Friday, May 13, 2005
The truth has always been dangerous to the rule of the rogue, the exploiter, the robber. So the truth must be suppressed.
And the answer is....
Eugene V. Debs, American labor leader and socialist; 20th Century
Thanks to BigLabor.com.
U.S. lawmakers seek Wal-Mart pay data (by Joel Rothstein)
"Congressional Democrats said on Thursday they have asked Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for its wage data so they can examine claims of pay and promotion discrimination against women by the company.
In a letter sent on Thursday afternoon to Wal-Mart Chief Executive Officer Lee Scott, lawmakers said the company pays female hourly workers 40 cents less an hour than men and pays female managers nearly $5,000 less a year than their male counterparts.
Written by Connecticut Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the letter was signed by 50 of her colleagues.
The letter said women comprise 72 percent of the work force at the world's biggest retailer, but only fill one-third of its management positions.
The statistics are based on an analysis of the company's payroll record by Richard Drogin, a professor emeritus at University of California, Berkeley, the letter said."
A very strange story regarding a discrimination lawsuit filed agasint Virgin Blue Airlines - Stewardess 'simulated sex' with 'terrorist' (by Bill Condie)
VIRGIN Blue, the no-frills Australian airline founded by Sir Richard Branson, has hit back at allegations that it only employed pretty young blondes as flight attendants. Eight women aged between 36 and 56 have taken the airline to the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal in Brisbane, claiming the selection process homed in on young blonde women at the expense of older, experienced candidates. But former Virgin Blue recruiter Leigh Richardson told the tribunal that one of the women, Theresa Stewart, 56, had been rejected for inappropriate behaviour during a role-playing exercise as part of the selection process That involved a sketch based on the scenario of a terrorist boarding a plane, during which Stewart wrestled the 'terrorist' to the ground and then straddled the man. 'She was thrusting her hips slightly above the man in what appeared to be a sexual act,î Richardson told the tribunal."
VIRGIN Blue, the no-frills Australian airline founded by Sir Richard Branson, has hit back at allegations that it only employed pretty young blondes as flight attendants.
Eight women aged between 36 and 56 have taken the airline to the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal in Brisbane, claiming the selection process homed in on young blonde women at the expense of older, experienced candidates.
But former Virgin Blue recruiter Leigh Richardson told the tribunal that one of the women, Theresa Stewart, 56, had been rejected for inappropriate behaviour during a role-playing exercise as part of the selection process
That involved a sketch based on the scenario of a terrorist boarding a plane, during which Stewart wrestled the 'terrorist' to the ground and then straddled the man.
'She was thrusting her hips slightly above the man in what appeared to be a sexual act,î Richardson told the tribunal."
Thursday, May 12, 2005
The Congressional Budget Office has released "The Effects of Reserve Call-Ups on Civilian Employers" (pdf)
CBO’s analysis revealed that most employers are unaffected by the activation of reservists. Only about 6 percent of business establishments employ reservists, and fewer than half a percent of self-employed people are in the reserves. Among firms with reservist employees and owners, substantial variation is seen in their ability to adjust to a reservist’s call-up. Activations create vacancies that firms would not otherwise have had. Some businesses may absorb the loss of personnel at little cost, but others may experience slowdowns in production, lost sales, or additional expenses as they attempt to compensate for a reservist’s absence. A smaller number yet may find that they are unable to operate for lengthy periods — or at all — without their reservist and may experience financial losses or insolvency. Such problems are likely to be more severe for:
- Small businesses that lose essential (key) employees;
- Businesses that require workers with highly specialized skills; and
- Self-employed reservists.
Small businesses (generally those with fewer than 100 employees) employ about 18 percent of all reservists who hold civilian jobs; businesses with fewer than 500 employees and self-employed reservists employ about 35 percent. But there are no precise data on the number of reservists who are key employees or who have highly specialized skills. On the basis of survey information about reservists’ civilian occupations, CBO estimates that out of the 860,000 reservists in the Selected Reserves (the primary source of reserve personnel), between 8,000 and 30,000 of them probably hold key positions in small businesses. In addition, about 55,000 reservists are selfemployed.
Considering that snapshot of reservists’ employment,CBO expects that as many as 30,000 small businesses (0.6 percent of all such firms) and 55,000 self-selfemployed individuals (less than 0.5 percent of self-employed) may be more severely affected than reservist employers if their reservist employee or activated.
In addition, CBO found that although USERRA provided employment protections to reservist employees,might be exacerbating the difficulties that call-for those individuals’ employers. The legislation firms’ flexibility in avoiding vacancies and imposes additional costs on some employers.
Thanks to Law Librarian Blog for the tip
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Thomas Fuller (International Herald Tribune) reports on perks and Chinese labor. In The Workplace: Chinese learn Value of Perks, Fuller explains Chinese employers are relying on perks, such as flush dormitories, basketball courts, libraries, swimming pools, and higher wages to lower turnover rates and increase efficiency. The main reason for this, according to Fuller, is concern over loosing business to factories in other countries (India and Bangladesh).
