Sam Smith essays
- ECONOMIC NEWS
- MINIMUM WAGE
RIGHT TO WORK MYTH
SHORTER WORK WEEK
- TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP
Since 2013, when the new minimum wage laws were first introduced and looked like an absolute certainty, the number of places to eat in Seattle has increased:
Congressional Research Service - The peak value of the minimum wage in real terms was reached in 1968. To equal the purchasing power of the minimum wage in 1968 ($10.69), the current minimum wages real value ($7.25) would have to increase by $3.44 (or 47%).
If Obama wants to index minimum wage then $9 isn't enough. He proposed $9.50 in 2008. Inflation makes that $10 today
BACK TO TOP
Generation gap on unions
While 51 percent of all Americans have favorable views of unions, 61 percent of Americans under 30 hold that view....Union approval ratings grows weaker as respondents grow olderfrom 50 percent among Americans aged 30 to 49; to 49 percent among those 50 to 64; and to just 42 percent among Americans 65 or over.
AMERICANS AGAINST THE TEA PARTY
While union membership has declined to modern lows, union members had median weekly earnings of $943 last year, compared with $742 (about $38,600 annually), for comparable nonunion workers.
@amprog - Unionized workers are 28.2% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance
Why unions matter. . .
AFL-CIO - Some 1,200 workers at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel will share a $2.5 million settlement to a class-action suit that alleged the hotel withheld wages, failed to pay overtime and failed to provide meal and rest breaks to workers from 2004 to 2011.
If American workers are being denied their right to organize when I'm in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes and I will walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States, - Barack Obama, 2007
ESSAYS BACK TO TOP
BACK TO TOP
- Unions & organizations
- FREELANCERS UNION
- INTNL CONF OF FREE TRADE UNIONS
JEWISH LABOR COMMITTEE
JOBS WITH JUSTICE
UNITED ELECTRICAL, RADIO & MACHINE WORKERS
UNITED FOOD WORKERS
- EXECUTIVE PAY WATCH
INTL LABOR RIGHTS FUND
LABOR EDUCATION LINKS
RAISE THE FLOOR MOVEMENT
SELF EMPLOYED WOMEN'S ASSN
SHOP UNION MADE
TAKE BACK YOUR TIME
UNION JOBS CLEARING HOUSE
STATE MINIMUM WAGE LAWS COMPARED TO FEDERAL STANDARD
CAN MY BOSS DO THAT?
The rate of unionization among American workers fell to 11.3% in 2012, which is the lowest since 1916
Gallup - Adults employed full time in the U.S. report working an average of 47 hours per week, almost a full workday longer than what a standard five-day, 9-to-5 schedule entails. In fact, half of all full-time workers indicate they typically work more than 40 hours, and nearly four in 10 say they work at least 50 hours.
Americans desert those who brought them the 7 day, 40 hour work week
BOOKS & HISTORY
Documentary on the UAW leaders, the Reuther brothers
ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE
A new report finds that wages of manufacturing workers have fallen 4.4% in the past decade- "almost three times faster than for workers as a whole."
Canadian Supreme Court orders Walmart to imburse workers from store it closed after employees voted to unionize
McDonalds workers in New York, California and Michigan filed class action suits against the chain, as well as several franchises, for wage theft violations. The cases accuse the fast-food giant of systematically stealing employees wages by forcing them to work off the clock, shaving hours off their time cards and not paying them overtime, among other practices, according to a press release by the workers lawyers.
Word: Trade unions have been an essential force for social change, without which a semblance of a decent and humane society is impossible under capitalism - Pope Francis
Why GOP wouldn't like Reagan today
@Harpers - Amount the average U.S. worker spends annually on coffee: $1,092
About those new jobs
- There have been 246, 000 waiter and bartender jobs added
- There have been 24,000 manufacturing jobs added
The labor force participation rate in June 2013 remained near the lowest level it has been at any time since 1978.
