RSS

Workplace Issues Today

With its contract set to expire on November 7, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association has tied negotiations over Major League Baseball's bid to buy out and fold two teams to negotiations for a new general contract. Although MLB could eliminate the two teams without the approval of players association if negotiations fall through, this could only be done if the two sides had first bargained to impasse in good faith. The MLB attempted this course of action in 1995 after a strike that lasted almost 8 months and caused the cancellation of the World Series, but failed when the NLRB won an injunction against the MLB's unilateral action in a U.S. District Court.

See Baseball Players and Owners Square Off Over Move to Eliminate Two Franchises., MARK ASHER and DAVE SHEININ, The Washington Post, Oct 25 2001

Outraged by an apparent attempt to scare 45,000 United Airlines employees into giving concessions at the bargaining table, the president of the International Association of Machinists has called on United's board of directors to begin searching for a replacement for James E. Goodwin, the current chairman. The alleged scare tactic is a recent letter from Mr. Goodwin (see October 17, 2001 WIT), warning that the company will "perish" if it does not save money---a move that many employees feel is aimed at influencing the current negotiations between United and the IAM. The IAM's request carries significantly more weight than would a similar request at most companies, as there are two union members on United's board of directors, and employees own a majority of the company's stock.

See Union Seeks to Replace President of United Airlines., FRANK SWOBODA, The Washington Post, Oct 24 2001

In a case that could significantly change the Internet landscape, former volunteer chat room host are suing AOL for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and California labor law. The suit, which could expand from the initial three plaintiffs to a class action of over 5,000 California chat room hosts, parallels a suit brought against AOL in 1999 in New York State. Both suits arise from the fact that AOL required hosts to adhere to schedules and weekly work minimums, and generally treated them as employees, but failed to pay them for the services they performed.

See AOL Sued by California "Volunteers" for Labor Law Violations., LISA GIRION, Los Angeles Times, Oct 24 2001

In a twist on a theme common in US-foreign business deals, American General Motors has balked at acquiring Korean automaker Daewoo Motor due to the labor militancy of Daewoo's employees. GM has put its takeover plans on hold pending a new contract between Daewoo's employees and the current management---referred to by the president of GM Korea as a "satisfactory bargaining agreement," and suspected by some to be an agreement including a no-strike clause. Employees at Daewoo have long opposed the acquisition, and have engaged in protests that have eroded production levels at Daewoo and complicated the negotiations between the two companies.

See GM Complains about Unionism in Korea., TIM BURT and ANDREW WARD, Financial Times, Oct 24 2001

One of the most controversial workplace issues for teachers in recent years has been the rapid implementation of testing schemes as a means of evaluating teacher and school performance levels. As Republicans push ahead with legislation to require testing of all elementary and junior high students and punish schools that to do not boost scores, a commission on testing has released a study strongly questioning the wisdom of this path. The commission---formed by the National Education Association and four other teacher's unions, and supported by groups representing principles and superintendents---has found that the effect of such hastily created tests is to increase testing to the exam, which leads to the neglect of other aspects of student's education.

See Teacher's Unions Oppose Push for More Testing as Too Hasty., FREDREKA SCHOUTEN, Detroit News, Oct 23 2001

As employees and employers alike attempt to return to business as usual, legal conflicts are once again becoming part of the employment landscape---and the events of September 11 have brought up many new legal issues. How far an employer must go in accommodating workers suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome or anxiety attacks, whether such an employee can be fired for refusing to return to work, can workers be required to accept paychecks direct deposit, are all matters that employers suddenly find themselves confronted with. These and similar questions, are causing employers to reexamine laws ranging from the Americans with Disabilities Act to those dealing with electronic paycheck deposits for possible problems.

See Terrorist Attacks Raise Numerous Employment Law Issues., SANA SIWOLOP, The New York Times, Oct 23 2001

Eleventh hour bargaining between Bay Area Rapid Transit officials and Local 3993 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ran over the union's midnight strike deadline last night, but led to a settlement. While BART officials claim that the advances achieved by the union were insignificant and not strike issues, the president of Local 3993 claims that the union was able to win improved job protection and a more favorable grievance system for members. With the rapid increase in passenger load over the last four years, a failure to reach agreement could have led to an even more disruptive strike than the one during negotiations for the previous contract---which caused traffic to grind to a halt on freeways in the surrounding area for almost a week.

See San Francisco Transit Strike Narrowly Averted., MARGIE MASON, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 23 2001

As Santa Monica's tourism dependent hotel industry continues to lay off hundreds of workers, officers of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union are concerned that businesses are using the current economic downturn as an excuse to purge activists from their payrolls. In an attempt to prevent such retaliatory layoffs, the city council is considering legislation that would protect employees laid off unfairly, and require businesses to rehire according to seniority when the economy begins to pick up. If these measures are passed, they would give workers protection analogous to union job-security agreements, and would be the first such city ordinance in the country.

As consumer spending continues to slow down, many companies searching for creative ways to cut costs in the face of falling demand and falling profits are using voluntary or required unpaid leave either as a substitute for, or in combination with, layoffs. Compared with companies that lay off workers during downturns, companies that use unpaid leave often benefit from higher employee morale and fewer understaffing problems when business picks up again. In spite of the benefits associated with using unpaid or reduced-pay leave instead of layoffs, companies must be careful with the duration of such measures---while most employees are willing to accept a few days to a week of unpaid leave, longer leaves can lead to as much fear of job-security as layoffs.

See Some Companies Substitute Leave for Layoffs., BRENDA RIOS, Detroit Free Press, Oct 22 2001

Last night a committee appointed by the former president of Harvard held a public forum on its preliminary report on the wages of Harvard employees---an issue that led to the three-week occupation of the president's office by thirty students last year. The committee has found that even as Harvard's endowment has soared to $18 billion over the past decade, the real wages of its lowest paid employees have dropped significantly. Harvard's president Lawrence Summers, is a former secretary of the U.S. Treasury, has said that he will not make a decision on the issue until the committee issues its final report expected in mid-December.

See Academic Leader Near Bottom in Terms of Pay., PATRICK HEALY and JOE SPURR, The Boston Globe, Oct 22 2001

Responding to lower levels of predicted holiday spending, retailers and wholesalers of consumer goods are planning to hire the fewest seasonal part-time workers since the 1993 holiday season. While high-end businesses such as Saks, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus will likely cut their holiday staffing levels the most from last year's levels, while such retailers as J.C. Penney and Target foresee no significant drop in business and plan to keep holiday hiring levels about the same as last years'. Although wholesale and retail stores will as usual be the main job-creators in the fourth quarter, this is due more to an overall weak economy than to a strong showing in demand for consumer goods.

See Holiday Hiring will be Down from Last Year., VICTOR GODINEZ, The Dallas Morning News, Oct 21 2001

While recent events have resulted in job loss and economic hardship for many airline employees, some screeners are benefiting from a newfound attention that has led, in some cases, to higher wages and improved working conditions. Some airport security companies, concerned with legal liability and new regulations, are raising the wages of screeners---who are often paid only seven dollars an hour---and are adhering more closely to rules concerning time spent monitoring X-ray machines. Many screeners are worried, however, about recent proposals to federalize screeners---a move which could cost the many immigrants who work as screeners their jobs.