A brief news roundup of recent developments at United Airlines.
United wins approval to dump pension plans (by Mark Skertic)
A bankruptcy judge in Chicago ruled Tuesday that a federal agency can take over United Airlines' pension plans, allowing the carrier to walk away from nearly $10 billion in unfunded liabilities, the largest pension default in U.S. history.
It helps United clear one of the biggest financial hurdles in its 29-month effort to exit bankruptcy protection. The airline's pension funds are short $9.8 billion, but the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. will pick up only $6.6 billion of that, meaning current and former employees will lose more than $3 billion in retirement benefits.
The decision was "the least bad among a number of unfortunate choices," said U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Eugene Wedoff, who had the proceedings piped into a second courtroom when his proved too small to handle the overflow crowd.
United's biggest challenge ahead (by David Greising)
On Wednesday, Judge Eugene Wedoff will preside over a hearing at which United will seek the right to cancel existing union contracts with mechanics and machinists and impose new pay scales on them. While it seems likely Wedoff may simply order the two sides back to negotiations, there is no sign that United and its workforce can negotiate their way toward the $600 million per year United still says it needs from workers.
Ultimately, Wedoff may have to impose United's new work rules.
Add up all the uncertainty, anger, and anxiety, and it's a recipe for even tougher times ahead. Chief Executive Glenn Tilton's dream of emerging from bankruptcy after only 18 months is long gone.
Tilton told employees two weeks ago that the decision to dump pensions is the toughest he has made since the bankruptcy filing. He did so in a recorded message--probably the most productive forum available, since a town hall-style meeting would not be productive these days, given the depth of anger among many employees.
The pension move may have been the toughest so far. But it is only a prelude to the challenges Tilton has in trying to steer United toward some sort of labor peace.
Union President Greg Davidowitch Tuesday accused Tilton of waging a war on pensions as part of an anti-union agenda.
"Management is using the bankruptcy process to achieve not what it needs, but what it wants," Davidowitch said. "This management team is hell-bent on destroying unionized workers."
That's rhetorical overstatement. But it still will play well with the flight attendants Davidowitch represents, not to mention the other unionized workers who are just as angry about the fix they're all in.
The flight attendants are calling for Tilton's head. They're promising a series of haphazard strikes, sickouts and other moves aimed at inconveniencing United--if not quite bringing the airline to a halt. CHAOS, the union calls it.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Josh Gerstein (New York Sun) reports on the meeting held yesterday involving the leaders of 5 major unions considering their options and respond to the recently proposed plan by the AFLCIO to restructure the union movement (for prior posts see here and here).
According to Gerstein:
Addressing a Teamsters conference here yesterday, five chiefs of major labor unions urgently called for sweeping reforms to the country's largest labor federation, the AFL-CIO, and dismissed as woefully inadequate the restructuring plan put forward by the labor group's president, John Sweeney.
In a series of salty and at times profane speeches to hundreds of Teamsters officials and organizers from across the country, the dissident labor chiefs warned that the labor movement is approaching irrelevancy.
"I honestly believe it, and I'm ashamed to say it: The labor movement is on life support," the president of the Laborers, Terence O'Sullivan, said.
"We are at a crossroads as a movement and as a country. I believe that without dramatic, far-reaching, and radical change, the American labor movement will become insignificant in the lives of American working families," Mr. O'Sullivan said. "It's gut check time."
Study of Non Discrimination Policies & Practices in U.K. & U.S. (by Susanne M. Bruyère)
Cornell University recently conducted surveys in the United States, Great Britain, and Northern Ireland to assess employer response in each of these countries to their respective employment disability non-discrimination legislation.
Organizations' Accommodations/Adjustments Process
Many of the organizations surveyed are responding to their respective disability nondiscrimination legislation by making accommodations/adjustments needed by applicants and employees with disabilities, including being flexible in HR policies and making existing facilities accessible to people with disabilities.
In the U.S., the HR staff, either alone or in combination with others, makes the final decision on accommodations. In Great Britain and Northern Ireland, this decision is most often made by managers or directors other than HR. When asked whether data was kept on accommodations/ adjustments, there again was a significant difference by country. In general, data is less often kept in Northern Ireland (56 percent do not keep data on adjustments) and Great Britain (35 percent of respondents do not keep data), compared to only 13 percent of all U.S. respondents who do not keep data. Organizations from all three areas report difficulty responding to requests to make information accessible for people with visual or learning impairments and making information accessible for hearing impaired people. British and Northern Ireland employers reported more difficulty with making adjustments to medical tests to minimize discrimination of applicants with disabilities in the pre-employment process. U.S. employers reported a greater degree of familiarity in the areas of: framing questions to applicants about the ability to perform specific job tasks rather than about the disability; restrictions on obtaining medical examinations and medical history; restrictions on eliciting information on medical issues affecting applicants' health and safety on the job; and knowing when to ask an applicant about how s/he would perform certain job tasks. More British HR representative respondents than U.S. or Northern Ireland respondents reported familiarity with adapting print materials used in the interview process to large print, diskette, or Braille for applicants with disabilities.
