Securing Wages Earned Against Theft

February 26, 2014 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Development, What People are Doing to Change the World, Workers' Rights

From NY Labor and Employer Lawyer Shirley Lin:

The article describes the key provisions of New York Assembly Bill 8045 (2013), legislation drafted by AALDEF, Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association, NMASS, Legal Aid, and UJC.

The anti-wage-theft proposal was designed based upon challenges advocates faced collecting from small businesses in particular. The bill:

  1. expands New York’s mechanic’s lien law to provide a “wage lien” for workers from any industry upon employer’s personal and real property;
  2. creates a new, more easily-attainable ground for attaching defendant employers’ assets pre-judgment in New York’s civil procedure law, in wage cases — a standard virtually identical to Connecticut’s more relaxed pre-judgment attachment standard;
  3. amends the Business Corporations Law to facilitate holding major corporate shareholders liable for unpaid wages; and
  4. creates a remedy similar to BCL Sec. 630 as applied to LLCs to hold members accountable for wage claims.

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(h/t: Shirley Lin)

At Labor Group, a Sense of a Broader Movement

September 16, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Workers' Rights

The A.F.L.-C.I.O. invited scores of nonunion groups to its four-day convention last week in Los Angeles to brainstorm. | Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

From NYT:

For the delegates at the convention, which ended on Thursday, there was a burning realization that the status quo was not working for the nation’s labor unions. Wages for union and nonunion workers alike have flatlined in recent years, while the percentage of private sector workers in unions has slipped to just 6.6 percent. That is less than one-fifth the level during organized labor’s prime, when union leaders were confidants of presidents and the mighty Teamsters threatened strikes that could cripple much of the nation’s commerce.

Desperate to figure out how to stop labor’s descent, the A.F.L.-C.I.O., a federation of 57 labor unions, invited scores of nonunion groups, including the National Organization for Women, United Students Against Sweatshops and Arts and Democracy, to the four-day convention to brainstorm. They debated how to shore up the sagging labor movement, how to raise wages and how to persuade Congress to pass legislation that would help 11 million undocumented immigrants gain citizenship.

“Everyone has come to the realization that we need more partners, that we got to rebuild the movement, that we have faced all these vicious attacks,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which is still reeling from when Wisconsin curbed collective bargaining for most public employees in 2011. “Maybe it takes a bat to your head, but people get it now. People are engaged.”

Dozens of outside groups attended the convention, in part to lend the struggling labor movement a hand, in part to plug into the considerable power and reach that organized labor still has. There were leaders of more than a dozen immigrant worker centers, including ones from Louisiana, New York, Washington State and Texas. Numerous professors attended to share their insights, and union leaders from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nigeria also visited.

Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, voiced support for labor’s efforts to reinvent and reinvigorate itself.

“We have to stop telling women that they have to lean in as individuals,” she said. “We have to tell them there is a whole system here that you have to lean together with your brothers and sisters, we have a whole movement here to put the United States on the right track.”

Minnesota To Grant Care Workers The Right To Join A Union

May 22, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Poverty, Workers' Rights

From ThinkProgress:

On Monday, a bill squeaked through the Minnesota House of Representatives that would allow in-home child care and personal care workers in the state to unionize. By a margin of two votes, the state House of Representatives sent the bill to Gov. Mark Dayton (D), who is expected to sign it.

SEIU and AFSCME, the state’s largest unions, now have four years to organize those workers:

The 12,500 child care workers in Minnesota who look after children in the state’s Child Care Assistance Program, known as C-CAP for short, must vote on whether or not to join the union by 2017. At least 50 percent of the state’s providers will need to join in order of the union to be established.

Those who do not provide care to C-CAP families will not need to vote and will not be affected.

If care workers vote to unionize, the union will be able to negotiate the size of reimbursements from clients who use subsidies and members will be able to file grievances. The bill doesn’t give them the right to strike.

Unemployed Black Woman Pretends to be White, Job Offers Suddenly Skyrocket

January 29, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Poverty, Workers' Rights

From Techyville:

If you don’t believe that racism in the job market is real, then please read this article by Yolanda Spivey. Spivey, who was seeking work in the insurance industry, found that she wasn’t getting any job offers. But as an experiment, she changed her name to Bianca White, to see if employers would respond differently. You’ll be shocked and amazed by her phenomenal story.

Before I begin, let me quote the late, great, Booker T. Washington who said, “Of all forms of slavery there is none that is so harmful and degrading as that form of slavery which tempts one human being to hate another by reason of his race or color.”

