Labor & Economic News Blog

Monday, May 23, 2005

Massachusett economy creates jobs for 8th month in row
By Robert Gavin, Globe Staff
The Massachusetts economy created jobs for the eighth consecutive month in April, helping to push the jobless rate to its lowest level in more than three years and adding momentum to the state's recovery.


Fresh jitters hit EU budget rules
Portugal admits that its deficit will miss Brussels' controversial budget rules by a long way, and Italy is accused of fudging its figures.


Japan's Economic Growth May Have Quickened on Rising Consumer Spending
Japan's economy, the world's second- largest, probably accelerated in the first quarter of 2005 as rising wages prompted consumers to spend more on goods including clothing and food, economists said.


Connecticut gains 2,500 jobs, but unemployment rate fails to budge
Connecticut added 2,500 jobs between March and April, though the unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent in April, the state Department of Labor said Thursday.


Economic development in Pittsburgh PA going in the right direction
There's little chance the Pittsburgh region's economy will hit the 50,000 new jobs target set as a three-year goal by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development in 2002. But in the third-year of the conference's "3 Rivers: One Future" economic development agenda, it appears the regional economy is headed in a positive direction.


California jobs picture a little better / More are working; unemployment rate holds steady at 5.4%
California employers created a solid but not spectacular 20,400 jobs in April as the state unemployment rate held steady at 5.4 percent, the Employment Development Department said Friday.


Analysts predict more HP layoffs / As many as 15,000 could lose jobs in current quarter
Analysts say Hewlett-Packard Co. could cut as many as 15,000 jobs after recent comments from new Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd in which he said the company needs to reduce costs to become more competitive.


United buys time on pact / Bankruptcy Court judge delays ruling on machinists' pay
A federal Bankruptcy Court judge said he will not rule until May 31 on United Airlines' request to impose lower pay and benefits on union machinists, giving the two sides more time to negotiate an agreement.


Chevron, the corporate citizen / Oil giant has brought name recognition, community support to San Ramon
San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson remembers standing in a reception line in Beijing recently with other U.S. mayors when U.S. Ambassador to China Clark Randt saw Wilson's name tag and where he was from. "He said, 'San Ramon. ChevronTexaco.


Coca-Cola Plant Workers Go on Strike
More than 2,000 workers at plants in California and Connecticut that bottle Coca-Cola products went on strike Monday, just before the start of the summer season that is so important to the soft drink industry.


Business forecast for slow growth
U.S. businesses cut their forecasts for economic growth for this year and 2006, but believe expectations of higher inflation will keep the Federal Reserve on a tightening path, a survey released on Monday showed.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Australian Government moving further away from award system but denies wages will be cut
The Government is moving further away from the award system but denies wages will be cut.
In a strong bid to encourage more workplace agreements, the Howard Government is considering legislating for a more limited range of conditions than those the agreements must now meet.


South Africa: Clothing Chains Spurn Cosatu Buying Code
LEADING clothing retailers Foschini, Woolworths, Truworths and Edcon have rejected the Congress of South African Trade Unions' (Cosatu's) demand that they sign a code committing them to procuring 75% of their products locally.


East Africa: Migrant Workers in Britain Losing 35 Percent of Remittances in Cash Transfer Deals
Kenyans and other East Africans working in Britain are paying as much as £35 ($65) to money transfer companies and banks to send £100 ($188) back home, a study by Britain's Department for International Development has established.


Monday, May 16, 2005

Strike at Puma factory in Indonesia as fuel price hikes increase poverty
No Sweat has been sent this email from trade unionists in Indonesia. Workers at a factory in Didachi, working for Nike and Puma have been paid illegally low wages and had even these meagre wages witheld.


Closures tied to teachers contract
The new contract promised Seattle teachers that they would be at least the fifth-highest paid in the region by 2009 and that they would get the resources they needed to close the gap in achievement between white and minority students. The contract, along with two other agreements with SEA-represented office staff and paraprofessionals, will cost about $25 million over five years, officials say.
Left unspoken was how the district would pay for it after the first two years. (The district is reshuffling some funds to cover higher salary and benefits in the early years.) The contract accounts for about one-quarter of the district's $20 million budget shortfall in 2006-07.


What you need to know on pensions / Last week's ruling on United feeds U.S. workers' insecurity about their retirement
Last week, a federal Bankruptcy Court judge allowed United Airlines to terminate four pension programs, transferring responsibility to the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the safety net agency that takes over when plans fail. That has prompted...


Answers to labor's woes elude unions and Democrats
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Divided and desperate, union leaders are looking everywhere -- from Ivy League classrooms to the "megachurch" pulpits of far-flung suburbia -- for ways to reverse a 50-year decline in membership that is tilting the balance of power in politics.


