Friday, June 24, 2005
Slate.com discusses possibles nominees to a potential vacancy in the Supreme Court - The Supreme Court Shortlist By Emily Bazelon and David Newman
"Anticipation of the resignation of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, which has been building since his cancer treatment began last fall, will climax next week when the Supreme Court's term ends. The Bush administration has telegraphed that it would like him to step down this summer—before November's congressional elections—and has floated names for his replacement. What views have the president's shortlisters expressed, on and off the bench? In order of our best guess as to the likelihood that they'll be chosen, here's a guide to the prospective nominees' records. (Bush's choice could be selected for the post of chief justice or associate justice, depending on whether he decides to elevate one of the current associates to the top job.)"...
Thursday, June 23, 2005
A crack in Big Labor's armor (The Washington Times' Editorial, June 23, 2005)
"As AFL-CIO President John Sweeney prepares his labor federation for its national convention in Chicago next month, he and his fellow delegates will no doubt be recalling two important anniversaries.
Fifty years ago, with organized labor representing 35 percent of the U.S. labor force, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) consummated a merger that joined two extremely powerful labor factions. The other anniversary offers less celebratory memories. Seventy years ago, at the 1935 AFL convention, John L. Lewis split the labor federation when he and his United Mine Workers left the AFL to form the CIO. Unlike the AFL, which mostly organized skilled workers according to their crafts, the CIO concentrated its organizing efforts on entire industries, such as autos and steel. At next month's convention, Big Labor will fondly recall its heyday in 1955, but the Chicago confab will more likely resemble the explosion of 1935...."
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
League, Union Reach Accord (by Thomas Heath and Michael Lee, WashingtonPost.com)
"The NBA and its players' union yesterday agreed to a new labor contract that raises the minimum age at which players are eligible for the draft to 19 and averts a potentially destructive lockout.
The six-year agreement slashes the length of player contracts and implements a tougher drug policy while guaranteeing the percentage of league revenues paid to players." ...
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Intersting editorial by John Tierney in today's NYT. Tierney raises some questions about the norms and assumptions about career paths. According to Tiernery:
"We need to rethink the old assumption that employees keep getting raises throughout their careers.
This seniority system was built on what economists call an implicit contract with workers: we'll pay you less than you're really worth when you're young, but stick with us and we'll make it up to you by paying you more than you're worth later in your career. Employers kept giving raises to workers even after their productivity started to decline, which typically occurs around age 50, says the economist Vegard Skirbekk (whose finding I shouldn't be publicizing now that I'm 52).
The system made economic sense when employers and employees stuck by the contract. Now they each feel free to abandon the other, but the old assumptions linger and interfere with older workers' attempts to find comparable jobs after they have been downsized.
Some workers refuse to consider a lesser job, and even if they're willing to take a cut in pay and status, employers fear they'll be frustrated and find the new job beneath them. So these workers are retiring earlier even though they're living longer, forcing younger people to work harder to support them.
It would be fairer to redistribute some of this free time so that young people, like harried parents, could enjoy it instead of waiting to get it all as one lump sum. As Ron Lee, a demographer at the University of California, Berkeley, asks, "Why not restructure our life cycles so that we take more leisure when we most need it, earlier on, and less later in life?"...
Monday, June 20, 2005
"From classical to electronica, rock 'n' roll to world music and country, workers across corporate America are plugging into their own portable music players and tuning out loud co-workers, office boredom and other workplace distractions. With the portability and popularity of iPods and other personal music devices, anecdotal evidence suggests more American workers are bringing their music to work.
"Employees are bringing their own music to work far more than in years past, simply because of the high-tech, portable players now available," said Laura Stack, a Highlands Ranch productivity expert, author and trainer who consults for companies nationally. "A radio sitting on a desk is fast becoming a rarer sight."...
Friday, June 17, 2005
Study Analyzes Forced Labor Worldwide (Forbes.com)
"A report released last month by the International Labor Office provides a wide-ranging analysis of the problem of forced labor globally. For the purposes of the estimation, three categories of forced labor are identified: institutional, sexual and economic."...
