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Republicans and the business lobby are still in full hissy fit mode against President Obama's National Labor Relations Board nominees. One of their key claims, hilarious-if-it-wasn't-so-harmful, is that they can't be expected to confirm President Obama's recess appointees because of the controversy that they ginned up against said recess appointments, when the recess appointments were only made in the first place because Republicans filibustered the nominations. The AFL-CIO offers 10 reasons the National Labor Relations Board matters. A few of them:
1. Dexter Wray, Alaska: Dexter worked as a maintenance engineer at a Sheraton in Anchorage.  His manager pressured him and several of his co-workers to decertify their union and told them to lie to the NLRB.  When they told the truth, Dexter and two of his co-workers were fired.  The NLRB ruled that the firings and coercion were illegal, but the hotel has refused to rehire them.  Dexter didn't work for six months and incurred a large medical debt when he lost his health insurance.

2. Michelle Baricko, Connecticut: Michelle is a certified nursing assistant at West River Health Care.  She and her co-workers were locked out for months during contract negotiations.  The hospital's owner, HealthBridge/CareOne, declared that negotiations were permanently stalled and implemented its own contract, which the employees did not agree to.  The NLRB obtained a court injunction for the company to stop its unfair labor practices, but HealthBridge declared bankruptcy and was able to escape its obligations to the employees. The Board and the employees' union have appealed the decision.  Michelle was forced to sell her home and still struggles to provide for her three sons.

3. Kathleen Von Eitzen, Michigan: Kathleen is a baker at Panera Bread who organized 17 of her coworkers to form a union.  The company fought back, firing one employee and cutting Kathleen's pay, giving her a negative evaluation because of her organizing.  The NLRB found that Panera violated the workers' rights and ordered the company to pay back and compensate employees for cutting their hours. Panera appealed and the case is now stalled in federal court.  Kathleen's husband has had two heart attacks and can't work full time.  They can't afford insurance because of her low pay and their home is now in foreclosure.

The NLRB is currently operating, but with many cases held up by an appeals court decision overturning the president's recess appointments to the board. If the Senate does not confirm nominees, the NLRB will cease to have the quorum that allows it to function at all in August, and workers will be without even the weak protections a fully functioning NLRB offers.

Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's news in work and education.

A fair day's wage

  • Nurses—and a city council member—brave arrest to stop hospital closing.
  • Dave Jamieson looks at the question marks raised by Walmart's claims about its pay rates and threats to withdraw from Washington, D.C., over a large retailer living wage bill:
    According to Walmart, full-time store workers now earn $12.78 per hour on average, or 28 cents higher than the proposed D.C. mandate. That's an average wage -- quite different from a starting wage. But considering the Walmart footprint leans heavily suburban and rural, a $12.50 starting wage in one of the most expensive cities in the country wouldn't seem too out of whack with Walmart's self-reported wage data.

    So what gives?

    Walmart's $12.78 figure probably presents a misleading picture of what store workers actually make. As the company itself notes, the $12.78 calculation excludes part-time workers, and it includes department managers who are paid hourly and probably earn a good deal more than cashiers, stockers and sales associates.

    It's hard to know how much this skews things, because Walmart doesn't disclose how much of its workforce is part-time or how much those workers actually earn.

    Tell Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray to sign the Large Retailer Accountability Act and give big box workers a living wage.
  • Somewhat counterintuitive, but good on them:
    Leaders of the union representing 17,000 nonsupervisory Border Patrol officers say they have serious concerns about how the Border Patrol can grow from 21,394 agents to 40,000 in only 10 years, as the [Senate immigration] bill requires, without sacrificing quality or efficiency.
  • What this stay-at-home dad says:
    Yes, taking care of kids is difficult and it is underappreciated work, especially if you’re also nurturing a career. But it’s not heroic. Because, if it’s heroic to forgo working so that you can take care of kids, then what if you have to work to provide for those kids? Is my wife un-heroic—maybe even a coward—for passing the kids to me so that she can return to work full time? What about me? Was I lacking in heroism before, when I was working long hours and she was with the kids?

    I’d like to humbly suggest that I’m not a bad or good person based on my position with regard to this particular question. I don’t feel guilty or proud of how much time I spend with my kids now, and I didn’t feel guilty or proud when Jen was on maternity leave. I wish that Jen also didn’t feel guilty or proud about this issue, but I know that as a woman she is inundated with judgments.  

    I get judgment, too, I suppose: I’m accosted by strangers who want to praise me because I’m with my kids at noon on Tuesday. But when I was working around the clock and Jen was with the kids, people applauded my ambition. I’m a hero either way, which is nice for me.

  • Michael Grabell's outstanding article about the temp industry won a Sidney award, and Lindsay Beyerstein interviews the author/winner.
  • The Metropolitan Transportation Authority claims it decided to use Chinese steel in rehabilitating the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge after spending a bunch of money looking for steel sources in the U.S., but according to United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard:
    With precious little effort, the United Steelworkers found two American bridge fabricators that said they could meet MTA’s requirements for specialized orthotropic steel decking for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Both are located in eastern Pennsylvania within 100 miles of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge site.

    One was cleared by a bonding company, lined up financing and prepared to meet the MTA’s construction schedule.Also in eastern Pennsylvania, Lehigh University’s Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems Center tested full-scale prototypes of the orthotropic steel panels for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

    Both American bridge fabricators were prepared to use American-made steel, which would employ Americans in good, family-supporting jobs in mills that are required to control emissions and that wouldn’t have contributed to pollution by hauling steel halfway around the world.

