Workplace Issues Today
Although corporate spending on technology has decreased for the first time in a decade, the outsourcing market is strong. The economic slowdown is pushing companies to run more efficiently, which may in turn be causing the boost for service businesses. Industry experts, however, point out that the outsourcing market is crowded, causing firms to vigorously compete for contracts.
See Outsourcing information technology services popular as slow economy demands efficiency., Jon Swartz, USA Today, Jun 21 2001
Disputes over long hair may have been a contentious issue in the 1960’s, but today the debate shifts to body piercing. Three Ameritech line workers were told to remove jewelry or face the consequence of losing their jobs. The workers, who are now temporarily suspended, claim that the piercing is a fashion statement and a declaration of individual freedom while the company claims the jewelry is a serious safety hazard.
See Body piercing: individual freedom or worker safety hazard?, Jon Van, Chicago Tribune, Jun 20 2001
The five-year contract sealed yesterday between pilots and Delta Air Lines makes Delta pilots the highest paid in the industry. Pilots flying on Delta’s main line will receive wage increases from 24 percent to 39 percent. The deal comes in the wake of negotiations at Comair Inc. and American airlines, as well as President Bush’s recent vow to intervene and stop strikes if negotiations fail.
See Agreement at Delta Airlines makes pilots the highest paid in the industry., Frank Swoboda, The Washington Post, Jun 20 2001
A study by a Harvard Medical School researcher reports that children under 18 years of age in the United States who hold part-time jobs are at some risk of toxic exposure while on the job. The researcher recommends that parents play a more active role in ensuring the safety of their child in the workplace and that the government carefully monitor adolescent occupational injuries. The study analyzed more than 300,000 reports of occupational toxic exposure to teens between 1993-1997.
See As summer employment opportunities approach for teens, new study reports danger of toxic chemicals at work., The New York Times, Reuters, Jun 20 2001
Labor leaders, company executives and government officials attended the 21st Century Workforce Summit to discuss the future of the workplace. At the conference, President Bush and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan stressed education as the key to achieving a competitive workforce. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao emphasized the need to focus on the skills gap within the workforce, the demographic changes of the workforce and the future of the workplace.
See Education, skills gap and workforce changes discussed at 21st Century Workforce Summit., USA Today, The Associated Press, Jun 19 2001
To encourage workers to venture abroad, companies once offered generous expatriate packages that included perks such as private school for their children, annual trips home, cars and drivers, pension plans, and high-rent-district living quarters. Today, in response to the global economic standstill, multinational companies are moving to contain the costs of overseas workers by sending fewer workers abroad, scaling back expatriates’ salaries and benefits, and replacing them with “lo-pats,” workers who are willing to make a sacrifice to work and live in a specific country. Some justify the changes by saying that things have changed since the 1950’s—traveling, which was seen as a hardship, is now seen as more of an opportunity.
See Multinational companies send fewer workers abroad., Sherwood Ross, USA Today, Reuters, Jun 19 2001
Socialism continues to strangle the economic performance of state-owned firms in China. As one firm, the Chongqing Iron and Steel Group, nearly emerged from decades of poor performance, the city government forced the firm to buy another poor performing steel mill. The slow pace of reform may be due to Communist leaders’ persistent belief in public ownership, the Communist Party’s belief that a successful firm is one that employs many people (not necessarily one that makes the most profit), and finally, firms’ disincentive to invest in research and development because they must demonstrate short-term results to the government.
See Socialism still pervades China’s firms., John Pomfret, The New York Times, Jun 19 2001
Zhou Litai is believed to be the only worker injury lawyer in mainland China, a country that has one of the worst worker-safety records in the world. Based in the bustling province of Shenzhen, Zhou takes on clients who have flocked to the area from all over the country in search of jobs. China has laws that entitle injured workers to compensation but employers largely ignore them.
See Lawyer seeks to ensure workers’ compensation in China., Paul Wiseman, USA Today, Jun 18 2001
Boeing Co. has decided to move its headquarters from Seattle to Chicago, but only 40 percent of its eligible workforce will transfer. The company had anticipated that 60 to 80 percent of its employees would relocate. Relocation experts say the disappointing figure is partially due to the dual-income situation of some families and a growing concern about lifestyle issues, which comes at the expense of traditional company loyalty.
See Boeing’s move to Chicago attracts fewer employees than expected., John Schmeltzer and Rob Kaiser, Chicago Tribune, Jun 18 2001
In West Virginia and Kentucky, the heart of coal mining in America, companies are claiming the rebound of the coal industry has reopened job opportunities but they are finding a shortage of willing and able Appalachian miners. A proposal, which has yet to be approved by state and federal mining officials, seeks to import miners from Ukraine to fill the mining positions. While industry officials praise the ‘work ethic’ of Ukrainian mine workers, local miners are more skeptical.
See Proposal to import Ukrainian mine workers receives mixed reviews., Francis X. Clines, The New York Times, Jun 18 2001
The shift from a state planned economy to a market economy has brought workplace conflict into the limelight as workers increasingly sue to protect their rights. China’s 1994 Labor Law provides guarantees of union representation and social benefits, but often the workers rights are simply ignored by employers. Workers in China hope that pursuing their cause through the legal system will serve as a wake-up call to companies.