See Improvements for Some Airport Screeners., STEVEN GREENHOUSE, The New York Times, Oct 21 2001

Despite enormous legal hurdles, and a mixture of outrage and incredulity on the part of employers, an increasing number of stress claims are being decided in favor of British workers, with the awards falling in the quarter-million dollar range. Although personal injury law in Britain does not contain language limiting its application to either physical or mental harm, issues of causation and the forseeability of the negative outcome by the employer have made it almost impossible for employees to win any but the most outrageous of psychiatric injury cases. While an employee pursuing such a case would bear the burden of proving that their employer ignored a diagnosable mental condition and engaged in actions likely to worsen that condition, employers cannot use as a defense the way a normal employee would respond---their actions must be considered within the context of an employee's previously existing mental state.

With most of the major U.S. airlines planning to cut the majority of their in-flight meals, the list of workers directly affected by the post-September 11 crisis in the airline industry may soon expand to cover employees of airline catering companies. The two major firms in the airline catering industry, LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, have admitted that they may have to close down their U.S. operations due to debt overhead if airlines go through with their intended cuts. Confronted with the impending loss of 45,000 union jobs, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union and the Teamsters---who represent 40,000 and 8,000 airline catering workers, respectively---have joined forces with AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, in attempting to dissuade U.S. airlines from making the cuts.

See Elimination of In-Flight Meals Could Lead to Loss of Jobs For Thousands., FRANK SWOBODA, The Washington Post, Oct 18 2001

A Federal Aviation Administration order requiring airlines to check identification and conduct random screenings has caused Northwest Airlines to assign gate agents to these tasks until new security agents are hired---and provoked a lawsuit by the union representing these employees. The International Association of Machinists, which represents the gate agents, is suing Northwest for disciplining workers who refuse to conduct these searches and threatening to fire them unless they comply. The IAM claims that the unarmed and hastily trained gate agents are unequipped to deal with terrorists and are being forced to risk their own lives and those of customers.

Day laborers hired to clean office buildings surrounding the World Trade Center by a subcontractor to a New York cleaning company, are alleging that they have not been paid for what in some cases has been up to two weeks of work. The workers, many of whom may be illegal immigrants who do not have any contract with the company they have been hired to work for, say they were promised $7.50 an hour for eight or twelve hour shifts but have yet be paid. When questioned by the state attorney general's office, the cleaning company directed investigators to the subcontractor, who has stated that paper work caused the delay in payments to the workers.

In a report issued today, the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that among mothers with infants, the percentage that go to work decreased by four percent from 1999 to 2000---the first such decrease since records of these numbers have been kept. Census demographers attribute this decrease in part to a growing feeling of career security among the older, white, educated women among whom the percentage taking time off to be with their newborns increased the most. Other factors possibly contributing to the increase included the high salaries and job security brought about by last year's tight labor market, and the rising costs of childcare.

See More Mothers Taking Time Off to Take Care of Children., ANNIE NAKAO, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 17 2001

In a group of cases involving factory owners in the U.S. territory of Saipan, as well as major retailers throughout the U.S., the U.S. District Court in Saipan has issued an order that will allow as many as 20,000 workers to become plaintiffs. The suit involves charges of labor rights violations in Saipan, which is considered part of the U.S. for customs purposes, but has different immigration laws and a much lower minimum wage. The charges being brought against the defendants include requiring the payment by immigrant workers of large recruitment fees in order to obtain work, and the use of illegal quota systems that have the effect of indenturing workers.

See Court Enables Class Action Lawsuit in U.S. Sweatshop Case., MARK MAGNIER, Los Angeles Times, Oct 17 2001

The president of the Fraternal Order of Police has joined with local union leaders in Chicago in accusations that police officers have not been given sufficient training to deal with the recent anthrax cases. These accusations follow the implementation of new training and procedures for how officers are to proceed when confronted with possible biological threats. The truth of these claims was disputed yesterday by high-ranking officials of Chicago's Police Department, who said that the union was using the issue for political reasons.

This Tuesday, a letter from the chairman of United Airlines claiming that the company would "perish" if it did not find a way to stop losing money and stabilize its finances, was leaked to an industry website before it was scheduled to be sent to employees. While company officials have said that the company is in dire straights and refused to comment further, union officials have been happy to supply an explanation of their own. With contract negotiations with the International Association of Machinists set to pick up again after a five-week pause, many union representatives feel that the company is simply trying to trick 45,000 aircraft mechanics into making concessions.

See United Airlines Crying Wolf Say Unions., JAMES P. MILLER and ROBERT MANOR, Chicago Tribune, Oct 16 2001

Citing the recent downturn in the economy, the Bush Administration and Republican leaders in Congress say they are adamant in their plans to move ahead on fast-track trade legislation to make it easier for the president to conduct trade negotiations without input from Congress. The legislation is similar to bills that organized labor and its political allies have shot down in the past, and AFL-CIO president John Sweeney has warned Republicans that the only thing they will accomplish by attempting to push this bill through Congress is the destruction of any existing bipartisanship. Republicans claim the bill is needed to keep America competitive with countries that have such streamlined trade agreement mechanisms, while labor leaders insist that unless economic and labor regulations are included in such legislation it will worsen the flow of jobs and factories to other countries.

See Republicans Push Ahead with Trade Bill as Labor Leaders Vow Fight., STEVEN GREENHOUSE, The New York Times, Oct 16 2001

For years the teachers in Orange County, California have been saying that school board members have been stockpiling cash as teacher salaries have dropped to among the lowest in the county. Now a consultant hired by the school board has issued his finding that the board has been keeping over double the amount of financial reserves required by the state every year---in addition to systemically overestimating costs and underestimating revenues. The report was commissioned after a teacher led recall vote unseated three of the board's seven members last year---which may explain why, with four board positions up for election this November, board members unanimously approved a 5.5% raise for teachers in the wake of this report.

See School Board Accused of Hoarding Funds by own Consultant., DANIEL YI, Los Angeles Times, Oct 16 2001

In a running battle over a staffing crisis within the California State University system, members of the California Faculty Association will be staging teach-ins throughout the state today despite threats of disciplinary actions by C.S.U.'s assistant vice chancellor. Despite a ten percent increase in the size of the student body over the past seven years, the chancellor's office has increased the size of the faculty by only one percent while increasing its own ranks by over twenty percent. Members of the faculty union are asking that students---who are increasingly subject to oversized classes, an overworked faculty, and a lack of the academic freedom that comes from having tenured professors---join their instructors in calling for change.

See Understaffing and Over Reliance on Temp.'s is Condemned by C.S.U. Faculty., ZANTO PEABODY, Los Angeles Times, Oct 15 2001

Following an award ceremony for the Civil Service's senior executive of the year award, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and the director of the Office of Personnel Management announced proposed changes intended to streamline hiring procedures in the Civil Service. The proposals include easing restrictions on buyouts for resignations and early retirements, recruiting bonuses for senior executives, increased pay caps, the implementation of pay bands, and the increased use of experimental hiring, pay, and promotion systems. Public employee unions have criticized the administration's proposal, saying that it is an attempt to circumvent Congress's authority and will do nothing for rank-and-file members.

