December 24, 2004
AFL-CIO Grinch Award
“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."
December 23, 2004
Funny men and women organize
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."
December 22, 2004
A Red State Nation, according to EPI
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.
December 21, 2004
Cincinnati Seeks New Dean
Nominations, expressions of interest, and requests for the comprehensive position description should be emailed to the Witt/Kieffer executive search firm here.
Health benefits and bankruptcy
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.
December 20, 2004
AFL-CIO Grinch of the Year
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 on employment regulation in Latin America
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.
December 19, 2004
Charges Filed Against Union for Retaliation
"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."