Workplace Issues Today
Oxfam Community Aid Abroad has condemned factories in Indonesia who supply sportswear manufacturers Nike and Adidas for extremely poor treatment of their employees. The report says that employees live in extreme poverty and work in dangerous conditions. This report was a follow-up to an investigation two years ago that criticized the two companies for buying goods from factories who violated the human rights of their employees. Oxfam concluded that not much had changed since the initial investigation. Adidas denied the claims and insisted that conditions had improved.
See Sweatshop Scandal for Nike and Adidas., Richard Galpin, BBC News Online, Mar 6 2002
His administration argues that supervised work experience for welfare recipients are not real jobs and therefore the protections of the Fair Labor Standard Act, which sets the national minimum wage, do not apply. Public Employee Unions and advocates for the poor strongly oppose the proposed change in federal policy.
See Bush supports a change in federal policy that would allow states to place welfare recipients in jobs that pay less than the minimum wage., Compiled from Tribune News Services, Chicago Tribune, Mar 5 2002
A survey by Pearl Meyer & Partners found that total compensation in 2001 for chief executives was down 4% from 2000. The average compensation was $10.46 million for the 50 companies they surveyed, who have average sales of $28 billion. Analysts hope that the idea of pay for performance is becoming a reality and credit the recession, war on terrorism and the collapse of Enron for the change.
See For the first time since 1993, corporate chief executives compensation is down., David Leonhardt, The New York Times, Mar 5 2002
Last night, the 13,000 members of the United chapter of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers voted by 59 percent to ratify a new contract. Many analysts had predicted a strike would force United into bankruptcy. It is unclear if United will have the financial resources to meet the terms of the new contract and they may end up asking the Union to give back some of the gains they just won.
See Last minute agreement averts strike at United Airlines., Kenneth N. Gilpin, The New York Times, Mar 5 2002
The unemployment rate among 20- to 24-year-olds reached 9.7% in January 2002, compared with a national jobless rate of 5.6%. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers expect to hire 20% fewer new college graduates. In a response to the current economic climate, a desire for work-life balance, and a growing distrust of Corporate America, self-employment is becoming an attractive alternative to a difficult job search.
See Younger workers are looking to start their own businesses or work for themselves., Stephanie Armour, USA Today, Mar 4 2002
Offensive material includes pornographic pictures, web site addresses and e-mails. In an effort to combat misuse of company computers, spot checks will be conducted and violations of the policy will be considered as serious disciplinary offenses.
The President has decided to impose tariffs of up to 30% on imported steel, with exemptions for NAFTA countries and some developing countries. Industry officials and unions were hoping for a 40% across-the-board tariff. Also concerned with the tariffs for different reasons are steel-consuming industries that were enjoying low steel prices.
See Labor unions and steel industry officials may be disappointed with the limited tariff plan being offered by President Bush., Mike Allen and Steven Pearlstein, The Washington Post, Mar 4 2002
Experts have found that the poor economy and terrorist attacks have led people to reevaluate the priorities in their lives. Some have turned to helping others or returning to school as an alternative to the high-pressure jobs they held in the dot.com world. A report released yesterday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project examined the effect of technology and on-line work.
See Some technology workers who were laid off during the recession reevaluate their priorities and search for ways to find purpose in their lives., Carrie Johnson, The Washington Post, Mar 3 2002
Canadian women have increased their share of all jobs to 46.2 percent in 2001 compared to under 44 percent at the end of the 80s. Some of these gains reflect the effects of a recession in the early 90s when men accounted for 95 percent of the laid-off workers, but women continued to make gains even when the economy recovered and their male counterparts went back to work. Job growth for women occured in a broad range of occupations, including the blue-collar jobs typically held by men.
See Working women have gained ground in Canadian labour market., Bruce Little, The Globe and Mail, Mar 3 2002
The Department of Justice found that a hotel supervisor improperly suspended an employee during a check of proof of residency documents. The employee had a green card with an expired date, even though he was still a permanent legal resident. The Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union is attempting to organize workers at the hotel and said that this type of improper document checking is a common way to intimate workers during a union drive. The hotel responded that the complexity and nuances of immigration law caused the mistake and that they felt the judgment against them was fair.
See Improper checking of an employee’s immigration status leads to a fine and an internal review of Loews Hotels employment form policy., Nancy Cleeland, Los Angeles Times, Mar 3 2002
Negotiations broke down today betweens Britain?s local governments and three public sector unions representing over a million government workers in such critical areas as social services and sanitation. The Transport and General Workers? Union (TGWU), Unison, and Britain's General Union, the GMB, have advised their members to reject the governments? offer of a three percent raise they claim would do little for Britain?s lowest paid public employees. If the proposal is rejected, it will lead to a vote on nationwide industrial action and, possibly, to the first general strike Britain has seen in over twenty years.
See Britain Faces Public Sector General Strike., CHRISTOPHER ADAMS, Financial Times, Feb 28 2002
Working with major U.S. airlines, the federal government has developed new guidelines for appropriate training, tactics, and equipment to be used by flight attendants and airplane pilots in the event of attempted highjackings. American Airlines has already announced that in accordance with the limits established by the guidelines, it will offer optional self-defense training to supplement the federally mandated training that crew members must now receive. American will also be issuing plastic flex cuffs and restraining tape to its flight attendants, and United Airlines has received permission to install Taser stun guns in the cockpits of all of its airplanes.
See Guidelines Issued for Flight Crew Training and Tactics., JON HILKEVITCH, Chicago Tribune, Feb 28 2002
Data released today indicates that the Internal Revenue Service increased its audits of workers below the poverty line by almost fifty percent last year. Among individuals applying for the earned-income tax credit, the working poor were the target of over thirty five percent more audits than all other groups combined. Last year also saw a thirty-three percent decrease to a record low in audits of companies worth over $10 million, and a decrease of over twenty percent to a record low in audits of individuals making over $100,000---the group most able to cheat on their taxes.
See IRS Gets Tough on the Poor., DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, The New York Times, Feb 28 2002
During a meeting of the employment, safety and training subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Health Committee yesterday, worker after immigrant worker testified regarding the outrageous conditions and treatment they suffered at the hands of their employers. Testimony was also heard from Labor Department officials and union officers, who gave evidence of the disproportionate number of injuries, diseases and fatalities that immigrant workers confront in the workplace. A human face was giving to these statistics by such stories as that of a New York sweatshop laborer---forced to work fourteen hours a day until she was injured on the job and fired---who asked the Senators to ban forced overtime.
See Senate Subcommittee Hearing Highlights Widespread Abuse of Immigrant Workers., The Associated Press, Newsday, Feb 27 2002
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a decision by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals covering New York, Connecticut and Vermont, in its ruling today that the 2nd Circuit and several other lower courts have been incorrectly applying too harsh a standard to the filing of discrimination complaints under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The errant courts had been requiring job discrimination plaintiffs to meet a burden of proof the Supreme Court intended to apply only once a case had made its way to court, to an initial stage of the process at which this burden is almost impossible to meet?effectively blocking workers from ever bringing their cases to trial. The opinion, written by Justice Thomas and argued for by Solicitor General Theodore Olson of the Bush Administration, firmly reestablishes the ?notice pleading? standard?which requires only that a worker make a clear claim of discrimination in order to force an employer to turn over evidence that could prove the worker?s claim.
See Supreme Court Overturns 2nd Circuit Ruling, Reopens Access to CRA., LINDA GREENHOUSE, The New York Times, Feb 26 2002
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney announced yesterday that, pending a final vote in May, the labor organization plans to increase the monthly political activities fee paid by members of affiliated unions from 6.5 cents to 7.5 cents this July while at the same time discontinuing efforts to raise voluntary contributions from affiliated unions. One of several measures coming out of the AFL-CIO executive council meeting in New Orleans, the proposed changeover will raise $3.5 million in extra funds and is part of a larger plan to raise $35 million for use in advertising and vote-mobilization efforts before November elections. Other initiatives coming out of the meeting include a further shift of resources to organizing and lobbying efforts and a new focus on issues over party affiliation that is worrying many Democrats and encouraging some Republicans to make a greater effort to appeal to the interests of the labor movement and working families.