See Chinese workers turn to courts to protect their rights., Elisabeth Rosenthal, International Herald Tribune, Jun 17 2001
Leo Gerard, the president of the United Steelworkers of America, played a large role in persuading the Bush administration to stray from its free-trade position by investigating the effects of imports on the American steel industry. The investigation could lead to tariffs that would reduce steel imports and protect steel jobs. Critics charge Gerard with promoting protectionism and the Bush administration for bending towards Gerard to increase re-election chances.
See Leo Gerard-- The man behind U.S. steel protection., Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times, Jun 17 2001
Estimated at 750,000, these seniors travel across the country in RV’s to seasonal jobs with guest ranches, theme parks, traveling fair contractors, private campgrounds, public parks and tour operators. Employers appreciate these migrant senior employees because they bring with them work experience, stability, commitment, and a strong work ethic. In return, the traveling seniors receive a small pay, free or low cost RV hook up, and a chance to see the country.
See New migrant workforce consists of adventurous seniors who seek to redefine retirement., Sara Terry, The Christian Science Monitor, Jun 17 2001
Comair and the striking pilots of the Air Line Pilots Association reached a tentative agreement after 81 days of strike, a cut back of 37 aircrafts, and a reduction of 400 pilot positions. Sources say that both union and management were pressured to moderate their demands in fear that an extended strike would dissolve the airline company. Unions and other airlines followed the strike closely to see how the Bush administration would deal with the labor dispute.
See Comair and Pilots reach agreement., Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times, Jun 14 2001
Data released yesterday from the New York State Department of Labor shows that while employers are still creating jobs, the rate of hire has decreased significantly. In New York City in May, the number of new jobs rose by 6,700, much less than the average monthly increase of 21,400 earlier this year. Construction, bars and restaurants are showing strong job growth but the manufacturing industry, especially predominant in Western New York, has had a significant decrease.
See Labor Department data shows a slowdown in job growth in New York City., Leslie Eaton, The New York Times, Jun 14 2001
A report from the Federal Reserve announced that factories, mines and utilities in the United States operated in May at their slowest production capacity in more than 17 years. The report highlights the plight of the manufacturing sector in the U.S., a sector that has been hit particularly hard during the economic slowdown. The situation of the manufacturing industry puts pressure on Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill to allow the dollar to weaken, making U.S. products cheaper abroad.
See Federal Reserve reports slowest production capacity since 1983., The New York Times, Reuters, Jun 14 2001
The Human Rights Watch will release a report that details the abuses of workers who attained special visas to work for diplomats in Washington and New York City. The workers, who came to the United States to escape poverty in their home country, have cited unusually long hours, below minimum wage pay and sexual assaults as complaints against their employers. The Report urges the U.S. government to protect these workers and compel employers to abide by labor laws.
See Report documents abuse of foreign workers in the U.S. by diplomats., Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times, Jun 13 2001
In China, the Communist party built prison camps on two principles: first, forced labor would turn inmates into productive citizens and second, the profits from the inmates’ work in factories and farms would fund the prison operations. With the advent of market reforms in China, however, the prison camps are forced to compete with businesses for customers and resources. The result has been deficits for prison camps, whose inferior products fare poorly in the market economy, but also deteriorating conditions for inmates who suffer from the lack of prison funding.
See Prison laborers in China bear the cost of market reform., Philip P. Pan, The Washington Post, Jun 13 2001
The recent L.A. mayoral election has shown that Latinos are finding a place in the Democratic Party—and it is not necessarily due to the GOP’s stance on the immigration issue. Many Latinos, concerned with family health care, public education, a living wage and job protections, are moving into the working class and joining labor unions. The Republican rhetoric promising “less government” may be distancing working Latinos from the Republican Party.
See Latinos join labor movement and Democratic Party., George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, Jun 13 2001
A federal judge ruled yesterday that Seattle-based Bartell Drug Co. must include contraceptives in its health insurance plan. The judge, by reasoning that failure to provide contraceptive coverage was discriminatory against women, sided with women’s groups that have argued that such coverage is a fundamental health issue. Last year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission advised that, to be in accordance with anti-discrimination laws, contraception coverage should be included along with blood-pressure medicine and anti-impotence drugs.
See Federal judge rules that health insurance must cover contraceptives., Sarah Schafer, The Washington Post, Jun 12 2001
As the downturn in the economy continues, more people are leaving their casual wear at home and reverting back to formal wear at work. Some managers now consider the dress-down style, once highly popular during the peak of dot-com success, a sign of laziness and carelessness. Some believe that formal wear helps improve job security by conveying an impressionable appearance to customers and employers.
See As economy sours, workers return to formal wear., Amie Parnes, The New York Times, Jun 12 2001
Protests over new labor laws broke out at the capital and in three cities in Indonesia as President Abdurrahman Wahid brought in a new economic team to improve his relations with the International Monetary Fund and to garner support before his impeachment later in August. Workers are protesting new labor laws that make it easier for employers to fire employees. The recent protests are among a series of labor disputes that were unleashed after the repressive dictator Suharto was forced from office in 1998.
