Cintas Corporation will pay $22.75 million to settle a lawsuit filed by delivery drivers. According to the suit, the company had refused to pay overtime to the workers. More than 2000 drivers are attached to the lawsuit and most of them will receive a portion of the settlement. The company issued a statement that although it is settling it still doesn’t believe it hasn’t done anything wrong. The lawsuit alleges that Cintas misclassified drivers so they would be exempt from federal labor laws requiring employees who work more than 40 hours per week to be paid overtime.
Workplace fatalities dropped in 2008, but it isn’t necessarily because of safer workplaces. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace fatalities dropped by 10 percent in 2008 over the prior year. The construction industry saw the largest decline with 20 percent less fatalities. Part of the decline can be attributed to fewer workers on the job due to the recession. One number that did rise was the number of workplace suicides. The number of on the job suicides jumped by 28 percent in 2008 to 251.
Lede: Job loss is slowing down sharply, but unemployment for women who maintain families is the highest in years. Doug Cunningham reports.
By Doug Cunningham
Women supporting families are suffering the highest unemployment since 1982, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Today there are 80 percent more women maintaining households than there were in 1982, so many more people are being affected now. While economists note that job loss is slowing and are beginning to conclude that the recession is ending, working families are still feeling enormous pain. In July nearly a quarter-million jobs were lost. More than 330,000 jobs were lost in the past three months, but that’s down sharply from the 700,000 lost between November and February. Older workers are actually bucking these job loss trends. Workers over 65 are increasing employment even in the midst of the massive jobs losses generally. In July workers over 65 increased by 11,000. And the Center for Economic and Policy Research says since November of 2007 employment for workers over 55 has increased even as the economy lost seven and half million jobs.
The 26th AFL-CIO Convention, Sept. 13-17, will convene in a city rich with labor history. Pittsburgh is the birthplace of both the AFL and the CIO, as well as the United Steelworkers (USW), the Ironworkers and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM). It also is the site of two legendary strikes—the Homestead steel mill strike in 1892 and the U.S. Steel strike in the 1930s.
Labor historian Charlie McCollester writes in The Point of Pittsburgh:
[Pittsburgh's] workers and industries had produced incalculable volumes of coal, iron, steel and glass. Its inventors and laborers had been the first to refine oil, manufacture aluminum and create some of the primary mechanisms of electrical generation and distribution. In a stupendous effort, its mills and factories had been the arsenal of democracy, providing much of the muscle that made the United States of America the world’s most powerful nation.
One of the area’s most famous struggles, the Homestead steel mill strike, took place after robber baron Andrew Carnegie assigned Henry Clay Frick the task of breaking the union. Seven workers and three Pinkertons were killed in a riverfront battle and the state militia crushed the strike.
Pittsburgh workers later went on to victory at U.S. Steel, the nation’s largest steel company. Following passage of the New Deal’s National Labor Relations Act, U.S. Steel agreed in 1937 to recognize the CIO’s Steel Workers Organizing Committee. Other steel companies followed suit.
The following year, after the advances of the steelworkers in Pittsburgh, as well as the vast numbers of Pennsylvania and West Virginia miners who had joined the Mine Workers (UMWA), the legendary John L. Lewis told the CIO’s founding convention that
The Pittsburgh area today is the most completely organized of any city or area in industrial America.