See AFL-CIO to Increase Mandatory Political Contributions, Decrease Fundraising., SUE KIRCHHOFF, The Boston Globe, Feb 26 2002
Preliminary approval was granted by a U.S. District Court on Monday to a proposed settlement in a federal lawsuit brought against Verizon Communications by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The settlement will make good on the service credits lost by women who took maternity or newborn leave at Verizon or any of its predecessors before these corporations began granting the same service credits for maternity leave that they did for military and sick leave. One of the largest maternity settlements in the EEOC?s history, Monday?s proposal will apply to women in thirteen states and could cost the company over $10 million in seniority, incentives and other benefits tied to the service credits.
See Verizon to Settle with EEOC over Maternity Suit., PRADNYA JOSHI, Newsday, Feb 26 2002
With a tentative agreement already reached over a new contract for United?s 13,000 aircraft mechanics (See WIT for Feb. 19, 2002), United Airlines (UAL) and the International Association of Machinists (IAM) will return to the bargaining table tomorrow to attempt to negotiate a contract for 23,000 ramp and public-relations workers. With the mechanics? contract likely to set the tone for this round of negotiations, United CEO Jack Creighton is hoping that an agreement will be reached soon so that concession bargaining can begin with all of United?s unions on an equal footing---possibly as early as March 25. United?s chances at winning givebacks from all of its workers have already come under question, with the announcement by the Association of Flight Attendants that it does not intend to ask its 20,000 members at United to make wage concessions.
See United Still Entangled in Negotiations., JOHN SCHMELTZER, Chicago Tribune, Feb 25 2002
Employers and various trade groups are organizing a massive lobbying effort aimed at preventing the more than a dozen proposals for restriction of varying degrees of severity on the way that companies administer the more than $2 trillion in their employees? 401(k) pension plans. While differing in details, most of the proposals limit the percentage of their savings that employees can be required to invest in their own company?s stock, the total percentage of they can invest in their own company?s stock, and the length of time employees can be required to hold on to company stock granted under retirement plans. The coalition of employers and pension plan providers claims that such reforms will destroy their attempts to use 401(k) plans to increase employee loyalty, reduce corporate taxes, and increase the stability of stock prices---all goals the national pension system was never meant to accomplish.
See Big Business, Small Business Join in Opposition to 401(k) Pension Reforms., WARREN VIETH, Chicago Tribune, Feb 25 2002
This Wednesday the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case involving a Chevron oil refinery worker who was found to have hepatitis C, and was subsequently fired by the company because of the potential hazards to his health posed by chemicals at the plant. The worker brought a lawsuit against Chevron Corp. for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), alleging that the plant posed no greater risk to him than to other workers, and that he was being treated unfairly because of his condition. Business groups have criticized the Ninth Circuit?s prior ruling in favor of the worker as a catch-22 that forces employers to open themselves up to lawsuits by injured workers they knew were not fit for a job, or face a lawsuit under the ADA.
See Supreme Court Hears Arguments in ADA Health Risks Case., DAVID G. SAVAGE, Los Angeles Times, Feb 25 2002
Barring an eleventh hour agreement with the national government over privatizations negotiations, tens of thousands of South Korean public sector workers are expected go on strike across the country today. The general strike has been called by the Federation of Korean Trade Unions in response to the government?s continuing privatization of South Korea?s public services in spite of widespread opposition and charges by union leader that the government is ignoring the will of the people. The government has responded by threatening union leaders with arrest and preparing to use almost 10,000 police to ensure that strikebreakers will be able to cross picket lines---while insisting that privatization is in the country?s best interests.
See South Korean Unions to go on Nationwide Strike., ANDREW WARD, Financial Times, Feb 24 2002
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Association of Talent Agents (ATA) reached a tentative settlement in negotiations that will modify an agreement in perpetuity that has stood unchanged since 1939, and will itself expire in 2005. The proposed agreement will allow talent agencies to except up to twenty percent of their investment capital from independent production companies and advertising firms---prohibited by the 1939 agreement as a source of potential conflicts of interest---while continuing the ban on investment in talent agencies by movie studios and television networks, their parent companies, an parent companies? subsidiaries. The new agreement is part of a planned partnership between the union and talent agencies that would see talent agencies taking a larger role in ensuring protection of actors? incomes and preventing runaway productions (See WIT for Dec. 5, 2002).
See Actors Union Reaches Tentative Landmark Agreement with Talent Agents., MEG JAMES, Los Angeles Times, Feb 24 2002
The conflict over a resolution prohibiting members of the International Association of Fire Fighters from serving in volunteer companies---passed unanimously last summer by the international executive board---is heating up in the Washington DC area. President of local 1619 Tom McEachin began a push for greater enforcement of the resolution last month by mailing letters to career firefighters in DC, Virginia and Maryland, who have been volunteering at stations staffed partly by volunteers and partly by paid firefighters, informing them that they are violating union rules. Passed in order to increase reliance on paid full-time firefighters, the resolution will, if enforced, affect the approximately seventy percent of career firefighter nationwide who also volunteer, and may result in litigation on the grounds that it discriminates based on union membership.
See Career Firefighters May be Forced to Choose Between Volunteering and Union., JAMIE STOCKWELL, The Washington Post, Feb 24 2002
Following a ruling by the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission that the 365 undergraduate resident advisors at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst are in fact workers, a union representation vote has been scheduled for next month to officially authorize the United Auto Workers (UAW) as their exclusive bargaining representative. The ruling resulted after the university administration---which bitterly opposes the unionization of its RA?s---responded to a petition submitted by the United Auto Workers on behalf of seventy-five percent of the advisors by claiming that RA?s are students, not employees, and that it did not have to recognize the union. The RA?s initially approached the UAW because of its success in organizing and representing graduate assistants at the college, and because of a bureaucratic system that they feel treats them like employees while not paying them fairly for their time-consuming, tiring, and sometimes dangerous job.
See Unionization Drive Continues for RA?s at UMass Amherst., STEVEN GREENHOUSE, The New York Times, Feb 21 2002
In an effort to gain a greater decision-making role for their members in the education that they provide, The California Teachers Association (CTA)---California?s largest teachers? union---is supporting legislation currently before the California State Assembly that would give teachers the right to negotiate matters beyond narrow terms and conditions of work issues. Introduced by a former school board member and a former CTA leader who were also both schoolteachers before being elected state assemblypersons, the bill would require school districts to negotiate with teachers over curricula, textbook choice, academic programs and student performance improvement proposals. The legislation has come under heavy fire from superintendents throughout the California public school system as posing a threat to student achievement, but supporters of the bill have dismissed this criticism as nothing more than a reaction to a perceived loss of power.
See California Teachers Seek a Greater Voice in the Educational System., DUKE HELFAND, Los Angeles Times, Feb 21 2002
In response to the insistence of Italy?s center-right government on pushing legislation through parliament that would suspend the protections afforded under Article 18 of Italy's Workers' Statute, Italy?s largest trade union Cgil called for a general strike on April 5 yesterday. The legislation---which is part of a larger labor market reform plan that would also establish job exchanges and reemployment support---would remove some of the job protection language that protects Italian workers from casual firings. The announcement of the nationwide strike by the leader of the 5.4 million member union is the first in eight years, and has so far not been supported by Italy?s more moderate second and third largest unions despite their opposition to the legislation.
See Italian Trade Union Calls for General Strike., JAMES BLITZ, Financial Times, Feb 21 2002
Seeking to take advantage of controversy generated by the tense contract negotiations between United Airlines and the International Association of Machinists, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) will once again attempt to win representation of United?s 13,000 aircraft mechanics away from the IAM. The organization campaign---which will be the third such effort by the AMFA in the past three years---is planned to begin in May or June and will culminate in the circulation of membership cards in August. The tentative agreement reached by United and the IAM on Tuesday has already come under fire from those mechanics at United who are AMFA members, despite the fact that it places United?s mechanics at the head of the industry with terms superior to those won by the AMFA at Northwest Airlines.