See Bush Administration Looking to Restructure Civil Service Staffing System., STEPHEN BARR, The Washington Post, Oct 15 2001

The contributions of labor unions at the site of the WTC towers is continuing, as the primary focus shifts from rescuing victims to protecting those involved in the cleaup effort. The National Hazardous Materials Training Program of the International Union of Operating Engineers has been providing much of the training and safety equipment to those working on the still smoking piles of rubble that mark ground zero. The expertise of the IUOE, whose members the work cranes and other heavy machinery used in construction and cleanup sites, has become essential as many of the NYC Fire Department's hazardous materials specialists died in the collapse of the towers.

See Union's Expertise is Crucial in World Trade Center Cleanup Safety., BEN WHITE, The Washington Post, Oct 15 2001

With the economy slowing down and unemployment rising sharply, many workers who have lost their jobs are finding out that they do not qualify for unemployment insurance. Despite federal and state-level initiatives in the past month to decrease waiting periods for benefits and increase the duration of benefits by up to fifty percent, over 60 percent of laid off employees will be unable to collect any benefits at all. The restrictions on the granting of benefits disqualify precisely those people who often need them the most---parents and low-income workers in unstable part-time job-markets characterized by frequent changes of employer. See "Many out of jobs also out of luck with benefits", by STEPHANIE ARMOUR, USA Today, Oct 15 2001.

Ending a two-week long strike involving over involving almost half of Minnesota's public sector workforce, 23,000 state employees returned to work this week following a late night negotiating session on Sunday night that led to a contract agreement. The strike, the first in two decades, was caused primarily by disagreements over proposed salary and wage raises between the Office of the State Employee Relations Commissioner, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 6 and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees. The contract, which is expected to be approved by the Minnesota Legislature and the rank-and-file in both unions, contains higher raises and better health benefits than the state's last offer prior to the strike.

See Minnesota State Employees Return to Jobs., ASHLEY H. GRANT, Chicago Tribune, Oct 14 2001

In the race for the next president of the Teamsters union, incumbent James P. Hoffa and challenger Tom Leedham have very little in common except their confidence in their own respective chances. Mr. Leedham, viewed as the heir to former president Ron Carey's campaign against corruption, has conducted a nationwide campaign criticizing Mr. Hoffa's performance in fighting for increased wages and benefits, and against corruption, and promising to do better if elected. Also at issue are organizing efforts, national political alignment, emphasis on the rank-and-file, and even support for proposed oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

See Contestants Square off in Race for Teamsters Presidency., STEVEN GREENHOUSE, The New York Times, Oct 14 2001

The moving four-week average of new unemployment benefits claims has risen to its highest level since the recession of 1991 experts revealed yesterday, and is likely to continue to increase in the near future. Although the number of claims was down by 67,000 last week, Federal Reserve Bank Officials have stressed that this is the result of seasonal fluctuations, and that both new and continuing unemployment claims are continuing to increase relative to last year's numbers. Economists have predicted that despite recent rebounds in the stock market and the strength of the dollar, unemployment data show that it will be at least 6six months before the economy truly begins to recover.

See Unemployment Rises to Ten Year High., Tribune News Services, Chicago Tribune, Oct 11 2001

The president of the 50,000 member Association of Flight Attendants said yesterday that security changes made in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11 have done nothing to actually increase safety. The union is lobbying for self-defense training and non-lethal weapons such as pepper spray for flight attendants, and serious improvements in baggage inspection and restriction of access to sensitive areas. Many flight attendants have complained that they are being forced to endanger their lives when they go to work, but airlines have responded that they must wait until federal legislation is passed before taking more drastic security measures.

See Flight Attendants Say Their Job is No Safer than it was a Month Ago., DAN MIHALOPOULOS, Chicago Tribune, Oct 11 2001

A bill designed to close loopholes in a law requiring that construction workers on projects that receive government funds be paid a prevailing wage, is among almost 200 bills that Governor Davis must approve or veto by this Sunday. The bill would specify that any form of public subsidization, including tax breaks and fee waivers, would qualify as government funding and necessitate the paying of prevailing wages---usually equal to local union wages. While union leaders have praised the bill, saying that it will increase quality and safety and allow construction workers to afford better housing, affordable housing advocates and construction and development companies have opposed the bill on the grounds that it will raise the cost of low-income housing.

See California Construction Industry Waiting on Governor's Decision on Wage Bill., JOCELYN Y. STEWART, Los Angeles Times, Oct 11 2001

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments from a Justice Department lawyer yesterday, supporting the right of the federal government to take employers to court for illegal practices even if employees have been forced to sign arbitration agreements giving up the right to sue their employer. This case, which involves a suit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against a company which fired a disabled employee after he had a seizure on the job, is an outgrowth of the growing popularity in business circles of requiring employees to agree to waive their right to sue and submit to company controlled arbitration procedures as a condition of employment. A lawyer for the company involved has argued that if federal agencies are allowed to pursue lawsuits under civil rights and workplace safety laws, it will defeat the purpose of arbitration agreements.

In the Los Angeles area, a temporary relief center set up to assist hotel and restaurant employees was deluged yesterday by workers who have lost their jobs in the sharp downturn experienced by the tourist industry following the terrorist attacks of September 11. Thousands of members of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union have been laid off or put on short hours in the past month according to the president of HERE Local 11. Aid workers have indicated that as many as 15,000 hotel and restaurant workers in the Los Angeles area, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, may be forced to seek assistance---a number which the aid workers say they are completely unable to handle.

Construction workers in New York City and the surrounding area, many of whom lost friends and coworkers in the attacks on the World Trade Center and/or assisted in rescue efforts, have returned to their normal jobs. In the aftermath of September 11, hundreds of members of the ironworkers union and other construction unions rushed to the remains of the WTC to lend their skills in the search and rescue efforts, often working round-the-clock with fire and rescue teams. Although many construction workers share the sentiment that it still does not feel like business as usual, the surest sign that things are returning to normal is the reappearance of pickets and giant inflatable rats at non-union construction sites.

See New York Building Trades Return to Work., KATIA HETTER, Newsday, Oct 10 2001

In an economic downturn and time of war, labor unions are struggling with how to achieve their goals for increased wages, improved benefits and safer working conditions. The workers at International Window went on strike on September 10th, but they are now back at the bargaining table, considering an offer that, according to a Teamster official, provides less than the offer given before the strike.

Maria A. Gregory argued that she was unfairly fired when three previous disciplinary charges were used in the case against her, even though appeals to those charges were still pending. Postal Service lawyer, Gregory Garre, argued that employees could use the appeals process to avoid penalties and the fact that the postal service cannot hire a new full-time worker until the fired worker’s appeals are exhausted would create harmful hiring delays for the agency.

27,025 National Guard and reservists have been called to active duty since September 11th, and more calls are expected. Employers are trying to deal with the holes left by these workers absences, while being supportive of their need to serve the country. Employers are obliged to abide by the 1994 Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act, which is designed to protect reservists and other military personnel from discrimination related to fulfillment of their military duties. Employers are concerned about the legal issues related to current absences and those related to when reservists return to work.

See Plugging the holes., Maggie Jackson, The New York Times, Oct 9 2001

Last year, 153 Columbian unionists were killed or disappeared. Other nations cited in the ICTFU survey include nations in South America, Asia, and the Gulf region. Employers in the United States were accused of using "union busting" tactics.

