Labor & Economic News Blog
Friday, August 31, 2007
UK: Public sector pay flashpointsPublic sector pay flashpoints in the UK
Gordon Brown is facing calls for co-ordinated strikes over public sector pay. Several unions are thought likely to raise the issue with the prime minister at next month's Trades Union Congress. But the prime minister says staging pay awards is an essential part of controlling inflation. Here is a look at some key areas.
To strike or not? Hollywood's next dramaTo strike or not? Hollywood's next drama
Source: NY Times
Labor issues are at the fore here because the master contract between film and television producers and two powerful writers unions — the Writers Guild of America, West, and the Writers Guild of America, East — is scheduled to expire in just two months, on Oct. 31. While conventional Hollywood wisdom is betting against an immediate strike, just as there was no strike in the last go-round with the producers, the guilds’ memberships have not yet ruled out that most aggressive step.
IBM stops tracking vacation; Workers can take as much or as little as they want; Complaints about workaholism worry someIBM stops tracking vacation; Workers can take as much or as little as they want; Complaints about workaholism worry some
Source: NY Times
It’s every worker’s dream: take as much vacation time as you want, on short notice, and don’t worry about your boss calling you on it. Cut out early, make it a long weekend, string two weeks together — as you like. No need to call in sick on a Friday so you can disappear for a fishing trip. Just go; nobody’s keeping track.
Benjamin Aaron, expert in labor law, dies at 91 ; Promoted increased democracy in the workplace and protection for workers not represented by unionsBenjamin Aaron, expert in labor law, dies at 91 ; Promoted increased democracy in the workplace and protection for workers not represented by unions
Source: NY Times
Professor Aaron, the director of the Institute of Industrial Relations at the University of California, Los Angeles, from 1960 to 1975, was a leader in the field of comparative labor law, the study of how workplace issues are dealt with in different countries.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
California Worker Wins Over-time Abuse CaseWorker Wins Over-time Abuse Case
State Supreme Court rules on side of sales manager in case that may affect thousands of workers.
Union is key topic of Smithfield meetingUnion is key topic of Smithfield meeting
Officials with Smithfield Foods Inc. said Wednesday they are in talks with union leaders to resolve a long-running dispute over organizing workers at a Tar Heel, N.C., plant, but they are adamant about how a vote would be conducted.
Venezuelans chase dollars amid economy worriesVenezuelans chase dollars amid economy worries
At the moment, Venezuela's economy is booming, but there are signs of future trouble. Oil production is falling; inflation is running at 19 percent. Many Venezuelans are building up supplies of U.S. dollars to protect themselves.
U.S. Workers Gain Leisure Time, Study SaysU.S. Workers Gain Leisure Time, Study Says
Despite its label of the "no vacation-nation," leisure time in the United States has actually increased in the last 40 years, according to a new study. Men work less in the market than they used to. And women have gained leisure time, thanks to declines in work they do in the home.
U.N.: 48-Hour Work Week Common Except in U.S.U.N.: 48-Hour Work Week Common Except in U.S.
A U.N. report on working time around the world shows that Americans work short hours compared to other countries. Only 18 percent or Americans work more than 48 hours per week. As a comparison, in England, a greater percentage of people work 48 hours or more.
Teamsters will ask court to stop Mexican trucks from entering U.S.Teamsters will ask court to stop Mexican trucks from entering U.S.
In StarTribune.com Business
The Teamsters Union said Wednesday it will ask a federal appeals courts to block the Bush administration's plan to begin allowing Mexican trucks to carry cargo anywhere in the United States. The union said it has been told by officials in the Transportation Department's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that the first Mexican trucks will be coming across the border on Saturday. Teamsters leaders said they planned to seek an emergency injunction Wednesday from the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Union: Chicago, teachers reach deal to avoid strikeUnion: Chicago, teachers reach deal to avoid strike
Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago teachers and school officials reached a tentative contract agreement, staving off the threat of a strike with a pact that sources said Wednesday will give teachers a 4 percent wage increase in each of the next five years.
