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Workplace Issues Today

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

After suffering major drops in real wages in the 1990's due to a massive currency devaluation and soaring inflation, Mexican workers and their unions are calling for significant wage increases. This is occurring at a time when the downturn in U.S. demand for Mexican goods is aggravating a Mexican economy already in recession. Some economists fear that with increased union activity and demands for wage raises, companies that moved their production facilities to Mexico to exploit its low wages and lack of unionism will begin to consider relocating their operations elsewhere.

See In Mexico Labor Activities and Wages are Rising Even as the Economy Slumps., BRENDAN M. CASE, The Dallas Morning News, Sep 5 2001

Having stood by their employers through the lean years following the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian workers are now demanding a fair share of growing profits. As companies respond to the rising economy by attempting such American business practices as wage, benefit, and employment reductions, employees are responding by forming independent unions and going on strike. In engaging in this grass-roots activism, workers are running into opposition not only from businesses, but also from the government, and the FNPR-the state-sanctioned union that is a holdover from the USSR.

See As Russia's Economy Picks up, so does Rank and File Activism., Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, Sep 5 2001

"Nobody is saying, 'I'm so poor, please help me.' . . . I have a swimming pool. I have nice shoes." -Singer Courtney Love in an address to a panel of California state legislators about the injustice of contracts that bind musicians to record labels for more than seven years

See Your Labor Quote of the Week, JENIFER WARREN, Los Angeles Times, Sep 5 2001

In the search for reduced labor costs, some companies are beginning to explore alternatives to laying off employees. In addition to such established cost-cutting practices as hiring freezes, firms are experimenting with non-traditional approaches like employee sharing, giving employees stipends to work for non-profit organizations, and allowing employees to take leaves of absence to work for other companies. Employers are testing these strategies in the hope that they will allow them to cut down on labor costs without losing loyal employees.

See Laying Off the Pink Slip., Stephanie Armour, USA Today, Sep 4 2001

As Mexican President Vicente Fox tours the U.S. and meets with President Bush, it is not surprising that union members in Rust Belt cities continue to oppose free trade initiatives that eliminate high paid manufacturing jobs in the auto industry. However, opposition to free trade is growing in a more unusual quarter-Mexican Americans and Mexican migrant workers. Having come to the U.S. in search of better paying jobs, migrant farm workers are finding that their wages are being undercut as companies and agribusiness find it cheaper to relocate farming and processing operations to Mexico, than it is to pay Mexican migrants working in the U.S.

See Concerns About Free Trade Cut Across Ethnicity., MEGAN GARVEY, Los Angeles Times, Sep 4 2001

An EMS worker in Washington D.C. has filed a complaint alleging that she was encouraged by a superior to have an abortion because her pregnancy would not be covered by medical leave. Several other women have come forward and said that they also had abortions because they were told that they would lose their jobs if they did not. While looking into this matter, union officials found out about a letter sent to female Fire Department applicants warning them that they would not be hired if a pregnancy test administered as part of their physical came up positive. City official have announced that they are reconsidering the use of pregnancy tests in the physical.

See D.C. Emergency Services Under Fire for Alleged Discrimination., Andrew DeMillo, The Washington Post, Sep 4 2001

Ten buses daily travel the immigrant trails linking Mexicans to states such as Illinois, Arkansas, Georgia and the Carolinas. The U.S. and Mexican governments recognize that the immigrants constantly flow between the two countries. Mexican President Vicente Fox will meet with President Bush to continue their immigration discussion.

See Frequent immigration to be discussed., Teresa Puente, Chicago Tribune, Sep 3 2001

The Institutional Revolutionary Party previously subsidized the sugar industry until President Vicente Fox came into office last year. All the mills are at the brink of bankruptcy or beyond. As a result, Mexico's new government has taken over nearly half of the nation's mills to save the industry.

See Mexican farmers once again subsidized., TIM WEINER, The New York Times, Sep 3 2001

An uncertain job market has not changed the average US worker's willingness to change jobs. Corporate America has been trying to keep employees happy however more than a third of workers plan to leave their job within the next two years. The lack of loyalty is almost unchanged from the economic boom days of 1999.