@RBReich - Recovery? US has 2.4 million fewer jobs than when recession began, real median wage 5 percent lower, and 58% think we're in recession.
20% of workers have been turned down for a job in the past year
The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed job openings falling by 118,000 in April to 3.8 million. Job openings have improved very little over the last year and remain very depressed. In 2007, there were 4.5 million job openings each month, so Aprils level of 3.8 million is more than 16 percent below its prerecession level.
State Rep. Carol McGuire (R-NH) believes the federal minimum wage is too high. In a statement to reporters, she said she would like to repeal all minimum wage laws and have corporations pay workers whatever rate they desire. She also said the $7.25 minimum is overly generous to young people: Its very discriminatory, particularly for young people. Theyre not worth the minimum, she said.
In 30 minutes, 18 state senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten. - Mark Miller, Wisconsin Democratic leader
A new Bloomberg National poll finds Americans 64% of respondents, including a plurality of Republicans (49%), say employees should have the right to collectively bargain for their wages
Sharon Johnson, WeNews - The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 60 percent of married mothers are now in the work force, 4 percentage points lower than in 1997. The rate of married mothers of infants who work fell 6 percentage points to 53 percent. With mothers representing about two-thirds of adult women those figures help explain why the United States is one of only two industrialized countries--the other is Japan--out of 23 where women's work force participation rate fell between 1994 and 2006, according to data from the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Reversal of Trend
From the 1950s through the 1990s the percentage of U.S. women in the paid work force steadily increased. But that trend has begun to reverse and today 3.3 million fewer women are working than would be if the trend had continued.
While a spate of news reports has explained the trend as women preferring to stay home or "opting out," an array of women's policy groups disagree. The real explanation, they contend, is a workplace that fails women on some basic interlocking fronts: inflexible scheduling requirements, job discrimination, lack of child care, lack of parental leave, lack of sick leave.
Researchers for the San Francisco-based Center for WorkLife Law found 13,000 cases of discrimination that showed that mothers were 79 percent less likely to be hired and 100 percent less likely to be promoted because they are held to a higher standard than non-mothers in their companies. . .
The United States, Swaziland, Liberia, Lesotho and Papua New Guinea are the only countries among 173 surveyed in 2007 by the Institute for Health and Social Policy at Montreal's McGill University that don't guarantee paid maternity leave to new mothers.
The Family Medical Leave Act, which provides 12 weeks of job-protected leave to new parents or adoptive parents or caregivers of elderly relatives, only applies to firms with 50 workers or more, said Williams. "This disproportionately affects women who earn low wages . . . or work for small companies."
Then there's the cost of child care, which ran between $4,000 and $20,000 a year per child in 2001, according to a study from the Children's Defense Fund in Washington. .
SEIU ENDORSE CONYER'S SINGLE PAYER PLAN
The SEIU convention went on record in support of HR 676, single payer healthcare legislation introduced by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI). The SEIU is the thirteenth international union to endorse HR 676. Other international unions that have endorsed HR 676 are UAW, NEA, ILWU, NALC, IAM, Plumbers & Pipefitters, Musicians, UE, CNA/NNOC, SMWIA, IFPTE & OPEIU.
HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system in the U.S. by expanding a greatly improved Medicare system to every resident. HR 676 would cover every person in the U. S. for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, chiropractic and long term care. HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs. HR 676 currently has 90 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers. It has been endorsed by 435 union organizations in 48 states.
ZOGBY One out of every four working Americans describes their workplace as a dictatorship, while just 34% of bosses in the American workplace react well to valid criticism, according to a new Workplace Democracy Association - Zogby Interactive survey.
The survey also found that less than half of working Americans - 46% - said their workplace promotes creative or inventive ideas, while barely half - 51% - said their co-workers often feel motivated or are mostly motivated at work.