Growth recovers but jobless claims upGrowth recovers but jobless claims up
Reuters - The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 4 percent in the second quarter, as strong business investment led the fastest pace of expansion since early last year, the government reported on Thursday.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Puget Sound area -Grocery workers ratify contractGrocery workers ratify contract
Five months of intense negotiations will result in enhanced medical benefits, modest pay raises and better scheduling for union workers at Puget Sound-area Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyer and Albertsons stores.
Nurses threatening to strike at Sutter Health hospitalsNurses threatening to strike at Sutter Health hospitals
Source: SF Chronicle
Union-represented registered nurses at seven Sutter Health affiliate hospitals in the Bay Area have authorized their contract negotiating teams to call strikes if agreements are not reached.
'Liberal' New York Times: Solve lack-of-qualified-teachers problem by abandoning union work rules'Liberal' New York Times Editorial: Solve lack-of-qualified-teachers problem by abandoning union work rules
With 50 million children set to return to school, districts all over the country are still scrambling to fill teaching positions and are having an especially difficult time finding qualified applicants to fill shortages in vital areas like math and science.
Cal Student Workers Still Paid Less, Feel BetrayedCal Student Workers Still Paid Less, Feel Betrayed
After being led to believe that their fight for equal pay was over and won, Cal students employed by Cal Dining learned today that they are still paid less than their coworkers. Though Cal students received a raise in July to $11.25/hour (starting pay), other workers, including high school students, are now getting paid a starting wage as high as $11.93/hour.
Court approves final Delphi contract with unionCourt approves final Delphi contract with union
Source: Washington Post
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York on Wednesday approved a Delphi Corp contract with the United Steelworkers union, wrapping up the labor deals the car parts maker needs for its reorganization.
Strike over Internet income? Hollywood guilds try for a united frontStrike over Internet income? Hollywood guilds try for a united front
Source: Hollywood Today
With lucrative Internet and new media income on the line and a possible writer’s strike on Oct. 31, the two sides are digging in. Studios have been stockpiling scripts and networks speeding up series development in anticipation of a work stoppage by writers, and soon after that, actors.
CEO pay and benefits on the rise: reportCEO pay and benefits on the rise: report
Reuters - Top executives at major businesses last year made as much money in one day of work on the job as the average worker made over the entire year, according to a report released on Wednesday.
Unions push for universal health careUnions push for universal health care
The AFL-CIO today launches a campaign to influence national discourse surrounding the 2008 election. And with the weight of 10 million members behind it, the labor federation's push will be hard to ignore. Jeremy Hobson reports.
Low prices come with low wagesLow prices come with low wages
What'd you pay for that grill? As you enjoy a long weekend and Labor Day barbeques, Robert Reich suggests you think about how we as a nation traded in a unionized workforce with the bargaining clout to get higher wages for cheap goods and services.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Earthlink lays off half its staffEarthlink lays off half its staff
EarthLink Inc., one of the few survivors of Atlanta's tech wave of the 1990s, said Tuesday it will slash its work force nearly in half in an effort to stabilize its business after a string of losses. [ Submit your comments below. ] Buffeted by change in the industry and bleeding cash from new ventures, the company will focus on providing Internet access while cutting 900 jobs -- 562 of them in Atlanta, said Rolla P. Huff, EarthLink president and chief executive officer, in an interview at the company's headquarters.
Twinkie maker to lay off 1,300 in Southern CaliforniaTwinkie maker to lay off 1,300 in Southern California
Interstate Bakeries Corp., the bankrupt maker of Wonder bread and Hostess Twinkies, said Tuesday it will exit the bread business in Southern California, laying off about 1,300 workers. The Kansas City-based company said it will close four bakeries in...
Ed Feulner: Laboring to uncover the truthEd Feulner: Laboring to uncover the truth
Source: Indianapolis Star
A handful of federal investigators have uncovered evidence of multiple crimes. In the last six years alone, these gangbusters have won 775 criminal convictions and the repayment of $70 million taken illegally from American workers. So how does Congress react? By moving to cut their budget next year.