For two years, I have been unemployed. In the beginning, I applied to more than three hundred open positions in the insurance industry—an industry that I’ve worked in for the previous ten years. Not one employer responded to my resume. So, I enrolled back into college to finish my degree. After completing school this past May, I resumed my search for employment and was quite shocked that I wasn’t getting a single response. I usually applied for positions advertised on the popular website I’d used it in the past and have been successful in obtaining jobs through it.

Two years ago, I noticed that had added a “diversity questionnaire” to the site. This gives an applicant the opportunity to identify their sex and race to potential employers. guarantees that this “option” will not jeopardize your chances of gaining employment. You must answer this questionnaire in order to apply to a posted position—it cannot be skipped. At times, I would mark off that I was a Black female, but then I thought, this might be hurting my chances of getting employed, so I started selecting the “decline to identify” option instead. That still had no effect on my getting a job. So I decided to try an experiment: I created a fake job applicant and called her Bianca White.

First, I created an email account and resume for Bianca. I kept the same employment history and educational background on her resume that was listed on my own. But I removed my home phone number, kept my listed cell phone number, and changed my cell phone greeting to say, “You have reached Bianca White. Please leave a message.” Then I created an online account, listed Bianca as a White woman on the diversity questionnaire, and activated the account.

That very same day, I received a phone call. The next day, my phone line and Bianca’s email address, were packed with potential employers calling for an interview. I was stunned. More shocking was that some employers, mostly Caucasian-sounding women, were calling Bianca more than once, desperate to get an interview with her. All along, my real account was open and active; but, despite having the same background as Bianca, I received no phone calls. Two jobs actually did email me and Bianca at the same time. But they were commission only sales positions. Potential positions offering a competitive salary and benefits all went to Bianca.

Read the full letter here.

Faulty Criminal Background Checks Affect Employability

July 26, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Intersectionality, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege, Workers' Rights

From NYT:

The federal government has historically paid little attention to the companies that collect and sell the data used by employers in hiring decisions — including data about an applicant’s criminal history.

But because 9 in 10 employers now use criminal background checks for some applicants, and the data are not always reliable, the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which share jurisdiction, need to get a better handle on an industry that has grown so fast over the last 20 years that no one can say how many companies there are.

They must make sure that the reporting companies obey the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which requires them to strive for accuracy. The law also requires the companies that furnish reports drawn from public records for employment purposes to notify the people named in the reports in a timely manner — so that any inaccuracies in the data can be challenged — or ensure that the public record is complete and up to date.

Sloppy reporting was not a huge problem in the past when there were fewer companies gathering data and the only way to get it was to examine court records in person. But, in recent years, this has become a computer-driven industry, with companies buying often incomplete records in bulk from the courts or from other screening companies and then not updating them. An incomplete report might show, for instance, that a job candidate was charged with a crime but not that he was exonerated. And faulty data can circulate forever.

A study issued in April by the National Consumer Law Center, an advocacy group, points to many other problems. Background reports often list the same offense many times, making it appear as if the applicant has an extensive record. Worse still, companies sometimes fail to do the basic checking necessary to distinguish among different people who have the same name.

More Americans Die In Their Workplaces Each Year Than Died During 10 Years Of War In Iraq

May 22, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Poverty, Workers' Rights

From ThinkProgress:

4,690 people were killed at work in 2010, up three percent from 2009, the Center for Public Integrity reports. That means that more Americans died in their workplaces in one year than died during the entire war in Iraq.
But while Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to protect defense spending from budget cuts, they are simultaneously looking to defund the agency that protects workers from physical harm in the workplace.
Many on-the-job deaths were met with only a small fine, an average of $7,900. Some workplaces were never inspected at all. And because of understaffed regulation offices — and the looming threat of further budget cuts — the numbers aren’t likely to change.

Republicans have proposed slashing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) budget by 20 percent, and have argued that OSHA should be focusing on enforcing penalties for killing an employee.

Republicans consider enforcement of OSHA standards ‘job-killing’ regulation.

DOL Extends Comment Period on Proposed FMLA Rules

April 13, 2012 By: seeta Category: Civil Rights, Workers' Rights

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has extended the comment period for its proposed rule to implement new statutory amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that would expand military family leave provisions and incorporate a special eligibility provision for airline flight crew employees.

In February, the department published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register with a public comment period scheduled to end on April 16. The department has received requests from various organizations to extend the comment period.

The proposed language would extend the entitlement of military caregiver leave to family members of veterans for up to five years after leaving the military. At this time, the law only covers family members of “currently serving” service members. Additionally, the proposal expands the military family leave provisions of the FMLA by extending qualifying exigency leave to employees whose family members serve in the regular armed forces. Currently, the law only covers families of National Guard members and reservists.