See Workers protest labor laws in Indonesia., The New York Times, The Associated Press, Jun 12 2001
Latino Immigrants who came to the United States in search of work are seeing their jobs shift to Mexico as companies move in search of cheaper labor. The Latinos, especially those in low-skilled industries and border communities, are the most vulnerable to the job losses brought about by the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trade experts warn that the failure to assist displaced workers may result in a backlash against the Bush administration’s future attempts to extend NAFTA.
See Latinos hurt as companies move to Mexico in search of cheap labor., Evelyn Iritani, Los Angeles Times, Jun 11 2001
Arbitration is supposed to provide an efficient, inexpensive and less adversarial method of resolving disputes in the workplace but concerns arise as more companies adopt mandatory arbitration to avoid jury trials. One the one hand, critics of mandatory arbitration fear that the cost of arbitration is passed on to workers and that arbitrators may be biased towards employers. On the other hand, defenders of arbitration say that fairness standards are followed and that not having to hire a lawyer may actually encourage workers to bring their case forward.
See Mandatory arbitration sparks debate over fairness., Stephanie Armour, USA Today, Jun 11 2001
Workers at Korean Air and Asiana Airlines joined a broader strike including the metal and chemical industries demanding higher wages and better conditions. The government declared the strike, which bypassed mandatory arbitration, as illegal and the company Korean Air has sued for criminal punishment of strike leaders. Twelve hospital unions vow to join the strike Wednesday.
See Airline workers join strike in South Korea., USA Today, The Associated Press, Jun 11 2001
Korean firms are providing much needed jobs and revenues for workers in Russia but the employment is provided under questionable conditions. Formally, Russian workers enjoy employment protections dating back to Soviet times, but due to the pressing economic situation of both the country and the industry, factories are able to follow a loose interpretation of the rules. Examples of Korean businesses’ labor practices in the region include punishing workers by making them stand by a wall and prohibiting them from sitting on the job.
See Questionable Korean labor practices in Russia draw attention., The New York Times, The Associated Press, Jun 10 2001
A new federally funded program will strive to fill over 425,000 vacant technology positions across the United States. A grant was awarded to the Computing Technology Industry Association by the U.S. Department of Labor to develop the program. Completion of the program will provide entry-level technical certifications.
See Labor Department awards grant to develop technical qualifications program., Christine Tatum, Chicago Tribune, Jun 10 2001
Amid the recent headline news announcing layoffs in the slow economy, employers should make sure their workers are happy, workplace experts and consultants say. Recruiting and training costs as well as an increase in the number of nationwide jobs make worker retention an important issue. While some firms may take a more formal approach to ensuring a happy workforce with work/life programs, there are low cost methods as well, including casual dress and job titles.
See Experts say that retaining top workers is not easy despite the mounting layoffs., Sara Terry, The Christian Science Monitor, Jun 10 2001
Low-level managers who have been classified as exempt from overtime pay are sparking a series of class-action lawsuits against corporations. In what has been called “white-collar sweatshops,” managers claim they have been misclassified because they spend more time completing rote activities than actually managing businesses, and have therefore been wrongfully denied overtime pay. Businesses fear that these multimillion-dollar suits may put companies out of business.
See Managers sue in class-action suits to obtain overtime pay., Lisa Girion, Los Angeles Times, Jun 7 2001
Small law firms have found a way to compete with larger law firms by creating alliances and pooling their resources together. The networks, facilitated by technology, allow lawyers to refer clients to other firms across the country and around the world where jurisdictions differ. The alliances, lawyers say, are a good alternative to mergers because they are less costly and avoid the problem of conflict of interest that may arise when firms merge.
See Law firms form alliances to compete against their larger counterparts., Jonathan D. Glater, The New York Times, Jun 7 2001
In a first step to making 425,000 government jobs eligible for private contracting, President Bush has ordered 40,000 federal workers to compete for their jobs with the private sector. While the initiative is an attempt to make the civil service more responsive and efficient through competition, critics such as federal employee unions and Democratic lawmakers fear that it will lead to outsourcing, and as a result, decreased institutional knowledge and long term effectiveness. The Bush administration says that establishing competition in the workplace is a top priority that the President will continue to pursue.
See Bush takes first step in opening federal jobs to competition., Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post, Jun 7 2001
Claims for state unemployment insurance climbed to its highest level since 1992. The 13,000 increase in unemployment insurance claims indicate that workers are having difficulty holding onto their jobs in the midst of a slowing economy. The job uncertainty has caused Americans to be more cautious in their spending.
See Unemployment insurance claims jump by 13,000., The New York Times, The Associated Press, Jun 6 2001
Following a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits supervising nurses and other health-care workers from joining labor unions, the American Medical Association announced yesterday that it would withdraw its plans to spur organizing efforts at private hospitals. Two years ago, the National Labor Relations Board paved the way for residents at private hospitals to bargain collectively and the AMA took the unprecedented step of establishing a union to address the problems caused by an emerging managed-care system. The AMA’s recent decision to back off its unionizing efforts is seen as a setback for the labor movement.
