Friday, December 31, 2004
U.S. District Court Judge George B. Daniels, upheld the arbitrator's decision in the dispute bteween the NBA and Jermaine O'Neal of the Indiana Pacers. According to the judge,
According to the NYT (Judge's Ruling Favors O'Neal):
The league went to court after arbitrator Roger Kaplan said O'Neal's penalty should be cut to 15 games, citing the player's ``character, community involvement and citizenship.''
The NBA challenged Kaplan's authority to hear an appeal of Stern's punishment.
``We are puzzled with Judge Daniels' ruling because the Collective Bargaining Agreement states that an appeal of a suspension for 'conduct on the playing court' may be made only to the Commissioner, not to an arbitrator, and Jermaine O'Neal's actions took place entirely on the playing court,'' the NBA said in a statement Thursday. ...
``Fighting with or striking a fan has never been characterized as conduct on the playing court,'' Daniels said, reading from a written ruling. ``Striking a fan is inexcusable, and appropriately considered something different and much more serious.''
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Around the metropolitan area, tens of thousands of retail, restaurant and factory workers are paid far below minimum wage, said Andrew Friedman of the activist group Make the Road By Walking.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
The All Times Union reports on an interesting case involving religious discrimnation out of Albany, N.Y. Here is the beginning of the article:
"To some people, Patricia Freund's job might sound perfect. But she doesn't think so.
Monday through Friday, she arrives at her spartan office at the State Liquor Authority at 8 a.m., and, for her entire 7-hour shift, does no work.
She spends the morning reading one of the novels she brings from her Argyle home -- until lunch-time, when she steps from the back office she shares with no one and that her boss never visits.
After the break, she returns to her desk and opens "A Distant Mirror," about the calamitous 14th century, because she has just finished "Bury Me Standing," a story about the journey of gypsies. Besides an occasional daydream, the novels help her pass the hours until quitting time at 4 p.m. Then she quietly slips out the back door, having done nothing productive for the $82,789 she is paid annually. With benefits, her job costs taxpayers more than $100,000 a year.
In a normal week, she speaks to no one, except maybe a janitor, and receives no assignments from her boss, Edward F. Kelly, chairman of the liquor authority, she says."
The employee involved argues that the reason for the treatmet she is receiving is that,
she has been outspoken about beliefs that public employees should keep their religious lives separate from their work lives. Her downfall, she says, came after she questioned why co-workers, particularly supervisors, attend the governor's annual prayer breakfast, an event she went to in 2000 and found offensive.
A couple of months ago, The New York Times Magazine featured an article (Faith At Work, by Rusell Shorto) which notes that religion could become the next big workplace issue.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
The New York Law School Labor & Employment Law Program will co-host with NYLS’s Information Institute for Law & Justice Action Center, the Next Wave Organizing Conference, this coming January 27 and 28, 2005.
Here is the conference announcement:
Workplaces once were unionized or open shops, and workers either were or were not represented by a union. Today the situation has changed dramatically. Unions are organizing in new ways and workers are also finding alternative forms for organizing themselves.
On January 27 and 28, 2005, New York Law School’s Labor & Employment Law Program, Justice Action Center, and Institute for Information Law & Policy will present the Next Wave Organizing conference to examine how workers organize in the 21st Century and how new tools and techniques can be harnessed to improve organizing.
The Conference will convene students; union and other worker organizers; scholars in labor and employment law, industrial relations, economics, and political science; as well as technologists to discuss the future of worker organizing and organizing, generally. Panelists will address: What societal changes have led to next-wave organizing? Have next-wave organizers targeted new groups of workers, identified new goals for their organizing, and found new sources of leverage? How does technology help organizers, particularly organizers of low-wage workers, to increase their organizations’ leverage and how might they use technology even more effectively? Do next-wave organizations directly affect labor market outcomes, like wages, hours, and working conditions, in the way that traditional unions do? If not, should that be their goal and how can they accomplish that goal.
Monday, December 27, 2004
Lots of interesting papers and panels at the upcoming meeting of the Labor & Employment Relations Association (previsously known as the IRRA).
Here is a link to the program - Annual 2005 Annual Meeting, January 6-9 2005.