Utah pay gap stirs gender talkUtah pay gap stirs gender talk
Source: Salt Lake City Tribune
After Brooke Anderson completes her three-year union apprenticeship next May to become a journeyman commercial painter, she will be making the same wages as her male counterparts - $17.90 an hour plus benefits.
U. of Minnesota, unions to return to bargaining tableU. of Minnesota, unions to return to bargaining table
Source: Workday Minnesota
The University of Minnesota and four local unions return to the bargaining table Wednesday for the first negotiations since workers authorized their leadership to call a strike that would impede the start of fall semester classes.
Clinton, Dodd Win National Labor Union Endorsements (Bloomberg)Clinton, Dodd Win National Labor Union Endorsements (Bloomberg)
Bloomberg - Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd won the first major endorsements from national unions, boosting their bids for the Democratic presidential nomination.
U.S. poverty rate declines significantlyU.S. poverty rate declines significantly
AP - Five years into a national economic recovery, the share of Americans living in poverty finally dropped.
Middle class still shrinkingMiddle class still shrinking
Researchers predict that 2006 data will show a dwindling middle class when the census bureau releases its annual report on income, poverty and health insurance today. And that's bad news for folks above the $75,000 line too. Jeremy Hobson explains.
U.S. health insurance crisis getting worseU.S. health insurance crisis getting worse
The U.S. Census Bureau has some good news and some bad news: There are slightly fewer Americans out of work, but there's also a sharp upturn in the number of people without health insurance. Helen Palmer reports.
Monday, August 27, 2007
U.S. job satisfaction high after age 65, study findsU.S. job satisfaction high after age 65, study finds
Nearly 90 percent of the US workforce loves their jobs -- especially those who still work after the age of 65, a study published Monday by the University of Chicago showed.
Parts of West run far short of workersParts of West run far short of workers
Record low unemployment across parts of the West has created tough working conditions for business owners, who in places are being forced to boost wages or be creative to fill their jobs.
Ford and GM say factories in US face axe:Ford and GM say factories in US face axe:
Ailing car giants push union to agree pay cuts. Ford and General Motors have threatened to leave Detroit and take their car manufacturing operations overseas if unions do not agree to a massive pay cut for hourly paid workers.
What mining costs usWhat mining costs us
Source: Washington Post
Underground coal miners work in the darkness, invisible to most of us, and when they die -- also in the darkness, from methane explosions or rock falls or any of the hundreds of other hazards they face every day -- their deaths usually merit just a few paragraphs in the local newspaper.
Denver teachers turn up negotiating heatDenver teachers turn up negotiating heat
Source: Rocky Mountain News
Negotiations between Denver Public Schools and its teachers' union resume today - and the gloves are off.
New union-Medco program could shift thinking about drug benefitsNew union-Medco program could shift thinking about drug benefits
As many large labor unions wrestle with employers who want to cut health benefits, one class of unions is working with a health-sector company to improve benefits and cut costs.
Instead of implementing a rear-guard action to preserve the status quo, the National Labor Alliance of Health Care Coalitions is partnering with pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions for direct union power over members' prescription drug plans.
With turnover high, schools fight for teachersWith turnover high, schools fight for teachers
The retirement of thousands of baby boomer teachers coupled with the departure of younger teachers frustrated by the stress of working in low-performing schools is fueling a crisis in teacher turnover that is costing school districts substantial amounts of money as they scramble to fill their ranks for the fall term
San Francisco teachers reach contract agreementSan Francisco teachers reach contract agreement
By Jill Tucker
Representatives of the Francisco Unified School District and leaders of the teachers union reached a tentative agreement over a new labor contract after a 17-hour negotiating session over the weekend. The deal ends months of often contentious talks between...
Friday, August 24, 2007
No glass ceiling, just a glass floorNo glass ceiling, just a glass floor
Source: The Press-Telegram
The 33-year-old mother of two is a fourth generation "longie," but she represents the first group of women to reach the upper echelon of the International Longshore and Warehouse Workers Union.
