Labor & Economic News Blog
Monday, April 30, 2007
University of Vermont: Students end hunger strike over confusion over worker payStudents end hunger strike over confusion over worker pay
A five-day hunger strike waged by students at the University of Vermont over worker salaries ended Friday after students learned workers were paid what is considered a livable wage.
Liberia: A multi-day strike at Firestone Rubber plantation turned violent Friday as police clash with striking workersA multi-day strike at Firestone Rubber plantation turned violent Friday as police clash with striking workers
Between 6,000 and 8,000 workers at the plantation - a subsidiary of Japan-based tire giant Bridgestone Corp. and Liberia's largest employer - have been striking since Tuesday. They are demanding the removal of a top manager among other items, Labor Minister Kofi Woods said.
China miners risk deadly diseaseChina miners risk deadly disease
Thousands of miners in China are dying each year from a lung disease known as "black lung", state media reports.
Retirement income: Where does it come from?Retirement income: Where does it come from?
By Scott Burns
If there is a mythical god in charge of retirement, it would have to be Janus.
Employers push workers to saveEmployers push workers to save
Parents try all kinds of tricks to steer children toward healthy and productive habits. When all else fails, they beg or bribe them.
Lack of qualified workers threatens India's successLack of qualified workers threatens India's success
High-tech specialists helped economy grow At the heart of the sprawling corporate campus, in a hilltop building overlooking the immaculately shorn lawns, the sports fields and the hypermodern theater complex, young engineers crowd into a classroom.
Asia Producing Engineers Short on SkillsAsia Producing Engineers Short on Skills
A U.S. debate over the number of engineering jobs outsourced to India and China overlooks one key issue: Many graduates of those nations' lesser engineering schools lack the skills to be hired, at home or abroad.
NWA attendants reveal deal's termsNWA attendants reveal deal's terms
In StarTribune.com Business
Northwest Airlines flight attendants would receive higher sick-leave pay and 600 "early out" severance packages under a tentative agreement that the attendants union negotiated with the airline. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) released a summary of the agreement on Friday night. The labor deal will be submitted to the carrier's 8,200 flight attendants for a ratification vote. Last year, the attendants rejected two deals meant to save the airline $195 million per year. The third tentative agreement reached Thursday morning achieves the same level of savings. But union negotiators
Minnesota companies have learned how to recruit minority workers. Now the problem is ... Keeping themMinnesota companies have learned how to recruit minority workers. Now the problem is ... Keeping them
In StarTribune.com Business
Julie Griffith came to the Twin Cities with a fresh MBA from Rice University for a good marketing job at American Express Financial Advisors in the summer of 2004. She barely made it a year before going back to Houston, having lived long enough with what African-Americans call "being one of the onlies" -- the only black person in a department or in the neighborhood. "I really enjoyed the people I met there, specifically the African-American professional community," said Griffith, now 32 and running her own public relations firm in Houston.
THE MAZE MELTDOWN: / Business impact: Commutes will slow, but truckers can use alternative routesTHE MAZE MELTDOWN: / Business impact: Commutes will slow, but truckers can use alternative routes
By Carolyn Said
With freeway interchanges reduced to rubble at a crucial nexus near the Bay Bridge, what kind of hit will the Bay Area economy take? Remarkably little, according to economic experts. "It's going to be miserable for commuters, but in terms of...
Friday, April 27, 2007
Outsourcing drives up profits for Indian companiesOutsourcing drives up profits for Indian companies
Riding a boom in outsourcing that's fattened profits, India's top five software companies plan to add 100,000 jobs this fiscal year. That's on top of a record 76,500 new employees who joined these companies last year.
Weeping While You Work? Go Right AheadWeeping While You Work? Go Right Ahead
The Wall Street Journal says it has become more acceptable to shed tears at work. An expert blames the extra crying on young people. They're seen as more comfortable showing all kinds of emotions. And they're perfectly willing to weep if they get negative feedback. This includes men, who are getting more in touch with their feelings.