N.Y. Fed's May Manufacturing Index Falls (AP)
AP - The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Monday that manufacturing in its district fell in May to its lowest level since April 2003, although the outlook for the sector remained positive.


Germany, Others Reject EU Budget Hike (AP)
AP - Germany and five other austerity-minded nations rejected a hike in future EU spending Saturday, widening a split with newer eastern European members that see membership as a boon for their economies and living standards.


French set to defy government over scrapped holiday (AFP)
AFP - The French government faces a major test to its authority as millions look set to ignore its decision to scrap a national holiday in order to raise money for the elderly, less than two weeks before a crucial referendum on the EU constitution.


Friday, May 13, 2005

UNEMPLOYMENT: Rising jobless claims surprise experts
The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week to 340,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Claims increased from a revised 336,000 the week before.


Survey: Consumer Confidence Dips in May
Americans' confidence in the economy slipped in May despite other indications consumers haven't been cowed by rising energy prices.


Slow immigration rate may cost Michigan cash
The pace of immigration to Michigan and the rest of the United States has slowed since 2001 as potential emigrants were confronted by tougher security restrictions, longer delays and a sagging national economy, according to government estimates.


Higher fuel costs may burn hole in U.S. farmers' profits
Everywhere they turn, farmers face sticker shock: more than $100 for a bag of genetically engineered, chemically treated seed corn-- $4,000 per acre for prime farm ground-- more than $100,000 for a new, large tractor-- and twice as much for a new combine.


Workers give Gillette an earful
RYE BROOK, N.Y. -- Gillette Co. chief executive James M. Kilts endured slings and arrows about his compensation, but it was labor issues that dominated shareholder discussions yesterday at what is expected to be the last annual meeting of the 104-year-old Boston shaving giant.


UPS' pilots give union leaders right to call strike
ATLANTA - UPS Inc.'s pilots have voted to give their union leaders authority to call a strike as the union and the world's largest shipping carrier continue federal mediated talks aimed at reaching a new contract. The Independent Pilots Association, which represents UPS' 2,483 pilots, said yesterday that 99 percent of those pilots who voted approved the strike authorization. Polls closed Wednesday for the voting, which was conducted over several weeks.


Assembly line stops at GM factory
Workers mark production of last van at Broening plant; 'This is the end' The final van was made at General Motors' Baltimore plant today and the 70-year-old assembly line came to a stop. Employees said the last van rolled off the line at about 11 a.m. as workers and retirees gathered for a ceremony in the factory.


Legal path for migrants
Millions of undocumented workers in the U.S. could register with the government and pay fines of $2,000 to begin earning permanent residency under the most sweeping immigration-reform bills in two decades. {b} Employers: Plan is 'step in right direction'{b} $2,000 fine would be worth it, immigrants says{b} Reaction mixed north and south of border


Jobs outlook gets brighter / More San Francisco/Bay Area firms plan to expand staffs, survey shows
The Bay Area economy started picking up steam about a year ago. Now it might finally start picking up jobs. Some 39 percent of employers contacted by the Bay Area Council in its quarterly survey of business confidence said they plan to hire more...


State of the economy New Zealand: Unemployment up as job growth stalls
State of the economy: up as job growth stalls 13.05.05 by Further evidence that the economy in New Zealand has started the downhill phase of its cycle came yesterday with the news that employment growth stalled in the first three months of the year.


Canadian Construction Trade Association fears shortage of Winter Games workers
The Canadian government must act now to address a shortage of skilled labour in order to prevent a mad rush to complete Olympic venues, warned the chairman of the Council of Construction Trade Associations.


Dominica trade union leader resigns
ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) - President of the umbrella Dominica Public Service Union, (PSU) Sonia Williams, has resigned, amid reports that the union had signed an agreement with the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) over the salaries of public officers ahead of the tomorrow's general elections.


GM Workers Get Paid When Plants Close: Doron Levin (Corrected news story)
By Doron Levin May 12 (Bloomberg) -- Last week the final Pontiac Grand Am rolled off General Motors Corp.'s Lansing, Michigan, assembly line, leaving about 400 GM hourly workers without jobs, at least temporarily.


4 GM truck plants shift into overtime
Factories in Pontiac, Flint to see production increase as automaker bets on sales surge.


Compact car maker Smart reaches deal to cut 590 jobs at German headquarters
Automaker DaimlerChrysler AG said Wednesday it reached an agreement with union officials that will see 590 jobs cut at the headquarters of its Smart car unit.


DaimlerChrysler worker defies Chrysler-only products parking, but won't have to pay for tow
KOKOMO, Ind. - A DaimlerChrysler worker who defied a new policy by parking his GMC pickup truck in a spot reserved for Chrysler-only products will not have to pay for his vehicle being towed from the lot.


