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Workplace Issues Today

A U.S. Appeals court in Washington upheld a National labor Relations Board decision granting non-unionized employees the right to bring a co-worker sympathetic to their cause to all disciplinary meetings, and holding a Cleveland employer's refusal to allow an employee to do this an unfair labor practice. While right of unionized employees have had the right to have a union representative or shop steward present at all disciplinary hearings since 1975, the NLRB has reversed its stance several times on whether non-union employees have a similar right---ruling most recently in 1985 that they do not. Although the AFL-CIO and such management groups as the Labor Policy Association filed briefs in this case and had strong opinions either for or against the ruling, some academics feel that the ruling will not have a major impact.

At a childcare facility in Arlington County, a recent decision by supervisors forbidding bilingual aides from speaking Spanish to parents or each other unless a supervisor and a translator are present has infuriated both the aides---some of whom have been fired or disciplined in other manners due to their continued use of Spanish, and the parents who rely on the aides as a means of communicating with the school. School officials have defended their actions on the grounds that several employees sent a letter to their supervisor last summer complaining that certain staff members had been speaking to students in an inappropriate manner. The conflict brings up a complex area of Equal Employment Opportunity law in which it has been held that English-only regulations are illegal absent proof of the necessity of such a regulation---with what constitutes "necessity" being a very grey area.

See Policy on Bilingual Communications Angers Aides, Parents., EMILY WAX, The Washington Post, Nov 11 2001

A high profile Boston fund-raiser of the Democratic National Committee is turning into a battleground between members of the Service Employees International union Local 285, the wealthy businessman who owns the nursing home at which they are employed and his wife who is cosponsoring the fundraiser. At issue is the fact that the owner of the nursing home---who who along with his wife contributed heavily to the DNC and was a guest of former president Clinton---has opposed the unionization of his workers who are paid only $7-$8 an hour and do not get medical benefits. Although the DNC intends to run the event as planned, the Massachusetts Democratic Party has withdrawn its support, and several Democratic congressman have already stated that they will not cross the union's picket line.

See SEIU Local to Picket Democratic Fundraiser., FRANK PHILLIPS, The Boston Globe, Nov 11 2001

In the past, gearing up for the holiday season has caused no small amount of headaches for human resources personnel concerned with the amount and apportionment of bonuses, and whether the office's annual Christmas party was a form of religious discrimination---now they are worrying whether that white powder on the lobby floor is really snow and if latex gloves make appropriate stocking stuffers. In the wake of the attacks on September 11 and the anthrax attacks that followed, human resources managers have taken on expanded roles in the areas of crisis management and employee counseling. One of the most difficult aspects of this new role, is figuring out ways to plan escape routes, develop personnel tracking systems, and increasing background checks, while at the same time calming employees' fear and preventing anxiety and demoralization that could lead to decreasing productivity.

See HR Managers and Departments Confronted with New Responsibilities., PATRICIA KITCHEN, Newsday, Nov 8 2001

Ron Gettelfinger, a vice president of the United Auto Workers since 1998, was chosen yesterday to run for the union's presidency by the 18 member caucus composed of high ranking officials that effectively elects the UAW's top officers. The caucus also made the historic move of giving its approval to vice president Elizabeth Bunn for the position of secretary-treasurer---which will make her the highest ranking female in the union's history. Among the top concerns of the two officers elect will be reversing the UAW's massive decline in membership caused largely by the union's inability to organize workers in foreign-owned U.S. auto plants.

See Gettelfinger Given Go-Ahead., Tribune News Services, Chicago Tribune, Nov 8 2001

The battle over Major League Baseball's planned contraction continued today, as management representatives met with union leaders to attempt to sell them on plans for dealing with the players whose teams will be eliminated. The union has already filed a grievance with baseball's permanent arbitrator alleging that the owners have violated almost every rule and contract in the sport. Although some players think that the contraction is necessary, the overall feeling is that---aside from the legality of its actions---management insulted the players and the union by its lack of openeness and failure to consult with them.

See Major League Battle Continues., MURRAY CHASS, The New York Times, Nov 8 2001

Figures released yesterday by the Labor Department show that in spite of the U.S. economy's slide into what many now acknowledge is a recession, productivity rose in the third quarter of 2001. This increase is due to U.S. companies' widespread use of layoffs and work schedule reductions following the terrorist acts of the past months---leading to a decrease in work hours which outpaced a decrease in output by over 250%. Although the Federal Reserve believes that the U.S. economy has experienced a real growth in productivity in recent years, and expects this growth to continue in the long term, it cautions that short term trends may not be as positive.