Friday, December 24, 2004
“The overwhelming vote to name Wal-Mart Grinch of the Year reflects the growing concern that working families have with this mega-corporation,” says Fred Azcarate, executive director of Jobs with Justice, a coalition of union, community, religious and student groups.
Some of the reasons given for Wal-Mart's selection:
"The largest retailer in the world and largest employer in the United States, Wal-Mart is a sets an ever-lower standard for corporate practices across the country. Studies have demonstrated how Wal-Mart’s practices drive down wages and benefits of service-sector jobs, drain taxpayer money from communities, force the closure of local businesses and destroy manufacturing jobs, in part by importing more than $15 billion a year from China."
"Wal-Mart has created such high barriers to qualify for its health care benefits, many workers must depend upon publicly financed medical services. According to a research study in California, Wal-Mart workers seek $86 million a year in state aid because of inadequate wages and benefits."
"Earlier this year, Wal-Mart admitted it routinely locked workers in its stores during their overnight shifts. Saying they have been denied promotions and pay raises because of their gender, a group of women sued Wal-Mart this year in the largest sex-discrimination case in history. In June, a U.S. District Court in San Francisco gave class-action status to current and former female Wal-Mart workers, making it the largest class-action lawsuit ever in the United States, representing 1.6 million women who have worked at Wal-Mart since 1998."
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Comedians of the World - Unite!!! (More or less). So reports the New York Times in New York Comedians Say Low Pay No Laughing Matter
"Ted Alexandro and Russ Meneve have rounded up more than 300 funny men and women to form the New York Comedians Coalition and they have sent a letter to the city's top comedy venues demanding a raise.
The bottom line is that $60 to $75 for weekend set is not enough to survive, while the weekday rate of $15 to $25 for a 20-minute set is beyond a joke, Alexandro said.
``We've been making the same wage since 1985,'' he said.
``A comic working 12 to 14 shows a week grosses barely over $20,000 a year from the New York clubs,'' said Alexandro, a regular at top clubs such as Caroline's on Broadway, adding that he resorts to touring and corporate engagements."
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows the nation is very much a red state nation (in terms of economic growth). In Three years later, most states still not recovered from recession, EPI notes that:
The recession that began in March 2001 now has been officially over for three years, but the job market of nearly every state still has not recovered. In particular, manufacturing employment continues to lag. Many states still have fewer jobs than when the recession began in March 2001. Some states have suffered worse than others—Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Colorado have jobs deficits of 3% or more (compared to 0.3% for the national economy as a whole). Twenty-three other states also still have fewer jobs. More telling, however, is the fact that in every state except Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming, job growth has lagged growth in the working-age population during this period.
Thanks to Job Hodnicki for the tip.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Nominations, expressions of interest, and requests for the comprehensive position description should be emailed to the Witt/Kieffer executive search firm here.
In yesterday's LA Times a story about the effects of bankruptcy on workers' health benefits. According to the article:
Hundreds of thousands of steel, airline and technology workers — many of them retirees — have seen long-promised benefits disappear or be slashed or threatened in recent years.
In the steel industry, 244,000 retirees have lost healthcare benefits in the last three years, according to union officials. Many also have seen drastic cuts in pensions. Much of that is related to 44 bankruptcies of domestic steel companies since 1998.
The article notes further that:
One problem that the miners face is there is no federal protection for healthcare benefits as there is for private pensions that are insured by a government agency.
"The simple fact is companies are not required by law to put aside money today to cover retiree healthcare promises that won't kick in until later," said Daniel Keating, a law professor and bankruptcy and labor expert at Washington University in St. Louis.
Monday, December 20, 2004
Cast your ballot for Grinch of the Year!
According to the AFL-CIO website:
Workers nationwide are voting for corporate Grinch of the Year, selecting among Wal-Mart, Comcast, Angelica Corp., Continental General Tire and Cintas for the 2004 top greedy Grinch award. Sponsored byJobs with Justice—a coalition of union, community, religious and student groups— the fourth annual online election is open until Dec. 21, and Jobs with Justice will announce a winner the following day.
New book by James J. Heckman and Carmen Pages, editors, Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean.