See Challenge to IAM at United., GEORGE RAINE, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb 20 2002
American Express Financial Advisors has agreed to pay almost 4,000 women a combined sum of $31 million dollars to settle a lawsuit alleging sexual discrimination in job assignments, career development and pay. The proposed settlement---which has been hailed by the lawyer for the plaintiffs as a major step in the right direction---was the subject of a hearing before a U.S. District Judge in Washington D.C. this Tuesday. In addition to the monetary awards, American Express has also agreed to implement changes to ensure a fair distribution of work and promotions, as well as an improved grievance handling procedure.
See Settlement in Widespread Sex Discrimination Case., JONATHAN D. GLATER, The New York Times, Feb 20 2002
The Allied Pilots Association (APA) went to U.S. District Court yesterday, hoping to get its proposed plan for merging the seniority list of American Airlines? Pilots with that of Trans World Airlines (TWA)---which American acquired last April. The APA, which represents American?s pilots, has proposed a merged seniority list that puts the highest ranked TWA pilot below approximately 2,500 of their own members who have all worked fewer years. The much larger Air Line Pilots Association, representing the pilots at TWA, has called the proposed list and abomination and is expected to contest the APA?s court filing.
See Airline Buyout Leads to Dispute over Seniority., TERRY MAXON, The Dallas Morning News, Feb 20 2002
With almost 3 million people over the age of thirty-five enrolled in colleges across the country this year, and more and more workers making mid-life career changes, a growing number of forty-somethings are applying for entry level positions---a trend which has accelerated in the economic turmoil of the past months. This has led to an increasing incidence of complaints of age discrimination in hiring, as employers, unsure how to deal with these non-traditional applicants, decide not to hire them because they do not fit the pattern of young entry-level employees willing to work long hours for low pay. Typical of these complaints are those filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination---made public earlier this month---regarding The Atlantic Monthly?s rejection of two applicants, aged forty-one and fifty-four, for an internship program intended to target young college students.
See Older Workers Starting from the Bottom Face Challenges., ANAND VAISHNAV, The Boston Globe, Feb 19 2002
An extensive study conducted by Professor Phyllis Moen of the Department of Human Development at Cornell University has found that traditional distinctions between the working and retirement phases of people?s working lives have become extremely muddled. Now, a smaller survey of working couples in their sixties and older, has revealed that this may be due in large part to cross-gender differences in career development timelines leading to disagreements between spouses over when to retire. Among the generation currently approaching retirement age, most of the men have worked continuously since completing their education, and are ready to retire---while many of the women took time off to raise children and are only now hitting the prime of their working life.
See Increasing Number of Couples Disagree Over Decision to Leave Workforce., BARBARA CAIN, The Christian Science Monitor, Feb 19 2002
In strike votes to be announced today and tomorrow, the 57,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union and those of the smaller Aslef train drivers? union are expected to approve a two day work stoppage which could shut down London?s subway system. This latest in a series of industrial actions is being taken in response to a continuing pay dispute with the London Underground---which is in the midst of planning for a proposed partial privatization opposed by the unions. The Transport Salaried Staffs Association which represents station staff is also planning a two day strike over pay disputes against the already privatized Arriva Trains Northern.
See More Rail Strikes Likely in Britain., CHRISTOPHER ADAMS and JULIETTE JOWIT, Financial Times, Feb 19 2002
The Supreme Court continues its deliberations in a case involving an illegal immigrant, hired under a false name, who was fired by a California plastics company for his involvement in a union organizing campaign, and is expected to issue an opinion this spring. The case, which stems from a 1998 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that the firing was an unfair labor practice and that the company had to rehire the employee and pay back pay plus interest, will have a huge impact on the ability of illegal immigrants to unionize. While the U.S. solicitor general?s office---arguing the case for the NLRB---has pointed to the necessity of maintaining labor rights protections for immigrants as a means of preventing companies from exploiting them as a source of cheap, expendable labor, in hearings last month several justices seemed to agree with the employer?s position that it should not have to pay for firing someone who could not legally work in the first place.
See Supreme Court Considers the Labor Rights of Illegal Immigrants., THOMAS MAIER, Newsday, Feb 18 2002
Negotiators for United Airlines (UAL) and the International Association of Machinists (IAM) reached a tentative agreement yesterday on a contract for United?s 13,000 aircraft mechanics only 36 hours before the union?s strike deadline---which has now been extended to March 7 to allow for a March 5 vote on the contract by the membership. The agreement was unanimously endorsed by the IAM?s negotiating team, and a statement by United CEO John Creighton indicated that the company had acquiesced to most of the union?s demands in order to move ahead with bargaining over short term concessions by unionized employees to help UAL through is current financial dilemma. In addition to the thirty-seven percent raise recommended by the Presidential Emergency Board (See WIT for Feb. 13, 2002), the five year contract increases retroactive pay by approximately thirty-percent, moves up the start date of retroactive payments, requires that United join the IAM in applying to the federal government for a release to strike in five years if negotiations for the next contract deadlock, and will not require the mechanics to automatically mirror short term concessions won from other unions at United.
See United, Mechanics Settle., LAURENCE ZUCKERMAN, The New York Times, Feb 18 2002
In the upcoming New York State Gubernatorial elections, Republican incumbent George Pataki will enjoy an unusually high level of union support, with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the Uniformed Firefighters Association, the Corrections Officers Benevolent Association and the Teamsters all indicating that they will endorse him. While these unions have often supported Republicans in the past, traditionally Democratic unions such as the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union and the immensely powerful health care workers union District 1199 are also expected to endorse Pataki. The governor---who made many foes in the labor movement during his first two years in office---has, in recent years, implemented and supported many measures and laws that have benefited working people and their families, and won him the support, or at least neutrality, of many of the Democratic Party?s most powerful allies.
See Governor Pataki Woos Organized Labor with Impressive Results., STEVEN GREENHOUSE, The New York Times, Feb 18 2002
Debate is heating up over a draft directive of the European Commission, recently leaked to the press, which would guarantee temporary agency workers the same rights as their full-time coworkers. The proposed reforms would not only expand employment rights protections to cover temp workers, they would require employers to pay temps the same wages and benefits---including pensions, holidays, health insurance, interest-free loans, bonuses, and profit-sharing---as permanent employees engaged in similar jobs. Employers and business groups in Britain, which, with over one million workers employed in the temporary sector, has the most agency workers of any EU member state, have been especially vocal in their criticism of the proposed reforms.
See European Union Debates Equal Rights for Temps., CHRISTOPHER ADAMS, Financial Times, Feb 17 2002
With a strike deadline set for Wednesday (See WIT for Feb. 14, 2002), and ticket sales dropping as travelers switch to other airlines in order to avoid potential strike delays and cancellations, the International Association of Machinists has reported progress in its contract negotiations with United Airlines. In a message to its UAL membership on Saturday, the union said that since resuming negotiations at an undisclosed location on Friday it had addressed all outstanding issues with UAL?s bargaining team and that talks were proceeding in the right direction. While management will not comment on the negotiations themselves, they informed employees last week that they have retained a bankruptcy lawyer in preparation for the possibility of a strike---a move dismissed by the union as a bargaining trick.
See Distance between UAL and IAM?s Positions Decreasing Says Union., Bloomberg News, Los Angeles Times, Feb 17 2002
Over 100 drivers at a Long Island City based limousine service catering mainly Wall Street and midtown Manhattan businesses went out on strike on February 7, in the first ever strike in the New York City limo industry. The drivers called the strike against Prime Time Transportation Inc. for allegedly refusing to bargain in good faith with its 300 drivers, who often have to work twelve-hour days to make $25,000 a year and have no benefits. The company has responded by claiming that the drivers only recently asked to bargain, and were formerly classified as independent contractors---despite the fact that it has been two years since the union won a representation election and was certified by the National Labor Relations Board.
See NYC Limo Drivers Strike for the First Time., ROBERT POLNER, Newsday, Feb 17 2002
Formal bargaining between New York City and the 80,000 public school teachers represented by the United Federation of Teachers will start up again after almost a year of deadlock when UFT president and ILR graduate Randi Weingarten, city labor commissioner James Hanley, and members of the Board of Education meet today. Despite Governor Pataki?s promise of an extra $204 million in state funding for NYC school teacher salaries this year (See WIT for Jan. 24, 2002), and the willingness of the UFT to settle for that amount plus the nine percent raise other city unions have accepted, the teachers? demand for a double digit wage increase that will bring them closer to wage parity with suburban school districts will likely remain the primary sticking point in negotiations. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is opposed to using the extra state funds for wage increases---despite his own desire to raise salaries in order to attract the certified teachers needed to bring the city into compliance with a state law that will go into effect at the beginning of the 2003-4 school year----as the extra funding would not be available in the future.