See American Medical Association holds off on organizing efforts., Bruce Japsen, Chicago Tribune, Jun 6 2001
One of the fastest growing workforces in America is found in federal and state prisons. About 1.3 million inmates have jobs, recording $1.7 billion in product sales in 1999. Prison labor is opposed by human rights advocates who claim that it is a form of exploitation and labor officials who claim that it takes jobs away from law-abiding citizens.
See Companies provide controversial employment for inmates., Edward Wong, International Herald Tribune, Jun 6 2001
Experts say that contractual agreements such as “non-compete agreements” or “restrictive covenants” are increasingly used by corporate America to address the problem of lost profits due to employee defections. The contractual agreements, often a condition of employment, prevent employees from accepting jobs with competitors located within a certain geographical distance for a reasonable period of time. The non-compete agreements, once limited to high-level senior managers, are now even imposed on line workers in industrial shops.
See Restrictive Covenants extend beyond top management to guard trade secrets., Kathy Fieweger, Chicago Tribune, Jun 5 2001
A government-appointed anticorruption panel ruled yesterday that Lawrence Brennan, head of the Teamsters union in Michigan, was not guilty of using $30,000 in members’ dues for his re-election campaign. The panel reviewed the case after it declared a Teamsters’ internal investigation of the accusations inadequate. If Brennan had been convicted, he would have been expelled from the union.
See Panel Clears Teamster President of Embezzlement Charges., Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times, Jun 5 2001
The Bush administration announced yesterday that it would seek a ruling from the International Trade Commission in order to establish quotas limiting the amount of foreign steel imports. Deviating from an overall free-trade stance, the administration claims that a flood of foreign steel imports has been threatening the U.S. steel industry and its workers. Recently, the U.S. steel industry has been suffering from bankruptcies, job losses, and low steel prices.
See Bush moves to limit steel imports., Paul Blustein, The Washington Post, Jun 5 2001
Many firms decide to locate near public transportation to shorten their employees' commute to work. Employees sometimes quit their jobs if their employer moves to a location that is difficult to reach. Companies that want to keep good employees must pay attention to their accessibility. This issue becomes even more important in heavily congested cities like LA and Atlanta.
See Companies pay attention to commuter times to attract employees., Carol Kleiman, Chicago Tribune, Jun 4 2001
Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that employers who discriminate may be responsible for paying an employee's future salary as well as past damages. The unanimous decision clarifies the 1991 Civil Rights Act and provides for unlimited 'front pay', compensation paid until the aggrieved employee can find a similar job to the one they left due to discrimination. Judges will decide the appropriate amount for future 'front pay' settlements under the high court's ruling.
See Supreme Court decision paves way for larger job bias settlements., David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, Jun 4 2001
Some firms are offering bonuses and several months salary to newly hired employees who have had their job offers revoked due to the slow economy. In addition, some firms are offering job search assistance to those people whose contracts they have rescinded. These employer initiatives, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, strive to maintain a good reputation with students.
See Companies pay new hires not to show up., Stephanie Armour, USA Today, Jun 4 2001
For seven years, OSHA has been considering an appropriate response to secondhand smoke in the workplace. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), an antismoking watchdog, recently brought a suit against OSHA to ban smoking in workplaces. New York City is a leader in the fight against workplace smoking, with strict rules and hefty fines for those found in violation of the City's workplace smoking code.
See Government's role in workplace smoking debated., Ron Scherer, The Christian Science Monitor, Jun 3 2001
Some California state legislators want to see LA County Commissioners raise pay for home-care workers by $1.75 and they are threatening to withhold budget approval until the County agrees. County officials say the budget is already too tight and a raise may push the county's coffers into the red. SEIU Local 434B spokespeople belive the county can afford a raise for 75,000 hard working home care employees who provide invaluable services to the elderly and mentally ill.
See California state legislators threaten to withhold funds from LA County until wages for home care workers increase., Julie Tamaki, Los Angeles Times, May 31 2001
Drug users, alcohol abusers, and the financially questionable have all been granted high-level security clearances as Defense Department employees. A study done by the General Accounting Office reveals many of the Defense Department's workers have checkered pasts and have not been called on to explain their behavior during security checks. The study also found back group checks were incomplete 90% of the time.
See Defense Department issued clearance to many workers with troubled records., Edward T. Pound, USA Today, May 31 2001
Latino workers have gathered in a Prince George's County, MD parking lot for many years to wait for work but soon they will have to find another place to congregate. Local businesses owners complain to the police daily about waiting laborers and say they are losing business, a complaint often repeated in suburbs around Washington DC as more Latinos arrive looking for work. Yesterday, a group of immigrants gathered at the Prince George's County parking lot to protest their ouster.
See Latino laborers kicked out of Maryland waiting area., Nurith C. Aizenman, The Washington Post, May 31 2001
The number of retired employees who receive health benefits through their former employers has declined steadily since the early 1980's. A recent court decision in the 3rd Circuit could reduce retiree coverage further after a judge held that companies that only cover expenses not covered by Medicare for retirees over 65 while offering more generous benefits to early retirees are in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Many retirees are seeing their premiums increased and most firms do not offer new hires health insurance when they retire.