See Workers willing to change jobs., Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press, Sep 3 2001

With American unionization down to 13.5 percent, organized labor has spread to Latinos. Many are undocumented and have low-paying jobs. The AFL-CIO is currently moving to help Mexicans and Central Americans who have continued to cross the border in large numbers in search of jobs.

See Latinos increasingly organized., Stephen Franklin, Chicago Tribune, Sep 2 2001

Israel accused the Arabs of encouraging racial hatred and using the United Nations meeting for political ends. Diplomats are trying to find middle ground between Arab and Islamic states to have all Israeli action in the West Bank and Gaza Strip condemned.

See Racial accusations between Israel and Arabs., The New York Times, Reuters, Sep 2 2001

The number of corporate executive, managerial, and consultant jobs are falling. The high-tech bubble has burst. The situation is not improving because many are quietly commiserating with one another while others are simply keeping quiet and suffering.

See Number of upper level jobs on the decline., MICHAEL GRANBERRY, The Dallas Morning News, Sep 2 2001

The United States signed an international trade agreement to reduce farmer subsidies. Lawmakers trying to increase the subsidies are now halted because of these World Trade Organization limits. The budget problem created by the dwindling surplus could force lawmakers to find other items to cut to offset some payments in the farm bill.

See Farmer subsidies to be reduced., ELIZABETH BECKER, The New York Times, Aug 30 2001

Militants and squatters of the Ruling party in Zimbabwe are driving black farm hands and their families from their homes. Many are now living in the bush without food, shelter, or sanitation. The seizure program has left the remaining farm workers in fear of large-scale displacements.

See Zimbabwe farm hands driven from their homes., ANGUS SHAW, Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press, Aug 30 2001

American workers are increasingly worried about their employers as the economy continues to slow down. Workers express concerns about their jobs with little or no trust that employers will treat them fairly. Downsizing of the American workforce and the globalization of the economy have severely hurt their bond.

See Employers less trusted., Frank Swoboda, The Washington Post, Aug 30 2001

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers represents 16,000 TWA employees under American Airlines, TWA's new owner. The union claims that American Airlines is not keeping its promise to provide jobs for all TWA workers. IAM members will picket in airports across the country.

See TWA employees mislead in merge with American Airlines., The Dallas Morning News, The Associated Press, Aug 29 2001

The members of the Writers Guild of America are planning to picket outside the Burbank studios of the cable network Nickelodeon. The union complains that network supervisors have been obstructing efforts to organize writers' animated shows. Guild leaders are seeking to extend union coverage to writers of all prime-time animation shows.

See Writers Guild of America to picket against Nickelodeon network., MEG JAMES, Los Angeles Times, Aug 29 2001

The former president of the ironworkers union, Jake West, has been charged with embezzling more than $50,000 in union funds. Federal prosecutors claim he used this money to cover costs of golf outings, dinner parties, vacations, liquor shipments and other personal expenses. West pleaded not guilty yesterday to embezzlement and other charges in a 49-count indictment.

See Former union president charged with embezzlement., Bill Miller, The Washington Post, Aug 29 2001

The Mexican Zacatecas government developed a new employment plan. The project arranges temporary labor for US employers who have jobs open but cannot find Americans to take the positions at their pay rate. This program could be a way to let hundreds of thousands of Mexicans work temporarily in the United States.

See New temporary labor plan developed., JAMES F. SMITH, Los Angeles Times, Aug 28 2001

Indiana University previously offered a generous retirement plan to attract and retain faculty members. The program was not checked or financed for 30 years. Now the university faces $2 billion in payments to professors who no longer teach. It was eliminated in 1989 when officials recognized the high impending costs.

See University struggles to fund retirement program., The New York Times, The Associated Press, Aug 28 2001

The Detroit Ford Motor Company will not give bonuses this year to 6,000 top executives and managers. The company profits have shrunk under pressure from declining sales and the Firestone tire recall. Foreign automakers have stepped up as Ford's market share has fallen.

See Ford cuts bonuses., The New York Times, Reuters, Aug 28 2001

More people than ever before are choosing alternate work to better fit their daily schedules. They are independent contractors, on-call workers, temporary help agency personnel and contract company workers. The reason for this flexibility is the desire of workers to balance both work and personal demands.