See NYC, UFT Resume Stalled Contract Negotiations., STEVEN GREENHOUSE, The New York Times, Feb 14 2002
German Labor Minister Walter Reister has scheduled an emergency meeting today, at which the head of the Federal Labor Office will be called upon to defend his agency against allegations that it has overstated its job placement success rates. Long accused of being inefficient and overstaffed, the 90,000 employee, $44 billion a year office has taken much of the blame for the almost 4 million Germans currently unemployed. The latest charges against the beleaguered agency stem from a report by the federal audit office that has been corroborated by independent information brought to light by an agency whistleblower, and could provide the impetus for massive overhauls of the agency.
See Germany?s Federal Labor Office an Agency in Crisis., HAIG SIMONIAN, Financial Times, Feb 14 2002
Although repeat claims for unemployment insurance rose last week and remain high in general, new applications for unemployment insurance fell again last week according to the U.S. Labor Department---bringing the four-week rolling average for new claims to its lowest point in five months. In addition, a report issued by the U.S. Commerce Department shows that sales averaged across all distribution levels leveled out in December after decreases earlier in the fourth quarter of 2001. The overall implication of these financial indicators is that job-losses are slowing down, consumers are regaining confidence, and an economic turnaround is no longer relegated to the distant future.
See Latest Evidence that Recession is Receding., PERONET DESPEIGNES, Financial Times, Feb 14 2002
Radical labor leader Bob Crow, has won control of Britain?s powerful Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT)---whose 57,000 members are currently engaged in a pay dispute with several railroad companies---by almost a four to one margin over his nearest competitor. The victory of the Socialist Labour party member has deepened the concerns of the center-left Labour party currently in power with increasing union militancy, and raised fears that support for re-nationalization of Britain?s railroads will lead to further strike action in an industry that has already been brought almost to a halt twice this year by the current pay dispute.
See Left-wing Labor Leaders Gain Ground in British Unions., CHRISTOPHER ADAMS, Financial Times, Feb 13 2002
United Airlines and the International Association of Machinists, representing United?s airplane mechanics, announced yesterday that they will resume negotiations in order to prevent a strike at the end of next week, and have asked the president not to intervene so that the pressure of a looming strike threat will give them an incentive to settle. With Congress set to begin a ten-day recess tonight, and the White House declining at this time to ask Congress to extend the no-strike cooling off period that will expire on February 20, a failure by UAL and the IAM to end the bargaining impasse would result in a week-long strike before the government would be able to intervene to end it. The IAM has made it clear that they are willing to make temporary concessions in order to keep United solvent, but not until they have negotiated a base contract that puts them on a level with the rest of the industry in terms of wages and pensions.
See UAL, IAM Will Settle Things on Their Own., FRANK SWOBODA and KEITH L. ALEXANDER, The Washington Post, Feb 13 2002
With jury selection scheduled to take place this week in a federal sexual harassment lawsuit brought against the Ford Motor Company by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the company announced yesterday that it had reached a settlement to be finalized in the next ten days. The EEOC brought the case on behalf of three women formerly employed on Ford?s assembly lines, who were subjected to crude practical jokes involving various objects with sexual associations for almost three years while the management at their truck assembly plant ignored the problem. Ford has stated that it was satisfied with the settlement, and that the allegations did prompt serious action, but has not detailed those actions or acknowledged any wrongdoing in the matter.
See Last Minute Settlement in Ford Sex Harassment Suit., the Associated Press, Detroit Free Press, Feb 13 2002
Late yesterday, ninety percent of the 13,000 United Airlines (UAL) Mechanics represented by District Lodge 141-M of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) participated in a vote on a tentative contract agreement with sixty-eight percent of those voting rejecting the contract. The proposal of the Presidential Emergency Board, appointed over the union's objections by President Bush, was accepted by UAL on January 23 and would have provided wage increases of up to thirty-seven percent (See WIT for Jan. 23, 2002). The mechanics---who had sought retroactive pay and job security increases, and opposed proposed temporary wage concessions following the implementation of the raise---voted by eighty-six percent to authorize a strike as early as February 20, have said they will do everything possible to reach an agreement before then.
See UAL Mechanics Vote Down Contract, Authorize Strike., REUTERS, The New York Times, Feb 12 2002
Expressing the opinion that negotiating a long-term contract in the middle of what now seems likely to be a short recession was not desirable, the AT&T Corporation proposed an eighteen-month extension of a contract covering 27,900 unionized workers last week. The company announced today that the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) had turned down the proposal. Concerned about the loss of over 17,000 union jobs in the past five years, the CWA made a counterproposal that gave union workers greater job security---to which the company responded by announcing that it plans to begin negotiations in March.
See AT&T Workers Reject Contract Extension Terms., REUTERS, The New York Times, Feb 12 2002
With the outcome of the previous Screen Actors Guild national election and the decision to overturn them (See WIT for Jan. 28, 200), already the subject of heated debate, the start of new elections this week has aggravated the divide between the union's two warring camps. President Melissa Gilbert, victor of the overturned election, yesterday accused her opponent Valerie Harper of running a campaign based on personal attacks that have quickly deteriorated into name calling as the March 8 deadline for ballots approaches. Ms. Harper countered that the attacks are aimed at what she feels are Gilbert's unacceptable positions on central issues for the membership, and that her aggressive campaigning is a response to Gilbert's behavior in the previous election.
See Campaigning Bitter in Controversial SAG Reelection, JAMES BATES, Los Angeles Times, Feb 12 2002
A year after ten members of the Los Angeles Police Department unhappy with their representation by the seventy-five year old Police Protective League approached officers of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Teamsters are beginning a formalrepresentation campaign to decertify the League and take its place. The Teamsters---who now claim the support of 200 LAPD officers---began distributing pledge cards today to the 8,200 officers currently represented by the League. Having affiliated with the AFL-CIO as month ago in response to the Teamsters campaign, the League is planning to file a complaint against the AFL-CIO affiliated Teamsters under the federation?s anti-membership raiding regulations.
See Teamsters Look to Take Over Representation of the LAPD., NANCY CLEELAND and JILL LEOVY, Los Angeles Times, Feb 11 2002
Over 1,300 firefighters and other rescue workers have given legal notice that they may sue New York City for respiratory and cardiopulmonary conditions resulting from exposure to irritants, carcinogens and toxins while working at the World Trade Center site. The claims allege that the city is guilty of negligence and reckless endangerment for failing to provide the workers with adequate ventilation equipment to protect them from the substances in the smoke and dust of ground zero. The paper masks and infrequently changed ventilator cartridges that many workers say they were provided with would have been insufficient protection against silica dust, asbestos fibers, and chemical vapors they were exposed to, and would explain high incidences of irritant asthma, silicosis, asbestosis, pulmonary infection and decreased lung capacity.
See WTC Rescue Workers May Sue NYC for Negligence., JOHN J. GOLDMAN, Los Angeles Times, Feb 11 2002
The Bush administration wants major agencies to complete their plans for workforce restructuring, which the administration hopes will cut down on middle management and find opportunities for federal work to be turned over to the private sector. The Labor Department will eliminate 373 positions -- most of them in management, and the department will offer early retirement to qualified employees. A new job appraisal system and increased bonus pool will also be put into place.
See The Labor Department is hoping to serve as an example of workforce restructuring for other government agencies., Stephen Barr, The Washington Post, Feb 11 2002
Very few 401(k) cases have been tried or settled, but just the threat of litigation may change the terms surrounding company stock in 401(k) plans. Employees who own company stock in a 401(k) plan cannot individually join in shareholder class-action suits filed against their employer because they do not own shares directly. Instead, the shares are owned by the plan, which can join shareholder lawsuits. 401(k) participants can sue under certain provisions of ERISA laws, which oversee pension and other employee benefit plans.