GOVERNMENTS OF 20 COUNTRIES AHEAD OF U.S. IN WORKPLACE FLEXIBILITY
A NEW REPORT by the Institute for Women's Policy Research and the Center for Work Life Law at the University of California, finds that of 21 countries reviewed, 17 have statutes that allow parents to move to part-time work or otherwise adjust their working hours; 12 have statutes to help workers adjust work hours for training and education; 11 allow reduced hours with partial pension prior to full retirement; 5 allow working time adjustments for those with family care-giving responsibilities for adults; and 5 countries give everyone the right to alternative work arrangements.
According to the latest data from the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation, college-educated women in the United States are now less likely than women in many other high-income countries to participate in the labor market. Participation in the U.S. labor force for women aged 24-54 has stalled in the last decade while 19 of 20 other high income countries surveyed have seen growth during the same period.
Most countries target statutory regulation at specific circumstances, such as family caregiving responsibilities, old age or lifelong learning. More recent is an all encompassing approach that provides a mechanism for changing working time arrangements to all employees, irrespective of why they want change.
The Institute for Women's Policy Research conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women, promote public dialogue, and strengthen families, communities, and societies. IWPR focuses on issues of poverty and welfare, employment and earnings, work and family, health and safety, and women's civic and political participation.
The Center for WorkLife Law, based at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization that seeks to eliminate employment discrimination against employees who have caregiving responsibilities for family members, such as mothers and fathers of young children and adults with aging parents. WorkLife Law works with employees, employers, attorneys, legislators, journalists, and researchers to identify and prevent family responsibilities discrimination.
CNN A Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered Starbucks to pay its California baristas more than $100 million in back tips and interest that the coffee chain paid to shift supervisors. San Diego Superior Court Judge Patricia Cowett also issued an injunction that prevents Starbucks' shift supervisors from sharing in future tips, saying state law prohibits managers and supervisors from sharing in employee gratuities.
Starbucks spokeswoman Valerie O'Neil said the company planned an immediate appeal of the ruling, calling it "fundamentally unfair and beyond all common sense and reason." The lawsuit was filed in October 2004 by Jou Chou, a former Starbucks barista in La Jolla, who complained shift supervisors were sharing in employee tips. The lawsuit gained ground in 2006 when it was granted class-action status, allowing the suit to go forward for as many as 100,000 former and current baristas in the coffee chain's California stores.
BANANA REPUBLIC BECOMES SWEATSHOP TARGET
GUARDIAN, UK One of the biggest fashion retailers in the US last night began an investigation into allegations that workers in India who make its clothes are being forced to work more than 70 hours a week for as little as 15p an hour. Ahead of today's high-profile opening of its three-story European store in London, Banana Republic said it was "deeply concerned" by the claims and insisted it made frequent factory visits to check that suppliers complied with the law and with the company's ethical code. . . The alleged plight of the Indian workers who are making Banana Republic's clothes will be publicized by the charity War on Want, which plans a demonstration at the opening of the London store. . . Garment workers interviewed by the Guardian near Delhi claimed they were verbally abused if they complained, saying they could be docked money for petty disputes. Other workers said they had been "coached" to lie about the amount of overtime they had to do; the overtime is meant to be capped at two hours a day.
MATT LABASH, WSEEKLY STANDARD - Wilmington, Del. If you're a loyal employee like me, you occasionally check your company's Vision Statement to make sure all the T's in "empowerment" have been crossed, and the I's in "mission" have been dotted. But if you come across buzzwords like "excellence" and "leadership," you should know that your corporate culture is sadly behind the curve--those terms are as '90s as Reebok Pumps, Zima, and Total Quality Management. There's a new core value on the loose, and it goes by the name of "Fun."
Maybe you assumed the fun stopped when the tech bubble burst. Or at least you hoped it did. After all, who could stand to read yet another profile of the ubiquitous IPO-enriched dot-commissar, who'd get the toe of his footie-pajamas (which he wore in his nonhierarchical workspace) caught in the brake of his indoor Razor scooter, causing him to bump into the Pachinko-machine/copier, making him spill his Tazoberry Crème Frappuccino all over the conference-room foosball table? Ahhhh, the boyish hijinks of it all. With the benefit of hindsight, we can all now agree that the real fun was watching dot-com execs ride their Segways to the unemployment line.