See The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions says Columbia is the most dangerous nation for trade unionists., Paul Ames Paul Ames Paul Ames Paul Ames, The Washington Post, Oct 8 2001

A pilot program, funded by Congress, had set up a number of teleworking centers in the Washington, D. C. area. Some federal workers were given the option of reporting to these centers a few days per week. The workspaces have not been fully utilized, but they have been busier since the attack on the Pentagon. In New York, many displaced federal workers are now working from home as an accommodation to their mental duress.

Staying home to care for their children can lead to missed promotions and, in some cases, job loss. Schools and most daycare facilities will not care for children with fevers or contagious illnesses. Often desperate parents try to mask symptons in hopes that they and their children will make it through the day.

This industry provided many welfare-to-work jobs, and it has been decimated in the wake of the attacks. In fact, the recent round of layoffs will be the first to hit these types of workers since the 1996 overhaul of the federal welfare system. Although federal aid to states for human services was not decreased as a result of welfare reform, many states have taken advantage of the prosperity and used the money to offer tax cuts and new programs to aid the working poor. Under new regulations, many workers are no longer eligible to return to the welfare rolls. To compound the problem, many also will not qualify for unemployment insurance.

These Mexican factories are located close to the U. S./Mexico border. Traditionally, they have provided economic opportunity for Mexican workers. The average wage is $2.20 per hour or four times Mexico’s minimum wage. One million Mexicans work at these plants producing auto parts, consumer electronics, and other products targeted for U. S. consumers.

In what seems to be a political move, President Bush has not asked the head of the Bureau of Labor Statistics to stay on for a third term, and has been courting possible replacements. This would be the first time in history that a commissioner of labor statistics---widely considered a nonpolitical appointment---was replaced against their will following a change in administrations. So far administration officials have had very little success in tracking down a replacement for Ms. Katharine G. Abraham, the current BLS chief, who has declined to stay on as acting commissioner.

See Bush Looking to Replace Nation's Top Labor Statistician., JOHN M. BERRY, The Washington Post, Oct 4 2001

Last night, the United Federation of Teachers---the largest union local in the world, representing over 140,000 teachers, non-teacher public school employees, and nurses in New York City---voted to support Democratic Party runoff candidate Fernando Ferrer for New York City Mayor. With the endorsement by the UFT, Ferrer now has the stamp of approval of the three most politically powerful unions in New York City: the teachers' unio, the health care workers' union, and the public employees' union---as well as the NYC electrical workers' union and the NYC carpenters' union. Randy Weingarten, president of the UFT and an ILR alumnus, said that Ferrer's opponent in the runoffs for the Democratic Primary is not committed enough to giving New York City school teachers a decent salary.

See UFT Gives Endorsement to Ferrer., DEXTER FILKINS and MICHAEL COOPER, The New York Times, Oct 4 2001

In a meeting that brought back memories of a similar commitment undertaken in the 1970's to save New York City from bankruptcy, the executive vice president of the New York State United Teachers met yesterday with the comptrollers of New York State and City to announce a commitment to invest union pension funds in the rebuilding of NYC. The government and union officials said that the statewide public employees' retirement fund could be used to purchase government backed bonds or to invest directly in the rebuilding efforts. When bankers refused to extend credit to NYC in 1975, it was city labor leaders and rank and file union members who invested over $2 billion in municipal funds to get the city back on its feet.

See Unions Vow to Use Pension Funds to Help New York Rebuild., CHARLES V. BAGLI, The New York Times, Oct 4 2001

With all votes counted, over two-thirds of employees at Nissan's Smyrna, Tennessee production plant voted against representation by the United Auto Workers. The vote was a major loss for the UAW, which has tried to organize the plant four times in the past twelve years, and still has not succeeded in organizing a foreign-owned U.S. auto plant. The UAW's vice president of organizing has accused Nissan of illegally coercing employees and otherwise interfering with the election.

See Union Fails in Fourth Attempt To Organize Nissan Plant., TERRIL YUE JONES, Los Angeles Times, Oct 3 2001

Responding to slow sales in the past month, the DaimlerChrysler Corporation announced today that it will be idling five of its North American assembly plants for one to two weeks in October. This action, which will result in the production 26,000 less vehicles for the 2001 model year, is intended to correct surpluses brought about by a twenty-eight percent decrease in September sales compared with last year. According to a company spokesman, approximately15,000 employees will be affected.

See DaimlerChrysler Cuts Back on Production., Associated Press, The New York Times, Oct 3 2001

With three days' worth of trash already piling up on curbs and in back yards throughout Orange County, California, a strike involving approximately 800 sanitation workers is threatening to spread to nearby South County. The four waste management companies being struck by Teamster members in Orange County, also have unionized employees in South County---many of whom are apparently engaging in a two-day old sickout in support of their union brothers and sisters. While county officials are concerned about the strike, they have made it clear that they can only get involved if the strike causes a health or safety risk to the public.

See No Agreement in Sight as Trash Piles Up in Orange County., SCOTT MARTELLE and DAN WEIKEL, Los Angeles Times, Oct 3 2001

At a Senate confirmation hearing yesterday, Eugene Scalia---the President's nominee for Labor Department Solicitor---claimed that if confirmed he would energetically prosecute work-safety violations despite his personal objection to such regulation. Democrats, almost unanimous in their strong opposition to Scalia's nomination, honed in on the fact that in a ten-year labor law career he has represented only two workers. The outcome of a Senate vote on Scalia's confirmation will likely hinge on the decision of Senator James Jeffords, whose spokesman has stated that the senator will support the nomination.

According to a recent study, a surge in industrial unrest in South Africa has caused days lost to strike activity this year to almost quadruple in the past three months. The South African economy, which up until July was expected to record the lowest levels of strike activity in a decade, is now confronted with a year of industrial unrest that by some accounts is the worst since the African National Congress took power. With wage-caps and concession demands expected as South Africa heads into an economic downturn, the annual wage negotiations that caused this round of strikes are likely to become even more divisive.

See South Africa Experiences Wave of Labor Unrest., JAMES LAMONT, Financial Times, Oct 2 2001

Mirroring the pattern set by the federal bailout of the airline industry, the D.C. Council yesterday passed a $100 million loan package to aid businesses suffering from the economic fallout of September 11---that failed to address the problems of workers laid off from these businesses. Union leaders and their political allies were outraged by the narrow defeat of a proposed amendment that would have set $10 million of this money aside for workers. The D.C. Mayor's office announced that it will be considering proposals to waive the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits, and plans to ask the Labor Department to extend unemployment benefits beyond the current 26-week limit.

See D.C. Plan to Aid Businesses Neglects Workers Say Unions., SEWELL CHAN, The Washington Post, Oct 2 2001

In a decision that could have wide-ranging effects, a British employment tribunal has ruled that the country's employment laws cover any employee who spends part of their working time in Britain. The tribunal held that the rights and protections afforded British workers are neither contingent upon the national origin of the employment contract or company involved, nor upon percentage of working time spent in Britain. This ruling could lead to an increasing number of claims under British employment law---which, like employment laws in much of Europe, provides workers with greater rights and protections than in many other countries.

