Thinking of Amazon Workers This Holiday Season

Wednesday, December 8, 2020
By Jim Hightower, Common Dreams

During the hectic holiday shopping season, Jeff Bezos’ Amazon may seem like a great option, especially for us procrastinators. Anything you want can be shipped directly to your doorstep. All it takes is a few clicks on the Amazon website — and, of course, some of your hard-earned money.

The media sings the praises of Bezos’ concept and business. But what you may not know is that, as head of the Amazon beast, Bezos is hard on his labor force. In fact, he was awarded a less-coveted prize by the International Trade Union Confederation in 2014: “World’s Worst Boss.”

Read the full story from Common Dreams

1 in 3 workers had their pay cut during the pandemic

Tuesday, December 8, 2020
By Jennifer Liu,

Roughly 1 in 3 full-time workers have experienced a pay cut due to the coronavirus pandemic this year, according to a recent MagnifyMoney survey of 984 professionals surveyed Nov. 6 to 11.

The economic upheaval of the pandemic starting in March caused many U.S. employers to institute temporary pay cuts in the spring. In the months since, about half of respondents said their pay has been restored.

However, while men and women experienced pandemic pay cuts at nearly equal rates, men, at 52%, were more likely than women, 44%, to say their pay has been restored.

Such findings are yet another example of how women and their career decisions have been impacted during the health and economic crisis, and how a history of being underpaid in the workforce could exacerbate the problem moving forward.

Read the full story from CNBC

Where the fight for a $15 minimum wage goes from here

Tuesday, December 8, 2020
By Michelle Cheng & Dan Kopf,

Since fast-food workers in New York walked off the job in 2012 to demand higher wages, the movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour has found success in cities and states around the US.

Joining residents of Democratic-leaning states like Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey, voters in Florida approved a $15 wage floor in November, showing that even in more conservative political environments, minimum wage acts are popular.

With Florida’s recent approval, more than 40% of the US workforce is located in cities or states with minimum wages set to climb to $15 or more.

Covid-19 has been especially devastating for retail, restaurants, and other sectors with high concentrations of employees earning minimum wage. But the pandemic arguably has been helpful in creating increased recognition for frontline staff who are cleaning hospital rooms, working in restaurants, or keeping supply chains moving, fueling the public pressure to raise wages of some of America’s hardest workers and lowest earners.

Read the full story from Quartz

Chicago-Area Workers Log 1,000 Complaints About COVID-19 Conditions On The Job

Monday, November 23, 2020
By Linda Lutton, Michael Puente,

Since the early days of the pandemic, one group has quietly, but consistently, been raising red flags around COVID-19 safety: workers.

In the Chicago area, workers from every sector of the economy have filed more than 1,000 complaints, alerting the federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to unsafe conditions at work, including direct exposure to the virus.

The complaints, among 31,000 made nationwide, are an on-the-ground view from workers who have been forced to continue laboring outside their homes amidst the deadly pandemic. They form a record of palpable concerns from the area’s essential workers, and a clear warning that conditions are not safe and people are getting sick.

Read the full story from WBEZ

Fight for $15 minimum wage boosted in Florida but Biden faces tough task

Monday, November 23, 2020
By Michael Sainato,
The Guardian

It has been a long time coming but Hector Rivera is hopeful that one day soon he will be able to take a day off work. The 61-year-old works as a janitor in Miami, Florida, making just over $9 an hour. Because the pay is so low, Rivera works two janitorial jobs and scrambles to find gig jobs on the weekends in order to cover his rent and bills every month.

“Trying to survive on this salary is extremely difficult because I’m constantly looking for more work,” said Rivera, a Dominican and one of the millions of Latino and Black Americans who are disproportionately represented in the low-wage sector.

On 3 November Rivera, and the millions of Americans fighting for a raise for low-wage workers, were given a boost when Florida passed a resolution to increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour. Raising the minimum wage was a central plank of Joe Biden’s election campaign and Florida’s vote came even as the state voted for Donald Trump. But while workers and activists are cheering the victory, the road ahead for Biden and a raise in the minimum wage looks tough.

Read the full story from The Guardian

Striking Workers in North Dakota Threaten Food Supply Chain in the Midwest

Friday, November 20, 2020
By Lauren Kaori Gurley,

Seventy-five warehouse workers and delivery drivers at a major regional food distributor in Fargo, North Dakota went on strike on Wednesday to protest their employer Cash-Wa’s refusal to implement protections to curb the spread of COVID-19—prompting union officials to warn that there could be food supply disruptions at restaurants, schools, and hospitals throughout the Great Plains states. 

