Friday, May 6, 2005

Labor Quote Quiz - Answer

Here is the answer to this week's Labor Quote of the Week: (May 2, 2005)

Who said:

With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organization that ever existed.  They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in man, than any other association of men.

And the answer is....

Clarence Darrow; American criminal lawyer, writer, 1909

Thanks to

May 6, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Workplace and Religion

ABC News reports on a recent development regarding the intersection between religion and work.  According to Nancy Chandross, "Faith is finding its way onto the payroll as members of the clergy increasingly use their experience for a stint at the 9-to-5 grind."  Chandross continues,

"Human resources managers are realizing that employees, especially at a time of crisis, have needs that a chaplain or a spiritual person can address," explained Michigan-based chaplain Ron Klimp.

And recognizing those needs makes good business sense, according to Klimp, whose clients have noticed an increase in loyalty and a drop in absenteeism after employing the pastor's nonprofit group, Workplace Chaplains. His business has gone from servicing four companies when it started in 1999 to the current slate of 24 clients.

The Protestant pastor decided to leave the familiarity of working in a church to walk through offices, assembly lines and work spaces and reach out to anyone interested in the support. "We have dealt with people who were suicidal and intervened in a way that prevented the suicide, we have dealt with a person who was threatening workplace violence and engaged him in a conversation with his management folks until the issue got resolved," said Klimp.

You may think of work and religion as two separate parts of your life, but there's a growing movement to encourage people to merge the two. There are annual conferences promoting faith in the workplace, a range of books published on the topic and Web sites provide tips for mixing faith with the workday. Workplace chaplains have slowly increased their place in the business world. Dallas-based Marketplace Ministries began 20 years ago and now sends 1,500 chaplains into offices across the country...."

Does a Pew Fit in Your Cubicle?

May 6, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Workplace Violence

Dangerous to be a boss? Maybe.  According to John Strahinich (Boston Herald):

"It isn't paranoia if your people really are out to get you.

Nearly six out of 10 companies say disgruntled employees have threatened to assault or assassinate senior managers in the past year, and they have made these threats either in person or in an e-mail, a nationwide survey shows.

Some 17 percent of the companies reported that enraged and embittered employees had deliberated downloaded computer viruses onto corporate computers, and 10 percent said workers had tampered with their products. ..."

Memo to bosses - be afraid: Workplace violence, death threats surging

May 6, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Unions and Social Security Reform

"The Labor Department cautioned organized labor in a letter made public Wednesday not to use money from pension funds to lobby against President Bush's proposal to overhaul Social Security.

"The department is very concerned about the potential use of plan assets to promote particular policy positions," Alan D. Lebowitz, a department official, wrote to the AFL-CIO's top lawyer. ...

May 5, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Urban Institute Report

How Have Households with Children Fared in the Job Market Downturn? (by Gregory Acs, Harry Holzer & Austin Nichols):

During the 1990s, households with children greatly increased their earnings and incomes. Employment rates and earning levels rose for all families, but especially those headed by single mothers; their poverty rates declined substantially while their real incomes rose (Lerman 2005; Zedlewski 2002). Tight labor markets, along with welfare reform and expanded supports for working families (such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and child care subsidies), contributed significantly to these improvements.

But labor markets have slackened considerably since early 2001. While the recession that began in 2001 was officially declared over before the end of the year, employment rates and labor force participation continued to decline through 2003 and recovered only modestly in 2004. It is important to assess how households with children have fared in the wake of this recession and sluggish recovery.

It is also important to assess the effectiveness of the social "safety net" when the economy worsens and jobs become less available. The welfare rolls dropped dramatically during the late 1990s and did not rise appreciably during the recent downturn. Traditionally, Unemployment Insurance (UI) has been the primary safety net program that cushions workers who become unemployed involuntarily through no fault of their own. But UI's strict eligibility rules, based on the reason for unemployment and a worker's recent hours and earnings history, restrict access for many unemployed workers. As a result, takeup rates vary widely, even among the eligible. How well UI and other programs protected all workers, including low-income single mothers, during the nation's first post–welfare reform recession merits careful scrutiny.

In this brief, we explore changes in the employment rates and earning levels of adults in households with children between 2000 and 2003. We examine whether some households—such as those headed by single adults—were more affected by the recession than others. We also evaluate whether UI and other public programs, such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Social Security, and food stamps, sufficiently safeguarded adult workers whose employment had declined.

May 5, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Haymarket Square Anniversary

Today, in 1886, an angry labor protest meeting at Chicago’s Haymarket Square erupts into violence when someone throws a bomb at police, killing several, and police fire into the crowd.  This comes to be known as the Haymarket Riot. (Today in History - May 4, ContractsProf Blog).