California Senate OKs bill boosting scrutiny of CSU, UC payCalifornia Senate OKs bill boosting scrutiny of CSU, UC pay
The state Senate approved legislation Thursday that would require compensation packages for top executives of the state's university systems to be voted on in public. It would also mandate that all elements of compensation be fully disclosed.
Hayward Teachers OK contract, end strikeHayward Teachers OK contract, end strike
By Nanette Asimov
Hayward teachers voted overwhelmingly Thursday to accept an 11 percent raise over two years, officially ending their 10-day strike that crippled the schools and led thousands of students to boycott class in sympathy. "I feel great," said Helen Condos,...
Airline pilots file suit over retirement ruleAirline pilots file suit over retirement rule
By David Armstrong
Current and retired airline pilots filed suit Thursday in San Francisco demanding an immediate change to the federal requirement that those flying commercial aircraft retire by age 60. About 125 pilots sued the Federal Aviation Administration in U.S....
Airline maintenance comes under scrutiny / Carriers express confidence in outsourced workAirline maintenance comes under scrutiny / Carriers express confidence in outsourced work
By David Armstrong
Whether it's competition over fares, routes, in-flight amenities or labor contracts, the business of aviation is often a dogfight. Now there's a tussle taking place largely out of public view over whether the steadily increasing outsourcing of aircraft...
Women sought for jobs in tradesWomen sought for jobs in trades
The construction trades are struggling to recruit new members before the baby boomers retire. They are turning to women, an untapped resource, to take up these middle-class jobs.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Telekom talks with union collapseTelekom talks with union collapse
Wage talks between German phone firm Deutsche Telekom and services union Verdi have broken down, as the union warned of possible strikes.
Mass amnesia makes Americans forget the story behind May DayMass amnesia makes Americans forget the story behind May Day
Barre Montpelier Times Argus
May Day: The holiday of the workers. In days gone by, when men, women and children often worked 10 or more hours a day, seven days a week, May Day was an assertion on the part of wage-slaves that they were sovereign human beings with control over their own lives and destinies.
Lessons they learned / Participants reflect as Ms. Foundation sponsors its final Take Our Daughters to Work DayLessons they learned / Participants reflect as Ms. Foundation sponsors its final Take Our Daughters to Work Day
By Ilana DeBare
Eleven-year-old Jasmine Victoria dreamed of growing up to be a reporter when, in 1993, the first Take Our Daughters to Work Day gave her the chance to shadow a television anchorwoman for the day. Victoria, now 25, dropped those dreams of reporting...
Flight attendants say tentative deal on pay cuts reachedFlight attendants say tentative deal on pay cuts reached
In StarTribune.com Business
Northwest Airlines and its flight attendants union reached a tentative agreement this morning after a week of round-the-clock negotiations. "We are pleased that we have been able to reach a deal with Northwest management that also secures the option for the Northwest flight attendants to vote on an equity claim and early-out severance package," Jay Hong, union president, said in a statement to attendants. The bankruptcy claim could be worth $15,000 to $18,000 per flight attendant.
Surveys show frustration among teachers, parents / Why Educators Quit: Lack of support, too much paperworkSurveys show frustration among teachers, parents / Why Educators Quit: Lack of support, too much paperwork
By Nanette Asimov, Amr Emam
If working conditions at the middle school where Jim Lammers taught for 11 years had not been "set up to fail," he might have stuck around. But like thousands of other teachers across California, the former Marin County teacher of the year quit the profession...
Hayward teachers reach tentative pact -- 10-day strike ends / No financial details of settlement till union meetingHayward teachers reach tentative pact -- 10-day strike ends / No financial details of settlement till union meeting
By Nanette Asimov, Steve Rubenstein
Negotiators reached a tentative settlement of the 10-day-old Hayward school strike on Wednesday night following two hours of talks, it was announced. All 1,300 teachers are expected to return to their classrooms today, which will be a minimum day with...
A Unified Voice Argues the Case for U.S. ManufacturingA Unified Voice Argues the Case for U.S. Manufacturing
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Manufacturing companies have formed an unusual alliance with the United Steelworkers, aiming to preserve and promote manufacturing in the U.S.