See Retiree health benefits decline., Julie Appleby, USA Today, May 30 2001
The flight attendants union at American Airlines rejected arbitration offers yesterday, beginning the mandatory 30-day cooling off period before they can legally strike. A strike is possible by the end of June but American executives remain confidant President Bush will intervene as the airline’s parent is a major Bush contributor. The two sides remain far apart on compensation
See American flight attendants say no to arbitration., Laurence Zuckerman, The New York Times, May 30 2001
Welfare reforms moved thousands off public assistance and into jobs over the last ten years. These programs have been touted as a success but a cooling economy and growing layoffs could strain the new system. Workers can collect benefits for five years and many people are nearing their limit with few prospects and little training. Experts fear a recession could move those with jobs back to welfare, straining an already tight budget.
See Recession could test women on Workfare., Jonathan Peterson, The Seattle Times, May 29 2001
Urban Institute researches report poor fathers cannot hope to pay child support if they do not have access to some of the social services available to their children's mothers. Lack of education and poor job prospects make it difficult for many fathers to provide for their children, the report said. Researchers also found government programs favor mothers without providing job training or other assistance to fathers.
See Two million dads without jobs cannot pay child support., Cheryl Wetzstein, The Washington Times, May 29 2001
Market globalization has firms scrambling to find translators fluent in a variety of languages. NYU and other universities with translation schools report an increase in applications and starting salaries for graduates who speak foreign languages. While the need for translators is high, the Internet allows companies to farm work across the globe, keeping wages stable while demand increases.
See Companies demand translators in global market., Claudia H. Deutsch, The New York Times, May 29 2001
Companies hoping attrition would reduce their workforces are rethinking their plans. Employees are staying put to weather job insecurity and stock slides, forcing firms to cut personnel through layoffs. Many employees nearing retirement refuse to be bought out in exchange for early retirement, fearing their savings will not take them through a recession.
See Low attrition rates lead to layoffs., Matt Krantz and Stephanie Armour, USA Today, May 28 2001
Long hours, social isolation, and stress put incredible pressure on Japanese men. Born into the role of breadwinner and expected to put company before family, Japanese men are often burned out by the time they reach their thirties. Support groups are working toward change, providing these men with an opportunity to vent their frustrations and share ideas with others like them.
See Support groups help overworked Japanese men., Catherine Makino, San Francisco Chronicle, May 28 2001
An ordinance passed by Santa Monica requires hotels and resorts that take in more than $5 million to pay employees a living wage of $10.50 an hour. Critics do not expect the law to hold up in court but proponents say the US Constitution allows reasonable regulation of businesses. Hotel owners and employees are unsure who will be covered by the law and how it will affect the bottom line.
See Santa Monica hotel workers hope for living wage., Oscar Johnson, Ofelia Casillas, Los Angeles Times, May 24 2001
Laid off workers have enough to worry about without finding new health plans but experts say paying attention to health benefits should be a priority before leaving a job. Employers are required to offer health coverage for 90 days following a lay off but employees must pick up the cost. The cost of continuing under an existing plan is usually cheaper than finding new health insurance.
See Layoffs lead to health insurance problems., Julie Appleby, USA Today, May 24 2001
Small and medium size companies are picking up tech workers as fast as they can in Texas. As huge dot-coms close their doors and lay off workers, smaller tech support providers are snapping up the displaced workers. Other firms in traditional businesses are also benefiting from the glut of unemployed tech workers.
See Tech specialist still in demand in Dallas., Crayton Harrison, The Dallas Morning News, May 24 2001
College seniors will find jobs if they are willing to settle for entry-level positions, experts say. The great, high-paying jobs for people just out of school are drying up fast but graduates can earn valuable experience in less than perfect jobs. Early planning and persistence during school can help students land good jobs when they graduate.
See Gradates can expect jobs but not dream jobs., Christine Tatum, The Salt Lake Tribune, May 23 2001
Past and present African American Secret Service agents have filed a lawsuit accusing the agency of condoning racism. The agents say racial slurs against blacks are fairly common at field offices and supervisors do little to correct the problem. A former Black female agent also says she was rotated around to different units to give the image of diversity.
See Black agents accuse Secret Service of racism., Bill Miller, The Washington Post, May 23 2001
Firefighters, law officers, and meat inspectors must be able to distinguish colors to do their jobs. Colorblind people have long been banned from these and other careers but improvements in technology are making it easier for them to get jobs. Changes in regulations and lobbying efforts are also opening up opportunities for the colorblind.
See Technology improves work lives of colorblind., Tanya Mohn, The New York Times, May 22 2001
A study for Putnam Investments shows American workers continue to risk their retirement by cashing in 401(k)s when they change jobs. While the percentage of workers who took the money prematurely has declined, a full 30% of workers said they did not roll over their investments. Premature withdrawals are taxed heavily by the government and workers also lose future earnings.
See Workers cash in 401(k)s when changing jobs, study finds., Kathy M. Kristof, Los Angeles Times, May 22 2001
The National Labor Relations Board denied an unfair labor practice charge filed by organizers from the United Food and Commercial Workers seeking access to a Wal-Mart in Arkansas. Wal-Mart was pleased with the decision and accused the organizers of harassing employees and patrons. A bill sponsored by a Republican Senator from Arkansas would allow charities access to retail stores while denying equal access for unions.