Here are some links with information on the Haymarket Square Riot.

The Haymarket Riot - Chicago Public Library

Chicago's Haymarket Square - The Militant

The Haymarket Tragedy - Illinois Historical Society

Thanks to Frank Snyder (ContractsProf Blog)

May 4, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

International Labor Rights and Trade

A suppressed U.S. government-commissioned study concluded that labor laws in Central America do not protect workers' rights, claims Rep. Sander Levin (D-Michigan). 

Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., said the study by the International Labor Rights Fund shows that the pending Central America Free Trade Agreement will not lead to promised improvements in labor standards in the region, and thus will hurt U.S. workers.

The Bush administration said the study was not suppressed; it was not released to the public because it was shoddy.

Levin's complaint comes as Congress continues debate on Cafta, a trade agreement that would reduce tariffs on trade with El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

The Labor Department commissioned ILRF to evaluate labor laws as part of negotiations for Cafta. The trade agreement, if approved by Congress in an up-or-down vote, would provide more money for enforcement, but would not require any changes in current labor laws.

The ILRF disagreed with the U.S. Trade Representative's assessment that labor standards in CAFTA nations are up to international standards, citing examples of workplace discrimination and systematically quashed worker organization.

Levin asked for the study, but said he was rebuffed by the Labor Department for eleven months, until he threatened congressional action to force the documents into the public domain.

CAFTA Labor Standards Under Fire (by Elana Schor)

May 4, 2005 in Labor Law | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Labor Quote Quiz

Who said?

With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organization that ever existed.  They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in man, than any other association of men.

For the answer, check back here on Friday, or if you can't wait go to

May 4, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Snoozers in India

The Indian Supreme Court takes on Employee Snoozers, according to Any Mukherjee (

"Uttam Nakate, an auto-parts factory helper near Mumbai, was sprawled atop an iron plate in his workplace, fast asleep at 11.40 a.m.

Nakate, who later claimed he had a stomachache, was perhaps hoping that his employer, Bharat Forge Ltd., would overlook the incident, like it had on three previous occasions. After all, with a merciful Indian state protecting all workers, what else could any company do, but look the other way?

The laborer was wrong. Bharat Forge fired the 37-year-old Nakate for sleeping on the job on Aug. 26, 1983. And although it took two decades, and the intervention of the country's highest court, even the state's reservoir of compassion ran dry this year.

No legal authority should reduce a company's punishment of errant workers for any ``irrational'' or ``extraneous'' reasons, and ``certainly not on a compassionate ground,'' India's Supreme Court said in a recent order, ending two decades of wrangling that began when lower courts, even after finding Nakate guilty, held that Bharat Forge had been too harsh to sack him.

The Supreme Court's verdict is a victory for all Indian companies that have had to put up with unruly labor simply because a socialist welfare state made it impossible for any employer to exercise its legal right to punish shirkers and troublemakers."

India Runs Out of Mercy for Workplace Snoozers

May 3, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Weekly Summary of NLRB Decisions

These are the cases decided by the NLRB during the week ending April 29.

Friendly Cab Co., Inc., et al. (32‑CA‑21613‑1; 344 NLRB No. 64) Oakland, CA April 20, 2005.

The Board adopted the administrative law judge’s finding that the Respondent violated Section 8(a)(5) and (1) of the Act by failing and refusing on and after August 19, 2004, to meet and bargain with East Bay Taxi Drivers Association as the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of its taxicab drivers.

The Respondent contended that the Union was improperly certified because its taxicab drivers are independent contractors and not employees.  In the underlying representation proceeding reported at 341 NLRB No. 103 (2004), the Respondent raised the same argument in its request for review of the Regional Director’s determination that the drivers were employees.  The Board granted the request for review but concluded, on the merits, that the drivers were employees and not independent contractors.

Chairman Battista and Member Schaumber did not participate in the representation case but agreed with the judge that the Respondent has not offered any newly discovered and previously unavailable evidence, nor alleged any special circumstances that would require the Board to reconsider its decision in the representation case. (Chairman Battista and Members Liebman and Schaumber participated.)

Charge filed by East Bay Taxi Drivers Assn.; complaint alleged violation of Section 8(a)(1) and (5).  Hearing at Oakland on Jan. 27, 2005.  Adm. Law Judge Jay R. Pollack issued his decision Feb. 10, 2005.

North Hills Office Services, Inc. (22‑CA‑26250; 344 NLRB No. 63) Woodbury, NJ April 18, 2005.