See British Tribunal Extends Jurisdiction to Foreign Companies., JEAN EAGLESHAMhttp://globalarchive.ft.com/globalarchive/article.html?id=011002000931, Financial Times, Oct 1 2001

The U.S. Supreme Court announced yesterday that it would not grant certiorari on a case disputing the authority of judges to intervene in labor actions stemming from collective bargaining. The case, which came to the Supreme Court on appeal from a Seventh Circuit decision overturning an earlier ruling, dealt with slowdowns engaged in last year by members of the International Association of Machinists in the employ of United Airlines. Union leaders warned that the decision could lead to the use of lawsuits by employers as a means of crushing economic strikes.

See Supreme Court Gives Tacit Support to Judicial Intervention in Labor Protests., Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, Oct 1 2001

In an attempt to reform the union's oft-criticized management structure, the new chief executive of the Screen Actor's Guild has implemented a reorganization of the upper level chain of command. In addition to having top-level executives report directly to the chief executive, four new deputy national executive director posts have been created. This action was prompted by the report of an outside consultant group criticizing the SAG for, among other things, having far too many officers reporting to the existing executive positions.

See Actor's Union Cuts Down on Bureaucracy., JAMES BATES, Los Angeles Times, Oct 1 2001

Citing the sudden increase in unemployment due to the September 11 attacks, Governor Davis---who vetoed similar legislation last year---today signed a bill increasing unemployment benefits and expanding coverage of part-time workers. The measure was hailed by union leaders who have long fought for an increase in unemployment benefits that were among the lowest in the country despite California's high cost of living. While accepting the impetus lent to such legislation by the large number of jobs lost in the past 3 weeks, business leaders fear that the current surplus in the state unemployment fund will run out sooner than expected and tax increases will ensue.

See California Increases Unemployment Assistance., DAN MORAIN, Los Angeles Times, Sep 30 2001

Seven hundred sanitation workers represented by Teamsters Local 396, planned to strike late this afternoon over wage increases at four garbage hauling companies servicing much of Orange County, California. At issue is the union's demand for a four-dollar raise next year and an overall pay increase of thirty-three and a-half percent over the next five years. While the workers have defended their demands by citing the wages of sanitation workers in San Francisco and Los Angeles which are over sixty-five percent higher than their own, the companies continue to point out the fact that their employees already make $42,000 a year.

See Negotiating Impasse Could Cause Trash to Pile Up in Orange County., EVAN HALPER, Los Angeles Times, Sep 30 2001

The British Labour Party and its union allies have moved one step closer to a compromise in thee running battle over the Tony Blair's Private Finance Initiative. In late night negotiations with the finance and transportation secretaries this Sunday, unions won a commitment that measures would be passed to protect the rights, wages, and working conditions of employees in public services that are contracted out to private companies. Although Unison---one of the largest trade unions---scaled down their opposition to the government's privatization plans following this guarantee, the GMB general union left the talks vowing a fight in Parliament.

See British Unions Win Employee Safeguards in Privatization Plans., CHRISTOPHER ADAMS, Financial Times, Sep 30 2001

In a reversal of previous decisions, American Airlines and Northwest Airlines have announced that they will provide health benefits and severance pay to workers laid off due to the events of September 11. Although neither company is yet willing to meet the full amount of severance pay required in their union contracts, both have decided to provide laid off employees with seniority based severance packages and continued medical benefits through the end of the year. Airline union officials---whose vocal criticism factored in the airlines' decisions to provide severance packages---have said that while the new offers are a step in the right direction, the airlines still have an obligation to sit down with employees to discuss possible alternatives.

See Airlines Back Off from No Severance Position., NANCY CLEELAND, Los Angeles Times, Sep 27 2001

With a war on terrorism at home and abroad declared, massive security crackdowns are affecting the U.S./Mexican border. The increase in security has made it much harder for illegal immigrants fleeing a deeply troubled Mexican economy to cross into the U.S. in search of work. As a result, many Mexican migrant workers already in the U.S. have decided not to return to their families during this winter's off-season rather than risk being unable to return to America when seasonal job-markets pick up again in the spring.

See War on Terrorism Forces Migrant Workers to Make Difficult Choice., CHARLIE LeDUFF, The New York Times, Sep 27 2001

The Secretary of the Treasury announced today that the Bush Administration plans to use federal funds to make sure that state unemployment agencies, especially New York's, are able to deal with the massive layoffs following in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. This announcement was made several hours after a Labor Department report revealed that new unemployment insurance applications have reached their highest point in almost a decade. In addition to shoring up the monetary reserves of states heavily affected by the economic decline of the past few weeks, the Secretary of the Treasury also stated that federal lawmakers are considering an extension of unemployment benefits beyond the normal twenty-six week limit.

See Federal Government to Assist State Unemployment Insurance Programs., RICHARD W. STEVENSON, The New York Times, Sep 27 2001

Barring a last minute agreement, 28,000 members of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees and Council 6 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will go on strike this coming Monday. The original September 17 strike deadline---approved several weeks ago---was extended to October 1 following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Governor Jesse Ventura has remained quiet on the issue, leaving negotiations to the state employee relations commissioner, and ordering the National Guard to undergo training in the provision of critical services that may be struck.

See Public Sector Showdown Looms in Minnesota., Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, Sep 26 2001

The Illinois Nurses Association testified before a state committee yesterday on the need for minimum staffing requirements and required involvement of nurses in staffing decisions. The counterargument made by hospital administrators, that increased funding of nursing education would be a better solution to the current shortage of nurses, is not supported by the facts which show that even as the number of employed nurses has been decreasing, the number of licensed nurses has actually been increasing. Members of the INA have said that as long as hospital administrators searching to cut labor costs force nurses to work long hours in understaffed units, the shortage of people willing to work as nurses will only get worse.

A year ago, consulting firms, investment banks and high-tech companies were competing for recent MBA graduates with lucrative job offers and for MBA candidates with increasingly attractive internships---not so anymore. In an already weakening economy further shaken by the events and aftermath of September 11, clients have been cutting back on their demand for the services of such firms, who have in turn dramatically cut back on their demand for new hires. As career fairs and recruiting visits are cancelled at business schools across the country, business schools and their students are beginning to take a more active role in searching out career and internship opportunities in an increasingly loose job market.

See Demand for Business Graduates Drops, JONATHAN D. GLATER, San Francisco Chronicle, Sep 26 2001

In a massive turnout, Oklahoma residents narrowly voted to join the ranks of twenty-one other states with 'right-to-work' work laws in a statewide referendum yesterday. The new law will reverse a previous state law requiring that non-union workers in unionized bargaining units pay the equivalent of union dues, and will make such agency-shop agreements unenforceable when collectively bargained. State business leaders have long supported such a change in state law, while labor leaders have decried it as an attempt by big business to further weaken workplace democracy in a state in which only eight percent of workers are unionized.

See Oklahoma Becomes 'Right-to-Work' State., ARNOLD HAMILTON, The Dallas Morning News, Sep 25 2001

Following on the heels of a historic $15 billion bailout of the airline industry, a fight is brewing in Congress over a proposed aid package for the over 100,000 airline and aerospace workers who have lost their jobs due to the events of September 11. The issue is becoming increasingly critical as American Airlines and Northwest Airlines announced on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, that they will try to avoid paying severance to the 30,00o workers they are laying off. Having allowed Republicans to pass the airline industry bailout without inclusion of aid to affected workers, Democrats have indicated that they will likely insist on inclusion of such aid in any bill addressing airline security.