Thursday, June 16, 2005
LA Times reports that the leader of UNITE Here, the Service Employees International Union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Laborers' International Union of North America, have officially formed the Change to Win Coalition. According to the LA Times:
"The move was widely viewed as the first step toward a split in the 50-year-old AFL-CIO, a federation of 57 national unions that has been losing membership and power for decades. Four of the five union leaders have openly discussed leaving the larger body, complaining that its leadership is stodgy and defeatist.
But they said Wednesday that they had no immediate plans to bolt and wanted to keep the focus on their new group, called the Change to Win Coalition."
5 Major Activist Unions Unite (by Nancy Cleeland)
From the DOL:
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE WEEKLY CLAIMS REPORT
SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA
In the week ending June 11, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 333,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 332,000. The 4-week moving average was 335,000, an increase of 2,750 from the previous week's revised average of 332,250.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.1 percent for the week ending June 4, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week's unrevised rate of 2.0 percent.
The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending June 4 was 2,641,000, an increase of 58,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,583,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,596,500, an increase of 11,250 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,585,250.
For the complete release see here.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Professor Thompson Ford (Stanford) writes a very interesting article on workplace religious discrimination for Slate.com.
In Take God to Work Day, Professor Thompson Ford notes that:
the battle over religious accommodation is moving to the sphere of private employment. The Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2005, introduced in the Senate this spring, has an odd constellation of supporters and opponents. Its sponsors include Pennsylvania Sen. Richard Santorum, a religious conservative, and Massachusetts liberal John Kerry. In what must be a sign of the end of days, Hillary Clinton has found common cause with Orrin Hatch in support of WRFA. On the other side, civil rights activists, including the ACLU and the National Women's Law Center, have joined with businesses in opposition.
WRFA would replace the current legal standard for religious accommodation with one similar to that applied to the disabled. Employers are required to accommodate disabled employees (by modifying facilities, reassigning jobs, or changing work schedules) unless doing so would cause the employer undue hardship. There are good reasons, however, to distinguish religious observance from disabilities. Religious employees forced to decide whether to honor a religious belief or stay at a job face a difficult choice, to be sure. But people with disabilities have no choice at all. In the absence of a wheelchair or seeing-eye dog, many of them can't work.
Pious employees will insist that their religious observance is, well, sacred. But religious mandates aren't always etched in stone, and some religious beliefs are hard to distinguish from more earthly ideological commitments—which, of course, employees must set aside when they conflict with work. And sometimes, religious commitment should have to bend to workplace goals. Employees have rightly been rebuffed in court when they've complained that co-ed dormitories conflict with their religious beliefs. However sincere, such claims—often inspired by religious admonishments to avoid temptation—could discourage employers from hiring women. Pharmacists with religious objections to contraception say they should have a right to refuse to fill birth-control prescriptions, and police officers have argued that religious liberty entitles them to refuse to protect abortion clinics. If sufficiently widespread, such refusals could effectively nullify the constitutional right to reproductive freedom. Social workers have argued that counseling gay and lesbian couples offends their religious convictions. Here WRFA could amount to a federal right to discriminate and come into direct conflict with the civil rights laws of some states. In each of these cases, the expansion of religious rights in the workplace that WRFA envisions would require courts to intervene in ideological disputes between employers and employees.
The Economic Policy Institute issues a Snapshot report on CAFTA - CAFTA outlook clouded by NAFTA's failure for farmers.
According to the report:
"Promoters of the proposed Dominican Republic/Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) have asserted that it will provide significant benefits to the agricultural sector. Similar promises were made in the debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1992 and 1993. Unfortunately, the results never lived up to the promises."
For the complete report see here.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
UC CLERICAL WORKERS STRIKE TODAY (CBS News)
"Clerical workers at the University of California began a three-day strike today to demand pay increases.
The walkout by the Coalition of University Employees (CUE) affects UC's 10 campuses and five medical centers across the state as well as Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The union represents 16,000 clerical workers...."
Labor Federation Votes for Sweeney's Plan (by Pete Yost)
"Although some of the biggest unions oppose them, the AFL-CIO's executive committee voted 17-7 Monday to support an organizing effort and political strategy backed by the labor federation's president, John Sweeney. The vote came amid an internal struggle over setting the course of organized labor."...
Monday, June 13, 2005
This morning's PrawfsBlawg has an interesting census of the current law professor blogging population. They report that 103 law professors currently blog; we have 24 law professors who blog as part of our Law Professor Blogs Network.