See Workers choose flexible work schedules., Carol Kleiman, Chicago Tribune, Aug 27 2001

The oil reserves in Saudi Arabia gave the country the impression that they would always be rich. Today, poverty is high because the gas dollar no longer stretches as far. The new baby boom generation has caused the kingdom to find ways to make the economy grow. It is working toward schools, health care and jobs.

See Saudi Arabia struggling with employment issues., Neil MacFarquhar, International Herald Tribune, The New York Times News Service, Aug 27 2001

Ron Carey was elected president of the Teamsters union in 1991. He is currently on trial for lying repeatedly to investigators who were looking into large union contributions during his re-election campaign. Mr. Carey has been indicted on seven counts, and conviction could mean a sentence of up to 35 years in prison.

See Ex-Teamster President on trial., STEVEN GREENHOUSE, The New York Times, Aug 27 2001

America's national security interests are greatly affected by the steel industry. However, the American workers are not protected from cheaper foreign imports that have already led to the closing of at least 18 Steel plants. Bush launched an investigation into the impact foreign competition is having on the American industry.

See The steel industry is crucial., Bob Kemper, Chicago Tribune, Aug 26 2001

Officials from Volkswagen and Germany's IG Metall trade union worked to create 5,000 new jobs. They talked of more flexible rules in Germany's regulated labor market to increase production and cut costs. The program would give about 5,000 workers the same monthly pay as under the current contract but without a standard workweek or overtime pay.

See More flexible jobs in Germany., The New York Times, The Associated Press, Aug 26 2001

There has been a gain of two million new jobs in the United States over the past year. The diverse economy reflects that certain industries are still raising output even though others are falling. Hiring is increasing in mining firms, mortgage banks, health services, oil companies, insurance providers, and electric utilities. Although layoffs are still occurring, they are mostly centered in manufacturing and temporary services.

See American jobs are increasing., Ron Scherer, The Christian Science Monitor, Aug 26 2001

A state employees union accused the California Department of Transportation of ignoring a fire hazard. The fire marshal recommended a staff reduction six weeks after the warning was given. In response, nearly 650 employees were immediately relocated last week. Officials have now acknowledged deficiencies in the building and are planning to build a new headquarters to be completed by 2004.

See Workers employed in a hazardous building., HUGO MARTIN, Los Angeles Times, Aug 23 2001

President Bush is working to legalize the labor of illegal immigrants in the United States. He hopes to have the plan established within the next month without amnesty. Suggestions are to grant 3 million illegal immigrants who have been living in the United States guest worker status and eventual legal residency.

See Citizenship for illegal immigrants., International Herald Tribune, Reuters, Aug 23 2001

Over a million Japanese workers lost their jobs in the last four months. The 5% unemployment rate is the highest it has been in over 50 years. More bankruptcy and a higher jobless rate are expected. The government is focusing on promoting education to lead the country out of such a recession, however the plan will not immediately help the weak economy and corporate restructuring.

See Unemployment on the rise in Japan., David Ibison, Financial Times, Aug 23 2001

The United Automobile Workers union is looking to unionize a Nissan factory in Nashville, Tennessee. A majority of the factory production and maintenance workers have signed cards seeking a union to obtain a safer environment and more dignity. There has not been an election at a foreign-owned auto assembly plant in the United States in the last twelve years. If the union wins the vote it would be the first time the UAW has ever organized a foreign-owned assembly plant.

See The UAW looks to unionize a Nissan plant., Keith Bradsher, The New York Times, Aug 22 2001

New applications for United States jobless benefits rose 8,000 last week. This will combat the highest level of people remaining on aid in nine years. The number of unemployed rose since the economy was struggling after a recession. Although the economy may be stabilizing, the millions of continued claims for jobless benefits prove the economy will not support a burst of new job hiring.

See High unemployment rate aided by jobless benefits., The New York Times, Reuters, Aug 22 2001

The boom in Hispanic immigration has brought a sudden influx of day laborers to Los Angeles and Miami. Many citizens are growing frustrated by the numbers of idle people who sit on the street corners waiting for work in jobs such as landscaping or construction. However, nearly 2/3 of the residents in some of the towns are Hispanic immigrants themselves. The attitude of the two Hispanic groups is split between their similar identification and a distance felt toward those less integrated into American society.