Numerous labor regulations that were introduced or reformed in Latin America in the past thirty years have had important economic consequences. Nobel Prize-winning economist James J. Heckman and Carmen Pagés document the behavior of firms attempting to stay in business and be competitive while facing the high costs of complying with these labor laws. They challenge the prevailing view that labor market regulations affect only the distribution of labor incomes and have little or no impact on efficiency or the performance of labor markets. Using new micro-evidence, this volume shows that labor regulations reduce labor market turnover rates and flexibility, promote inequality, and discriminate against marginal workers.
For an on-line review of the book by Matthew M. Taylor, Department of Government, Georgetown University (see here).
Thanks to Paul Caron for the tip.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
"The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in New York has issued a formal complaint against the Security Police Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) union for unlawfully refusing to adequately detail the union’s expenditures, and subsequently threatening to have a local worker fired for refusing to pay full union dues. The NLRB Region 2 Director scheduled a hearing to prosecute the union after union officials failed to live up to an earlier promise to end related unfair labor practices."
So reported the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation this last week (December 16, 2004) in their website.
According to the report:
"With the help of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, Richard Grogan, a local security guard, alleges that SPFPA union officials failed to provide him with an independent audit of union expenditures as required by law, and that a union official illegally threatened him with termination for failure to allow the seizure of full union dues from his paycheck."
Saturday, December 18, 2004
As of last month, the economic recovery that officially began in November 2001 was three years old. Yet, as the figure below reveals, hourly earnings (adjusted for inflation) fell 1.3% over the past year and are now at about the same level now as they were when the recovery began.
Real wages grew strongly in the latter 1990s, and the momentum from that period kept wages rising through the recession and jobless recovery. But even though the economy began to add some jobs last year, the rate of growth has been too slow and inconsistent to absorb the slack that remains in the job market. Under such conditions, employers are less compelled to pass along gains in profits or productivity onto workers’ wages. This phenomenon is evident in the deceleration of nominal wages, which grew at an average annual rate of 3.9% in 2000 compared to just 2.1% thus far this year.
Friday, December 17, 2004
BBC News reports on the effects on textile workers from the decision by the The World Trade Organisation (WTO) to end its Multi-Fibre Agreement (MFA) at midnight on 31 December.
The MFA was established in the 1970s to give some protection to the textile industries of industrialised countries facing competition from countries with lower manufacturing costs.... Some of the world's fastest developing countries rely on textile exports to build growth - for example in Bangladesh textiles account for almost 85% of the country's exports.
Christian Aid, a charitable organization, condemned the move, saying it would see almost a million jobs in Bangladesh alone being axed.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
This Article looks at the Supreme Court's recent decision on the use of race in law school admissions through the lens of the famous hypothetical about human cannibalism constructed by Lon Fuller (62 Harv. L. Rev. 616 (1949)). The hypothetical has challenged law students and legal scholars for over half a century, and in recent years scholars have issued dozens of new "opinions" to take into account contemporary legal theories (including symposia in 112 Harv. L. Rev. 1834 (1999) and 61 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1731 (1993)). This Article is the first to take the opposite approach and view a real-life legal issue through the eyes of the fictional Justices in The Case of the Speluncean Explorers.
We argue that the various opinions in Grutter find their intellectual forebears in the opinions in The Case of the Speluncean Explorers. For all of the heat and light generated by Grutter, the opinions merely mark another way station in the centuries-old debate among competing jurisprudential philosophies of the role of law and government. By examining the Grutter opinions in the context of this rich jurisprudential tradition, we hope to elevate much of the current debate about the case, in which labels like "liberal" and "conservative" are hurled about like epithets, toward a more sophisticated understanding of how the various approaches of the Justices embody alternative views of the proper judicial function in our democratic system.
The Article introduces a novel jurisprudential approach to judicial decision-making -- what we refer to as a "jurisprudence of humility." Building on the recent work of ideologically diverse scholars, we argue that a jurisprudence of humility recognizes that judges and lawyers hold no monopoly on wisdom and that, in certain situations, institutions other than courts may be better positioned to resolve a particular issue. This jurisprudence of humility construct enables us to draw some rather surprising connections between The Case of the Speluncean Explorers and Grutter and span the gulf in the legal literature between statutory construction and constitutional interpretation.
A new report from the BLS - WORKPLACE INJURIES AND ILLNESSES IN 2003. Here is the part of the summary:
A total of 4.4 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses were reported in private industry workplaces during 2003, resulting in a rate of 5.0 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, according to the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor. The rate of injuries and illnesses declined from 5.3 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers in 2002. The decline is a result of a 7.1 percent decrease in the number of cases reported and a 0.7 percent decrease in the number of hours worked.