See Productivity Rises in Third Quarter Due to Cost Cutting., PERONET DESPEIGNES, Financial Times, Nov 7 2001

A U.S. District Court Judge handed the Bush Administration an embarrassing defeat yesterday, holding that the president's executive order prohibiting project labor agreements (PLA's) in projects funded in whole or in part by the federal government was a violation of the NLRA and the Constitution. PLA's are agreements reached by unions and---usually government---employers that set up binding contracts protecting the rights of the workers employed by contractors, while leaving the choice of contractors up to the employer and the hiring of union and/or non-union labor up to the chosen contractor. The judge in this case ruled that PLA's, which have been used extensively on federally funded projects in the past, are a protected economic weapon, and that it was entirely legal for the Maryland state government to enforce such an agreement covering the construction of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

See Judge Overturns Executive Order Banning Project Labor Agreements., BILL MILLER and KATHERINE SHAVER, The Washington Post, Nov 7 2001

The Boston Club, an organization of female professionals and businesspeople, released a report today showing that although college-educated women have been instrumental in the growth of the family incomes of Massachusetts' working couples over the past two decades, they are still extremely underrepresented on corporate boards. Despite gains in education, pay and rank, women today make up only nine percent of the board members of the state's top 100 firms---2.7% less than the national average among Fortune 500 companies. Minority board members are even less common, and hold only five percent of corporate board chairs in Massachusetts based companies.

See Female and Minority Board Members Very Uncommon in Massachusetts., DIANE E. LEWIS, The Boston Globe, Nov 7 2001

In moving to bring about compliance with European Union requirement that fixed-term workers be given the same rights as permanent employees, the British Government has become entangled in a heated debate. While business leaders are vehemently opposed to the added costs this initiative will impose, trade unions insist that the government has not gone far enough and is illegally excluding many of those fixed-term employees who are most open to exploitation. Although the Trades Union Congress objects to the legislation's suspected use of definitions of fixed-term workers that would exclude non-permanent teachers, adjunct faculty, and nurses, they strongly support the requirement that fixed-term workers receive compensation equivalent to those of permanent employees.

See British Government to Reveal New Employees' Rights Legislation Tomorrow., CHRISTOPHER ADAMS, Financial Times, Nov 6 2001

A Democratic proposal that would have given firefighters, police, and emergency services personnel nationwide the right to unionize and bargain collectively with their public sector employers was defeated yesterday by four votes. The measure---sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and the top-ranked democratic and republican senators on the Senate Labor Committee---would have overturned public sector labor laws in twenty-two or twenty-seven states, according to the president of the International Association of Firefighters and Republican senators, respectively. The IAF condemned Republicans for raising the spectre of police and fire strikes in the middle of terrorist attacks in order to defeat the measure, saying that such claims were inexcusable in light of the recent loss of hundreds of firefighters who died responding to the attacks on September 11.

Having granted certiorari in a case charging that a Transportation Department policy aimed at assisting women and minorities is in fact reverse discrimination, U.S. Supreme Court justices are at a loss as to how, and even whether, to proceed. The policy in question offers incentives to construction companies owned by women or minorities who feel that they have in the past been victims of a long-standing bias in favor of white, male contractors. The solicitor general of the U.S. and several justices, feel that because this program no longer operates in the complainant's home state, the complainant---who in 1995 won a Supreme Court case that found unconstitutional a previous DOT program---no longer has a case.

See U.S. Supreme Court Unsure How to Handle Affirmative Action Case., Associated Press, The Dallas Morning News, Nov 6 2001

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11 and their enormous impact on the airline industry, more professionals have been looking to telecommuting as a way to cut down on time spent commuting and traveling, and spend more time with their families. While some have welcomed this change as allowing them to take a more active role in their children's lives, many have found that they end up spending no additional time with their children and that their job and parenting responsibilities conflict more often than with traditional work structures. A recent study by the Families and Work Institute has shown that establishing firm boundaries between work and home life is necessary if the pitfalls of telecommuting are to be avoided, and the benefits realized.

See Telecommuting Not Always a Positive., CAROL KLEIMAN, Chicago Tribune, Nov 5 2001

Responding to demands from employers in the computer and engineering sectors, Congress last year raised the limit on H1-B visas---six-year work/immigration permits for foreign workers with the equivalent of bachelor's degrees---to 195,000 annually through 2003. While last year saw 30,00 applications filed after the 115,000 cap then in effect had been reached, the number of H1-B's requested for 2001 fell short of the limit by almost 32,000/ The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, however, emphasize that there is still a strong demand for tech-workers---and many U.S> born tech-workers continue to argue for reduced limits.