See NLRB rules UFCW cannot enter Wal-Mart stores., Chuck Bartels, The Seattle Times, May 22 2001
Doctors used to work in the same practice for their entire careers but changes in managed care have increased turnover dramatically. Headhunters actively recruit dissatisfied doctors to fill gaps at hospitals and private practices around the country. High turnover and recruiting efforts cost the health care industry millions each year.
See Doctor turnover at all-time high., Howard Markel, The New York Times, May 21 2001
Finding quality care for elderly parents can be difficult for busy workers. Some companies offer elder care programs so employees can take care of work while taking care of their parents. Workers caring for older family members are often less productive due to increased stress and responsibility.
See Elder care presents unique challenges for workers., Carol Kleiman, Chicago Tribune, May 21 2001
California nurses are at the forefront of a national effort to organize nurses' unions. Fed up with declining patient care, long hours, and a lack of respect for their profession, 2 million nurse have joined unions. Employers groups say unions will not solve the nursing shortage but nurses often choose unions because administrators do not take their concerns seriously.
See Nurses unionize to protect their jobs., Nedra Rhone, Los Angeles Times, May 21 2001
Last year, skilled technical workers had people calling with job offers even when they were not looking for work. Things have changed and laid off computer gurus say they are rethinking their priorities and settling for steady jobs with established companies. At companies still hiring tech workers, applicants with a variety of skills that can perform many tasks are winning out over highly specialized workers.
See Finding a job gets harder for tech workers., Sarah Schafer, The Washington Post, May 20 2001
A deluge of commercial projects and government contracts has DC construction firms competing for labor. Skilled trades people, engineers, and day-laborers are in short supply around the Capital as building firms hire at record rates. The industry has put together a resource guide for high school students to show them the opportunities in the construction field.
See Washington construction companies face labor shortage., Jackie Spinner, May 20 2001
A survey by the Families and Work Institute found that a third of American workers feel they are overworked. Employees identified several factors necessary to do a good job and, when one of those factors is missing, employees often feel over worked. Overwork contributes to workplace injuries, resentment, and high turnover.
See US workers say they are overworked., Diane Stafford, The Seattle Times, May 20 2001
KLD & Co., an index of socially responsible companies, has delisted Wal-Mart for failing to address labor problems at the company's suppliers. The giant retailer was removed from the index for refusing to allow independent monitors into its overseas factories, using sweatshop labor, and buying products from Burma. Wal-Mart spokespeople claim the company is very responsible and said they were disappointed by the decision.
See Wal-Mart kicked off of "socially responsible" index., Carter Dougherty, The Washington Times, May 17 2001
One hundred years ago, a Fraterville coal mine collapsed, killing 184 miners. Tommorow, townspeople will gather in the town's cemetery, as they do every year on this anniversary, to remember those men. Mine disasters occurred with alarming frequency until 1970, when a horrible mining accident led to the establishment of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
See Tennessee town remembers tragic coal mine accident., Ken Mink, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 17 2001
Nike Chairman Phil Knight promised to clean up the shoe company's labor record three years ago. According to Global Exchange, Nike has not come close to upholding that promise. The San Francisco-based labor-rights organization criticized Nike for trying to address labor rights from a PR point of view.
See Global Exchange takes Nike chief to task over labor pledge., William McCall, The Seattle Times, May 16 2001
Workers who keep their jobs are still deeply affected by downsizing. If work-force reductions are not handled skillfully, the resulting drop in performance among remaining employees could eliminate any benefits. High-performing individuals might look for other opportunities, leaving only average performers to pick up the slack.
See Workers left after layoffs need special attention., Candace Goforth, The Salt Lake Tribune, May 16 2001
Sun Microsystems and AOL Time Warner both require employees to use their products at work. Employees at AOL Time Warner say the company's email system is not as efficient as competing brands but AOL email is the new standard for the entire firm. Similarly, Sun forbids the use of Microsoft products at work, making it difficult for clients and employees to share files. Older companies like Ford use incentives to encourage workers to consume their products without requiring them to buy Fords.
See Companies require, encourage employees to use their products., Susan Stellin, The New York Times, May 15 2001
For fifty years, the Longshoremen's union has enjoyed a monopoly on the docks of New York's harbor. A recent ruling by the Waterfront Commission allows Metal Management to use its own laborers to unload steel from ships; a move Longshoremen fear could threaten the strength of their union. The Commission's ruling only covers new steel contracts Metal Management delivers to the harbor.
See Longshoremen's harbor monopoly threatened., Leslie Eaton, The New York Times, May 15 2001
As share prices continue to drop, stockowners are asking about CEO compensation at annual shareholder meetings. Many CEOs received hefty bonuses despite the poor performance of their companies, prompting shareholders to question the value of incentive pay. Shareholders used the annual meetings to vote for resolutions capping CEO pay or tying it more closely to stock performance.
See Shareholders criticize excessive CEO salaries., Eileen Alt Powell, Detroit Free Press, The Associated Press, May 15 2001
The working poor don't have a monopoly on long hours, low pay, and little respect. Graduate students face these same issues and many are turning to unions for relief. Most university administers contend graduate students are not workers and should be exempt from collective bargaining statutes.