See Hispanic immigrants on the rise impact American workers., Nurith C. Aizenman, The Washington Post, Aug 21 2001

AOL announced 1,700 layoffs due to the falling advertising market and weakened American economy. The layoffs will cut across the board including managers and employees at various levels including Web and technology development staff. Until about a month ago when key media divisions slowed, AOL executives boasted that the diversified revenue including cable, Internet, movie, and music would protect the newly merged company against the effects of the slowing economy.

See AOL Time Warner Inc. announces major layoffs., Alec Klein and Amy Joyce, The Washington Post, Aug 21 2001

With the collapse of the old state industries in China, private and foreign companies are settling in. Workers in these factories are laboring long hours under illegal conditions. Instability is high with protests, wildcat strikes and disputes over unpaid pensions, corruption, and intolerable hazards. Unions are strung by tight political control and are mandated to simply help the workers adjust to the changes being made. The government is looking to grow out of the problem as the benefits of the economy spread.

See Worker violations in China., ERIK ECKHOLM, The New York Times, Aug 21 2001

South Koreans typically work long hours six days a week. Therefore, the government is looking to implement a five-day workweek to improve the quality of life. The idea is to give the workers more free time to expand their creativity and implement new ideas in the workplace. Government, labor, and management representatives are currently debating the new legislation details. Many are expecting the work-obsessed culture to take time to adapt to the new idea of working fewer hours.

See Korean workers changing habits to fewer hours., Michael Baker, The Christian Science Monitor, Aug 20 2001

Over half a million Mexican workers have lost their jobs despite President Vicente Fox's promise of more jobs. A number of analysts claim that the unemployment is due to the two consecutive quarters of American stagnation. Mexico sells the majority of its exports to the United States, so an American slowdown results in Mexican layoffs and shutdowns. However, the rate of decline is slowing and many foresee this time to be the worst part of the cycle.

Recently, the West Coast blackouts have renewed the debate about the nation's energy policy and resulted in the planning of new coal-burning power plants. However, there is concern that there may be a labor shortage of mine workers. Former mine workers have taken other jobs and their children have moved out of coal mining areas to work in safer and more stable jobs. Union leaders welcome the comeback of the industry but they hope to address concerns about the working conditions.

See Illinois coal mining coming back after years of desolation., Flynn McRoberts, Chicago Tribune, Aug 20 2001

The European arm of General Motors has agreed to work with labor representatives to implement a turnaround plan without forced layoffs or factory closures. The General Motors German unit Opel booked a record loss of $460 million in 2000, dragging GM Europe to an overall loss of $257 million. In an attempt to break their downward spiral and return to profit, General Motors announced the shedding of thousands of jobs and the closing of one of their 13 car plants last week. Component factories and other businesses are also to be sold or joined with outside suppliers. Details of the agreement between GM Europe's works council and the company are yet to be worked out.

See General Motors is looking to gain profit while continuing worker friendly policies., The New York Times, The Associated Press, Aug 19 2001

Postville, Iowa had traditionally thrived on the meatpacking industry. Over time, the labor pool shifted as the major meat processors lowered wages and accelerated production. Locals moved away to find other work, and immigrants were recruited to fill the gap. The town's population has doubled over the last ten years, with 69 percent of the workforce being foreign. This has enabled the meatpacking plants to stay in business, but it has been difficult to create communities with residents who do not plan to stay long-term and come from such different cultures.

See Meatpacking industry saved by immigrant labor., Noel C. Paul, The Christian Science Monitor, Aug 19 2001

Despite an agreement arranged in a peace process in Koidu, Sierra Leone, between the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the government, the RUF are using the forced labor of children and young men to mine diamonds. UN officials claim that their presence in the country is to enforce a cease-fire and they are not going to help enforce the mining ban. They also claim that it would take away the only means of wealth the impoverished town has, and that the task would be both dangerous and difficult. International outrage is occurring as the rebels continually find ways to mine diamonds and illegally smuggle them out of the country.