See Demand for Tech-worker Visas Drops., CARRIE JOHNSON, The Washington Post, Nov 5 2001

Tomorrow the U.S. Supreme Court will hear opening arguments from the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Company, and one of its former employees, in a case that could determine the coverage of repetitive stress injuries under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The case originated in a 1999 suit charging that the Toyota corporation fired an assembly line worker in violation of the ADA when she refused to perform an assigned task that she claimed was re-injuring a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome caused by a previous position on the assembly line. Toyota---along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Bush Administration---argue that conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome are injuries not disabilities, and that the term "disabilities" in the ADA should be narrowly interpreted to apply only to conditions that completely prevent an individual from performing a task.

While most economists agree that the U.S. is heading into a recession, the duration and severity of that recession, as well as the timing and strength of the following recovery, are questions that are still up for debate. The key issue on which this debate is turning is whether underlying structural weaknesses exist which remain unaffected by the fiscal and monetary policies undertaken by the president, Congress, and the Federal Reserve. Realistic predictions taking into account the influence of both September 11 and trends existing before the terrorist attacks, indicate a fourth quarter worse than the third quarter for 2001, unemployment peaking around six percent in early 2002, and a recovery in spring of 2002 that will see a return to growth in the GDP but not to the phenomenal profit margins of the late 1990's.

See Economic Prospects., NICHOLAS SARGEN, Financial Times, Nov 4 2001

Following a massive protest in which five police officers were injured when firefighters came up against police barricades, the presidents of both the Uniformed Firefighters Association and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association have been charged with trespassing on the World Trade Center disaster site. The presidents of the UFA and UFOA, as well as the presidents of the EMS workers and fire dispatchers unions, have condemned this latest turn of events in the growing fight over Mayor Giuliani's decision to severely limit the number of firefighters and police officers at the disaster site as a political move aimed at weakening opposition to the planned changes. The mayor and the NYC fire commissioner have defended these changes, pointing out that they are necessary to keep fire and police services at safe levels in the city, and to protect rescue workers from the heavy equipment increasingly being used in what is now a cleanup effort.

See residents of NYC Firefighters and Officers Unions Arrested., ROBERT D. McFADDEN, The New York Times, Nov 4 2001

Recent studies have added to the growing body of evidence supporting the increased use of such employee ownership plans as stock options and profit sharing at all levels of the corporate hierarchy. Despite "line-of-sight" and "free-rider" arguments to the contrary, stock options and profit sharing have been shown to have positive effects on sales, employee recruitment and retention, shareholder returns, and productivity. These studies have also highlighted the importance of an overall firm culture supportive of employee involvement in decision making, to maximizing the benefits of employ ownership.

See Studies Support Use of Employee Ownership Plans., MARTIN CONYON and RICHARD FREEMAN, Financial Times, Nov 4 2001

With contract negotiations stalled since May in a ten-month fight over benefits and pay, President Glen Kitzmann of the Ventura County Deputy Sheriff’s Association has said that a strike, although possibly illegal, may be the only option left open to his membership if a contract is not concluded sometime in the near future. The acrimonious debate---which has involved critical ad campaigns and promises of upsets in county supervisor elections---stems from the county’s rejection of the union’s demands for a guarantee that their raises will mirror those in surrounding areas, and for the extension of improved retirement benefits for future employees to current employees. Although county officials have accused Kitzmann of being overly combative in running the ads and making the negotiations an election issue, the union’s membership---many of whom feel that they are being exploited by the local government---have repeatedly supported Kitzmann’s actions and recently reelected him unopposed.

See Police Strike a Possibility in California’s Ventura County., CATHERINE SAILLANT, Los Angeles Times, Oct 31 2001

In President Bush’s war on terrorism, it is becoming increasingly evident that the vast majority of the American’s on the front line will not be special forces soldiers who knew what they were getting into, but rather postal workers, secretaries, janitors, nurses, security guards, flight attendants, and employees of courier services. Untrained and unequipped to deal with the threats of suicide highjackers and bio-terrorism, these individuals work in low profile jobs that often earn them little respect and less than a living wage. Although many of these workers are pushing for increased pay to compensate them for the new hazards they face, with job markets loose and the economy in a slowdown many more are faced with the decision to continue risking their lives for low pay or join the ranks of the unemployed.

