Posts Tagged ‘working conditions’

One hundred years after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, worker safety still paramount

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Workers and communities across the country honor the memory of the 146 women and children who perished as a result of locked doors and employer negligence. In 1911 outrage toward such callous disregard for workers galvanized Americans to press for better working conditions, and today, the 100th anniversary gives us an opportunity to reflect on the evolution of workplace safety. Read more »


The market, unions, and gliding past stop signs

Guest Post by Author and Labor Scholar John Brueggemann, PhD

The logic of the market – that everything is for sale and we should strive to get as much as we can – has pushed beyond the economic sphere into other parts of our lives. Americans rush to work, gliding past stop signs, talking and texting on the phone, incrementally compromising public safety because our busy schedules feel more important. Once we get there, we stay, longer and longer, while simultaneously regretting the neglect of our loved ones. As a result, many of us have no network of social support, a trend that has worsened significantly over the last two decades. And despite this commitment to hard work and all the resources it yields – the highest Gross Domestic Product in the world – most Americans report not being able to afford what they need. I believe this mess is the result of a moral crisis brought about by market culture, which has led to a deteriorating capacity for meaningful relationships.
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Working conditions for DC restaurant employees not what they ordered

On Monday, the Restaurant Opportunity Council of DC (ROC) held an event to discuss their most recent report, Behind the Kitchen Door: Inequality and Opportunity in Washington, DC’s Thriving Restaurant Industry. And the findings were less than appetizing for the area’s food service workers.

The report took a detailed look at a wide range of topics, including racial discrimination, workplace safety, low wages, and public health. Restaurant employees reported facing tip theft by managers and owners, as well as wage theft—owners requiring workers to clock out before finishing work in order to avoid earning overtime. Similarly, the report found that many wait staff, busboys, and dishwashers are not given paid sick leave from work, exposing their coworkers and customers to illness.
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Green jobs must be good jobs

There’s a lot of hype about “going green.” But we must ensure that as we pursue alternative energy and sustainability we are protecting our greatest resource: America’s workers.

This year’s Good Jobs Green Jobs National Conference explored ways to incorporate workers’ rights into green initiatives. At the conference, American Rights at Work hosted two panels, highlighting employee protection within the agriculture and construction industries.

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#LetUsPlay also means #LetUsWork

Today the NFL Players Association is taking to Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness about the owners’ threat to lockout the players and cancel the next season of football. Billed as #LetUsPlay Day, the event’s signature phrase reflects the players’ bargaining position – they’re just asking to continue under the terms of the previous contract, nothing more. It’s the owners who, despite major profits, want the players to take an 18 percent pay cut while playing more games each season.

Despite efforts by some to paint these negotiations as a dispute between millionaires and billionaires, the reality is that an NFL lockout will affect over 100 thousand everyday workers in cities across the country. Read more »


Update: Ruby Ridge

Last week we alerted you to the shocking conditions workers face at the Ruby Ridge Dairy farm in Pasco, Washington. In response to long hours, inconsistent pay, and brutal work rules, workers at the dairy sought a voice on the job and a union through the United Farm Workers. Since trying to organize, workers say that management responded with the highest degree of intimidation and harassment, including the firing of union supporters and insinuations of violence.

Seeking to put pressure on the dairy’s owners, we asked that you join us in urging Northwest Farm Credit Services to stop lending to Ruby Ridge. A company that doesn’t value human rights does not deserve an extended line of credit.

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Time for business schools to get down to business on workers’ rights

Kara Kahley is American Rights at Work’s Socially Responsible Business Intern.

It has been said that “Doing well by doing good” is the new M.O. of the business world.  Companies are realizing that there’s more to business than profit, and management education is beginning to reflect that perspective.

Traditionally, management education has focused primarily on creating shareholder value, but this too is changing. Social responsibility was once a trendy offering only at certain schools, but it is now becoming mainstream.  The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the premiere accrediting body for management education, has begun to push for more emphasis on ethics and sustainability in its schools’ programs.  Additionally, the presence of Net Impact, a student organization for corporate social responsibility, is rapidly expanding. Read more »


Workplace or prison camp?

His name is Dick Bengen, and at Ruby Ridge Dairy in Washington State, workers say he imposes some of the most unspeakable working conditions we’ve ever encountered. He carries a rifle in his truck and threatens pro-union employees with it. He shouts abusive language and racial slurs at his workers. He refuses to grant lunch breaks. And his employees have to drink from the same water barrels as his cows.

We’ve seen plenty of companies that treat their workers poorly—Ruby Ridge takes it to a whole new level. Read more »


Tell IKEA CEO Mikael Ohlsson: Let Swedwood employees build a better future

If you’re trying to outfit your home on a budget, IKEA is pretty much the holy grail of interior decorating. The cafeteria food isn’t half bad either. But at Swedwood, an IKEA furniture subsidiary in Danville, VA, employees say they’re subjected to a whole slew of unsafe, unfair, and generally unpleasant working conditions—including unlawful intimidation and firing of union supporters during their ongoing attempt to join the Machinists (IAM).

That’s way too high a price to pay for any product, no matter how trendy. Read more »


Just in time for the holidays: support workers’ rights while you shop

Black Friday may be over, but for those of us too lazy to get up at the crack of dawn and contend with droves of frenzied deal-seekers, holiday shopping is just getting started. With all the options out there, not to mention a few seriously picky folks on my gift list, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed.

So I was thrilled to hear that the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) and the Not For Sale Campaign (NFSC) have teamed up to help make the process simpler—and socially responsible. The two organizations have updated the site, which rates companies from “A” to “F” based on their workers’ rights record. Read more »