This release is the second in a series of three releases from the BLS covering
occupational safety and health statistics in 2003. The first release, in September 2004, covered work-related fatalities from the 2003 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. In March 2005, a third release will provide details on the more seriously injured and ill workers (occupation, age, gender, race, and length of service) and on the circumstances of their injuries and illnesses (nature of the disabling condition, part of body affected, event or exposure, primary source producing the disability, the time of day of occurrence, and the number of hours into the workshift before the occurrence). "More seriously" is defined in this survey as cases involving days away from work.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
A new paper from NBER on child labor. In, Why Should We Care About Child Labor? The Education, Labor Market, and Health Consequences of Child Labor by Kathleen Beegle, Rajeev Dehejia, and Roberta Gatti, argue that:
Although there is an extensive literature on the determinants of child labor and many initiatives aimed at combating it, there is limited evidence on the consequences of child labor on socio-economic outcomes such as education, wages, and health. We evaluate the causal effect of child labor participation on these outcomes using panel data from Vietnam and an instrumental variables strategy. Five years subsequent to the child labor experience, we find significant negative impacts on school participation and educational attainment, but also find substantially higher earnings for those (young) adults who worked as children. We find no significant effects on health. Over a longer horizon, we estimate that from age 30 onward the forgone earnings attributable to lost schooling exceed any earnings gain associated with child labor and that the net present discounted value of child labor is positive for discount rates of 11.5 percent or higher. We show that child labor is prevalent among households likely to have higher borrowing costs, that are farther from schools, and whose adult members experienced negative returns to their own education. This evidence suggests that reducing child labor will require facilitating access to credit and will also require households to be forward looking.
Thanks to Joe Hodnicki for the tip.
Encouraging work at older ages is a critical policy goal for an aging society, but many features of the current system of benefits and taxes provide strong work disincentives. The implicit tax rate on work increases rapidly at older ages, approaching 50 percent for some workers by age 70. In addition, by age 65 people can typically receive nearly as much in retirement as they can by working. If older Americans could overcome these barriers and delay retirement, they could substantially improve their economic well-being at older ages. For example, many people could increase their annual consumption at older ages by more than 25 percent by simply retiring at age 67 instead of age 62.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Great article on today's New York Times - How Do You Drive Out a Union? South Carolina Factory Provides a Textbook Case (by Steven Greenhouse).
Greenhouse describes the no so unusual story of employers using strong union avoidance strategies:
This tale began a decade ago when the International Union of Electrical Workers began rounding up support at the factory, which produced giant batteries to power forklifts and provide backup power to cellphone towers.
The union petitioned for a unionization election when many workers voiced dismay about meager pensions, bullying supervisors, production speedups and safety problems, especially with the high temperatures and lead used in production.
The company, then called Yuasa, hired Jackson Lewis to help mount a last-minute anti-union campaign. The company required employees to listen to speakers saying the union did not want to help workers, but only wanted their dues money. Management posted pictures of tombstones and skulls and crossbones in the cafeteria to warn employees that unionized factories often closed.
But on Feb. 23, 1995, the workers voted 191 to 185 to unionize. Management was livid.
"They said that if the union came in the company was doomed," Paulette Jackson, a union steward and quality control worker, said. "They fought tooth and nail. They didn't want a union in the South. Period."
The company fired Ms. Jackson, accusing her of failing to detect some faulty batteries, but her supervisor later told the National Labor Relations Board that the charges were trumped up.
The company's tactics led to many tangles with the labor board, which ultimately filed a sweeping complaint against EnerSys, accusing it of 120 violations of federal law, among them wrongly firing Ms. Jackson and other union leaders, assisting the anti-union campaign, improperly withdrawing union recognition and moving production to nonunion plants as retaliation.
More interesting, however, is the malpractice lawsuit against Jackson Lewis, the law firm representing the employer in its anti-union campaign:
The company has accused the firm, Jackson Lewis, of malpractice and of advising it to engage in illegal behavior. The law firm says that EnerSys ignored its sound advice and that the company is trying to avoid paying its legal bill.