See Grad students organize., Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times, May 14 2001
As businesses trim the fat with layoffs during lean times, they often try to add muscle to their sales and marketing departments with new hires. Market changes that drive layoffs also lead firms to hire new workers. Experts say the focus on talent building must continue through market downturns or companies will wither.
See Priority changes lead to hiring during layoffs., Stephanie Armour, USA Today, May 14 2001
A Northwestern University study examining the different perceptions of men and women found women are becoming more like men at work. Study participants said women are adding traditional male roles to their own feminine roles while men maintain mostly masculine characteristics. In other words, women are moving into traditionally male professions and positions but men are not moving into traditionally female positions or professions.
See Study examines gender stereotypes at work., Carol Kleiman, Chicago Tribune, May 14 2001
Legislation working its way through Congress would allow federal inmates to work for private firms while they carry out their sentences. Advocates say prison jobs allow inmates a release and teach them valuable skills necessary to make it on the outside. Critics argue prison labor exploits inmates and fosters unfair competition. Of the 80,000 to 90,000 prisoners engaged in prison labor, just 3,500 work for private firms.
See Use of prison labor debated in US., Silja J.A. Talvi, The Christian Science Monitor, May 13 2001
With demand for skilled labor skyrocketing, community colleges and private firms in California are considering plans to split training costs. Vocational education is severely under funded in California as high schools emphasize the importance of a college education at the expensive of job training. Under the proposal being investigated, private firms and community colleges would work together to design well-rounded vocational curricula.
See California community colleges, private firms may spilt training costs., Zanto Peabody, Los Angeles Times, May 13 2001
Many organizations are equipping their employees with wireless devices like the Palm Pilot to make communication easier and speed up transactions. Growing numbers of police officers, doctors, and waiters use hand-held wireless appliances for work. Mobile solutions are not necessary in every workplace but experts expect wireless sales to keep growing.
See Workers at public agencies, private companies go wireless., Martin J. Moylan, The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 13 2001
A tight labor market, government training programs, and more understanding employers are putting disabled people to work in record numbers. Employers say disabled workers are loyal and reliable, providing excellent service for their customers. Experts say government should do more to fund private programs aimed at putting the disabled to work because discrimination and ignorance persist.
See More disabled people entering the workforce., George Raine, San Francisco Chronicle, May 10 2001
The exodus of textile mills from the American South to South American and Asia left a huge hole in the Southern economy. Automakers like BMW, Mercedes, and Honda are moving to fill this void with plants across the South. These plants offer high paying jobs and steady employment in a generally depressed region, making competition for positions fierce. The new employers say they are committed to diversity and many minority groups have found employment in the developing industry.
See Auto jobs offer new hope for Southern textile towns., Sue Anne Pressley, The Washington Post, May 10 2001
Several African-American salespeople are seeking class action status in a discrimination suit against Xerox. The salespeople say some Xerox sales managers routinely denied them promotions and awarded their accounts to less-seasoned white salesmen. Xerox declined to comment on the case but maintained their commitment to diversity.
See Black salespeople sue Xerox for discrimination., Reed Abelson, The New York Times, May 9 2001
The government of El Salvador released an unusually critical report of labor conditions in the country last year, only to withdraw it as "technically flawed" the next day. Charles Kernaghan's National Labor Committee made the report available yesterday as part of a campaign to pressure President Bush into including labor standards in free trade agreements. $1.6 billion in apparel was exported from El Salvador to the US last year.
See Salvadorian labor abuses chronicled in suppressed report., Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times, May 9 2001
Companies use motivational speakers, corporate rewards, and gimmicky prizes to increase productivity. Despite the billions spent on these carrots, research shows no connection between motivational perks and production. Experts believe the high cost of absenteeism forces corporations to persist with their motivational efforts.
See Motivation industry doesn’t deliver productivity gains., Del Jones, USA Today, May 9 2001
The university did not agree to the demand for a minimum hourly wage of $10.25 for all employees, but they did agree to halt the subcontracting of most jobs, renegotiate the contract of about 650 janitors, provide English classes to all interested workers, and consider extension of health benefits to hundreds of employees. Administration officials said that everything will be determined by future negotiations.
Supporters say that technology costs for home offices are decreasing and less commuting time would increase productivity. The nature of certain federal jobs would make telecommuting impossible, but Representative Frank R. Wolf estimates that 45-60 percent of executive agency workers would be eligible.
See A provision in the 2001 fiscal year appropriations bill for the Transportation Department would require that every federal agency offer 25% of its eligible workers the option to telecommute., JONATHAN D. GLATER, The New York Times, May 8 2001
The rules took effect the day before President Clinton left office, and the coal mining industry has filed a lawsuit against them, arguing that they are arbitrary and burdensome. The old rules permitted mine operators to submit an unlimited number of medical opinions, which kept miners' claims in litigation for years.
Some companies show their commitment to work/life balance by involving the families of potential employees in the hiring process. By allowing spouses to explore the firm during the interview process, companies can create an open environment that encourages loyalty. Progressive executives also believe lower-level employees should enjoy the same flexibility and discretion given to top managers.