IAN WELSH, HUFFINGTON POST - Unions in America have been in a decline for over 60 years. Union membership has dropped from almost 35% of all workers in 1945 to less than 15% today. In fact, union membership has declined to almost exactly the same percentage as it was in 1930 before FDR took power and encouraged the growth of unions. . . The mainline old unions centered around industrial concerns like GM and Ford have shrunk to a tiny fraction of their former self; and despite the efforts of the SEIU unions and others, new economy workers mostly have not been organized.
The National Labor Relations Board, created by the Wagner Act in 1935 as independent agency of United States Governments holds the official mandate to conduct elections for labor union representation and to investigate and remedy unfair labor practices. Under the Bush administration, the NLRB has:
- made it impossible for large numbers of workers to join unions;
- potentially reclassified many workers as supervisors (including many nurses) in order to remove them from unions;
- passed numerous rulings which treat employers in one way, and unions in another.
The union movement, it is fair to say, is in many respects in its weakest position in over 60 years.
Another 4 or 8 years of a Republican presidency could doom American unions, pushing them below 10% and subjecting them to more and more hostile NLRB rulings, which will cripple what ability they have to organize. Even a moderate Democratic president who halts the slide at the NLRB but doesn't reverse it will leave unions in a shaky situation. . .
Amongst the Democratic candidates it's safe to say that Hilary Clinton, who has as her main advisor a union buster and whose husband did very little for unions, would be a largely status quo President. Her board would be decent, she'd be bad but not awful on trade, and she wouldn't sink a lot of personal capital into union issues.
As with many things with Obama, it's hard to determine how good or bad he'd be, but one has to have their doubts about a Democratic candidate who argued that union advertisements in Iowa were unacceptable, and who acted as if union money were the equivalent of corporate money. Certainly there are those who see unions and corporation as little different--but they aren't friends of unions.
John Edwards has spent the last four years working with unions, walking their picket lines and making their cause his. He's clearly the most pro-union of the three remaining candidates; his primary issue is economic justice and he believes that corporations have too much power. His campaign, from the very beginning, was predicated on union support.
But unions didn't reciprocate.
Lists of major union endorsements make this clear. AFL-CIO unions predominantly endorsed Clinton, and in fact more major unions endorsed Clinton than anyone else, with Edwards coming in second in the endorsement stakes. Most recently Nevada's largest union, the culinary union endorsed Obama and is working hard for him in that key swing state.
Now let's imagine a world in which labor had taken a strong stand and endorsed the candidate who was most pro-labor, John Edwards. Edwards came in second in Iowa, behind Obama by 8%. It is hard to believe that if unions had come in, say 4 months ago, and used their ground machine (still, even today, probably the best organizing machine in the Democratic party) that they couldn't have swung the election 8 points. . .
And here's the thing--neither Clinton nor Obama, should they win now, will feel a massive debt to Labor. The endorsements were useful and appreciated, and they helped. But they weren't desperately needed. The payback will be a slightly better NLRB, but not enough to save American labor. . .
I can only assume that labor read too many polls and made too many political calculations. . . The irony here is that if labor had taken a strong stand and put their own best interests first instead of triangulating and currying political favor, the strongest pro-labor candidate would be in the lead today.
GOVERNMENT SAYS CORPORATIONS BAN BAR UNION-RELATED E-MAIL
RAW STORY - Employers have the right to bar employees from sending union-related E-mails using company servers, the New York Times reports. The National Labor Relations Board ruled 3-2 that an employer, using internal company policy, has the right to classify a union-related communication as a "non-job-related solicitation." The two dissenting board members noted that E-mail has become a major form of communication in the workplace, and disagreed with the majority's assertion that a company's "property rights" trump an employee's right to organize and discuss workplace-related issues with other workers.