Boston: Hopes high for employer to replace ReebokHopes high for employer to replace Reebok
By Erin Conroy, Globe Correspondent
Stoughton officials are not happy that the Reebok distribution center is being moved to South Carolina, taking more than 200 jobs with it. But they are optimistic that another major employer will replace the company when it leaves in the fall of 2009.
Africa: Brain Drain Costs Continent $4bn, Says UNAfrica: Brain Drain Costs Continent $4bn, Says UN
United Nations Development Programme has said brain drain has cost the African continent over $4 billion in the employment of 150,000 expatriate professionals annually.
Africa: Employment Unfriendly Reforms Point to Wrong Policies, Says International OrganizationAfrica: Employment Unfriendly Reforms Point to Wrong Policies, Says International Organization
International Labour Organisation (ILO), has said implementation of job unfriendly reforms in Africa was a pointer to wrong policies, warning that it might affect the agenda of providing decent jobs in the continent.
Ghana: Government Ends Bank StrikeGhana: Government Ends Bank Strike
A Day after workers of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) embarked on a strike action to stress home certain demands, government has stepped in to resolve their agitations and the workers have agreed to go back to work.
Unemployment claims down sharply (AP)Unemployment claims down sharply (AP)
AP - The number of laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits fell last week by the sharpest amount in nearly two months, indicating the labor market remains healthy despite the sluggish economy.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Affordable-housing debate grows for Disney employeesAffordable-housing debate grows for Disney employees
Orange County Register
Some say that Disney should provide low-cost homes for its workers, while others say the company's role is not one of home developer.
Pennsylvania university faculty to vote on whether to strike if talks failPa. university faculty to vote on whether to strike if talks fail
The union representing faculty and coaches at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities will vote this week on whether to authorize a strike if negotiations with the State System of Higher Education break down.
Health care costs slam retireesHealth care costs slam retirees
Alice Woods should see a doctor regularly, but the Omaha woman said she often is reluctant to go. That's because she is one of about 2,600 Lucent Technologies retirees in Nebraska and Iowa facing increases of as much as 150 percent in their health insurance premiums.
Should unions fear private equity?Should unions fear private equity?
In Europe, private equity firms are accustomed to feeling the heat from unions. Now, the temperature is rising in the United States as well. The Service Employees International Union, which represents nearly two million workers including health care employees and janitors, on Tuesday released a report that takes a skeptical look at the private equity industry. While the report stops short of being openly hostile to buyout firms, it sets forth a series of “public policy concerns” related to the recent run of large buyout deals.
What's really squeezing the middle class? Not job instability...but income inequality is rising fastWhat's really squeezing the middle class? Not job instability...but income inequality is rising fast
There are two different stories people tend to tell when they’re trying to explain why the middle class is feeling squeezed.
Labor officials tell union to hold off organizing effortsLabor officials tell union to hold off organizing efforts
Federal labor officials have forced the Service Employees International Union Local 49 -- one of Oregon's most active labor groups -- to suspend many of its organizing efforts for six months, as part of a legal settlement with a Portland worker who accused the union of violating labor laws.
Studies show it's a gold mine at the top / Labor group says fund bosses rake in millions as workers lose groundStudies show it's a gold mine at the top / Labor group says fund bosses rake in millions as workers lose ground
By Walter Hamilton
The Masters of the Universe on Wall Street keep getting richer -- and that has some people worried. A report released Tuesday shows that Wall Street's elite are making more money than ever, with the 25 highest-paid hedge-fund managers averaging $540...
Toyota now the choice for buyers, employeesToyota now the choice for buyers, employees
LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- John Mettler lost his machine operator's job in a struggling Fort Wayne axle plant in 2000 and figured he'd never find secure Indiana factory work again.
Wanted at Wal-Mart: Global threat analystsWanted at Wal-Mart: Global threat analysts
Wal-Mart Stores has been recruiting former military and government intelligence officers for a branch of its global security office aimed at identifying threats to the world's largest retailer, including from "suspect individuals and groups."