See Family-friendly firms address concerns during interviews., Carol Kleiman, Chicago Tribune, May 7 2001
Budget cutting initiatives have business travelers moving back to coach and sharing hotel rooms. Many frequent fliers say cramped airplane seats, bad food, and cheaper hotels take a heavy toll on performance. Others agree with budget cuts and go out of their way to save their companies money while traveling.
See Budget cuts affect businesses travelers., Salina Khan, USA Today, May 7 2001
Minority unemployment levels rose shapely as the economy slowed during the last few quarters. Unemployment increases the number of applicants for jobs and minority job seekers often lose out to better-educated white workers during lean times. Rising unemployment also contributes to increases in crime, divorce, and health problems.
See Rising unemployment hits minorities hardest., David R. Francis, The Christian Science Monitor, May 6 2001
Negotiators for the major Hollywood studios and the Writers Guild reached a tentative agreement last week. Behind the scenes maneuvering and pressure from a number of sources resulted in moderate gains for the writers. Some of the issues pushed by the union's militant leadership were abandoned as the studios used the faltering economy to their advantage.
See Complex negotiations end with tentative settlement in Hollywood., James Bates, Claudia Eller, Los Angeles Times, May 6 2001
Middle-aged workers who leave their jobs have a tough time finding affordable health insurance. Just 31% of companies offer health insurance for retirees too young to receive Medicare, down from 41% in 1993. Experts suggest looking into COBRA coverage, which employers are required to offer under federal law, to extend health coverage while shopping around for an alternative plan.
See Health insurance expensive for unemployed., Lisa Singhania, Detroit Free Press, May 6 2001
About 41% of these workers are from India. With the general downturn of the information economy, H1-B holders have a tough time finding another U. S. employer sponsor. As a result, they are returning to India, where their future is uncertain. India's infrastructure cannot yet support its own high tech industry. Employment in Europe may be an option for these workers.
See H1-B visa holders are the usually the first laid off by U. S. high tech firms., Janaki Bahadur Kremmer, The Christian Science Monitor, May 3 2001
The two sides have been pressured to come to agreement by Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, among others. Issues have included the writers' demand for greater creative credit and compensation methods that address the new delivery options for films.
See After over 100 hours of negotiation, an agreement appears to be near between the Hollywood studios and the Writers Guild of America., JAMES BATES,CLAUDIA ELLER and MEG JAMES, Los Angeles Times, May 3 2001
The company, which has cut 5000 jobs since March, is offering two months' salary to some recently hired college seniors as a painless way to reduce its workforce. Other companies are also backing away from last year's recruiting frenzy.
See At Intel, reverse signing bonuses are being offered to college recruits., Elaine Korry, NPR Morning Edition, May 3 2001
Bush is hopeful that the commission will recommend a partial privatization of the Federal pension system. Critics charge that the panel is more political than fiscal, despite its bipartisan membership, and that increasing individual retiree earnings is not the answer to shoring up the social security system. Bush says that partial privatization will help workers to build wealth.
See President Bush has appointed a special commission to study the Social Security system., Bob Kemper, Chicago Tribune, May 2 2001
Three-dozen students are still occupying Harvard's administration building, while many supporters are rallying outside of the building. Harvard officials claim that the lowest wage paid to any regular Harvard employee is $8.05 per hour and that the salary package totals $10.63 per hour when benefits are considered. Protesters claim that many workers are paid $7.50 and that benefits such as museum passes are unimpressive.
See A two-week sit-in continues at Harvard University, with students demanding that administrators pay a "living wage" of $10.25 an hour to campus service workers., Elizabeth Mehren, Los Angeles Times, May 2 2001
When asked to defend the cost of the billboard, Patrick J. Lynch, president of the police union, said that recruitment campaigns, costing millions of dollars, have failed due to the low wages offered to New York City police officers. The city's contract with the police union expired on July 31 and negotiations have been stalled.
See New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani says that the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association has skewed its comparison of police wages on a 680-square-foot billboard that was unveiled yesterday., Thomas J. Lueck, The New York Times, May 2 2001
Illegal workers, primarily from Mexico, are often robbed in South Texas as they are paid in cash and reluctant to contact US authorities. Austin police and Wells Fargo Bank hope new bank accounts for illegal immigrants will stem some of this abuse. With an ID provided by the Mexican consulate, workers can open interest free accounts to protect their earnings from robbers. The INS does not plan to use the accounts to track illegal aliens.
See Wells Fargo, Austin police set up accounts for illegal workers., Guillermo X. Garcia, USA Today, May 1 2001
A referendum passed by Washington voters requires smaller class sizes and cost of living adjustments for teachers. Schoolteachers around Seattle staged a one-day walkout to pressure the state legislature into honoring the ballot measure. Legislators say it will require cutting services for disabled residents as an earlier referendum caped annual spending.
See Washington teachers walkout in support of education initiative., Colleen Pohlig and Tan Vinh, The Seattle Times, May 1 2001
An Indian computer programmer working in California on an H-1B visa successfully sued his recruiter to get out of an employment agreement. San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Phrasel Shelton ruled Dipen Joshi's contract was illegal under the state's unfair competition laws. The decision overturned fines levied against Joshi for prematurely terminating an 18-month agreement.
See Visa holder wins suit against recruiter., Los Angeles Times, Reuters, May 1 2001