See Legal liability is playing a role in companies changing 401(k) plan rules., Kathleen Pender, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb 11 2002
In an unprecedented act of cooperation, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney and U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donahue jointly wrote a public letter published in today?s Washington Post. The letter called for bipartisanship and cooperation across the traditional battle lines between employers and employees, labor and management, and insurance companies and consumer groups, in finding a solution to the lack of universal health coverage in America. Not only are the 39 million-plus uninsured Americans two to four times as likely to experience a wide rage of medical problems and conditions as the insured, the more expensive treatments eventually necessitated by their acute conditions place a burden on the economy and society as a whole that could be avoided through early detection and treatment.
See Top Labor and Management Leaders Join in Call for Universal Health Coverage., THOMAS J. DONOHUE and JOHN J. SWEENEY, The Washington Post, Feb 11 2002
A study recently released by Northeastern University?s Center for Labor Market Studies reveals that young workers are the group hardest hit in the post-September 11 economic downturn. The report shows that in 2001 over 1 million workers between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four lost their jobs, and that in the months immediately following the attacks on the World Trade Center young workers made up ninety-five percent of those who lost their jobs. Among the causes of this disproportionate impact, are the heavy drops in two of the largest sources of employment for high school students and recent graduates---the temporary work and retail sectors---and the failure of many dot-com and technology companies, which in recent years have employed a growing number of college students and graduates.
See New Study Shows Young Workers Taking the Brunt of Economic Downturn., CARRIE JOHNSON, The Washington Post, Feb 10 2002
In part of a growing national trend towards religious organization involvement in labor struggles, an interfaith group in Los Angeles has joined 240 members of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) Local 814 in their fight with a Los Angeles Airport hotel. When an investment firm purchased the former Wyndham Hotel in order to start a Radisson Hotel franchise, they fired all the employees and have refused to rehire the vast majority of the unionized workers---some of whom have worked at the hotel for thirty years. Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), the religious group involved, was formed during the Los Angeles labor movement?s living wage campaign of the mid-1990s, and is one of sixty organizations in the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice.
See Religious Groups Get Involved in Labor Movement in LA and Across the Country., NANCY CLEELAND, Los Angeles Times, Feb 10 2002
Having brought about the resignation of members of Enron?s board of directors from their positions on two other companies? boards, the AFL-CIO is increasing its efforts to achieve the same result at the nineteen other companies with Enron directors on their boards. The AFL-CIO?s position has been bolstered by the release last week of the Powers Report, in which Enron?s own investigative committee found that the board of directors ?failed, . . . in its oversight duties.? One of the companies targeted in the campaign, Qualcomm, will vote tomorrow on whether to reappoint Qualcomm and Enron board of directors member Frank Savage.
See Labor Takes on Enron Directors., MATTHEW JONES and SHEILA MCNULTY, Financial Times, Feb 10 2002
New York City agreed to pay approximately $500,000 to a police captain this Tuesday in order to settle a retaliation suit brought by the officer under the anti-discrimination language of Title VII, according to a statement by the captain’s lawyer yesterday. The suit stems from a 1997 scandal that revealed a serious problem with high level responses to harassment charges in the police department, and that has already cost the city almost $2 million. The case involved an attempt by high-ranking police officials to force the plaintiff and his commanding officer---deputy commissioner of equal employment opportunity---to rewrite a report charging several department officials with violations of Title VII, and subsequent retaliation against them when they refused to do so.
See NYC Settles EEOC Suit with Police Captain., WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM, The New York Times, Feb 7 2002
Only one day after the U.S. Senate voted to extend unemployment benefits by thirteen weeks (see yesterday’s WIT), the California State Senate’s Labor Committee voted to approve a proposal by Governor Gray Davis to retroactively apply increases in unemployment benefits that took affect on January 1, back to September 11. The new legislation was proposed after Governor Davis and the State Legislature realized that a $220 increase in weekly benefit maximums passed last summer would not apply to workers laid off as a result of September 11. Business lobbyists and associations have opposed the legislation---which must still make it through the Appropriations Committee and pass both houses by a two-thirds margin---as an insupportable strain on the state’s unemployment funds.
See California Moves Towards Extension of Unemployment Benefits., CARL INGRAM, Los Angeles Times, Feb 7 2002
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn filed a 137-count indictment against over two dozen members of Local 1 of the International Union of Elevator Constructors yesterday, on the basis of investigations by the police, FBI, IRS and U.S. Department of Labor. The charges the creation of no-show jobs by union officers for themselves and their families resulting in some members billing for as much as thirty-three working hours in a single day---as well as money laundering and other related racketeering charges. The lawyer hired by the local to investigate the charges has emphasized that the union will take strong actions against any individuals guilty of these alleged exploitations of both construction companies and the unions own 2000 hard-working members.
See Members of NYC Elevator Workers Union Brought up on Racketeering Charges., WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM, The New York Times, Feb 7 2002
In a sign that opposition to President Bush?s recent executive order prohibiting over 1000 workers in the Justice Department from organizing has spread beyond unions, eight members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the president yesterday opposing the decision. In their letter, Representatives Hoyer (D-Md.), Conyers (D-Mich.), Davis (D-Ill.), Moran (D-Va.), Morella (R-Md.), Smith (R-N.J.), Wynn (D-Md.) and Norton (D-D.C.) argue that the president?s use of national security concerns and the fight against terrorism as excuses for denying federal employees union protection ?cheapens the very things we are trying to protect? in the war on terrorism. The executive order affects employees---mainly secretarial---of the U.S. attorney?s offices, the Justice Department?s Criminal Division, the U.S. National Central Bureau of Interpol, the National Drug Intelligence Center and the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review.
See Opposition to Anti-Union Executive Order Grows., STEPHEN BARR, The Washington Post, Feb 6 2002
The final chapter in the debates over an economic stimulus bill was closed yesterday when two competing packages died in a Senate deadlock. Disagreeing from the outset as to whether economic aid should focus on tax cuts or increased spending, Republicans and Democrats were quick to assign blame to each other for the inability to pass a compromise measure. Immediately after the defeat of the two broader measures, the Senate approved a thirteen-week extension of unemployment benefits for individuals whose benefits ran out on or after the week of September 11---leaving Republican leaders in he House surprised and unsure how to respond.
See Stimulus Bill not Forthcoming; Unemployment Benefit Extensions Still Possible., JILL ZUCKMAN, Chicago Tribune, Feb 6 2002
A study released today by the University of Illinois at Chicago indicates that the common belief that illegal immigrants are paid far less than other groups may be inaccurate. The report shows that illegal immigrants in Chicago make on average only two dollars less than the nine-dollar median wage of legal immigrants, and that their unemployment rates are only 0.2 % higher. More significant among the Chicago-area illegal immigrants surveyed, was the common occurrence of exploitation through non-payment of wages---which their lack of occupational choices and fear of deportation make them easy targets for.
See Exploitation and Hazardous Working Conditions Bigger Problems than Pay for Illegal Immigrants., OSCAR AVILA, Chicago Tribune, Feb 6 2002
Although the president?s federal budget for 2003 will maintain current levels of retirement and health benefits for federal employees, their unions and Congress members are questioning the intention of proposed accounting changes. Under the current system, cost of living allowances (COLAs) and health benefits for retirees are paid from central funds that are guaranteed and not subject to budget appropriations. The Bush administration?s proposal to consolidate all benefits of the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) under the control of the various federal agencies that employ federal workers have been condemned by the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, the National Treasury Employees Union, and some elected officials as a possible attempt to subvert the guarantees of the CSRS by putting them within the realm of Congressional appropriations debates.
See President?s Motives in Proposing Changes to Federal Bookkeeping Questioned., STEPHEN BARR, The Washington Post, Feb 5 2002
In response to the rising tide of labor unrest among part-time and untenured professors on college campuses across the country, the Illinois Board of Higher Education announced on Tuesday the results of a study claiming that most adjunct faculty members are content with the status quo. Full and part-time faculty members and their unions criticized the report as a self-serving attempt by the Board to bolster their positions on such issues as full to part-time faculty ratios, adjuncts? unions, and pay and benefit issues, that is short on data and long on unsupported assertions. The current push for improvements in the working conditions of part-time faculty hit home for the Board when adjuncts at the College of DuPage voted to unionize this past December, following massive rallies by educators? unions on campuses across the country in the last week of October (see WIT?s for December 7, 2001 and October 30, 2001).