Cheap imports force globalizationCheap imports force globalization
Mark Nichols might not have believed it had it not been there in the palm of his hand. It had the same slender body, tiny legs and bulbous eyes. The same feather-light weight and glittering color. Even the hook was in the same place.
Boeing outsources 150 tech jobsBoeing outsources 150 tech jobs
Boeing Co. is laying off about 150 employees in a computer network operations unit as it outsources information technology work to Computer Sciences Corp.
Chicago: Daley takes vacation-day plea to unionsDaley takes vacation-day plea to unions
Mayor Daley wants rank-and-file city employees to make the same sacrifice he's asked of their bosses to help close a $217 million budget gap: Unpaid furlough days. The request appears to be going nowhere.
First-year lawyers will get training off the clockFirst-year lawyers will get training off the clock
In an unusual move, an Atlanta-based law firm has eliminated a half-century-old requirement known as "billable hours" for first-year attorneys in favor of more on-the-job training. Ford & Harrison, one of the top labor employment firms in the nation, recently dropped the requirement as part of its new "Year One" Associate Development program, a 15-month regimen modeled after medical school residency. Rather than spending most of their first year or so researching law — and billing clients for that work — the new lawyers will spend time in strategy sessions, arbitration hearings, even in court — duties usually reserved for senior attorneys.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Shortage of skilled workers confronts IndiaShortage of skilled workers confronts India
Karthik Agashe, a 27-year-old software salesman, has changed jobs four times in his 4 1/2 -year career. Manjit Singh, 29, who met Agashe in 2005 when they worked for U.S. software maker Oracle Corp. in India's technology hub of Bangalore, has had three jobs in 3 1/2 years.
Jobless claims down 2,000 last week (Reuters)Jobless claims down 2,000 last week (Reuters)
Reuters - The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless aid fell 2,000 last week, government data on Thursday showed, while the number of people still collecting benefits rose to its highest since April.
Surprise: The rich get richer and the poor get more numerousSurprise: The rich get richer and the poor get more numerous
By Sam Zuckerman
Steven Bustin lives with his wife in a four-bedroom, 2,600-square-foot house in Novato. He drives a gray 2006 Audi A4. He earns more than $200,000 a year in salary and commissions from his job as head of sales for Podaddies, an Internet startup that sells...
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Mortgage industry's job cuts surpass 40,000Mortgage industry's job cuts surpass 40,000
At the North Carolina offices of Atlanta-based mortgage lender HomeBanc Corp., Archie Clark is the only employee left. But in a few days, he'll be gone, too. "It's pretty much a ghost town over there," Clark said. "Somebody went in and took the furniture from the lobby. I don't know who did that. I put some of the other stuff in the back and locked it up." When Clark finishes helping movers from the company's Atlanta headquarters collect computers and other property, he'll join the more than 25,000 workers nationwide who have lost jobs in the financial services industry since the beginning of the month -- with more than half coming since last Friday. With few exceptions, the cuts are the direct result of woes in the nation's housing market.
Former employees sue HomeBanc over layoffsFormer employees sue HomeBanc over layoffs
Atlanta-based HomeBanc Corp.'s abrupt layoff of more than 900 workers at the start of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing has spurred some of the former workers to sue the fallen mortgage lender. In a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., three of the company's former workers said that the massive layoff violated employee rights under federal law. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN Act, requires that companies give their workers 60 days advance written notice before conducting widespread layoffs.
Rotten bosses prompt legislation, Web sitesRotten bosses prompt legislation, Web sites
Bosses are really mean these days, or employees are really thin-skinned. Lawmakers in four states are considering legislation that would give workers grounds to sue their superiors for being, basically, jerks.
U.S. Group Accuses Chinese Toy Factories of Labor AbusesU.S. Group Accuses Chinese Toy Factories of Labor Abuses
A workers’ rights group in the United States released a report Tuesday detailing what it called brutal conditions and illegal practices in Chinese toy factories.
Union rejects contract at Vermont Yankee nuke plantUnion rejects contract at Vermont Yankee nuke plant
Source: Brattleboro Reformer
Union members voted against approving a contract Tuesday negotiated between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Entergy, the owners of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.