The workers are employed by Cash-Wa—whose customers include Dairy Queen, Qdoba, Subway, Taco John’s, Pizza Ranch, and four public school districts in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Altogether, Cash-Wa’s customer-base includes more than 10,000 restaurants, hospitals, convenience stores, and schools across 10 states. 

Since March, essential workers across the country have walked off the job at Whole Foods marketsAmazon warehousesTaco Bells and McDonald’s restaurants, and poultry packing plants to protest working conditions during the pandemic, some asking for hazard pay and others demanding protective gear. Few of these strikes have resulted in major commercial disruptions and product shortages—but as the workforce behind a massive food distribution company, the 75 striking Cash-Wa workers are in a unique position to disrupt a major supply chain if their employer refuses to provide them with more protections.

Read the full story from Vice

The Supreme Court will hear a new attack on unions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020
By Ian Millhiser,

he Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would hear Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, a case targeting a 45-year-old California regulation that allows union organizers to briefly enter agricultural workplaces to speak to farmworkers. But the case has implications that stretch well beyond labor organizing. Among other things, Cedar Point could potentially allow businesses to deny entry to health inspectors and other government officials who ensure that those businesses are being operated safely.

The Fifth Amendment provides that private property shall not “be taken for public use, without just compensation.” The Cedar Point plaintiffs argue that this “takings clause” gives them a broad right to “exclude unwanted persons from [their] property,” including union organizers — and that property owners are entitled to compensation if this right is violated by a state regulation.

If the Supreme Court were to hold that the government may not require a business to allow unwanted people on its premises, the implications could be staggering. It could mean, for example, that the government runs afoul of the takings clause if it requires restaurants to submit to periodic health inspections, or if it requires power plants to be inspected to monitor their emissions, or if factories are required to allow workplace safety inspectors to observe working conditions.

Read the full story from Vox

Biden wants to undo Trump executive orders on federal workers

Friday, November 13, 2020
By Andrew Keshner,
Market Watch

In May 2018, President Donald Trump signed executive orders mandating stricter deadlines and procedures when federal workers collectively negotiated new contracts, curbing on-the-clock time for union duties as well as giving some under-performing workers tight time frames to boost their performance.

In January 2021, newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden is likely to pull back those same orders, according to union members, who say the orders have weakened their ability to ensure rank and file staffers are treated fairly.

The Biden transition team didn’t respond to a request for comment, but Biden’s campaign website has signaled that the president-elect will address these issues: “There’s a war on organizing, collective bargaining, unions, and workers. It’s been raging for decades, and it’s getting worse with Donald Trump in the White House.”

The President-Elect, among other things, supports laws that would penalize companies trying to interfere with worker organizing efforts, according to his website.

Biden is expected to rely on executive orders for government policy if he cannot make changes through law in a divided Congress.

Read the full story from Market Watch

The lesson Democrats should take from Florida’s $15 minimum wage vote

Monday, November 5, 2020
By Emily Stewart,

Joe Biden supports an increase to the national minimum wage; Donald Trump does not. Biden’s is a widely popular position, but one that he and many other Democrats often fail to highlight. During the final presidential debate, “wages” was the most-searched term on Google, as viewers seemed surprised to see that the issue was really even in play.

In the 2020 election, Florida voted 60-40 in favor of Amendment 2, a ballot measure to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 by September 30, 2026, even as it also voted to keep President Donald Trump in office. Beyond signaling that people just aren’t ideologically consistent, there is another — and perhaps more important — read into Florida’s results: Increasing wages is an attractive proposition to a lot of people, and it’s a position Democrats should embrace and highlight more.

“Across the board, it is not necessarily a left or right issue. Voters across the aisle actually know that it is impossible in Florida and around the country [to] actually survive on $8.56 and what the current minimum wage is,” Allynn Umel, national organizing director of the Fight for $15, a group that advocates for a $15 minimum wage and a union, said on a call with reporters Wednesday.

Read the full story from Vox

6 McDonald’s workers say they were pressured to work despite being infected in Chicago

Monday, November 2, 2020
By Kate Taylor and Avery Hartmans,
Business Insider

Two new OSHA complaints allege that workers are being pressured to continue working at a Chicago McDonald’s, after six employees caught the coronavirus. According to one worker, the incident comes after two McDonald’s employees died from COVID-19. 

A complaint filed on Friday by McDonald’s worker Kenia Campeando alleges that store managers dismissed employee reports of COVID-19 symptoms, failed to sanitize or enforce social distancing, and did not provide personal protective equipment to workers. McDonald’s failures contributed to a cluster of cases that sickened six workers at a single store, according to Campeando. 

Read the full story from Business Insider