January 31, 2005
Bureau of Labor Statistics: 2004 Unionization Numbers
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that private sector union membership was at 7.9% in 2004, about half of its rate in 1983. Public sector unions have fared somewhat better, with 36% of government workers belonging to a union. From the press release:
In 2004, full-time wage and salary workers who were union members had
median usual weekly earnings of $781, compared with a median of $612 for
wage and salary workers who were not represented by unions.
News of the Weird: McDonald's to Outsource Drive Through?
An Oregon McDonald's franchisee is considering outsourcing it's drive through operators to a franchise in North Dakota.
From the article:
The restaurant on Highway 395 has outsourced one of the most important jobs at the drive-through window -- order taking.
When a customer drives through, they'll be patched through to Grand Forks, North Dakota to place the order. Why? Because the minimum wage in North Dakota is $5.15, compared to Oregon's $7.25.
December 08, 2004
Colgate to slash 4400 jobs
Colgate-Palmolive Corp. announced on Tuesday that it would cut 4400 jobs and a third of its factories around the world. The cuts amount to 12 percent of Colgate's international work force. The company cited rising gasoline prices and other costs as the reason for the cuts.
December 01, 2004
Supreme Court Hears Argument on Whistleblower Protection for Title IX
The Jackson case is about a Birmingham, Ala., coach of a girls’ basketball team who protested that boys’ teams were treated more favorably in funding and facilities. He temporarily lost his coaching job, and he sued, claiming retaliation under Title IX. His case basically poses the question of how effective Title IX would be if whistle-blowers like him – coaches and teachers, for example – are unable to challenge sex bias, or are discouraged from doing so, either because they could not sue or because retaliation against them is not a violation of Title IX.
It's an interesting read. Also, the always entertaining Dahlia Lithwick weighs in here.
New NLRB Rules Take Effect
New NLRB rules have taken effect in the last few days.
First, the board overruled (pdf) a Clinton administration NLRB precedent that allowed temporary workers to join the same unions as permanent employees. The Board ruled that "multiemployer units" require the consent of both parties (i.e. the employers). Temporary employees typically are subcontracted from their primary employer. The overruled decision was MB Sturgis, 331 NLRB 1298.
Second, the board affirmed (pdf) an ALJ decision permitting the posting of work rules prohibiting the use of profanity. Union advocates and the dissenting board members expressed concerns that posted rules could have a chilling effect on organizing efforts.
November 29, 2004
Whistleblower complaints up under Sarbanes-Oxley
The Associated Press is reporting that the number of whistleblowers reporting employer misconduct rose to 181 in the twelve months ending September 30.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was signed into law in 2002, created whistleblower protections for employees reporting possible financial fraud committed by their employer. The Act makes it illegal for employers to terminate or retaliate against employees who report what they reasonably believe to be fraudulent activity taking place. For example, Ammar Halloum reported that Intel was purposely delaying payment for factory parts in order to raise short-term earnings.
Congress designated the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as the agency to administer the Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower protection. The Occupational Safety and Health Act provides some whistleblower protection for workers reporting unsafe working conditions to OSHA or seeking an OSHA inspection.
OSHA maintains a page with information about the various whistleblower programs it administers.
November 19, 2004
Abercrombie & Fitch Setttlement Accepted
Abercrombie and Fitch's proposed $40 million settlement of an employment discrimination case has been approved by the judge, reports the L.A. Times. A spokesman for the company cites a desire to avoid protracted litigation as the impetus for the settlement, but the $40 million settlement shows that they feared their exposure in the case.
Despite some concerns in the blawgosphere over the meta-narrative of the case, so-called "image discrimination," it bears mentioning that even had the case gone to trial, the plaintiffs would still have to prove that their race or sex was a motivating factor in Abercrombie's adverse decisions. Image discrimination is only a meta-narrative which seeks to show the way that the company's marketing policy caused decisionmakers to make impermissible judgments in hiring, promotion, and firing. In other words, the emergence of a new field of "image discrimination law" doesn't seem to have been likely even in the event that the case was tried.
November 12, 2004
University of Pennsylvania settles with NLRB, union
The University of Pennsylvania distributed an e-mail in the midst of a strike by graduate student-employees that warned that
The University, without admitting fault, agreed to send out a standard letter that says that administrators will not threaten employees "with possible discipline for concertedly engaging with other employees in refusing to cross lawful picket lines." It is an unfair labor practice to "interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed" under the National Labor Relations Act. (section 8(a)(1)). Generally, a threat of disciplinary action in reprisal for collective activity is an unfair labor practice and may be cause for Board intervention.
"Staff members who do not report to work because of strike-related conditions may not be paid for the time absent and may be subject to disciplinary action."
Delta Pilots Agree to Slash Salaries
Delta Pilots voted to agree to a 32.5% cut in pay over the next five years, saving the embattled airline some $5 billion in wages over that time period. The pilots will receive options to buy up to 15% of Delta's stock in exchange for the concession.
Delta still faces a long and difficult struggle to return to profitability.
November 10, 2004
Delta to Cut Jobs
In an effort to avoid bankruptcy, Atlanta-based Delta Airlines announced today that it plans to cut between 6,000 and 6,900 jobs.
These staff reductions will take place over the next 18 months. Delta also plans to cut pay by 10% for all employees as well as reduce benefits. However, the airline intends to implement new employee incentive programs which include the issuance of 75 million shares of common stock.
Shareholder approval will not be sought before implementing these changes. According to Delta, the delay required to obtain shareholder approval could “seriously jeopardize” financial viability. Shareholders will simply be notified of the plan by mail.