See Low Paid Workers Suddenly Find Themselves in High Risk Jobs., KIRSTIN DOWNEY GRIMSLEY, The Washington Post, Oct 31 2001

With thousands of cases of violence against Britain’s Benefits Agency employees already reported every year, the government’s decision to remove protective barriers between employees and patrons has infuriated the employees’ union officers. The government has proposed an increase in security guards, swift and severe punishment of anyone who assaults a Benefits Agency staff member, the installation of closed circuit televisions, and the possibility of pop-up barriers---but insists that the fixed barriers need to come down to make services more accessible to marginalized groups. The Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents the 50,000 employees who will be affected, took a strike vote earlier this week, and many workers have already walked out.

See 50,000 Public Employees may Strike in Britain., CHRISTOPHER ADAMS, Financial Times, Oct 31 2001

William Clay Ford Jr., great-grandson of Henry Ford and the first member of the family to assume direct leadership of the Ford Motor Company since Henry Ford II, announced yesterday that he would be taking over as CEO from Jacques Nasser amidst the cheers and applause of employees. Despite the likelihood that Ford and his new COO will engage in plant closings and massive layoffs early next year, workers and their union representatives are confident in their new CEO's concern for employees---pointing to his actions following the 1999 explosion at the Rouge facility as evidence. The removal of former CEO Jacques Nasser as been attributed in large part to his poor relations with employees, stemming from a lack of respect and trust caused by Nasser's poor business decisions and failure to consult with union officials before making these decisions.

See Workers Welcome Ford as New CEO., JOHN GALLAGHER, Detroit Free Press, Oct 30 2001

Fearing famine and U.S. air raids, and desperate for a source of income, many impoverished Afghan parents are sending their five-to-twelve year old sons and daughters to work as indentured servants in Pakistan's prison-like carpet and brick factories. With the price of smuggling their entire family into Pakistan far beyond the means of most Afghan parents, and no jobs available for adults in Pakistan's high unemployment labor-market, young boys and girls are forced to be the sole support for up to a dozen family members. The children---whose small fingers enable them to work as carpet weavers---are regularly underfed, tattooed with their work station numbers, and forced to work and live ten to a cell the size of a small cattle-stall under conditions that cause many to go blind and develop lung and skin diseases by the age of twelve.

See Child Labor Abuses in Pakistan., ULI SCHMETZER, Chicago Tribune, Oct 30 2001

Although relations between native Germans and the country's 2.4 million Turkish guest workers have been anything but smooth in the decade following Germany's reunification, Turkish business leaders in Germany voiced their concerns yesterday that last month's terrorist attacks in the U.S. have caused increased xenophobia. Largely concentrated in ethnic neighborhoods, Turks have been easy targets for many East German youths who turned to growing right-wing, racist, and neo-Nazi groups as the guaranteed financial security of the former-DDR was dismantled and the promises of jobs created by a new capitalist economy never materialized. Since the September 11 high-jackings in the U.S., Turkish retailers have experienced a dramatic decline in sales that some feel cannot be attributed solely to the overall slowdown the German economy is experiencing.

See Aftermath of September 11 Causes Concern among Germany's Guest Workers., HAIG SIMONIAN, Financial Times, Oct 30 2001

Responding to the conditions described as "intellectual sweatshops" that the part-time professors who make up an increasing percentage of college and university faculties work under, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the American Association of University Professors, and other faculty and education groups plan to stage demonstrations at campuses across the country this week. A recent report by the Department of Education revealed that fifty-three percent of colleges and universities do not provide benefits to adjunct faculty---who between 1987 and 1998 have increased by ten percent as a proportion of faculty members nationwide. A study made public by the AFT this week found that eighty percent of part-time faculty members do not receive health or retirement benefits, and that seventy-two percent of them make less than $20,000 a year.

See Adjunct Faculty Protest Throughout the U.S. and Canada., MARY BETH MARKLEIN, USA Today, Oct 29 2001

Following the death of 343 firefighters in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, the Uniformed Firefighters Association is pushing for a larger raise than the twelve percent over two and a half years promised in the current New York City contract offer. But with four NYC uniformed workers' unions having already approved similar offers, the city's history of pattern bargaining---in which the first city-wide public-sector union to accept a contract offer in essence accepts it for all city employees unions---as well as infighting over the UFA's leadership, or lack thereof according to some, make it unlikely that firefighters will be able to negotiate a significantly improved offer. Given the UFA's poor track record in binding arbitration, it is doubtful whether the union would have any better chance at achieving a larger raise by declaring an impasse than it would at the bargaining table.

