their position to advocate for a wide variety of social issues. The new committee intends to support issues such as climate change and anti-gentrification campaigns. While the committee is not sure which work-related issues will take priority at the bargaining table yet, the students are committed to using their platform to advocate for social change.

See Harris Walker, The Columbia Spectator, Feb 18 2019

Unionized nurses at Johns Hopkins Hospital have filed a complaint with the NLRB regarding alleged retaliation against employees by management. Last year, nurses began organizing in an effort to increase pay and improve their working environment. Two nurses who were fired recently, are now alleging that the hospital they previously worked for has retaliated against them. Moving forward, the claim will go before a judge who can either dismiss it or demand that the hospital discontinue unfair labor practices.

See Meredith Cohn, The Baltimore Sun, Feb 15 2019

XPO Logistics, one of the world’s largest transportation and logistics services, has made the decision to close a warehouse in Memphis where workplace discrimination and a number of miscarriages took place. Closing the warehouse will result in 400 employees losing their jobs. The union that has been trying to organize warehouse employees has claimed that the warehouse closure is retaliation against workers who brought cases of harassment and miscarriage to light. The miscarriages were a result of pregnant employees engaging in physically strenuous work, without being allowed to take breaks.

See Natalie Kitroeff, The New York Times, Feb 15 2019

Approximately 500 ambulance workers in Ireland have decided to go on strike today. The strike is a result of management failing to recognize the union that workers have chosen to represent them. Workers would like to be represented by the Psychiatric Nurses Association, and are striking in order to pressure their employer to accept the union.

See The Irish Examiner, Feb 15 2019

Labor exploitation is a growing concern in Portugal, especially in agricultural regions. Authorities are keeping a close eye on the matter and have already conducted over 4,000 raids and inspections as of 2017. Last week, police raided a farm area in Beja and discovered 26 trafficking victims, one of the police's larger cases. Although trafficking figures are not out yet for 2018, Acasio Pereira, President of the inspectors’ union in Portugal’s Immigration and Border Service (SEF), noted that the numbers will not reveal the true scope of issue as the SEF does not have the capacity to inspect most properties where workers are being held captive.

See Catarina Demony, Reuters, Feb 14 2019

Employees at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have had concerns with John Robinson Block, the daily's publisher for over a few years now. Block had fired anti-Trump cartoonist and the journalist of an editorial regarding President Trump’s offensive language towards immigrants. The journalists’ union have become so fed up with Blocks behavior that they put up a “shame on the Blocks” poster in the newsroom, which sparked an outburst from Block. The union proceeded to file a federal labor complaint as some of the reporters are worried to return to work.

See Tim Elfrink, Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Feb 14 2019

The potential merger of T-Mobile and Sprint will be a difficult case to present in front of Congress as they believe this may hurt competition and cause prices to increase for customers. The merger of the two companies will cost $26.5 billion dollars and executives are defending the deal stating that the merger will benefit consumers. T-Mobile has engaged in marketing campaigns to show consumers that they will be offering contractless phone plans along with unlimited data. Despite the lower cost of phone plans and increased access to a broader network, opponents are concerned about potential job losses as a result of the merger. An analysis conducted by the Communications Workers of America labor union found that job cuts may total up to 30,000 due to closed T-Mobile storefronts.

See Daily Express, Feb 14 2019

25,000 unionized factory workers at 48 different assembly plants in Mexico went on strike in order to protest low wages. The workers achieved a 20% wage increase, and a $1,685 bonus. As a result of the workers’ demonstration, the strike has spread to other unions. However, there has been backlash in Mexico as companies have been firing and blacklisting union leaders.

See The Yucatan Times, Feb 13 2019

As of Friday, 600-900 unionized pilots who work for China Airlines have refused to work. The pilots decided to strike because their negotiators were unable to come to an agreement with the firm’s management regarding pay and an inadequate number of staff. Pilots striking has resulted in the cancellation of 80 flights, which has impacted approximately 20,000 passengers and cost the company $34 million. Strikes in Taiwan are rare, because firms typically discourage unionization. However, pilots have a lot of bargaining power because there are so few of them; the pilots continue to make demands as they realize the impact that their refusal to work has on the company.