  • The title of this post is everything you think you know about low-wage workers is wrong. If you're a semi-regular Daily Kos Labor reader, I hope to gawd this is not the case, because most of the myths it busts have been discussed at some length here. But it is still a very useful post.
  • Poverty maps from 1980 look very different from those today, and that has policy implications.
  • Remember the Pennsylvania McDonald's that was making workers take their pay in fee-laden debit cards? Yeah, probably because there are people now who know about that besides the workers suffering from it, the franchise has quit forcing the debit cards on workers.
  • Corey Robin reviews what we know about CUNY's Petraeus cover-up.


Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 10:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Friend of my son hasn't been paid in 3 weeks (3+ / 0-)

    even though he's worked an average of 60-70 hrs. each week, painting houses.  His pay, which he hasn't received, is less than $8 an hour, no overtime pay, no benefits.

    He finally had to quit the job and will have to wage a legal fight to get his back wages.

    His former employer College Pro Painters, a multimillion dollar franchise corporation, claims they have a computer glitch.

    Apparently, the only glitch at College Pro Painters is their exploitation of young workers in a bad economy.

    I've told him to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, but how much can they help him?

    "If you can't take their money, eat their food, drink their booze and then vote against them, you have no business being in DC."

    by Betty Pinson on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 11:11:55 AM PDT

    •  Does he have anything to lose? n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      belinda ridgewood

      My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.—Carl Schurz
      "Shared sacrifice!" said the spider to the fly.—Me

      by KingBolete on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 11:26:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  He has nothing to lose (3+ / 0-)

        but can NLRB help him if they're hobbled by the GoP?

        "If you can't take their money, eat their food, drink their booze and then vote against them, you have no business being in DC."

        by Betty Pinson on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 11:44:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  doubt NLRB can help in any event.... (0+ / 0-)

          The U.S. Department of Labor, not the NLRB, is in charge of enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act (minimum wage law). The DOL often works closely with state-level labor departments on minimum wage issues, particularly in those states where the state min wage is higher than the federal min wage.

          NLRB is in charge of adjudication of disputes over the National Labor Relations Act, and probably has no jurisdiction over the case you describe (unless he was in the process of agitating for a union at the time his wages were withheld).

    •  Far better to file.... (0+ / 0-)

      Far better to file a complaint with the local Better Business Bureau and with the state Department of Labor. That is far more likely to provoke resolution of the wage claim than a complaint to NLRB.

      Would also suggest a call to your local Congressman/Congresswoman. The coercive power of a  congressional staffer is nonexistent, but they seem to strike fear into the hearts of crappy employers.  

    •  State Wage & Hour office (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, llywrch

      is the place to go for this. They will have a form for him to file. Most states have a law requiring that workers be paid within 7 days (or sometimes 14 days). And in a fairly straightforward case, without a bankrupt employer or anything like that, they can be quite successful in extracting money quickly.

      •  We're in Ohio, run by the GOP (0+ / 0-)

        It will be a waste of time to pursue a remedy through state government.

        "If you can't take their money, eat their food, drink their booze and then vote against them, you have no business being in DC."

        by Betty Pinson on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:55:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Easy as pie? (5+ / 0-)

    And to think about all the work that places have done to try and keep Walmart out when it was simply a matter of requiring a fair wage be paid by large employers.

    My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.—Carl Schurz
    "Shared sacrifice!" said the spider to the fly.—Me

    by KingBolete on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 11:25:24 AM PDT

  •  Republicans do not care. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichibon, Eric Nelson

    So fucking simple. So fucking sad.

    Yes, it's unAmerican. The GOP stopped caring about Americans a long time ago.

  •  Verrazano-Narrows Bridge... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) is a little late to the party, but he came out on Friday in support of American workers and the need for 'Buy American' procurement policies in public works projects like the rehabilitation of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge project


  •  see also Gawker on Wal-Mart... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    Gawker's Hamilton Nolan has a great project underway collecting the first-hand stories of Wal-Mart workers:

  •  Another Corporate Chain to Boycott (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    Like we have a shortage of them.

    My cousin just lost her health insurance. Although lost isn't exactly the right word. Her employer pulled it for all part time employees.

    She's 60 years old and works 29 hours a week for a regional restaurant chain called Bob Evans. Been there for seven years, and I think she said she makes $8.50 an hour.

    Bob Evans is very popular and known for its quality food and portions. They used to have fairly decent benefits... for a restaurant chain anyway. But Bob, the farmer that started the business by making his own sausage, died a few years back. Now it looks like the family has less and less to do with operations these days, and it's become just another corporate hog at the trough... if you'll pardon the pun.

    Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

    by Pariah Dog on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 02:01:16 PM PDT

  •  An accident that shouldn't have happened. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson
    An employee at a Redwood City Grocery Outlet was killed Thursday night in an accident involving a machine used to compact cardboard for recycling, officials said.

    The store janitor was found by another employee around 10 p.m. crushed to death in a compactor/baler in the store ... according to Peter Melton, California Division of Occupational Safety and Health spokesman. The incident is being investigated as an industrial accident, Melton added
    When Redwood City firefighters arrived at the scene they found Udo still lying partially in the cardboard baling machine, which Battalion Chief Geoffrey Balton said was a little higher than waist height.

      I sometimes shop at that store.  So sad.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 02:34:45 PM PDT

  •  About CUNY (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, llywrch

    Just a side note on the Petraeus story (which I've been following, as an adjunct who's never been offered anything close to $150,000 per course. . . .)

    My father graduated from CUNY in maybe 1940. It was a pretty radical place, I gather. One of his professors there was Charles Seeger, father of Pete (and Mike, Peggy, Penny, & Barbara). The students used to go over to the Seeger home, and there was this lanky tall teenager plucking a banjo. My father was about 5 years older than Pete, and worked with him off and on until my father's death in 1980.  

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