See Republicans Say Aid to Airline Industry OK, Aid to Airline Workers Not., LIZETTE ALVAREZ, The New York Times, Sep 25 2001

Following the dramatic highjackings two weeks ago, and the resulting dramatic decline in both air travel and the airline industry, many companies and business people are moving to replace business travel with telecommuting. Although video- and teleconferencing technology have been around for several decades, recent advances in internet-based telecommuting have made it much cheaper and more convenient. With the increase in costs, time delays, and scheduling inconveniences associated with flying, many companies are deciding that old face-to-face methods of doing business are no longer practicable over long distances.

See Use of Video-conferencing and Tele-conferencing Set to Boom., JAMES R. HEALEY, USA Today, Sep 25 2001

Invoking an emergency clause in its contracts with unionized employees, American Airlines has announced that it will withhold severance pay from the 20,000 employees who are being laid off. The AFL-CIO has responded by pledging to do everything in their power---including taking legal action---to prevent American from going forward with this plan. Although American Airlines officials have said that the $15 billion airline industry assistance plan approved by Congress will not be enough to save the company if it is forced to pay severance, it is so far the only airline that has announced a withholding of severance pay for planned layoffs.

See American Airlines Cites Clause, Refuses to Pay Severance., LISA GIRION and NANCY CLEELAND, Los Angeles Times, Sep 24 2001

Joining over 110,000 nurses nationwide, including 35,000 in California, registered nurses at a Los Angeles hospital voted last week to join the Service Employees International Union. Like many of the nurses across the country who have unionized, the nurses at the Northridge Hospital Medical Center are primarily concerned with the dangerous understaffing of their hospital that they feel jeopardizes their patients. As the nurses and their representatives prepare to negotiate a first contract, hospital officials have said they intend to cooperate with the nurses and SEIU.

Referring to a memorandum recently circulated in the offices of The New York Times, the National Writers' Union has charged that the newspaper is discriminating against eleven of its freelance members for suing the company. The freelancers had successfully sued the newspaper over compensation rights related to the posting on electronic databases of articles they had written. The memorandum, sent to Times editors by the newspaper's Director of Editorial Rights, directed them not to hire any of the writers who had sued the company.

See Union Accuses The New York Times of Blacklisting Members., FELICITY BARRINGER, The New York Times, Sep 24 2001

In a job market already reeling from massive layoffs, flight attendants are facing another dilemma---whether or not to return to a job that suddenly seems a lot more dangerous. As crewmembers debate whether or not to retire early or search for new jobs, many are taking unpaid and sick leave to think things through. With most flights empty and scheduled flights cut by close to twenty-five percent airlines have so far been able to accommodate employees' fears.

See Plane Hijackings Prompt Many in Airline Industry to Reconsider Career Choice., NANCY CLEELAND, Los Angeles Times, Sep 23 2001

The British labor movement is pushing for a promised review of the 1999 Employment Relations Act, which it claims is inadequate and overly complex. Among the disputed issues are union recognition thresholds, maximum penalties for business unfair labor practices, exemptions for small businesses, and regulations applying to industrial actions. Although businesses leaders' opposition to the TUC's proposed changes will probably be intense, Blair may use these demands as an opportunity to appease a labor movement displeased with some of his recent plans.

See Trades Union Congress Calls on Tony Blair To Fulfill Pledge., CHRISTOPHER ADAMS, Financial Times, Sep 23 2001

Last April 8,500 unionized janitors shut down Los Angeles' major buildings in a strike that won them wage increases, maintained health benefits, and---perhaps most importantly---developed leaders. This week the Ford Foundation, which supports local activism aimed at helping diverse communities, recognized four of these leaders by awarding them the $130,000 Leadership for a Changing World grant. The four winners, who are members of the Service Employees International Union, have decided to use the money to develop their organizing skills, and to set up a training institute to teach leadership and organizing to their union brothers and sisters.

See Janitor "Strike Captains" Receive Ford Foundation Grant., STEPHANIE CHAVEZ, Los Angeles Times, Sep 23 2001

As New York continues to struggle with the aftermath of last week's attacks, Governor Pataki has announced that the waiting period for jobless benefits will be reduced from two and a half to one and a half weeks for those New Yorkers who lost their jobs as a result of the attacks. Those who are ineligible for unemployment insurance may still be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Insurance, as New York has been declared a federal disaster area. These measures reflect the large number of people whose place of work was destroyed or made unsafe, or who have been laid off following the attacks on the World Trade Center.

See Unemployment Insurance Applications to be Fast Tracked., CARRIE MASON-DRAFFEN, Newsday, Sep 20 2001

Citing a history of safety violations that goes back a decade, workers at Kayem Foods rallied to condemn the plant for the horrific injuries many of them have sustained on the job. Employing a workforce comprised mainly of immigrants, both legal and illegal, Kayem foods has been found in violation of such OSHA safety standards as not installing guards on cutting blades---violations which many workers believe have led to lost fingers and maimed hands, as well as to chemical burns. The AFL-CIO, which last year reversed its anti-illegal immigrant policy, has been assisting Kayem workers who have been trying to organize a union for the past three years despite company opposition.

See At a Massachusetts Packinghouse, Workers Protest Hazardous Conditions., CINDY RODRIGUEZ, The Boston Globe, Sep 20 2001

In the latest in a long line of such announcements from major U.S. airline companies, Northwest Airlines announced today that it is laying off 10,000 employees including pilots and mechanics. The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which represents Northwest's mechanics, has said that it will file a grievance on behalf of its members as the layoffs violate a job security clause in their contract. Although workers are upset about the layoffs and the contract violation, so far their anger does not seem to be directed against the company, which---for the time being---they view as a fellow victim of circumstances.

See Airline Industry's Financial Troubles May Lead to Labor Strife., Associated Press, The Dallas Morning News, Sep 20 2001

The mayor of Washington D.C. announced yesterday that the D.C. police, fire, and emergency medical services would no longer require female job applicants to take pregnancy tests as part of their physical, and will no longer refuse to hire pregnant women so long as they meet the physical requirements of the job (see September 5, 2001 WIT). This decision follows the filing of an EEOC complaint against the D.C. EMS on behalf of a female employee who, along with two other female EMS employees, claims that she was pressured into having an abortion to avoid losing her job. An attorney for the D.C. EMS union said that the mayor’s announcement is a step in the right direction, but that it does not change what was done to female employees and applicants in the past.

See D.C. Emergency Services Eliminate Pregnancy Test., ANDREW DeMILLO, The Washington Post, Sep 19 2001

Representatives from the Big Three automakers, parts suppliers, and various industries in the auto industry met yesterday with the secretaries of Labor and Commerce. The meeting was aimed at restoring consumer confidence and spending in an effort to prevent domestic car sales from dropping following last week’s terrorist attacks. Although the automobile industry has taken a major hit in the stock market over the past few days, and many companies have already announced production cutbacks, so far none of the major manufacturers has said anything about layoffs.

See Autoworkers, Automakers, and Government Hold Rally., TERRIL YUE JONES, Los Angeles Times, Sep 19 2001

Responding to the major downturn in tourism and theatre attendance in New York City after last week’s tragedies (see yesterday’s WIT), the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees announced yesterday that it will accept temporary pay cuts for workers in five major productions. The president of the union, Thomas C. Short, said that the union hopes that by working with producers it will be able to prevent closings and the resulting job losses. The actors’ and stage managers’ unions are also considering pay concessions in an attempt to save hard hit shows from closings.