See Ralph Jennings, The Los Angeles Times, Feb 13 2019

The EU has begun the process of imposing trade sanctions on Cambodia by suspending Cambodia’s duty-free trade access. However, many union leaders are concerned that imposing this sanction would encourage large clothing brands to move their manufacturing elsewhere, thus worsening conditions for factory workers. Workers in this industry in Cambodia are frequently forced to work overtime, and in unsafe conditions. Since this issue was brought to light, various initiatives have improved workers’ safety and wages slightly, however the changes have not been sufficient enough for the EU to not impose sanctions on the country.

See Matt Blomberg , Reuters, Feb 13 2019

Union leaders are hesitant to show their support for the Green New Deal while details of the legislation are still being drawn out. Once finalized, the Green New Deal would catalyze government-led investments in clean energy infrastructure and create jobs for Americans. Unions are taking issue with the current language, which asks workers to “just transition,” and union representatives want a clear and defined meaning on what that entails, as it could very well imply job losses in the near future.

See Valerie Volcovici, Reuters, Feb 12 2019

Title VII claims are subject to arbitration. Erin Murphy, a Glencore worker, alleged that she was not granted a promotion because she was a woman and pregnant. Murphy claims female employees at the company are treated like second class citizens who are constantly subject to crass and sexually-fueled behavior. Murphy attempted to bring her case to court through the anti-bias law in arbitration stating that Title VII claims are “non-arbitrable,” however the court denied her claim.

See Patrick Dorrian, Bloomberg, Feb 12 2019

California does not support President Donald Trump’s ban on prohibiting transgender people from serving in the army, which was put in effect as of January 22nd of this year. California Governor, Gavin Newsom, stated in a news conference yesterday that they are not making an effort to identify and dismiss transgender troops due to the federal ban. David Baldwin, adjutant general of the California National Guard also stated along the same sentiment that transgender people should be able to serve alongside their fellow soldiers because they bring value to the force.

See Laura Mahoney, Bloomberg Law, Feb 12 2019

Unionized Workers at Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipyard, have demanded that the company guarantees job security for its workers in the event that it does proceed with purchasing a local rival company. The union is concerned that the acquirement of the smaller company will result in layoffs. Union representatives feel that if the firm takes over the other shipyard without guaranteeing the jobs of current employees, the relationship between labor and management will become worse.

See Yonhap, The Korean Herald, Feb 11 2019

More than a decade ago, Denver teachers pushed for a pay-for-performance compensation system. Now, educators are going on strike in order to get rid of this system because it has caused numerous “unintended consequences.” This payment system has resulted in stagnant wages and increased testing of students in order to determine educator performance. Laws have shifted away from this type of performance/compensation system, and now teachers whose wages are not as high as they would like are also attempting to do away with this system by going on strike.

See Julie Turkewitz & Dana Goldstein, The New York Times, Feb 11 2019

Teachers in Zimbabwe have been participating in a nation-wide strike in order to achieve higher pay, however they have decided to discontinue the strike due to increased security. Educators have stated that they will strike again if their demands are not met. The strike began on February 5 and strikers were met with increased government action and security due to violent protests that had taken place in the month prior. Teachers have demanded increased wages and will continue to engage in collective activity until their demands have been satisfied.

See MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters, Feb 11 2019

US District Court for the District of Arizona voted in favor of Carol Whitmore, former Walmart employee regarding her rights under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. In the recent case, Walmart fired Whitmore, a customer service supervisor, for testing positive on her drug test. Whitmore was a marijuana card-holding employee who smoked marijuana the night before. According to the Arizona Drug Testing of Employees Act, employers are protected from discrimination lawsuits brought under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act if they can show they believed in good faith that the worker used or was impaired by marijuana on the job. Walmart failed to do so, as their discovery of the drug test result was due to company policy upon injury on the job, and no scientific evidence was provided to prove Whitemore’s impairment on the job.

See Patrick Dorrian, Bloomberg Law, Feb 8 2019