See Study Attempts to Quell Adjunct Unrest., ROBERT BECKER, Chicago Tribune, Feb 5 2002
In a major move to stem the rising tide of work-related stress claims (see WIT for October 22, 2001), the British appeal court ruled yesterday in favor of employer defendants in three separate cases---overturning lower court decisions in favor of the employee plaintiffs. The court established new guidelines in such cases, including ?normal? job pressures, forseeability, and ?willing employee? defenses that form a threshold employees will now have to pass in order to mount successful cases. The National Union of Teachers---which represents the employees in two of the cases---although still entertaining the possibility of an appeal, has voiced a belief that the decisions are, for the most part, fair.
See British Courts Move to Restrict Workplace Stress Suits., NIKKI TAIT, Financial Times, Feb 5 2002
In what is likely to be one of the most overlooked developments of the year but also one of the most significant---not only for the field of work and employment issues but also for the economy and the population at large, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is adopting a new Consumer Price Index that for the first time will take into account substitution of goods across categories. The CPI is a calculation of the average amount of money spent by the average family on a range of over 200 common products and services, which serves as the main indicator of inflation and the basis for determining interest rates, tax brackets, Social Security, veterans' and most other Federal benefits. In the past the BLS has ignored the tendency of individuals and families to substitute cheaper categories of products for products whose prices rise (for example: eating more vegetables and less steak when beef prices go up). It was not until 1999 that the Bureau began to take into account substitution within categories (for example: buying generic brand batteries when prices of the name brands go up). The Bureau's decision has met with mixed opinions, ranging from concern that it will cause large decreases in benefits and pensions, to approval that it will correct flaws and reduce over-estimation, to assertions that the entire system is faulty and that there is no objective criteria by which to determine whether the new system will be any "better" than the old one. Whether the change is for better or worse, it will have a far-reaching relevance---as a change of even a few percentage points in the CPI can reverberate in gains or losses of ten of thousands of dollars for working people and retirees.
See CPI to be Adjusted., SOLOMON, Chicago Tribune, Feb 4 2002
In a decision closely distinguished from an opinion handed down by the Supreme Court last year, the National Labor Relations Board ruled last Thursday that twenty doctors employed by the Occupational Health Centers of New Jersey could form a union. This decision reopens slightly the door to organization attempts by the American Medical Association's union Physicians for Responsible Negotiations that were all but closed off by the Supreme Court's ruling that health care workers responsible for the supervision of other health care workers do not have the right to unionize. Occupational Health Centers has announced its intention to appeal the NLRB's decision, stating that it wants to clear up the propriety of doctor unionization at its facilities.
See NLRB Allows Doctors to Unionize., BRUCE JAPSEN, Chicago Tribune, Feb 4 2002
In an article for the Monthly Labor Review, associate professor Jane Waldfogel of Columbia University draws on Department of labor surveys for 2000 in pointing towards a growing usage of the Family and Medical Leave Act. This research has shown an increasing number of workers using the twelve-weeks unpaid leave guaranteed to employees of companies with 50 or more employees, along with a decrease in the number of workers who were unable to take this leave despite experiencing a birth, adoption or illness in their families. Two surprising trends that came out of the figures Ms. Waldfogel looked at were the fact that over sixty-five percent of businesses covered by the FMLA have reported no negative effects as a result of complying with the act, and the fact that many of those making use of the FMLA for births and adoptions are men.
See FMLA Use on the Rise., CAROL KLEIMAN, Chicago Tribune, Feb 4 2002
Flight crews and the unions representing them are increasingly accusing airlines of subjecting them to more searches than other airport personnel and even passengers. In addition to allegations of unfair targeting of flight crews, the Association of Flight Attendants has complained to airline and government officials that its members---especially females---are being groped and fondled by screeners. In what the Air Line Pilots Association is claiming are acts of retaliation against employees who question the validity of cosmetic security measures, several pilots have been arrested or subjected to psychological evaluations for pointing out the ridiculousness of patting them down for guns and checking their shoes for explosives when they could simply crash their planes.
See Pilots, Flight Attendants Allege Bias in Screening., GLEN JOHNSON, The Boston Globe, Feb 3 2002
Last night Monster.com and HotJobs.com continued their 4-year old practice of competing for business through expensive Super Bowl advertisements, in an employment environment in which employers and employees have become increasingly comfortable with online job posting and searching. Since the industry first surfaced in the 1990's, online recruiting has matured from a market characterized by hordes of small competitors struggling to survive, to a market in which the two dominant companies battle for market share while holding off a pack of new start-ups. Along the way, many of the smaller companies have folded or been absorbed by larger competitors---leading to increased Federal Trade Commission scrutiny of the industry leaders, and customers have developed more realistic expectations than the initial assumptions of guaranteed jobs.
See Online Job Posting Goes Mainstream., CARRIE JOHNSON, The Washington Post, Feb 3 2002
Outdoor clothing maker Patagonia has once again made Fortune Magazine's list of the 100 best companies to work for in America, moving up seventeen places from last year's ratings to its current position in forty-first place. The Ventura, California based company has been in the top 100 since 1998 when Fortune first published the rankings---which are determined primarily by anonymous employee surveys. Among the policies and benefits that contribute to Patagonia's outstanding employee relations, are its on-site child care, two months paid leave for mothers and fathers of newborns, relaxed workplace, and uncompromising commitment to the environment.
See Clothing Maker Gets High Marks from Employees., FRED ALVAREZ, Los Angeles Times, Feb 3 2002
New York and Texas state officials announced yesterday that their unemployment insurance funds will run out in the next few weeks unless they receive over $1.5 billion in loans that they are requesting from the federal government. While the federal government will almost certainly come to the states' aid---as it did with other states in the mid-1970's, early 80's, and early 90's---it will likely follow the practice adopted in the early 80's of charging the current interest rate of 6.3 percent on the loans. Many experts feel that the uncommon policy in Texas and New York of lowering unemployment taxes during times of prosperity, rather than building up financial reserves, is directly responsible for the current dilemma which may force the states to finally adopt more responsible practices.
See States Seek Unemployment Bailout., KIRSTIN DOWNEY GRIMSLEY, The Washington Post, Jan 31 2002
Following the recommendation of a committee formed in response to the three-week occupation of the president's office by student protestors last spring, Harvard University has agreed to raise the wage of their lowest paid workers to a "living wage" level. The new policy calls for the renegotiation of the current collective bargaining agreements with the unions representing hundreds of security guards, groundskeepers, parking attendants, housekeeping staff, dining service workers, and other low wage workers, to meet or exceed the $10.50 an hour considered by the city of Cambridge to be a "living wage." The parity wage and benefits policy adopted from the committee will also require outside contractors hired by the university--- found responsible by the committee for depressing wages at the university---to provide their workers with pay and benefits equivalent to those received by unionized Harvard employees.
See Harvard to Pay "Living Wage.", PAMELA FERDINAND, The Washington Post, Jan 31 2002
A three judge panel of the New Jersey Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that the Pepsi Bottling Group is guilty of failing to pay over 500 truck drivers for overtime for the past decade. The closely worded ruling upheld charges originally brought by the New Jersey Department of Labor in 1995 that Pepsi was not exempt from paying overtime to drivers who were usually began work at 6 a.m. and often spent twelve hours a day on their delivery routes. Liable for the back wages it owes and up to $100 million in penalties in the New Jersey case, the company is currently confronted with a similar lawsuit in California.
See Pepsi Found Guilty of Wage Violations., GREG WINTER, The New York Times, Jan 31 2002
Over seventy percent of teachers at a Catholic elementary school in Brooklyn voted to join the Federation of Catholic Teachers (FCT) last week, becoming the first elementary school in the Diocese of Brooklyn to unionize. The push for union representation began following a management decision to raise health care rates last fall, after which teachers began contacting the FCT in large numbers seeking help in gaining a greater voice. The FCT---which recently won a contract providing for 11 percent raises and no increase in health insurance contributions at 235 schools in the New York Archdiocese (See WIT for Dec. 11, 2001)---has collected enough signatures to hold representation votes at two other schools in Brooklyn, and is running campaigns at over ten other schools.