UPS: More jobs may be cut through attritionUPS: More jobs may be cut through attrition
A top UPS executive said Wednesday the company may continue to shrink portions of its workforce, but that he expects "most of it will be taken care of through attrition." Chief Financial Officer Scott Davis made his comments as UPS posted first quarter profits that met analyst predictions despite weaker-than-expected results in its U.S. package business.
Kansas/Missouri tech job numbers are mixed for regionTech job numbers are mixed for region
While the U.S. high-tech economy continues to grow, Kansas and Missouri are on different sides of the growth chart.
Ills at popcorn plant turn light on OSHAIlls at popcorn plant turn light on OSHA
By Stephen Labaton, New York Times News Service
WASHINGTON -- Seven years ago, a Missouri doctor discovered a troubling pattern at a microwave popcorn plant in Jasper. After an additive was modified to produce a more buttery taste, nine workers came down with a rare, life-threatening lung disease.
Boston: Hub hotels, union reach accord after year of talksHub hotels, union reach accord after year of talks
By Robert Weisman, Globe Staff
More than a year after negotiations began, four Boston hotels managed by New York-based Starwood Hotels yesterday reached an agreement with the labor union representing about 5,000 hotel workers in the Boston area.
Bellevue Washington backs domestic partner benefitsBellevue backs domestic partner benefits
After years of discussion and dithering, Bellevue is poised to join Seattle, Spokane and numerous other municipalities in offering health and other benefits to the domestic partners of its gay and lesbian employees.
Mortgage wholesaler abruptly shuts its doorsMortgage wholesaler in Washington state abruptly shuts its doors
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE -- A well-regarded lending wholesaler that rode a boom in subprime home mortgages has abruptly closed after a market reversal, leaving 300 people out of work.
The Baltimore Sun plans to cut staff by 50The Sun plans to cut staff by 50
In the wake of similar announcements at two of its sister papers, The Sun said yesterday that it would reduce its staff by about 50 people, part of an effort to trim costs in a time of shrinking revenues.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Erosion of unions hurts women, particularly LatinasErosion of unions hurts women, particularly Latinas
Although women have made many gains since the 1960s, they must still catch up with men when it comes to equal pay and the benefits that generally accompany it, like educational attainment and access to health insurance, paid leave and other benefits. This is particularly true for women of color who have the highest levels of disparities in income in comparison to men. In 2006, women overall made 77 percent of men's annual earnings.
Hayward, Ca teachers: 2 sides talking in strike2 sides talking in strike
By Nanette Asimov
The nine-day Hayward teachers strike may be nearing its conclusion as union and district negotiators resumed talks Monday evening after a marathon 10 1/2-hour session on Sunday.
Tech jobs shrink in Georgia, buck trendTech jobs shrink in Georgia, buck trend
The nation's high-tech industry last year grew at the fastest rate since the 1990s dot-com boom, according to a report released today by the AeA industry group. In 2005, Georgia was one of only 10 states that lost high-tech jobs, according to the most recent state data available. Led by significant cutbacks in telecom jobs, tech companies cut about 900 jobs in Georgia. The state's tech employment has shrunk by 19 percent since 2000. The reductions in Georgia were a stark contrast to other Southeastern states. Florida led the nation in new high-tech employment in 2005, with Virginia close behind. North Carolina's tech jobs increased by 6 percent, South Carolina's by 2 percent.
New Job? Take Your Pension Fund with YouNew Job? Take Your Pension Fund with You
What happens to money you invest in a job-based retirement fund after you leave the company? There are steps you can take to handle health savings and retirement fund money when switching jobs.
U.S. Employees Selling Transit Passes Illegally, Investigators SayU.S. Employees Selling Transit Passes Illegally, Investigators Say
By MATTHEW L. WALD
Many government workers who drive to work sell the transit passes provided by the government, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.
New York City: Bloomberg Reaches Deal With PrincipalsBloomberg Reaches Deal With Principals
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
The four-year contract fight with the union representing New York City school principals was unusually bitter even by the standards of city labor relations.
