Without an additional extension to unemployment benefits 1.2 million workers are staring down a loss of those benefits come March. According to the National Employment Law Project that number will grow to nearly 5 million without jobless benefits by June. Four point one percent of the U.S. workforce has been unemployed for more than 26 weeks setting a re cord going all the way back to when the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the data in 1948.
By Doug Cunningham
A National Association of State Workforce Agencies survey shows as many as 35 states, will be forcing employers to pay higher unemployment insurance taxes this year in an effort to cope with enormous strains on unemployment compensation funds. The median increase is projected to be 27.5 percent.
State workers in Florida are being forced to deal with their personal information being at risk in what has become a common problem for the Information Age. Jesse Russell reports:
By Doug Cunningham
As they add members in one front the Teamsters are losing members elsewhere. At a rally to support keeping the Toyota-GM NUMMI plant open in California, Teamsters Car Hauler Director Fred Zuckerman, told reporters the union has lost about 7,000 car hauler jobs.
[Zuckerman]: “We’re down, probably 5,000 workin’ right now out of the 12,000.”
Zuckerman says Toyota is not alone in turning to non-union car haulers.
The Teamsters have added nearly 8,000 Continental Airlines service workers. According to the union, the ramp and cargo employees will now join the mechanics who are already Teamster members. This was the first time in a 12 year push the workers were able to muster enough votes to unionize. With this vote Continental is now unionized from the pilots all the way down to the baggage handlers.
With 13 million workers, the U.S. restaurant industry is the nation’s largest private employer. But far too many restaurants provide “low road” jobs with low wages, hazardous working conditions, long hours and few benefits.
A new report by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC), an advocate group for restaurant workers, reveals that up to 90 percent of restaurant staff is not offered health insurance or sick days and, as a result, many report to work sick.
A substantial number are forced to work “off the clock” and the national median hourly wage for food preparation and service workers is only $8.59, including tips, which means that half of all restaurant workers nationwide actually earn less.
The report surveyed more than 2,500 workers and 150 employers in five cities: Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, New York and Portland, Maine.
The report also finds that low wages and lack of job security among restaurant workers leads to
increased reliance on social assistance programs resulting in an indirect subsidy to employers engaging in low road practices and fewer such public resources available to all those in need.
One recommendation to improve restaurant jobs is to raise the federal minimum wage for wait staff, which has been at $2.13 since 1991. In theory, the workers earn enough tips to bring them up to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Worker advocates tried to boost what is known as the tip credit, when legislation to raise the minimum wage was passed in 2007. But the restaurant industry and Republican lawmakers were able to block the effort.
Click here for more information from ROC.
Meanwhile, Young Workers United has produced a guide to worker-friendly restaurants in San Francisco. Unlike traditional restaurant guides, Dining with Justice highlights food establishments that follow labor laws and treat their employees with dignity and respect.
The group says its guide, unlike traditional restaurant guides,
highlights food establishments that follow labor laws and treat their employees with dignity and respect. We believe that good employment practices and good food go hand in hand. Restaurant owners who care not only about the food they serve but also the people they employ should be commended.
For more information, visit Young Workers United here. The San Francisco Bay area group is a multiracial, membership organization dedicated to improving the quality of jobs for young and immigrant workers. It played an instrumental role in making San Francisco the first city in the nation to require employers to offer paid sick leave.