See NYC Firefighters Union Holds Out for Better Contract., WILLIAM MURPHY, Newsday, Oct 29 2001

In California, one teachers union's stand against a statewide testing based bonus system similar to those recently condemned in a study commissioned by the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and other teachers unions (see October 24, 2001 WIT), is causing the very dissension the union had hoped to avoid. The system, which is tied to student performance on the Stanford 9 achievement test, provides for a distribution of bonuses relative to current pay if the school board and teachers union at a winning school have not negotiated an alternative agreement. While most California teachers unions have followed the advice of the California Teachers Association to negotiate the distribution of the bonus money in spite of moral objections to the system, the United Teachers- Los Angeles passed a resolution prohibiting itself from negotiating testing related bonuses---a decision which has led to conflict, as many newer teachers who worked hard to make sure their students passed feel that others are profiting from their hard work.

See Testing Based Bonus System Causes Conflict in LA Teachers Union., MARTHA GROVES and DUKE HELFAND, Los Angeles Times, Oct 29 2001

Following the discovery of traces of anthrax at the U.S. Postal Service's Morgan Center facility, postal workers are staying home by the hundreds and their union is expected to sue the city today to close down the facility. In response to the union's allegations, the U.S. Deputy Postmaster has declared the center safe---saying that the amount of anthrax found was not enough to infect workers, and that the affected machines have been cordoned off in accordance with recommendations by medical personnel. Despite the distribution of gloves, masks and antibiotics, however, union officials are not taking any chances, and are demanding that the Morgan Center Facility be closed for more thorough testing and cleaning.

See Postal Union to Take NYC to Court over Anthrax., Associated Press, Newsday, Oct 28 2001

A holdover from post-World War II Soviet Union influences, the Austrian Trade Union Federation not only created an umbrella labor organization which today represents over 1.4 million workers, it also led to over half a century of labor peace. The victory of a center-right government coalition in February 2000, however, brought to an end thirty years of cooperation between Socialist Party-led governments and the AFTU---and possibly an era of labor relations that saw productivity undisturbed by major industrial actions as well. With the enactment of a host of reforms injurious to workers, eighty-eight percent of union members responding in a recent vote supported a strike if negotiations with the government fall through.

See Austria's Slumbering Labor Giant May Soon Awaken., KERRY SKYRING, Financial Times, Oct 28 2001

Following a demand for his resignation by the president of UAL's largest union (see October 25, 2001 WIT), James Goodwin has resigned as chairman of UAL's board of directors. Although initially supported by the International Association of Machinists and the Air Line Pilots Association---which both have seats on United's board of directors and together represent a majority of its employees---Goodwin had lost the approval of the unions even before the leaking of the letter that was the immediate cause of his resignation. While the IAM and ALPA have so far been unanimous in their praise for Goodwin's successor, United has a reputation for cycling through chairmen who slip in the delicate balancing act required of CEO's of employee owned companies.

See United Airlines' CEO Resigns in the Face of Union Pressure., CHRIS WOODYARD, MARILYN ADAMS and JAYNE O'DONNELL, USA Today, Oct 28 2001

Following a massive sixteen-car wreck at the EA Sports 500 last Sunday, many of the most famous names in NASCAR racing delivered an ultimatum to NASCAR's top officers---reform the dangerous, made-for-show rules that caused the crash, or lose the drivers who make car-racing the enormously profitable industry it is. The rules in question are the "aero-package" and the mandated use of restrictor plates that many believe led to the death of Dale Earnhardt earlier this year only minutes after railing against these rules to his pit crew. The only two previous times in NASCAR's history when drivers have engaged in collective activity, management used scabs, lockouts and threats of physical violence to force drivers back into a system where management makes all the rules, pay and equipment decisions, and the drivers take all the risks.

See Unsafe Conditions Strain Labor Relations in the "NASCAR Family"., ED HINTON, Chicago Tribune, Oct 25 2001

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics released its figures yesterday for the twelve-month increase in the Employment Cost Index---a number based on nationwide wages and salaries and used to compute the average raise for civil service employees. While the rules for determining civil service pay seem relatively straight forward, the elimination of a disputed cost of living formula has caused the system to breakdown in recent years. Lobbying by interest groups, budgetary disputes between the legislative and executive branches, and the overall state of the economy---along with a recent initiative to give civil service workers a larger raise corresponding to that given to military personnel---will all play a role in how the ECI is used to determine federal salaries for 2003.

See BLS Releases Figures to be used in 2003 Federal Salary Computations., STEPHEN BARR, The Washington Post, Oct 25 2001

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

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

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 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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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.