Labor Department looking into better disclosure of 401(k) feesLabor Department looking into better disclosure of 401(k) fees
In StarTribune.com Business
WASHINGTON The Bush administration said Tuesday that it will look into ways to help people get information about fees and expenses assessed on 401(k) plans, which can drain hard-earned money from workers' retirement savings. The Labor Department's Employee Benefits Security Administration will start soliciting ideas Wednesday from the public, industry and other interested parties aimed at improving the disclosure of these charges to millions of people with 401(k) retirement savings plans.
Career change carries costsCareer change carries costs
As some folks around here can attest, the "opportunity" to consider a new job or career carries considerable economic and emotional costs.
Busting bullies in the workplaceBusting bullies in the workplace
You hated the playground bully — and there usually seemed to be one.
New reasons for concern about job-growth dataNew reasons for concern about job-growth data
On July 18, 2000, we published a commentary in Star Business Weekly titled “Job Creation and Employment Levels Merit Attention.”
Illinois state gains high-tech jobsState gains high-tech jobs
Illinois' high-tech sector gained approximately 1,200 jobs in 2005 -- the first positive news since before the Internet bubble burst, while venture investment grew 33 percent, according to the annual Cyberstates report being released today by AeA, a technology trade group.
Port of Houston spawns job growthPort of Houston spawns job growth
Activity at the Port of Houston, including a 50 million-ton increase in cargo, has created more than 56,000 jobs since 2000, according to a study. Another 80,000 indirect and 62,000 "induced" jobs since 2000 are attributable to the port, according to the study by Martin Associates.
Study finds obesity takes an economic toll on workers, firms / Hefty employees use more sick days, are paid less and passed over for promotionsStudy finds obesity takes an economic toll on workers, firms / Hefty employees use more sick days, are paid less and passed over for promotions
By Victoria Colliver
Obese employees lost many more workdays and filed twice as many workers' compensation claims, and those cases cost nearly seven times as much as those filed by their slimmer counterparts, according to a report released Monday.
High-tech jobs in state rebound for first time since dot-com bustHigh-tech jobs in state rebound for first time since dot-com bust
For the first time since the state lost tens of thousands of jobs after the dot-com collapse, California companies have added tech workers to their payrolls, according to a report that tracks nationwide employment in the industry.
Clock is ticking on NWA flight attendantsClock is ticking on NWA flight attendants
In StarTribune.com Business
Negotiators for Northwest Airlines flight attendants said Monday that they need to reach a deal "in the next few days" to preserve a $182 million claim in the airline's bankruptcy case, which could be worth up to $18,000 per flight attendant. Other Northwest unions have received claims as part of their concessionary labor agreements, but the flight attendants will be prohibited from securing their own unless they ratify a labor deal before the airline leaves bankruptcy in June.
Extra year expected for retirement funds (AP)Extra year expected for retirement funds (AP)
AP - Fewer benefits, more tax money and some accounting magic have bought an extra year of life for Social Security and Medicare, trustees of the government's two largest benefit programs said Monday.
Monday, April 23, 2007
UMass grad students protest wagesUMass grad students protest wages
Members of UMass Amherst's Graduate Employee Organization, or GEO, are tired of waiting. Made up of more than 2,500 teaching assistants, teaching associates and research assistants the organization has been bargaining with the university for fourteen weeks, without a contract resolution.
Workplace Ethics Begin with the BossWorkplace Ethics Begin with the Boss
A new survey of office workers looks at what's going wrong in the workplace, from harassment to embezzlement and theft. Supervisors often set the standard on how to behave, the study finds.
Blowing the Door Off Office RomancesBlowing the Door Off Office Romances
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz is under fire for favoring a World Bank employee, who is also his girlfriend. A heated love triangle at NASA led to an astronaut driving for hours wearing diapers. And Wal-Mart investigators hung out outside a bedroom door trying to bust executives who were allegedly having an affair. What's going on with love in the workplace?
Job Market Welcoming to New GradsJob Market Welcoming to New Grads
As this year's crop of college graduates turn to the job market, prospects are promising. A number of surveys suggest that employers are hiring more grads and offering higher starting salaries.