Changes to Health or Other Benefits Due to the ADA/DDA
In the U.S., on the average, only one in ten reported change in long-term disability, short-term disability, and life insurance policies as a result of the ADA. Greater change was reported in Britain and Northern Ireland, in such areas as changes to absence management policies (35 percent in Northern Ireland; 33 percent in the British respondents), changes to ill health/sick pay policies, and pensions (approximately one in five in each of these areas). It appears that much more significant changes are resulting in Britain and Northern Ireland from absence management and ill health/sick pay policies, than is currently occurring in the US in long-term and short-term disability policies.
Barriers to Promotion and Training for People with Disabilities
In both the U.S. and Great Britain, cost of training, supervision, and of accommodations/adjustments for applicants or employees with disabilities are not seen as significant barriers to the employment or advancement for persons with disabilities. Northern Ireland respondents did see the cost of adjustments as a major barrier. The highest reported barrier for the U.S. and Great Britain (and similarly high for Northern Ireland) were in the areas of lack of related experience and lack of requisite skills and training in the person with a disability. The next highest, similar across the three respondent groups, was supervisor knowledge of how to make an accommodation/ adjustment for a person with a disability, and attitudes or stereotypes among co-workers and supervisors. All three groups report that visible top management commitment is the top way to reduce barriers for people with disabilities in the workplace.
In all the surveyed groups, the change most often made, but also seen as the most difficult to make was changing fellow employee or supervisor attitudes toward the employee with a disability. Wheelchair accessibility, time flexibility in test taking, and communication access for people with hearing impairments were reported as the types of access reported most often provided across countries to ensure that people with disabilities have equitable access to meetings, promotional or social opportunities, and/or training.
ADA/DDA Personnel Training Conducted
U.S. respondents reported having conducted significantly more training in seven of the 12 listed areas. The area training was most often conducted across all groups was nondiscriminatory recruiting (89 percent, 82 percent, and 60 percent respectively for the U.S., Great Britain, and Northern Ireland). Second most often conducted for US and British respondents was confidentiality requirements of the ADA and DDA (88 and 78 percent, respectively). An area which respondents from all country groups expressed an interest in gaining further information on was accommodations/adjustments for persons with mental health disabilities.
Resources Used to Resolve ADA/DDA Issues
Across all three groups, legal counsel or advisor was selected as the resource most often used to resolve ADA/ DDA disputes, and alternative dispute resolution as a least used resource. Respondents from all country areas identify print/video resources and onsite consultation and technical assistance as the top two preferred mediums to address ADA/DDA issues.
Presence of a Disability Management Program and Contribution to the ADA/DDA
Approximately two-thirds to three-quarters or more of respondents in each of the country groups reported having formal or informal disability management, or return to work/retention programs, and that such programs contribute positively to ADA/DDA compliance.
Randy Capps, a senior research associate in the Urban Institute's Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population , answers Five Questions on the health and well-being of the young children of immigrants.
Randy Capps, a senior research associate at Urban Institute's Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population, is a demographer specializing in immigrant populations. He is an author of the 2005 report, The Health and Well-being of Young Children of Immigrants. Dr. Capps is working on a study of the No Child Left Behind Act and its implications for children of immigrants and limited English speakers in public schools.
The five questions are:
1. How many young children of immigrants live in this country, and what challenges does this number raise?
2. Compared with children of natives, how are children of immigrants faring?
3. How does legal status affect well being and access to benefits and services for immigrants, especially those who are noncitizens and undocumented?
4. What are the most common child-care arrangements for young children of immigrants?
5. Considering these trends, what are the policy implications?
See here for the answers.
Monday, May 9, 2005
Unions struggle to organize academics as labor changes (by Matt Apuzzo)
"With American manufacturing jobs disappearing, many union leaders say they must organize high-tech workers and academics to survive. But organizers are finding that to rally a white-collar work force, they can't follow the 20th-century story line pitting workers and their numbers against businessmen and their money."
Business, labor debate health insurance for uninsured workers (by Stephen Singer)
"The long-running debate over health insurance _ its cost, who is covered and who should pay for it _ is taking a new turn in the General Assembly with legislation that would require large businesses to foot the bill to cover low-wage workers.
The issue, which is playing out in legislatures in eight other states, pits familiar opponents against each other. Organized labor and its allies say big businesses that fail to provide health insurance to their workers are forcing taxpayers to pay through the state's HUSKY insurance plan."