A new study suggests that U.S. employers plan to keep giving raises in the coming year – even with the economic downturn. According to Watson Wyatt Worldwide firms plan to offer “merit increases” that average 3.5 percent in 2009. However, the study also found that even with such a raise inflation is outrunning worker pay and that many companies aren’t prepared for a total economic downturn. Fifty-two percent said they will use layoffs to cope with a substantial downturn.
Upset about a parking ticket in New York State? You better think twice before taking it out on your friendly neighborhood traffic enforcement agent. It is now a class D felony to come into physical contact with a parking enforcer in the state of New York. Such a charge could carry up to seven years in prison. The fight to protect traffic enforcers had been waged by the Communications Workers of America Local 1182 for more than 15 years. The union represents more than 2,000 agents in New York City.
More bad news for Starbucks workers. Jesse Russell reports:
Earlier this month Starbucks announced plans to shutter 600 stores across the country. Those stores account for 12,000 jobs in the company and according to Starbucks Chief Executive 70 percent of the employees losing those jobs will be transferred to other stores. However, the company announced Tuesday that an additional 1000 non-store jobs will be slashed and 61 stores will be closed in Australia. Starbucks said that those new jobs cuts represent 15 percent of the non-store positions and roughly 450 are already vacant.
By Doug Cunningham
Wal-Mart managers and executives knew of widespread denial of breaks for its workers nationwide but turned a blind eye to the practice, according to a judge quoted in the publication Arkansas Business. Meghan Scott of WakeUpWalMart.com says the giant retailer faces more than 70 lawsuits nationwide for alleged labor violations.
[Scott]: “Since 2005 they’ve lost all three of their wage and hour class action lawsuits that it faced. So people are certainly becoming more and more aware of the types of irresponsible and often immoral business practices that Wal-Mart uses
By Doug Cunningham
Twenty-five thousand west coast dock workers in the ILWU are taking a look at details of the contract agreement reached between the union and the Pacific Maritime Association as they decide whether or not to ratify it. The union says the agreement meets the needs of workers and of the industry. Full-time, fully registered union dock workers can make more than $100,000 a year. They also have good pensions and health care an pension benefits. Workers frustrated with the slow pace of talks had started slowing things down by taking their coffee breaks together at the same times. The Pacific Maritime Association claimed those actions cut productivity by 15-40 percent. The union says it was a message that the workers were united in seeking a good contract.
For years, Imperial Sugar Co.’s Port Wentworth, Ga., sugar refinery was an explosion waiting to happen—and on Feb. 7, a blast at the plant killed 13 people. The explosion apparently was triggered when a metal conveyer bucket hit the side of a metal elevator shaft and created a spark that ignited tons of combustible sugar dust inside the plant.
At a Senate hearing today, government officials, workplace safety experts and an Imperial Sugar Co. executive painted a picture of a dangerous and dirty plant where electrical equipment was nearly encrusted in sugar dust, with dust waist deep in places.
In addressing the challenges facing working families in the nation’s ongoing economic crisis, Sen. Barack Obama met yesterday with a bipartisan group of economic thinkers from the worlds of labor, business, government and academia to discuss what’s wrong with the economy and what steps need to be taken to fix it. AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney was among the attendees at the meeting, who include billionaire investor Warren Buffet and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.
Acknowledging the dire state of the economy, Obama sharply critiqued the Bush administration agenda that has left us where we are today. Specifically, he tied the failures in the economy to the fact that wages have been stagnant even as productivity has risen.
The United States has some of the most productive workers in the world. But in a short-sighted race for the bottom line, employers are cutting costs at the expense of workers, depriving businesses of their greatest asset—their employees.
In his new book, Love the Work, Hate the Job: Why America’s Best Workers Are More Unhappy Than Ever, author David Kusnet tells the stories of workers who like the content of their work—but not their working conditions—at four companies in the Seattle area: Microsoft, Boeing, Kaiser Aluminum and Northwest Hospital. And they are turning to unions to improve the quality of their work.
Kusnet, a visiting fellow at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and former chief speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, will discuss his book tomorrow at the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C.