See NYC Stagehands Take Temporary Pay Cut to Save Faltering Shows., Times Staff, The New York Times, Sep 19 2001

In a repeat of events that occurred during the Gulf War, the Defense Department has begun to call up reserve troops---and workers, their families, and their employers are already beginning to feel the strain. Federal law requires private businesses to hire back reservists at their previous salary and seniority levels after their tours of duty are finished. As a result, companies are confronted with the difficult choice of shouldering the cost of hiring and training replacement employees only to lay them off when reservists return, or spreading the workload of called-up reservists among their other employees. Reservists and their families for their part must deal with an oftentimes enormous drop in family income.

Following last week's attacks on the World Trade Center, business is anything but booming for the restaurant, hotel, theatre, and convention industries in New York City and the surrounding region. As reservations are cancelled and few if any new ones are made, theatre producers are canceling shows and hotels owners have begun laying off employees. Employers and unions are meeting with each other and with government officials to see what can be done to prevent or at least ameliorate further layoffs and profit losses.

See New York's Tourist Industries Take Major Hit., CHARLES V. BAGLI CHARLES V. BAGLI, The New York Times, Sep 18 2001

Even as federal lawmakers are discussing the details of financial aid packages to the faltering airline industry, Boeing has announced that it will be laying off up to 30,000 employees in its commercial airlines division. Airline officials went to the White House yesterday to inform the Bush administration that without $24 billion in aid the industry would fall apart, with some companies facing bankruptcy by the end of the week. Layoffs throughout the industry are predicted to reach 100,00 by this weekend as carriers lose a total of $300 million a day.

See Outlook for Airline Industry and Employees Worsens., ROBERT DODGE, DAVE MICHAELS and TERRY MAXON, The Dallas Morning News, Sep 18 2001

In the recent economic slowdown internet based start-up companies have been among the hardest hit, and the outlook for the near future is not good. This has led an increasing number of dot-commers, who for the last five years have been only too happy to go to work straight out of college, to take the GMAT's and pursue MBA's. Unlike the similar wave of laid-off engineers who went back to business school during the 1991/1992 recession, many of the employees of Internet start-ups---whose compensation was heavy in stock options---will have trouble shouldering the high costs of business school.

See As Economy Cools, Dot-commers Go Back to School, LISA GIRION, Los Angeles Times, Sep 16 2001

As American businesses take their operations abroad to exploit low-cost labor in developing countries, American unions are taking their organizing efforts abroad to level the playing field for both American and foreign workers. As part of a 1999 trade agreement eliminating almost all tariffs on Cambodian clothing manufacturers, the Cambodian government agreed to raise the minimum wage and permit unionization efforts. The AFL-CIO is sponsoring organizer and workers' rights training for employees in Cambodia's $980 million a year garment industry which is a major supplier for such U.S. companies as the Gap and Ralph Lauren.

See American Unions Get Out Their English-Cambodian Dictionaries., CHRIS DECHERD, Los Angeles Times, Sep 16 2001

In the wake of Tuesday's disasters, the U.S.'s already embattled airline industry is making it clear to Congress and the president that unless the government steps in to assist the major airlines many of them will have to file for bankruptcy. In addition to losses incurred during last week's federally mandated moratorium on commercial flights, airlines are facing a decreased demand for air travel, and increased costs and a significant reduction in flights due to new security measures. Confronted with this dilemma, Continental airlines laid off twenty percent of its workers this past Saturday---a move which American Airlines, US Airways, and other major U.S. airlines are expected to take later this week. See "American plans job cuts", by TERRY MAXON, The Dallas Morning News, Sep 17, 2001.

See Airline Industry Reeling from Tuesday's Blow, TERRY MAXON, The Dallas Morning News, Sep 16 2001

As the list of those missing in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks becomes more accurate, a picture of the average victim is emerging. Dedicated, early bird, go-getter, workaholic, on the rise---these are the phrases that seem to best describe those who remain unaccounted for. The fate of workers in the WTC buildings also seems to vary according to the floor on which they worked---with survivors rare among those working above the 90th floor, and job-type---lawyers seem to have fared better than traders.

See Early Birds are Hardest Hit, DALE RUSSAKOFF and EUNJUNG CHA, The Washington Post, Sep 13 2001

In the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, workers in firms across the country are struggling to deal with the emotional turmoil they are experiencing. The result has been an increase in requests for reduced schedules, increased reluctance to accept overseas assignments or go on business trips, and in some cases refusal to return to work in high profile buildings. This has led many companies to provide counseling for workers and their families, set aside grieving spaces, and bring in grief management specialists.

See Companies Offer Emotional Support to Shaken Employees, KRISTEN DOWNEY GRIMSLEY, The Washington Post, Sep 13 2001

As rescue workers pick through the rubble of the World Trade Center, the senior officers of many of the world's top financial, securities, and insurance firms are beginning to pick up the pieces of their businesses. In addition to the loss of experienced employees, physical capital, and vital information and records, the surviving leadership and employees of many companies cite an emotional loss that will perhaps be the most difficult to deal with. While the process of rebuilding will be far from easy, a common sentiment among the denizens of Manhattan's business world is that the affected industries will persevere and that business must, and will, go on.

See Firms Face Long Rebuilding Process, PATRICK McGEEHAN, International Herald Tribune, Sep 13 2001

Yesterday's attacks resulted in the deaths of thousands of people who were going about their usually safe jobs as bankers, secretaries, stockbrokers and clerks. These attacks also, however, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of New York's Bravest and New York's Finest as they did their jobs---risking their lives to save the lives of others. After the two planes struck the World Trade Center towers, over 400 firefighters and dozens of police officers rushed to the scene. Survivors who escaped the two buildings have recounted how firefighters helped them to safety, and then disappeared back into the dust and smoke in search of others. Over thirty police officers are still unaccounted for, and fire department head counts conducted by officials last night revealed a growing death toll that has reached the 300's. Among those who have died are the Chief of the Fire Department, the First Deputy Fire Commissioner, the Chief of Rescue Operations, and the department's Roman Catholic chaplain who had rushed to the scene to comfort victims.

See Job Description: Hero., EDWARD WONG and JANE FRITSCH, Newsday, Sep 11 2001

What started for many as an ordinary day at the office quickly turned into a spectacle of horror and disbelief yesterday. The first sign of the events to come was when workers in office buildings near the World Trade Center heard the sound of a low-flying airplane rush by, followed by a loud explosion as it collided with one of the WTC towers. After rushing to windows and seeing a huge cloud of smoke and the rear half of a plane protruding from One WTC, workers in the nearby World Financial Center attempted to return to work, shaken by what they had just witnessed. Within twenty minutes it happened again---that is when people dropped what they were doing and started to run. Outside on the streets where people stared in shock at what has been described as the apocalypse, debris began to rain down crushing people as they fled for their lives. A pall of ash and office paper descended on the city, while those who had escaped the towers watched in horror as people, some of them in flames, jumped from the upper floors to escape the inferno inside. As companies that had offices in the WTC grind to a halt and attempt to track down employees, workers who escaped the collapsing buildings---and those who were lucky enough not to have been at work---fear for the lives of their colleagues and wonder what to do now. After witnessing such terrible scenes, many who have jobs in Manhattan are afraid to return to work. Some survivors of yesterday's attacks have been uneasy about working at the WTC since it was bombed eight years ago. Yesterday's events will likely haunt workers in Manhattan and other major financial centers for years to come.