AFT reaches first contract for thousands of workers at Rutgers UniversityAFT reaches first contract for thousands of workers at Rutgers University
Source: Newark Star-Ledger
Rutgers University has reached a tentative contract agreement with the union representing faculty and graduate assistants that would require the school to hire more full-time tenured and tenure-track professors, union officials said.
CBS was warned `Kid Nation' violated state's child labor laws, documents showCBS was warned `Kid Nation' violated state's child labor laws, documents show
The producers of a CBS reality show featuring 40 children living on their own in the New Mexico desert were warned by the state attorney general's office while the show was being taped last spring that they might be violating the state's child-labor laws, according to interviews with state officials and documents obtained Tuesday under the state's open records act.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Will care for elderly come of age?Will care for elderly come of age?
With more baby boomers approaching the age where they'll qualify for Medicare coverage, analysts and politicians are wondering how we'll pay for them, and where we'll get the trained doctors to look after them. Helen Palmer reports.
Even homework gets outsourcedEven homework gets outsourced
Globalization has reached grade school. Thanks to the Internet and a little entrepreneurial spirit, some students are getting help with their studies from tutors on the other side of the world. Francesca Segre reports.
Kansas City: Union files objection after losing an organizing vote at UPS Freight Inc.Union files objection after losing an organizing vote at UPS Freight Inc.
A group that lost a union-organizing vote at the local UPS Freight Inc. terminal has filed objections to the election, alleging improper employer conduct.
Workers' comp outlays dropped 12 percent in 2005 in CaliforniaWorkers' comp outlays dropped 12 percent in 2005 in California
By Tom Abate
Outlays to cover workers' compensation claims fell 12.2 percent in California in 2005 but rose 1.7 percent in the rest of the nation, according to a new report from a nonpartisan group that serves as the statistical referee on many social service issues. The...
'Marketplace' Report: The Worst Boss'Marketplace' Report: The Worst Boss
The AFL-CIO names the worst boss in the country Tuesday, based on an online contest -- but the details of his identity remain secret. Still, help may be in sight for some: Five state legislatures are considering measures that would help protect workers from abusive environments.
Virtual Recruiting for Real-World JobsVirtual Recruiting for Real-World Jobs
There's an unusual job fair taking place this week, but you can't get there by plane or car, or drop off your resume in person. You have to travel in cyberspace -- to the popular virtual world called Second Life.
2005 Incomes, on Average, Still Below 2000 Peak2005 Incomes, on Average, Still Below 2000 Peak
The average income in 2005 was $55,238, nearly 1 percent less than the $55,714 in 2000, after adjusting for inflation.
Financial job cuts soar on housing woes (Reuters)Financial job cuts soar on housing woes (Reuters)
Reuters - A deepening U.S. housing slump has caused an alarming surge in job losses at U.S. financial services companies, and the end is nowhere in sight, consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said on Tuesday.
Tentative grocery contract reached in The Seattle areaTentative grocery contract reached
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
After five months of bargaining, the grocery workers union has reached a tentative agreement with four of the Northwest's largest grocery chains, the United Food and Commercial Workers announced Monday.
Labor Shortages: Myth and RealityLabor Shortages: Myth and Reality
With higher pay, there are plenty of U.S. workers to fill jobs, some economists say
Monday, August 20, 2007
Delta pilots get pension boostDelta pilots get pension boost
The news has been getting better for Delta Air Lines' retired and active pilots. A pension agency told the Atlanta carriers' current and former pilots Monday that, starting in November, about 3,300 will be getting somewhat bigger monthly pension checks than previously estimated. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a quasi-government agency that insures workers' traditional pensions up to certain limits, said it expects to cover a greater share of the pilots' pension benefits because it also received more valuable stock and other assets than expected as part of Delta's bankruptcy reorganization. The agency pays pensions above its guaranteed limits when it recovers enough assets to do so.