The United Students Against Sweatshops, an organization of students and labor activists, successfully organized a boycott of Nike products to force a Korean-owned Kukdong factory in Mexico to improve working conditions. The Mexican workers drew attention in January when they staged a sit-down strike that ended when riot police ejected them from the plant. The student movement resulted in an investigation by Nike who convinced the factory owners to improve conditions, but the workers are still fighting for union representation.

See United Students Against Sweatshops organize a successful boycott., John Burnett, NPR Online, Aug 16 2001

In an attempt to reduce the growing unemployment level, the Chinese government has decided to eliminate the labor permit system, known as hukou. The system allocates each Chinese citizen to a home district and is tied to their welfare benefits, medical treatment, and housing. The system has been breaking down in recent years as rural Chinese migrated to cities in seek of employment.

Members of Teamsters Local 890 have settled a long-running and often violent strike at the Basic Vegetable Products plant in King City, California. The strike began in July 1999 after the company asked for a three-year wage freeze. ConAgra bought the plant in November and began new contract negotiations.

See Teamsters settle two year old strike at California vegetable plant., Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, Aug 16 2001

Overseas work has become a way of life for Filipinos, the government estimates up to 10 percent of the country's 75 million people are overseas. The migrant workers provide an important source of income for the poor nation, sending almost $6 billion home last year. The social costs of this migration are great; children orphaned by parents working overseas, separated families, and the loss of well-educated Filipinos. The migrants also face difficult working conditions, long hours, low pay, and for many women, sexual harassment.

See Filipinos pay the social costs to meet the demand for foreign workers., Thomas Fuller, International Herald Tribune, Aug 15 2001

The economic downturn is resulting in a higher unemployment rate for older workers. The Department of Labor reported that the number of unemployed workers age 55 and older increased 23% from last year. Older workers worry they are hitting the 'silver ceiling', when experience and age is a liability rather than an asset.

See The baby boomer generation faces the 'silver ceiling' barrier., Stephanie Armour, USA Today, Aug 15 2001

A report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, shows that the poverty rate for families headed by single, working women stayed the same from 1995 to 1999, despite a booming economy. During the same period, the poverty rate for all families decreased from 13% to 10.6%. Critics argue that the welfare-to-work program is not helping families and that changes need to be made to reward people who work by providing more support services. Supporters argue that a reduction in poverty was not the goal of welfare reform, but instead it was to cut the welfare roles, which it has done.

The United Automobile Workers (UAW) has gathered enough worker signatures to force a union vote at the Nissan factory in Smyrna, Tennessee. If they are successful, it will be the first foreign-owned assembly plant the UAW has organized. The vote is considered crucial for the UAW whose power has been decreased by the spread of non-unionized plants in the South.

See Important vote on unionization to take place at Nissan factory in Tennessee., Keith Bradsher, The New York Times, Aug 14 2001

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report on Tuesday that showed workplace deaths falling by 2% last year. The report also showed an increase in the fatal injuries among Hispanic workers, this was caused in part by a 24% increase in deaths in construction. The number of job-related homicides increased but was still 37% lower than the all time high reported in 1994.

See Bureau of Labor Statistics releases report on workplace deaths., REUTERS, The New York Times, Aug 14 2001

A study published Tuesday in the American Sociological Review found that highly paid, black male professionals on average earn 72 cents for every $1 white male professionals earn. When the same study examined wages in blue-collar jobs the pay gap between white and black males disappeared. Researchers also found that the wage gap in public-sector jobs was less than that of the private-sector.

See Study shows black male professionals earn less than white counterparts., Quynh-Giang Tran, Chicago Tribune, Aug 14 2001

A committee of federal judges has recommended that monitoring of computers in the judicial branch be continued, but that notice of the monitoring be given to all employees first. The committee convened after a group of federal judges in the Ninth Circuit disabled the monitoring program because they felt it was an illegal invasion of privacy. The Judicial Conference of the United States, a body headed by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, will vote on the recommendations on September 11. Employers are watching the vote carefully as the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on this issue and the vote may influence future federal decisions.