See Catholic Teachers in Brooklyn Organize., PETE BOWLES, Newsday, Jan 30 2002
Despite the fact that the economy is still in recession and unemployment continues to remain at high levels as compared to the pre-September 11 job market, President Bush is planning to decrease grants for job training programs. White House officials confirmed budgetary evidence that the administration intends to cut training for young adults and laid off workers---the two groups most affected by recent increases in the unemployment rate---but defended the plans as an effort at "streamlining" federal job training programs. The U.S. Conference of Mayors sent a letter the White House this week, criticizing plans to reduce grants for young adult job training from $225 million to $45 million as a painful blow to poor communities and depressed inner-city areas.
See Bush Seeks to Cut Job Training Funds., The New York Times News Service, The Dallas Morning News, Jan 30 2002
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will reveal the outcome of a campaign by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) to organize 19,000 flight attendants at Delta Airlines. The organization vote---the largest in over three decades---is the result of a major battle that has been waged by the AFA since the mid 1990's, and has resulted in hundreds of charges of unfair labor practices engaged in by the least unionized of the major airlines. Delta defeated an organizing drive by ramp workers in 2000, and the successful unionization of its flight attendants would represent a major victory for organized labor.
See Results from Delta Unionization Vote to be Announced Tomorrow., LAURENCE ZUCKERMAN, The New York Times, Jan 30 2002
In a major victory for graduate student employees, New York University and United Auto Workers Local 2110 representing research and teaching assistants at the university have negotiated the first ever contract between a private university and graduate assistants. The four year contract---which covers the over 1000 graduate students who work over twenty hours a week---provides for an increase of almost forty percent in stipends retroactive to last semester, overtime pay for hours worked beyond the basic twenty, and full healthcare coverage phased in by next year. The NYU agreement comes as graduate students at Columbia, Brown, and other private universities are attempting to unionize, and will likely set the standard for bargaining at other universities.
See NYU and Grad Students Reach Contract Agreement., KAREN W. ARENSON and STEVEN GREENHOUSE, The New York Times, Jan 29 2002
Despite the fact that the majority of Internet users are women, and that women spend as much time using as men using computers, women still make up less than twenty percent of computer science (CS) graduates. In a presentation of research for the upcoming book "Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing" yesterday, the two authors revealed important new insights into the origins of this discrepancy gained by interviewing over 100 male and female CS students at Carnegie Melon University from1994 to 1999. Their study indicates that most universities' focus on the narrow technical aspects of the field in CS classes tends to discourage female students who often have a greater interest in user interfacing and the application of technology than male students---who are more likely to be interested in the technology for its own sake.
See New Research Examines Roots of Gender Inequalities in Computer Industry., PIA SARKAR, San Francisco Chronicle, Jan 29 2002
Figures released by the Japanese government yesterday, show that in December unemployment rates a new post-WWII high for the fourth month in a row. December also saw applicants outnumber job openings by two to one at employment run by the government. Data on unemployment confirms the overall picture of the continuing deterioration of the Japanese economy painted by statistics on declines in manufacturing and increases in corporate bankruptcies.
See Japan's Jobless Rate at New High., BAYAN RAHMAN, Financial Times, Jan 29 2002
In a sign that the departure of major financial firms from New York City predicted in the wake of September 11 may still become a reality, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Goldman Sachs and Co. are planning to shift personnel to new offices outside of the city. Morgan Stanley announced yesterday that it is in the initial stages of purchasing Texaco's old headquarters in Westchester County, and Goldman Sachs plans to have shifted the trading and research sections of its equities division to a new facility in Jersey City by 2004. While the two firms have given assurances that they will maintain a presence in NYC, they both cited a desire to reduce their concentration in lower Manhattan as a motivation in their decisions to add new offices.
See Two Major Financial Firms Look Beyond Manhattan., SUSAN HARRIGAN, Newsday, Jan 28 2002
espite the greater lip service given to personnel issues and human resources, a recent study by the U.S. Society for Human Research Managers (SHRM) shows that most companies continue to consider their HR departments to be of little importance. Former U.S. SHRM chair, and head of HR at Yahoo, Libby Sartain noted that the study also revealed that many HR people have a similarly low opinion of their own departments. Despite the high value placed on HR directors by a few corporate officers like former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, some in the HR field feel that practitioners must become more business oriented in order to move beyond the dim view most businesspeople have taken of HR since its emergence.
See HR Still Not Taken Seriously Say Those in the Field., MICHAEL SKAPINKER, Financial Times, Jan 28 2002
In a class action lawsuit filed yesterday, over 400 former Enron workers are calling for company officers, the Andersen accounting firm, and the company that administered their retirement plan be held financially responsible for the loss of their retirement savings. The suit, which alleges in part that the retirement plan's administrators are guilty of a breach of fiduciary duty, is the first class action filed by Enron employees. The Severed Enron Employees Coalition---which filed the suit on behalf of the 400 workers and claims to represent over 4,000 others---is seeking to represent all former employees in the federal bankruptcy proceedings in New York.
See Class Action Filed in Enron Scandal., ROSANNA RUIZhttp://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/01/29/BU204794.DTL&type=business, San Francisco Chronicle, Jan 28 2002
Officials with the Dallas Morning News Charities' twenty-two poverty relief agencies recently reported that over eighty-nine percent of individuals who seek assistance are currently working, and that the majority of the remaining applicants are between jobs. Among the leading factors which force tens of thousands of Dallas-area workers to rely on charity to make ends meet every year, charity workers cited low wages and the lack of affordable transportation and childcare. Public charity officials place much of the blame for the continuing extreme poverty of many working families on the failure of the Dallas City Council to pass a proposal early last year that would have increased financial benefits for companies that offer their workers a living wage.
See Working Poor Outnumber the Unemployed at Dallas Relief Agencies., KENDALL ANDERSON, The Dallas Morning News, Jan 27 2002
The decision of a five-member elections committee to overturn last November's Screen Actors Guild (SAG) presidential elections earlier this month and schedule a new election starting on February 11th, has led to increasing cries that election rules are being violated. Supporters of the November election's winner, Melissa Gilbert, are accusing the elections committee of exceeding their power in an attempt to get her defeated opponent Valerie Harper into office. The turmoil created by the decision to hold new elections is part of a running power struggle between activist supporters of Gilbert's predecessor William Daniels---who led SAG on a six-month strike in 2000, and moderates who feel that the strike was a mistake.
See Actors Union Roiled by Election Dispute., JAMES BATES, Los Angeles Times, Jan 27 2002
Tyson Foods---the largest poultry processing company in the world, and a major packager of beef and pork products as well---pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges brought by the U.S. Justice Department that the corporation smuggled illegal immigrants into the country to work in company plants. Two company executives and four former managers have been fingerprinted and photographed by federal marshals in connection with the case, in which 36 in violations of immigration laws are alleged at 15 factories. Tyson officials have contested the accuracy of the indictment, which is the result of a three-year sting operation carried out by government agents.
See Poultry Producer Denies Immigration Law Violations., CHRISTOPHER BOWE, Financial Times, Jan 24 2002
A class action sexual harassment case filed against the Dial Corporation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 1999 is making its way through the courts, and could become the largest since the high-profile case involving hundreds of women at Mitsubishi Inc.'s Normal, Illinois factory that resulted in a $44 million settlement. Over 100 current and former female employees have given depositions, and are prepared to testify, that they were subjected to years of extreme harassment by coworkers and supervisors with the full knowledge of the highest levels of management. While Dial has attempted to downplay the seriousness of the problems in its factories and offices, a federal judge found last August that preliminary testimonies and evidence suggest that Dial permitted an intolerable work environment to exist.
See Dial Faced with Class Action Lawsuit., KIRSTIN DOWNEY GRIMSLEY, The Washington Post, Jan 24 2002
A new category of immigration visas, designated as "T-visas," was approved by U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft yesterday for illegal immigrants---and their immediate family members---smuggled into the country and forced to work as domestic servants, farm laborers, or prostitutes. The Immigration and Naturalization Service will grant 5,000 of these visas a year to victims of human-trafficking who would suffer "extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm" if forced to return to their countries of origin. It is estimated that each year 50,000 individuals become victims of human-trafficking rings supplying forced labor to U.S. employers, many of them women and children.