The Board held, in agreement with the administrative law judge, that the Respondent violated Section 8(a)(5) and (1) of the Act by failing and refusing to implement the wage increase for part-time unit employees as agreed to by the Respondent and Service Employees Local 32B-32J.  It amended the judge’s recommended remedy to provide that backpay shall be computed in the manner provided in Ogle Protection Service, 183 NLRB 682 (1970), enfd. 444 F.2d 502 (6th Cir. 1971), rather than  F. W. Woolworth Co., 90 NLRB 289 (1950). (Chairman Battista and Members Liebman and Schaumber participated.)

Charge filed by Service Employees Local 32B‑32J; complaint alleged violation of Section 8(a)(1) and (5).  Hearing at Newark on Sept. 28, 2004.  Adm. Law Judge Margaret M. Kern issued her decision Jan. 7, 2005.

May 3, 2005 in Labor Law | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 2, 2005

Labor Joke and Cartoon of the Week

Check out this week (May 2) Labor Joke (Top Things to Say When Caught Face-Down, Sleeping at Your Desk) and Labor Cartoon of the Week, from

May 2, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The "Greediest Generation"

Yesterday's NYT included an interesting editorial by Nicholas Kristof entitled "The Greediest Generation."  Kristof noted:

"As a baby boomer myself, I can be blunt: We boomers won't be remembered as the "Greatest Generation." Rather, we'll be scorned as the "Greediest Generation."

Our influence has been huge. When boomer blood raged with hormones, we staged the sexual revolution and popularized the Pill. Now, with those hormones fading, we've popularized Viagra.

As we've aged, age discrimination has become a basis for lawsuits, and the most litigated right has become the right to die. The hot issue of the moment is Social Security, and the newest entitlement program is a prescription drug benefit for the elderly.

Our slogan has gone from "free love" to "free blood pressure medicine.""

Today I came across the following report, which appears to support Kristof's argument.  The Mature recently issued a report, Boomers Drive Current Workplace Trends, noting that,

With new technologies changing the way people work, and a significant portion of the workforce on the cusp of retirement, we're starting to see shifts in the workplace landscape, according to Bernadette Kenny, Executive Vice President of global career management services company Lee Hecht Harrison.

The five key workpace trends the reports identify are:






May 2, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

DOL Audits

Department of Labor Audits: What to Expect (HR.BLR.Com)

"If your company has been the subject of an audit by the Department of Labor (DOL), you're not alone. Of companies responding to our recent survey, Five-Minute Overtime Audit: See How Your Company's Reaction to the New Overtime Rules Measures Up, 15 percent said they had been audited once, and 5 percent said they had been audited between two and five times. DOL audits are often productive: In 2004, the agency collected $197 million in back wages for more than 280,000 workers."

May 2, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

May Day Celebrations

Workers all over the World celebrate May Day, reports Anita Snow (AP).

"... millions of workers staged largely peaceful rallies to press for better conditions or protest government policies."

Workers Around World Rally on May Day

May 2, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 1, 2005

May Day

The International Confederation or Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) issues manifesto regarding the celebration of this year's May Day.

Here is the text:

Today, May Day 2005, workers around the world are celebrating the proud record of achievements of more than 100 years of trade union solidarity. We pay homage to all those who throughout history have done so much to promote and defend the rights of working women and men, create social justice and fight for equality, human rights and democracy.

This year, trade unions are joining with others all around the world in the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, demanding that the grand promises made by governments at the United Nations and elsewhere should be put into action urgently. The world can no longer afford to ignore the plight of the hundreds of millions women and men who live on less than one dollar per day. Creating decent jobs for all has never been more important, as divisions between the haves and the have-nots in the global economy grow ever greater. One billion people are unemployed, underemployed or working poor: 60% of these are women. In the Global Call, we demand debt relief to the poorest countries, greatly increased development aid and justice in the global trading system.

More than 200 million children are working instead of at school, while young people who have finished their education struggle to find decent jobs in countries across the globe. Millions of working people face exploitation, discrimination and insecurity, having to accept jobs which pay too little for them, and those who depend on them, to have a decent life. Trade unions themselves face enormous pressures, as governments and employers in many countries violate workers’ rights, including outright assaults on the trade union movement. Our global action is critically important to put an end to union-busting, and to defend the rights of those, particularly women, who are the victims of the global race to the bottom.

We are confident that we can meet the challenge to change the path of globalisation. We will act across borders and across continents to help organise the millions of workers who are denied union rights, to tackle the exploitation of migrant workers and those who toil in the world’s export processing zones, and to put women and men on an equal footing in our own movement, in the workplace and in society. We will take forward the reform, strengthening and unification of the international trade union movement, to make sure that we are equal to the enormous tasks ahead of us.

We demand a better world, a secure and peaceful world where social justice, equality and fundamental rights reign supreme. We pledge to do all in our power to build this better world for future generations.

Long Live Global Labour Solidarity!

May 1, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)