Let’s take a look back at where we collectively stood up and fought back in 2012! Read more »
Have you ever wondered how the stuff you and I buy online arrives so incredibly fast?
Here’s the real deal on online shipping – the whole system is built on unsafe, low-paying, temporary jobs. Workers in the U.S. shipping centers and warehouses that fulfill online orders for major retailers like Amazon and Walmart are subject to dangerous conditions and shamefully low wages. Temperatures in warehouses can soar up to 120 degrees, making them literal sweatshops. These workers are consistently asked to work at unreasonable and backbreaking speeds, and they endure the pain because they’re afraid of losing their jobs. Read more »
Watching another politician visit a local diner on the campaign trail, I couldn’t help but notice the irony of politicians—who, research shows, have become exponentially wealthier than the average American family—claiming to understand the daily challenges facing the middle class. Outside of the campaign trail, do our elected officials know what it’s like to have to clock in and out, or live paycheck to paycheck? Read more »
Jobs, jobs, jobs. It’s the topic on the forefront of everyone’s minds and is the issue likely defining the upcoming presidential election. Too many workers are toiling in jobs that don’t pay enough to support their families, and too many can’t find work at all. As middle-class jobs become more scarce, and newly created jobs lack the wages and benefits of long-term employment, we’re headed toward even greater income inequality. Read more »
Capitol Hill got a dose of reality today at a panel featuring entertainment insiders and lawmakers who discussed the perils of the freelance economy and revealed the behind-the-scenes challenges facing professional employees like writers in nonfiction television, as well as temps, subcontractors, and freelancers in nearly every industry, who lack the protections and structures of traditional employment.
Sen. Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota and a member of three unions himself, opened the panel by noting the lack of employment protections he faced as a writer at the beginning of his career. He called attention to important provisions in the Rebuild America Act that would help protect writers and other contingent workers.
American Rights at Work and Jobs with Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta then moderated a panel discussion with Lowell Peterson, executive director of Writers’ Guild of America East (WGAE), and Lee Ellenberg, a writer for The Late Show with David Letterman and WGAE member.
Peterson described how in nonfiction TV, despite controlling their work as a typical employer does, many studios misclassify writers as independent contractors. “The reality of freelance employment in nonfiction TV is that even creative professionals face grueling hours, no job security, no benefits, and no certainty about compensation. Writers and producers in this industry find that, joining with the WGAE, it’s possible to change those conditions, but there is a lot of work to be done.”
Ellenberg shared his personal experience of seeing industry friends looking for work every six weeks, not sure if they would ever receive health care coverage or a retirement plan. He noted how fortunate he was to be a union member, knowing that he would receive proper pay for the work that he did and basic benefits, like health care and a pension, which provide economic security.
Rounding out the discussion, Gupta connected the insights Peterson and Ellenberg shared from the nonfiction TV industry to the precarious situation workers in all types of contingent work find themselves today. She explained, “Until lawmakers are able to modernize federal labor laws, employers will continue to abuse the contingent labor model and lower job standards to the detriment of us all.”
Today’s briefing helped educate policymakers that America’s workers – from writers to housekeepers – need legislative improvements to help the 99%, not just the 1%.
Despite caring for society’s most precious members, in-home child care providers typically face very low pay and poor access to benefits and training opportunities. Two new studies find that unions offer an array of job improvements to child care providers, which serve to improve the quality of care given to children. Read more »
The U.S. House Oversight Committee plays an important role in holding our government accountable. Unfortunately, the current committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), has been overlooking real issues of concern to America’s taxpayers and workers in favor of witch hunts to please corporate donors and extremist allies. Is Issa answering to business interests or everyday citizens? Find out what Issa’s really been up to as “Oversight” chairman below. (Or download the PDF.)
This Saturday is Workers Memorial Day, a time when working families across the country gather to remember the dead and fight for the living — as Mother Jones put it. Though we’ve made significant strides in workplace safety over the years, it’s clear that we’ve still got some work to do.
After a nationwide frenzy, lottery officials revealed yesterday that three Maryland residents had pitched in to buy one of the winning Mega Millions tickets. Each of the lucky winners will pocket around $35 million, after taxes.
That figure is exciting in its own right. But what makes this story truly remarkable is that all three of these winners, who have chosen to remain anonymous, work in the state’s public education system—and they’ve all decided to keep doing the work they love.
Earlier this month, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed H.B. 4246, a bill that will prevent graduate research and teaching assistants at the state’s public universities from forming unions and bargaining collectively. We asked Alix Gould-Werth (pictured), one of the graduate student research assistants (GSRA) involved in an organizing drive at the University of Michigan, to shed some light on this latest attack on workers. Read more »