See Judicial committee advocates computer monitoring with notification., Neil A. Lewis, The New York Times, Aug 13 2001

A federal judge has ruled that the State of Maryland can negotiate agreements with labor unions for the construction of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The negotiations have been on hold since February when President Bush issued an executive order banning special labor agreements, which require contractors to follow union-negotiated accords in federal construction projects. It is likely the federal government will seek an appeal of the judge’s ruling.

See Bush’s executive order banning project labor agreements is challenged., Michael D. Shear, The Washington Post, Aug 13 2001

As President Bush decides on the issue of guest worker programs and legalization for illegal immigrants the issue of immigration is becoming a hot topic again. It is uncertain if the slowing economy and layoffs will affect the generally positive view most Americans adopted towards immigration in the last decade. The positive view is shared by labor unions, like the AFL-CIO, as new immigrants have helped to offset dwindling membership numbers.

See Immigration debate heats up., Howard LaFranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, Aug 13 2001

A worker owned, all female sewing cooperative called a maquila, is emerging as a viable alternative to sweatshops for U.S. clothing manufacturers. The Nueva Vida Women’s Maquila Cooperative is the first of its kind in Nicaragua. The worker-owners earn a wage well above the legal minimum and avoid the labor abuses long associated with sweatshops. The Cooperative plans on expanding their numbers to gain free trade status and attract more foreign companies.

See All female sewing cooperative emerging as a viable alternative to sweatshops., Catherine Elton, The Christian Science Monitor, Aug 12 2001

Thirty years ago the UK passed the Equal Pay Act, which legislated equal pay for equal work regardless of gender. Despite the passage of the Act, today there is still a large gender pay gap and the government has launched an inquiry to suggest solutions to fix the inequality. Critics want to strengthen the law to reduce the amount of time it takes to settle pay inequity cases and unions have recommended implementing pay audits.

See The UK launches inquiry into pay gap., Marcia Hughes, BBC News Online, Aug 12 2001

More than half of the U.S. air traffic controllers will retire within the decade as they meet the mandatory retirement age of 56. Most of today’s air traffic controllers were hired after President Ronald Reagan decertified and fired members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) during a strike twenty-years ago. The union that replaced PATCO, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), disagrees with the FAA on the number of controllers that will be needed by 2010 and the ability of the FAA to fill those positions.

See Reagan and PATCO: Still feeling the effects., Jon Hilkevitch, Chicago Tribune, Aug 12 2001

Organized labor spoke out against a temporary work program for Mexican immigrants proposed by the Bush Administration. The union coalition advocates legalization for millions of immigrant workers now living in the U.S. illegally. The Bush administration is considering granting guest-worker status and eventually legal residency to the Mexican workers. The workers represent potential new voters for Bush and new members for organized labor. The opportunity to increase union membership has prompted the AFL-CIO to reverse is long held stance that immigrant workers are a threat to American jobs.

See Union coalition speaks out against Mexican temporary work program., The New York Times, The Associated Press, Aug 10 2001

U.S. workers are still enjoying steady pay gains despite the slowing economy. Workers salary and wage gains have increased 7.3 percent compared with the same period last year. Employers report budgeting future pay increases at just over 4 percent, but acknowledge that if the slowing economy continues that percentage may fall.

See Slowing economy has not been reflected in employee pay raises., The Dallas Morning News, The Associated Press, Aug 10 2001

The Netherlands economic success has caused a shortage of workers in almost every industry. The Dutch unemployment rate is only 2% in comparison with the rest of Europe, which struggles with high unemployment. The shortage has caused some creative recruiting strategies and is forcing the Dutch to change their immigration policy to allow more immigrant workers into the country.

See Netherlands suffering from chronic shortage of workers., Edmund L. Andrews, New York Times Service, International Herald Tribune, Aug 10 2001

The tenor of the recruitment industry has changed over the past year as firms went from the battle to win the talent war to surviving the hiring freezes and layoffs caused by a slowing economy. Many recruiters are using this time to focus on improving their industry and have joined with others in the field to discuss strategy. The industry is moving away from the effort to attract job seekers and returning to the basics of analyzing companies hiring needs.