Jobless rate dips in MarylandJobless rate dips in Md.
4,500 posts added in March, but growth still slow Maryland's unemployment rate improved to an unusually low 3.6 percent as employers added 4,500 jobs last month, the federal government said yesterday.
Slightly more women, minorities become managers at Wal-MartSlightly more women, minorities become managers at Wal-Mart
Management ranks at Wal-Mart Stores saw modest increases last year in women and minorities, though they are more abundant in the retailer's work force than in the population at large, figures released by the company indicate.
Houston area's job growth robust, but it's slowingArea's job growth robust, but it's slowing
Area employers are still hiring in big numbers, but weaknesses in the national economy have dulled local job growth. Houston-area employers added 81,100 jobs between March 2006 and March 2007, a 3.4 percent gain, according to figures released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission.
Pension cutback at Motorola one of a multitudePension cutback at Motorola one of a multitude
There are two kinds of employees working side by side in big companies:
-Those hired in a paternalistic era when pensions were common, who will get retirement payments for life.
-Those who signed on after such rich benefits disappeared, who will retire on what they can save and invest, with a little help from matching contributions from their employers.
Pilots rebuff helping UnitedPilots rebuff helping United
United Airlines pilots have voted overwhelmingly to reject a tentative deal that would have given the carrier more scheduling flexibility and allowed senior pilots to fly more hours per month, the pilots union said Friday.
Chicago: Local business leaders plan to add workersLocal business leaders plan to add workers
Chicago area business leaders are ho-hum on the local economy, with most expecting no major changes, but many plan to boost staffing nonetheless, and capital investment here appears set to rise, a new survey finds.
Wal-Mart makes some gains by polishing imageWal-Mart makes some gains by polishing image
Two years ago, Wal-Mart began a counterassault on its critics, launching a re-imaging campaign to thwart those who had successfully painted an unsavory picture of the company as an employer who didn't treat or pay its workers well, among other things.
Gender pay gap widens, study saysGender pay gap widens, study says
Career choices, discrimination are major factors Although women have made significant gains in education and income during the past three decades, the pay gap between college-educated men and women continues to widen in the years after graduation, experts say.
Workplaces join green movementWorkplaces join green movement
Survey shows many workers would favor environmentally-friendly employer Everything green, from our homes to cars to clothes, is all the rage these days.
Labor Rights Issues Are Stalling Trade PactsLabor Rights Issues Are Stalling Trade Pacts
By STEVEN R. WEISMAN
Several pending trade pacts have dissolved in a burst of charges and countercharges over the issue of labor rights.
The Count: For a Change, It’s Job Applicants Who Call the ShotsThe Count: For a Change, It’s Job Applicants Who Call the Shots
By PHYLLIS KORKKI
Opportunities are so abundant in many fields that workers are not willing to settle for just any job.
More Staff Cuts Expected at Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles TimesMore Staff Cuts Expected at Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times
By STEPHANIE SAUL
Reports in both newspapers said job cuts were imminent and would be carried out mostly through voluntary buyout packages.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Jobless claims rise dramatically (AP)Jobless claims rise dramatically (AP)
AP - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level in two months.
FedEx settles discrimination suit / Accused of bias in promotions, courier agrees to pay $54.9 millionFedEx settles discrimination suit / Accused of bias in promotions, courier agrees to pay $54.9 million
By Bob Egelko
FedEx Express has reached a $54.9 million settlement with thousands of African American and Latino employees in the western United States who accused the courier of unfairly keeping them in low-paying jobs loading freight. Lawyers for the plaintiffs...
Citigroup to lay off 17,000 workers / Many jobs being moved overseas or to less costly areasCitigroup to lay off 17,000 workers / Many jobs being moved overseas or to less costly areas
By Eric Dash
Citigroup said Wednesday that it will eliminate or reassign more than 26,500 jobs to cut costs and streamline the global bank's sprawling operations. Under intense pressure from investors, the company plans to lay off more than 17,000 workers, with the...