United, unions intensify contract talks
Negotiators for United Airlines and two unions moved closer to contract agreements Friday as a bankruptcy court trial proceeded on the carrier’s bid to terminate existing pacts for mechanics and baggage handlers.


Malawi gender activists told not to fight men
Malawi's gender activists were last week Tuesday advised not to fight men in their attempt to address the gender disparities existing in the country. Male politicians felt gender activists were always trying 'to pick a fight with all the men.' This was said at a public debate organised by the Lilongwe Press Club, in the Malawian capital.


Nation's job-growth spurt detours around Indiana
Indiana barely participated in the national job boom in April, new figures from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development show. The state added 2,000 nonfarm jobs for a total of nearly 3 million, up 0.1 percent from March and up 1.3 percent from a year earlier.


Canadian family income flat in 2003:
LabourStart headline - Source: CBC

After increasing between 1996 and 2001 at an average annual rate of 3.2 per cent, average after-tax income for families of two people or more edged down slightly to an estimated $59,900 in 2003 from $60,400 in 2002, after adjusting for inflation.


Warning over Glasgow University job cuts
Unions say they will fight any compulsory redundancies as Glasgow University seeks to make savings of £7m.


Special schools in Northern Ireland hit by stoppages
Special schools in Northern Ireland have been badly hit by a one-day strike by education board workers. The strike received widespread support across the province.


Pakistan's first women fighter pilots
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) academy has been all-male for more than 55 years - but now it is going through major change. Women are now allowed to enrol on its aerospace engineering and fighter pilot programmes and are doing rather well.


British workers 'must bear pension risk'
Individuals should bear the risk of living longer, not the state or private companies, the head of the Pensions Commission has said. Adair Turner also said that it was clear that the current UK pensions system would not solve the problem of inadequate saving by many people.


US migration laws vex Mexico
Mexico is to make a formal complaint to the US over tough new immigration measures signed into law by President George W Bush on Wednesday. The new law will allow a border fence to be completed in the Californian city of San Diego to deter illegal migrants.


Dutch may expel Antillean youths
Dutch integration minister Rita Verdonk says the cabinet has agreed to her policy of expelling jobless immigrants from the Netherlands Antilles. Under the plan, Antilleans aged 18 to 24 who do not start work or study within three months will be sent home.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Italy Enters Second Recession in Less Than Two Years as Production Slumps
Gross domestic product shrank 0.5 percent in the first quarter, the steepest drop in six years, after a contraction of 0.4 percent in the previous three months, statistics office Istat said in Rome today.


European journalists pledge support for BBC staff after massive vote for strike action
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ


The Future of Organized Labor
by Ralph Nader published by In the Public Interest The Future of Organized LaborWith U.S.


AirTran Airways and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Announce Membership Ratification of One-Year Co
AirTran Airways and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Announce Membership Ratification of One-Year Contract Agreement ORLANDO, Fla., May 9, 2005 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc.


Hispanic groups divided over free trade agreement
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hispanic lawmakers and interest groups are of one mind in desiring prosperity and democracy in Central America, but they are divided over a free trade agreement facing a tough test in Congress.


Nigeria: 'No Clause Can Prevent Us From Strike'
President-General of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Mrs Peace Obiajulu, weekend said the anti-strike clause in the new labour act would not prevent workers from going on strike when they wanted to do so.


Retail Sales Strong, Jobless Claims Up
Retail sales jumped 1.4 percent in April, the strongest showing in six months, as consumers streamed back into auto showrooms and shopping malls, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Last month's increase was far better than the 0.8 percent gain...


WHAT THEY'LL GET: How pension agency pays out
Many United Airlines employees and retirees, except high-paid pilots, could still receive most of the pension benefits they have earned to date if the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. takes over the bankrupt company's plans. On Tuesday, a bankruptcy...


Obese workers getting smaller pay / Stanford study ties lower wages to higher health care costs
Employers may be compensating for the expected higher health costs of obese workers by giving them slimmer paychecks, according to a just- released study. Previous studies have shown that severely overweight workers get paid less than other employees....


CAW to stand ground in talks
Detroit's automakers won't find it easy to squeeze costs by leaning on their workers across the border. The president of the Canadian Auto Workers says his almost 42,000 union members have no intention of making any concessions to Detroit's automakers on wages, pensions or health care when the CAW begins contract negotiations this summer. Their reasoning: It's already cheaper to do business in Canada.


Sex trade's forced labour
Globally, forced labour - which includes sexual exploitation - generates $31bn (£16.5bn), half of it in the industrialised world, a tenth in transition countries, the ILO says in a report on forced labour*.
"Technological developments such as the internet, as well as the proliferation of tourism, escort agencies and media outlets that advertise sexual services, have all contributed to the growing demand for commercial sex," the ILO says.