Mexico tries to reform street economicsMexico tries to reform street economics
Tens of thousands of vendors sell everything from school supplies to pirated pornography videos on the teeming streets radiating from Mexico City's main plaza, the Zocalo.
Working past 90Working past 90
More than 1 million Americans age 75 or older were working last year At 92, Pete Perillo still has a workday routine. He says a prayer and then heads off in uniform to guard the city courthouse.
Moms stay in the corporate gameMoms stay in the corporate game
Companies ease transition for valuable female employees who take off to care for children Gina Thoma is taking a year off work to raise a family, but she's still playing the corporate game.
More employers putting focus on philanthropyMore employers putting focus on philanthropy
Service-minded younger workers inspire companies to expand volunteer programs Volunteer programs are increasingly becoming a mainstream focus for employees.
Labor Pact Is Approved by a Union at DelphiLabor Pact Is Approved by a Union at Delphi
(AP) — Members of a union representing about 2,000 hourly workers of the Delphi Corporation, the auto parts supplier, voted to ratify a new four-year contract with Delphi, the union said.
Friday, August 17, 2007
California payrolls shed 8,600 jobs in JulyCalifornia payrolls shed 8,600 jobs in July
By By ALEX VEIGA, AP Business Writer
California payrolls shed 8,600 jobs in July, with the hard-hit construction sector posting the biggest losses, the state reported Friday. Battered by the housing slump, the sector lost 7,800 jobs. Other losses were seen in the trade, information,...
Getting a degree pays off with higher salaryGetting a degree pays off with higher salary
Want a decent salary? Get a degree. Get several, in fact. With students heading back to school, the federal government has released its latest look at how much graduates make. The basic lesson: higher degrees usually bring higher salaries. A person with a...
U.S. Proposes $2.78 Million Fine in Worker’s DeathU.S. Proposes $2.78 Million Fine in Worker’s Death
The fine against the Cintas Corporation is more than four times the previous safety penalty leveled against a service-sector company.
Starbucks: A Baristas Union?Starbucks: A Baristas Union?
At the Labor Board trial of the company, twentysomething activists try to poke holes in the company's socially responsible image.
Tentative agreement reached with nuke plant workers, averting strikeTentative agreement reached with nuke plant workers, averting strike
Source: Boston Globe
A union representing Vermont Yankee nuclear plant workers has tentatively agreed to a contract, averting the possibility of a strike.
Union's case extends beyond the newsroom, watcher saysUnion's case extends beyond the newsroom, watcher says
Source: Ventura County Star
Honest journalism is really what's on trial before an administrative law judge in Santa Barbara, veteran scribe Lou Cannon said Thursday
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Do workers lose in private buyouts?Do workers lose in private buyouts?
The explosion of recent corporate takeovers by private investors has attracted the attention of labor unions. Yesterday, one union leader launched an effort to rein in private equity's growing influence. John Dimsdale reports.
AirTran pilots to vote on leaders, contractAirTran pilots to vote on leaders, contract
In twin ballots spawned by continued troubles getting a new labor contract, the pilots union at AirTran Airways will vote this month on whether to recall its top leaders and whether to accept the airline's latest offer. Union leaders decided last week to authorize a vote on whether to recall President Allen Philpot and Vice President Michael Surapine. The leaders also set a ratification vote on a revised tentative agreement based on the company's recent final offer, but recommended a "no" vote. "There's not much confidence right now in the leadership," said David Sabby, an AirTran captain who organized the recall effort. Sabby, who plans to run for vice president of the union, said members were unhappy about a "horrible concessionary" tentative agreement that the union's leaders initially supported.
'Made in USA' Has Become a Simple Concept'Made in USA' Has Become a Simple Concept
Businesses like the toymaker Little Tikes are seeking to answer this question: Which products may be labeled "Made in the USA?" Most 100 percent American-made toys have no electronic parts -- blocks, rattles and the classic Slinky, for instance.
Union goes to bat for security guardsUnion goes to bat for security guards
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
The organized labor movement is demanding higher wages for 700 men and women who stand guard in Seattle and Bellevue commercial buildings and who often, the union says, go unnoticed.