PrawfsBlawg notes that of the 103 law professor bloggers, 80.6% (83) are male and 19.4% (20) are female. The comparable numbers for the 24 members of the Law Professor Blogs Network: 62.5% (15) male and 37.5% (9) female.
Here are the law schools with the most law professor bloggers:
Law Schools with Most Law Prof Bloggers
Number of Bloggers
Gay Associate Claims Sexual Harassment by White & Case Partners (Anthony Lin, NY Law Journal)
"A gay senior associate in the Los Angeles office of New York's White & Case has sued the firm for sexual harassment and sex discrimination, claiming two male partners created a "intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment" through inappropriate comments and behavior.
In a suit filed June 2 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Christopher M. Meekins, a corporate associate at the firm since 2002, accuses partners Jerry Bloom and James Cairns of making unwelcome sexual advances in addition to frequently commenting on Meekins' physical appearance and inquiring about his personal life." ...
Steven Greenhouse (NYT) reports that five unions are announcing that they are forming:
"a coalition aimed at unionizing large numbers of workers, several union officials said yesterday.
Labor leaders said they were planning this move because they want to form an aggressively pro-growth coalition and because they believe the A.F.L.-C.I.O. is doing too little to organize nonunion workers.
This new coalition will be formed by the Service Employees International Union, the Teamsters, the laborers, the food and commercial workers and Unite Here, which represents hotel, restaurant and apparel workers, two union officials said. These officials insisted on anonymity because they feared some union leaders would be angry at them for disclosing the plan before it is announced Wednesday, after union leaders meet in Washington."
Thursday, June 9, 2005
In the week ending June 4, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 330,000, a decrease of 21,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 351,000. The 4-week moving average was 331,750, a decrease of 2,750 from the previous week's unrevised average of 334,500.
Read the full announcement here.
Wednesday, June 8, 2005
GM Talks With Union Likely to Heat Up (by John Porretto, ABC News)
General Motors Corp.'s negotiations with its main labor union are likely to intensify as the automaker plans to close plants and shed 25,000 U.S. jobs over the next three years.
Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner outlined plans at GM's annual shareholders meeting Tuesday to shrink its North American operations, the largest and most troubled part of its business.
The company has been hurt in recent years by lackluster sales of its highly profitable trucks and sport utility vehicles and market share loss to Asian rivals. The capacity and job cuts should generate annual savings of roughly $2.5 billion as GM eliminates one out of every six jobs in the United States.
LABOR: Health expense remains burden: No deal yet in talks with UAW (by Katie Merx, Detroit Free Press)
Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said Tuesday that months of intense discussions with the UAW have yet to yield an agreement on how to reduce the automaker's $5.6 billion in health care expenses -- costs Wagoner said threaten GM's future.
The status quo isn't acceptable, Wagoner said.
GM spent $5.2 billion on health care for its 1.1 million workers, dependents and retirees last year and expects to spend about $5.6 billion for those beneficiaries this year.
Costs of health care drag America down (by David Lazarus, San Francisco Chronicle)
General Motors' chief exec spelled out Tuesday why U.S. manufacturers are getting their economic butts kicked. And a big reason has nothing to do with the productivity of our workers or the quality of our products.
It's because our health care system is killing us.
Addressing GM shareholders, Rick Wagoner said runaway health care costs are partly to blame for the world's largest automaker cutting at least 25,000 U.S. jobs as it closes more assembly and component plants.
GM is the nation's largest private purchaser of health care. The company expects to spend $5.6 billion this year on health benefits for workers and retirees -- more than it spends on steel for its vehicles.
Tuesday, June 7, 2005
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao today announced a grant of $1,048,300 to the Orange County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) in New York. The grantee is one of 12 winners selected from nearly 230 applicants competing for funding under the President's High Growth Job Training Initiative. A total of more than $12 million is being awarded nationwide to address opportunities to build a world-class health care and biotechnology workforce.“Health care and biotechnology are two of the fastest growing industries,” said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. “This $1 million grant to the Orange County WIB, like the other 11 projects funded through this competition, will help workers prepare for careers in professions that are in high demand.”
Friday, June 3, 2005
The answer to this week's (May 31) BigLabor.com Labor Quote Quiz is:
If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of it’s many waters.
And the answer is....
--Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, 1849
Thanks to BigLabor.Com