See Slowdown for recruiters leads to new ideas to improve the industry., Crayton Harrison, The Dallas Morning News, Aug 8 2001

Judges in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have joined the growing number of workers revolting against employer computer monitoring by disabling the software installed to detect the downloading of material deemed improper by their employer. Leonidas Ralph Mecham, who is in charge of the Administrative Offices of the Courts, had the software installed after a study showed that as much as 7% of the network traffic was not work related. It is an interesting twist, as these judges are facing the same issue in the courtroom -- employers’ rights versus employees’ privacy protections in the electronic workplace.

See Judges join other workers in concerns over employer computer monitoring., Neil A. Lewis, New York Times Service, International Herald Tribune, Aug 8 2001

The National Administration Office, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, organized a daylong forum for migrant Washington apple workers to air their grievances. The forum was in response to a 1988 complaint filed by four Mexican unions against the Washington apple industry, which alleged violations of health and safety and labor rights. Migrant workers testified to the abuse they suffered which included not being paid, unsafe working and living conditions, and retaliation by employers when they tried to organize. Even though the federal laws are applicable despite immigration status, undocumented workers rarely complain to authorities because employers threaten deportation.

See NAFTA gives Washington apple workers international forum to tell of abuse., Associated Press, News From A.P., The New York Times, Aug 8 2001

Discouraged with the progress made in improving workers conditions in factories around the world, labor unions have joined together with religious groups and others to form a new coalition dedicated to the fight against sweatshops. The coalition’s campaign began with a protest march in Manhattan followed by demonstrations in front of apparel stores in SoHo. Spokespeople for the apparel companies objected to being singled out and stated that they are careful in their selection of socially responsible suppliers.

See A new coalition unites to fight against overseas sweatshops., Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times, Aug 7 2001

The Labor Department reported that US labor productivity rose in the three months prior to June, despite signs of continuing economic downturn. The increase in productivity was unexpected; normally productivity is reduced during economic downturns as companies’ reduction of their workforce lags behind their output. The rise in productivity is a sign that companies were quick to layoff workers as the economic downturn deepened. The increasingly weak manufacturing sector is expected to contribute to another drop in the short-term interest rate when the Federal Reserve meets on August 21.

See Worker productivity rises despite economic downturn., Gerard Baker and Mary Chung, Financial Times, Aug 7 2001

The use of training programs that use computers to educate employees about issues such as sexual harassment and other forms of illegal discrimination is increasing. Computer programs provide a welcome alternative to the old style lecture by using interesting interactive characters and pop quizzes that require attention to the material. The flexibility the new programs provide eliminate the need to coordinate large meetings and employees can use the programs from their desks or at home, which is a plus for large multinational companies.

See Elearning: More than just training – a new way to protect against lawsuits., Jonathan D. Glater, The New York Times, Aug 7 2001

A New York Times survey of the 12 highest-grossing law firms in the United States indicates that only five percent of new partners are minority lawyers, if not fewer. More than ten years ago, elite law schools began admitting more diverse classes with the intention of creating a more diverse workforce of lawyers. The survey found, however, that while there are more minority lawyers at top law firms, a disappointingly low number of them have made partner.

See At top law firms, few minorities make partner., Jonathan D. Glater, The New York Times, Aug 6 2001

Until the 1980’s, layoffs hit blue-collar workers the hardest, leaving white-collar workers relatively unscathed. For the past decade, however, white-collar workers have been just as likely if not more likely to lose their jobs than blue-collar workers. The change is due in part to a shift in employment from the manufacturing sector to the service sector as well as a blurring distinction between blue and white-collar workers.

See White-collar workers feel the effects of economic downturn., David R. Francis, The Christian Science Monitor, Aug 6 2001

Similar to the “hoteling” concept used in the accounting and advertising industries, Compaq Computer Corp. has implemented what it calls the “El Segundo model” for 230 of its employees. The “El Segundo” office is a workplace where the typical worker has no permanent desk—the sales and customer-service staff instead work from home, only occasionally touching base with the office. The office is equipped with wireless communication technology and “follow me” software allows employees to use their own phone numbers, no matter where they happen to be.

See Some Compaq employees report to the office only occasionally., Morris Newman, Los Angeles Times, Aug 6 2001