The ruling involved The Register-Guard, a newspaper in Eugene, Ore., and e-mail messages sent in 2000 by Susi Prozanski, a newspaper employee who was president of the Newspaper Guild's unit there. She sent an e-mail message about a union rally and two others urging employees to wear green to show support for the union's position in contract negotiations. . .
"Anyone with e-mail knows that this is how employees communicate with each other in today's workplace," said Jonathan Hiatt, general counsel for the A.F.L.-C.I.O. "Outrageously in allowing employers to ban such communications for union purposes, the Bush labor board has again struck at the heart of what the nation's labor laws were intended to protect - the right of employees to discuss working conditions and other matters of mutual concern."
WHAT WORKERS DON'T LIKE ABOUT MEETINGS
Disorganization tops the list as the biggest frustration for meeting attendees, according to a new "Ouch Point" study by Opinion Research USA that measured the tolerance thresholds of U.S. workers at business meetings.
Of 1,037 full or part-time workers polled, 27 percent ranked disorganized, rambling meetings as their top frustration, followed by 17 percent who said they were annoyed by peers who interrupt and try to dominate meetings.
Respondents considered Black Berry use less intrusive than people falling asleep during a meeting -- 9 percent of respondents were bothered by co-workers nodding off, compared to just 5 percent who said they get frustrated by others checking e-mail. Respondents also cited cell-phone interruptions (16 percent) and meetings without refreshments (6 percent) as more annoying than the much-maligned Black Berry.
Among the other "ouch points" ranked by respondents were: meetings without bathroom breaks (8 percent) and people leaving the meeting early or arriving late (5 percent). Only 4 percent of respondents said they were most frustrated by meetings that start late and those that end without distributing a written recap.
Respondents from the Northeast were less bothered by disorganized meetings than those from other parts of the country. Additionally, respondents over the age of 55 considered meetings without a bathroom break a significant issue, and for respondents ages 18 to 24, serving food is a priority at meetings.
DC LABOR - Unionized professional women receive better wages and benefits than women in the non-union sector but women still make less than their male counterparts according to a new fact sheet. "The union difference is quite apparent when you look at the median weekly wages" for professional women, according to Professional Women: Vital Statistics, a fact sheet just published by the Department of Professional Employees (DPE), AFL-CIO. Examples include "union preschool and kindergarten teachers earned a whopping 56.7% more than their non-union counterparts union librarians earned almost 29% more than their non-union counterparts, while union social workers and counselors earned 27 and 26.4% more, respectively." But the wage gap "still plagues the American workforce," says the report. In 2006, the "median weekly earnings for women were 80.8% those of men."
L.A. GANG MEMBERS FIND NEW HOME IN LABOR UNIONS
SAM QUINONES, LA TIMES - A large and growing number of Southern California gang members . . . have joined building-trade unions over the last decade as construction work has boomed. These good-paying jobs were once reserved for those with family connections, as fathers recruited sons. But today, beset by nonunion competition and an aging membership, unions have stepped up recruitment in minority enclaves where many young men have criminal pasts. Now homeboy recruits homeboy.
Members of Dog-patch, in Bellflower, and West Side Wilmas, in Wilmington, are in the Ironworker Union Locals 416 and 433. Members of the 204th Street gang in the Harbor Gateway area of Los Angeles are in the Sheet Metal Workers Local 105. And members of the South Side 18th Street Tiny Diablos are Teamsters.
GOP RUN LABOR BOARD MOVES TO KICK MILLIONS OF WORKERS OUT OF ITS PROTECTION
DALE RUSSAKOFF WASHINGTON POST - The National Labor Relations Board ruled yesterday that nurses with full-time responsibility for assigning fellow hospital workers to particular tasks are supervisors under federal labor law and thus not eligible to be represented by unions. . . Labor leaders decried the ruling, with AFL-CIO President John Sweeney saying it "welcomes employers to strip millions of workers of their right to have a union by reclassifying them as 'supervisors' in name only." The labor-backed Economic Policy Institute said the new definition could affect 8 million workers who give direction to fellow workers in fields ranging from construction to accounting. . .