See New Visa System to Address Human-Trafficking., The Associated Press, The Washington Post, Jan 24 2002
Governor Pataki's recent proposal to allow the New York City Board of Education to borrow $204 million which the state will repay in order to make up money that the state owes the board of ed., may lead to a new contract for New York City's teachers. Education officials indicated yesterday that the money may be earmarked for providing raises for the 80,000 NYC teachers---represented by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT)---who are paid far less than their counterparts in nearby suburban areas and have been without a contract since November 2000. Although the deadlocked negotiations have not yet resumed, Mayor Mike Bloomberg met with ILR graduate and UFT President Randi Weingarten last week to informally discuss education issues.
See NYC Teachers May See a New Contract Soon., ABBY GOODNOUGH, The New York Times, Jan 23 2002
Democrats are expected to introduce legislation in the House of Representatives today, aimed at changing the 1996 welfare law---under which a five-year cap is placed on monetary assistance to families and states receive welfare funds in a lump sum that is not linked to unemployment levels---into a weapon against poverty. Under the new proposal, funding for childcare assistance for low-income families would double over the next five years, and states that reduce child-poverty would receive $150 million a year bonuses. The proposal also calls for extending the basic structure of the 1996 law for another five years after it expires at the end of September, and would not count any month during which a welfare recipient had earnings from a paid job against the five-year limit on cash payments.
See Democrats Seek to Update 1996 Welfare Law to Fight Poverty., ROBERT PEAR, The New York Times, Jan 23 2002
A report released by the General Accounting Office of the U.S. Congress shows that in the ten industries employing the greatest percentage of women, women still make up only twelve percent of corporate officers and that between 1995 and 2000 the salaries of female managers decreased significantly relative to those of male managers. The study revealed that while female managers made gains in education, medicine, and public administration, they lost heavily in the entertainment and communications industries. Lack of accommodation for women who have children seems a likely cause of these increases in income disparity, as the report indicates that mothers in management positions fair the worst---making only sixty-six percent of what managers who are fathers make---and that the disparities begin to surface around the age of thirty-three and accelerate with increasing age.
See Pay Discrimination Among Managers Increasing According to New Study., ELIZABETH BECKER, The New York Times, Jan 23 2002
Following an emergency meeting of the board of directors' labor committee, United Airlines (UAL) has announced that it is willing to give its International Association of Machinists (IAM) represented mechanics the almost forty-seven percent increase over three years called for by the Presidential Emergency Board. The IAM will submit the proposal to its membership, but it is still unclear whether the mechanics---who were looking for a retroactive fifty-four percent raise---will accept the non-retroactive raise that has been offered. If a settlement is reached, it could clear the way for negotiations with the company's ramp and customer service agents---which were halted last fall due to the deadlock over the mechanics' contract, and for UAL to proceed with its requests for givebacks from all of its unions in order to keep the airline in business.
See Settlement May Be in Sight for Mechanics, United., JOHN SCHMELTZER, Chicago Tribune, Jan 22 2002
For the second time in the past week, teachers in the capital of Iran protested yesterday with the approval of their union---the first such protest since the Islamic revolution in 1979. The teachers---who demonstrated in front of the parliament building and then marched through streets despite a police ban---went so far as to criticize the Iranian Government, including the reformists led by president Mohammed Khatami. The teachers charge that they are the lowest paid government employees and have the poorest health, housing and welfare benefits, and are demanding a twenty-five percent raise and improved benefits.
See Iranian Teachers Take to the Streets., NAZILA FATHI, The New York Times, Jan 22 2002
With wide support from nurses' unions and consumer advocate groups, Governor Gray Davis of California proposed restrictions on the number of patients assigned to nurses in hospitals yesterday, in response to growing concerns about hospital staffing levels, quality of patient care, and patient injuries resulting from shortcomings in these areas. If Davis' requirements survive public hearings and state Department of Health Services revisions, California will become the first state to adopt such regulations. While hospital and HMO groups have voiced concerns over rising costs and recruiting problems that may result, they have so far been cautious about criticizing the proposed regulations.
See California Considers Hospital Staffing Requirements., SHARON BERNSTEIN, Los Angeles Times, Jan 22 2002
After eight years of appeals and retrials, a U.S. District judge ruled last week that no further court action is possible in a class-action harassment suit against the District of Columbia Department of Corrections. As a result, the payout of $9.6 million distributed between approximately 130 current and former female employees of the department could begin as early as the next two weeks. The female employees who brought the suit---many of whom quit their jobs or ended up on workers' compensation for severe depression and anxiety as a result of their harassment---suffered verbal abuse, grabbing and other physical harassment, and even coerced intercourse that in some cases resulted in pregnancies.
See Harassment Lawsuit Against D.C. Corrections Comes to a Close., SERGE F. KOVALESKI, The Washington Post, Jan 21 2002
In a major turnaround from what is accepted corporate policy, many British firms---including those in information technology industries---are hiring older workers and realizing increased savings and profits as a result. While firms in high-tech industries have traditionally seen senior employees as less able to keep up with rapidly changing industries, in the current tech-worker shortage they are finding that the considerable experience of such workers actually reduces the training and gear up time they need. These firms are will likely have a major competitive advantage over the majority of British and European companies who still give preference to younger workers, when anti-age discrimination legislation goes into effect throughout the European Union in 2006.
See British Firms Buck Conventional Corporate Wisdom, Hire Older Workers., ALISON MAITLAND, Financial Times, Jan 21 2002
The Kmart Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today after one of its main distributors halted shipments in response to a missed payment. The collapse of the third largest retailer in the U.S.---worth over $17 billion---is the largest bankruptcy in the history of the retail industry. Having negotiated a $2 billion loan from several major banks, Kmart has announced that it will keep its 2,100-plus stores open throughout its financial reorganization and hopes to be able to end its Chapter 11 status as soon as 2003.
See Retail Giant Files for Bankruptcy., DINA ElBOGHDADY, The Washington Post, Jan 21 2002
A grim pattern has appeared in job fairs for laid-off technology workers over the past months, as a once tight job market collapsed with the dot com start-ups that powered it. Thousands of workers wait on huge lines just to get in the door, where they compete for a handful of jobs offered by a few federal defense contractors who all tell them the same thing---no citizenship, no security clearance, no dice. The rare few who get interviews are accepting massive pay cuts, happy to get any job they can in a market that is now heavily dominated by sellers.
See Tech-Industry Job Fairs Have an Air of Desperation., CARRIE JOHNSON, The Washington Post, Jan 20 2002
A Presidential Emergency Board has extended a strike prohibition in the deadlocked negotiations between United Airlines (UAL) and its International Association of Machinists (IAM) represented mechanics. President Bush formed the board on December 20 citing concern about the effect a strike in the two-year-old contract dispute could have on the industry and the national economy. UAL wants all employees to take pay cuts to help the company through its current financial problems, but the mechanics---who agreed to massive cuts in the mid-1990's to help the company and never received promised raises---have pointed to their well-below industry level wages in refusing to take such cuts.
See Presidential Panel Extends Cooling Off Period., JOHN SCHMELTZER, Chicago Tribune, Jan 20 2002
As the Chinese government continues to transition to a more capitalistic economy, workers who were guaranteed economic security in return for a lifetime of work are being increasingly left out in the cold. In what has become a disturbingly common occurrence in China, workers are forced to buy worthless stock, which they are forbidden to resell, in the debt-ridden companies that employ them. The local government officials and managers---who exaggerate the worth of the stock in order to encourage employees to invest more of their life-savings---maintain a controlling interest and oftentimes make immense profits on false bankruptcy filings that devastate their employees. No link between these Chinese government officials and high-ranking Enron officials has been reported.
See Chinese Workers Exploited in Transition to Capitalism., PHILIP P. PAN, The Washington Post, Jan 20 2002
The union estimates that about 25% of the nation's 28,000 baggage screeners are not citizens. There is discussion by lawmakers and government officials about possible compromises which could both prevent immigrants from losing their jobs and insure airport security.