Pension reform options in UK kept open
David Blunkett called for people to "take responsibility and key decisions for themselves" in his first major speech as Work and Pensions Secretary. He described his approach as "something for something", not a "safety net".


Mixed signals for eurozone growth
Economic growth in the eurozone picked up in the first three months of 2005, boosted by improved growth in Germany. But Italy has slipped into recession. Its economy shrank 0.5% and has now contracted for six months, the usual definition of recession.


Chinese urged to curb EU exports
Peter Mandelson, the European Union's trade commissioner, has called on China to act swiftly to curb its booming textile exports to the EU. Sales of some Chinese goods have surged this year and there are concerns that European firms are suffering.


Cambodia workers threaten strike
The leader of Cambodia's largest trade union group has threatened a general strike if union representatives are taken to court in a garment dispute. Union officials say workers' rights have been undermined since the end of the garment industry quota system known as the Multi-Fibre Arrangement.


US trade deficit's shock shrink
The US trade deficit has narrowed unexpectedly in March, hitting its lowest level for six months as a weak dollar pushed exports to record highs. A drop in textile imports from China also helped deflate the previously ballooning trade shortfall.


Swaziland: Labour Movement Says It's Far From Dead
The Swaziland labour movement is suffering from declining membership as manufacturing and agricultural industries shed jobs, and faces a public image problem in the wake of media reports of internal divisions and corruption. But union officials told IRIN the clout of collective labour to effect political and social change is not dead.


Arab country business leaders seeking to strike deals
On the sidelines of the a South America-Arab summit at Brasilia in Brazil, businessmen are seeking to strike deals between the two regions. Their efforts at a parallel investors conference got a boost when ministers announced negotiations on a free-trade area between six Arab Gulf nations - many of them rich in oil and gas - and a South American economic bloc that includes the continent's two largest economies.


South Africa Cosatu threatens mass action against clothing stores
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has threatened mass action against the country's clothing retail stores. The retailers are refusing to sign the federation's proposed code of conduct, which requires them to have 75% locally-manufactured products on their shelves.


United Airlines Cuts Employee Pension Plans in Bid to Survive
The day after a bankruptcy judge approved United Airlines' proposal to shed its employee pension plan, the company announced on Wednesday that it lost more than $1 billion in the first three months of this year.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

UAE to repatriate child jockeys
The Emirates agree with the UN on a plan to repatriate some 3,000 underage camel jockeys from poorer countries. Help and protection will be offered to boys until they are sent back to their homelands, mainly in Africa and Asia, where they will get further UAE aid.


Healthcare migration warning
Increasing migration of healthcare workers has resulted in an emergency in the developing world, doctors say. The British Medical Association warned lives were being lost because of staff shortages, particularly in Africa. Two-thirds of new doctors and 40% of nurses in the UK came from abroad last year, although the health service does have an ethical recruitment code.


Millions 'live in modern slavery'
Some 12.3 million people are victims of forced labour around the world, a major UN report says. The International Labour Organization says 2.4 million of them are victims of trafficking, and their labour generates profits of over $30bn. The ILO says that while the figures may be lower than recent estimates, they reflect reported cases which may rise as societies face the problem.


Query over Australia's 'welfare to work' job supply
Peter Costello's plan to push 190,000 people from welfare to work would only happen if the economy continued to boom, a labour market analyst said yesterday.

But Mr Costello's office was unclear on whether the forecast meant there would be 190,000 fewer people on welfare within four years, or if 190,000 now on welfare would have work and be replaced on the dole by others.


BBC staff back strike over job cuts
Journalists and technical workers at the BBC have voted to go on strike in protest at plans to cut jobs, it has been announced.

The Corporation now faces the threat of a walkout at TV and radio stations across the country later this month threatening disruption to programmes.


Uncle Sam wants Australians - for better-paid jobs
Thousands more Australians will be able to accept better-paid jobs in the United States after Congress made Australia a special case under its visa laws.

In what is being seen as an acknowledgement of the two countries' close relationship, Australia is to be given 10,500 work visas each year, a concession no other country has.


AARP's Response to Proposed Progressive Price Indexing of Social Security Benefits
Engaging the American public in a debate about sensible solutions is the first step toward strengthening Social Security. Social Security needs to be strengthened now for our children and our grandchildren.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Discrimination in Beijing job market
Non-local graduates at Beijing universities should not be discriminated against because of household registration when hunting for jobs, says an article in China Economic Times.


Fears grow over UK economy
Any decision not to raise interest rates will be particularly welcome for SMEs working in or dependent on the manufacturing sector, which has been hit hard by the collapse last month of the car giant Rover.


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