See A Normal Day at Work . . ., N. R. KLEINFIELD, The New York Times, Sep 11 2001

Although New York City is unquestionably at the epicenter of the impact from yesterday's tragedies, the shockwaves have spread across the country as far away as Chicago and California. Like most major cities throughout the U.S. and the world, Chicago is still alert to the possibility of continuing terrorist attacks and is taking such precautions as keeping airports closed and instituting strict parking restrictions. These security measures are the only reason why some Chicagoans are not afraid to return to their jobs, while many say that they do not feel safe regardless of such measures. People cited a desire to see friends and colleagues, and to get out and do something besides worry, as reasons for going to work today. As the new of yesterday's events reached California yesterday morning, commuters stopped abruptly and reversed course to race home to their families. City streets were deserted, airports shut down, city, county, and federal offices closed, and the governor ordered state operations to relocate outside of the Capitol. Workers in San Francisco's Financial District evacuated, concerts and awards ceremonies were canceled or postponed, all major Hollywood studios closed for the day, and Disneyland closed down for the second time in its history---the only other being the day Kennedy was shot. Today things slowly began to return to normal, but federal buildings remain closed and heightened security precautions are still in affect throughout the state. Although some people felt that the closings and other precautions were a nuisance, many workers in high-profile areas felt that anything was possible and that it was better not to take any chances.

See From Sea to Shining Sea., JILL BLACKMAN and RICK HEPP, Chicago Tribune, Sep 11 2001

Former employees of Lee Mah Electronics, most of them immigrant Chinese women who do not speak English, gathered at City Hall yesterday to protest the circumstances of their firing. In addition to failing to give them the sixty-day notice mandated by federal law, the circuit board and telecommunications equipment company required them to sign termination letters written only in English before giving them their final paychecks, and did not pay them their full vacation and back pay. This is the second such incidence of Chinese immigrant workers in San Francisco being exploited in the past few months.

See In San Francisco, Chinese Workers Angered by Unfair Layoffs., VANESSA HUA, San Francisco Chronicle, Sep 10 2001

The Lay Faculty Association---representing teachers and guidance counselors at the ten high schools owned by the Archdiocese of New York---voted overwhelmingly last week in favor of a strike after their contract ended. The union's members will go on strike tomorrow unless the Archdiocese is willing to discuss maximum salaries, which are $30,000 a year less than those of New York City public school teachers. The 3,600 members of the Federation of Catholic Teachers, who teach at several hundred schools throughout the city that are not directly owned by the Diocese, are currently in the middle of contract negotiations. See "Teachers Threaten to Strike at 10 Catholic High Schools", by ABBY GOODNOUGH, The New York Times, Sep 11, 2001.

See Low Salaries May Lead to Citywide Strikes at Catholic Schools., ABBY GOODNOUGH, The New York Times, Sep 10 2001

In the midst of an FBI investigation and a federal corruption trial involving officers in the Narcotics Bureau of the Buffalo Police Force, the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association and city and department officials are debating changes in staffing qualifications for Narcotics detectives. The union insists that a seniority-based system is not only the fair way to make staffing decisions, but that if followed it would not have led to the four officers on trial becoming narcotics detectives. The police department administration and the PBA are both accusing each other of a failure to bargain in good faith.

Despite the fact that more and more women with children are working---two-thirds of those with preschool children and over fifty percent of those with infants under the age of twelve months---a recent report finds that most Americans still feel that mothers should stay home from work to care for their children. The percentage of the population holding this view, anywhere from seventy to ninety percent, has remained largely unchanged for the past decade and is similar among males and females. The report also found that although companies are more family-friendly than in the past, many are still not overly supportive of working mothers, especially those with lower paying jobs.

In an attempt to forestall layoffs, many companies have been engaging in such cost cutting practices as eliminating indoor plants, cutting back on light bulbs, and discontinuing employee discounts at vending machines. Despite this nickel and dime-ing, as the economy continues to slow down companies are already beginning to reduce their workforces. Even if the economy picks up again before the end of the year unemployment will likely continue to rise, as employers are usually hesitant to rehire quickly after economic down-turns end.

See Nickel and Dime-ing Not Enough to Prevent Layoffs., RON SCHERER, The Christian Science Monitor, Sep 9 2001

Despite the decline in on the job construction deaths nationwide, Texas experienced a twenty-six percent rise in such deaths last year. In addition to experiencing the highest number of building industry jobsite deaths in the decade since record keeping began, construction related injuries are at historical highs with over 33,000 reported in 1999. Adding to the emotional loss the families of these workers suffer, is the fact that they often face financial problems and lengthy lawsuits against employers in the aftermath of these accidents.

See Rising Tide of Deaths and Injuries in Texas' Construction Industry., KATHERINE YUNG, The Dallas Morning News, Sep 9 2001

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission informed the financial services firm earlier this week that it has until Monday to settle with a former female employee claiming gender discrimination or face a lawsuit. This is not the first instance of Morgan Stanley employees alleging gender or racial discrimination, but if the matter goes to court it will be one of the rare times that the EEOC has sued a large Wall Street investment bank on behalf of a high paid employee. While most such employees settle in arbitration rather than put their high-paying jobs on the line by using the EEOC process, similar suits were recently brought against Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney.

See EEOC puts Morgan Stanley Dean Witter on Notice., PATRICK McGEEHAN, The New York Times, Sep 6 2001

In the predominantly manufacturing area of Hickory, North Carolina, joblessness grew by 4.5 percentage points in the last 12 months - a higher growth rate than anywhere else in the United States. Employers who, just one year ago, had trouble filling positions or had difficulty keeping employees if demands were too high, are now finding large applicant pools and employees willing to do more in order to keep their jobs. Some managers see the economic downturn as useful, because they were losing training dollars, having difficulty expanding product lines, and local leaders were having trouble promising labor to any new industries thinking about locating in the area.

See Managers find economic downturn helpful., David Firestone, The New York Times, Sep 6 2001

Companies say that double-digit increases in the cost of providing health insurance to employees will result in increased premiums, deductibles, and co-payments, and decreased service in the near future. With the economy slowing down and unemployment rising, companies that were unwilling or unable to pass increased healthcare cost on to their employees while the job-market was tight are likely to reverse this policy in 2002. This will have a profound impact on the two-thirds of American workers who rely on their employers for health insurance. See "Health Benefit Costs Soar 11% on Rising Drug Prices", by ROBERT A. ROSENBLATT, Los Angeles Times, Sep 07, 2001.

See Workers May Soon Pay More for Health Insurance., ROBERT A. ROSENBLATT, Los Angeles Times, Sep 6 2001

On Wednesday the U.S. Labor Department announced that despite the downturn in the economy, worker productivity continued to increase. This tends to confirm the view of Fed. Chairman Alan Greenspan and other new economy theorists that technological advancements have led the country into a new era of higher productivity. Increases in productivity are of prime interest to policy planners, employers, and labor alike, as they make it possible to increase wages without cutting into profits or raising prices.

See High Productivity Defies Economic Downturn., ROBERT MANOR, Chicago Tribune, Sep 5 2001