AMERICAN FAMILIES WORKING 500 HOURS MORE ANNUALLY THAN 30 YEARS AGO
ROBERT KUTTNER, BOSTON GLOBE - Labor was created by the machinists union in New York in 1882 as a "workingmen's holiday." Unions all over America adopted the idea. By 1894, Congress passed legislation making Labor Day an official holiday. The day also celebrated the act of organizing, politically and in the workplace, to improve livelihoods and lives. Today, the politics have largely been leached out of it. Labor Day is a long weekend that marks summer's end. And that extra day of rest is needed more than ever. Government statistics show that the typical family works about 500 more hours a year than families did 30 years ago, because it takes two incomes to make it. Even so, family incomes are failing to keep pace with the cost of living.
LABOR UNION FORMED AT CHINESE WAL-MART
KFSM - An official Chinese news agency says the first labor union at a Wal-Mart store in China has been formed following a lobbying campaign by the country's official union group. The official Xinhua News Agency reported today that 30 employees at a Wal-Mart store in the southeastern city of Quanzhou, in Fujian province, voted Saturday to form a union.
TRANSIT UNION CHIEF CHEERED AS HE GOES TO JAIL
ZITA ALLEN, AMSTERDAM NEWS - TWU Local 100 President Roger Toussaint turned himself in Monday, April 24 at the Manhattan jail known as the Tombs, to begin serving a 10-day sentence for leading the city's first transit strike in 25 years, but not before getting a hero's send off.
THE MEDIA'S WAR ON LABOR
ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT and least covered aspects of media bias is the dislike of labor by the corporate press. From public radio's board room-sucking Marketplace to the lack of labor beat reporters on the staffs of newspapers and the networks, and from labor stories being ignored or buried on the business pages to a consistent pro-business bias in stories involving workers, it is hard to find a greater example of the fraud of media "objectivity."
In keeping with our tradition of quantifying what you can't reform, we are launching a business bias rating service on major labor stories. Our standard is simple: how many paragraphs do you have to read before you find out labor's side of the story?
Since we obviously can't analyze every story, we hope readers will provide us with particularly admirable or egregious examples.
The get started, here are the number of paragraphs you had to go through to get the union's side of the story in the matter of the Delphi buyouts:
NEW YORK TIMES: 26
DETROIT NEWS: 22
WASHINGTON POST: 11 in the news section, 27 in the business section
TODAY IN HISTORY
1864 -- The Collar Laundry Union forms in Troy, New York. Led by Kate Mullaney, a National Labor Union activist, the union successfully increases earnings for laundresses from 2 dollars to 14 dollars a week. In May 1869, the women strike for a wage increase with support of the whole city. Seven thousand attend a mass rally. As the strike drags on with no end in sight, Mullaney and the union organize a cooperative called the "Union Linen Collar & Cuff Manufactory." The co-op provides work for members and combat employer attempts to starve them out. But the strike ended in defeat when the companies eliminate their jobs by putting a new paper collar on the market. The union breaks up and the cooperative is closed
APPROVAL OF LABOR unions has certainly declined since 1936 - from 72% to 58% says Gallup. But over the past quarter century the figures have been remarkably stable - almost the same today as in 1978 (58% vs 59%)
THE DISAPPEARING PENSION
PROGRESS REPORT - In a move the company called a "restructuring" that "reflects the realities of our changing world," Verizon Communications announced that it will be cutting pension benefits for 50,000 of their managers. "Verizon is the latest in a long line of U.S. companies that have phased out defined-benefit [pension] plans." Under such a plan, the employer assumes the risk and workers are guaranteed a set monthly payment in their retirement based on length of service, age, and other factors. As USA Today warns, "The traditional pension, once considered a bedrock of retirement, is eroding for many American workers -- and working for a financially strong company is no guarantee a full pension will be there at retirement." Verizon's move may signal the beginning of the end of traditional pensions in yet another industry.