Posts Tagged ‘Jobs’

Ask IKEA: What’s Swedish for unionbusting?

IKEA logoI’m a big fan of IKEA. They sell cool, affordable furniture and teach me a few Swedish words whenever I go to their stores. They’ve also made it their mission to be a responsible, innovative company that takes care of its workers. In Sweden, where almost all of IKEA’s workers are in unions, we’ve seen that mission fulfilled. The workers there earn about $19 an hour minimum and get five weeks of paid vacation.

So it’s incredibly disappointing to find out that those high standards aren’t true for their U.S. employees too.

At an IKEA subsidiary factory in Danville, Virginia, workers report they are facing pay cuts, mandatory overtime, racial discrimination, and dangerous conditions on the job.
The workers want to organize as a union in order to gain a voice on the job and stop the mistreatment. But instead of respecting its workers’ right to form a union like IKEA does in Sweden, IKEA’s subsidiary in Virginia hired unionbusting consultants and discouraged union membership in mandatory employee meetings. And, worst of all, workers who support forming a union have now been fired!

It’s completely outrageous — and it needs to stop. Fortunately there is something you can do today. Write a letter to IKEA’s CEO and tell him to stop the intimidation and to let the U.S. workers have a fair shot to join a union! While we appreciate Ikea’s mission of corporate social responsibility, IKEA’s actions in its U.S. factory speak louder than words.

 

Will workers win or lose when Walmart moves in?

Guest Post by author and MacArthur Foundation Chair in History at UC Santa Barbara, Nelson Lichtenstein.

As our consumer-driven economy struggles to regain lost ground, Walmart—the big-box retailer notorious for driving down wages and labor standards wherever it goes—is moving forward with plans to open stores in urban centers nationwide. What could the company’s expanded presence mean for workers and our communities?

Currently, Walmart uses its position in the economy to push low-road work that offers its associates no hope of a career. With such low pay and meager benefits, many Walmart employees who enjoy their job simply can’t afford to stay at the company. Career advancement is limited because only a few managerial positions exist at each store. Read more »

 

Workers Memorial Day is a call for better workplace safety

Hard Hats at MemorialToday workers and their families gather across the country to remember and honor colleagues who were injured or killed on the job site last year. While we have made many improvements since workplace tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, research tells us more still needs to be done in order to protect the health and safety of America’s workers.

In 2009 alone, 4,340 workers were killed on the job – an average of 12 workers every day– and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases. Read more »

 

Numbers show the sacrifice isn’t shared

Income Growth Pie ChartAs the economy struggles to rebound and local, state, and federal legislators seek to address cash-strapped budgets, the buzzword has been “shared sacrifice.” But the AFL-CIO’s annual Executive Pay Watch report shows that CEOs of major companies, unlike their employees, haven’t made too many sacrifices. In fact, CEOs from S&P 500 companies received, on average, $11.4 million in total compensation in 2010— a 23 percent increase from the previous year!

Shared sacrifice? Not so much. We sure don’t know any workers who got 23 percent raises last year. Read more »

 

Labor-management partnerships: The seeds of success in the green economy

Abigail Paris serves as Program Assistant for the Socially Responsible Business Program.

Flambeau River PapersToday is Earth Day—a day to reflect on the importance and value of the natural environment.  Started more than 40 years ago in the United States, Earth Day is now celebrated in over 175 countries. It also serves as a time to take note of year-round environmental stewardship. In the 2010 edition of our annual Labor Day List: Partnerships that Work, we did just that.

The eight businesses featured in the report are leaders in the green industry, in terms of both environmental sustainability and labor-management partnerships. Litecontrol manufactured the first architectural lighting systems to be Cradle to Cradle™ certified. Gerding Edlen Development led the first LEED-Platinum certified renovation of a building on the National Register of Historic Places. McGough Construction built the first office building in Minnesota to be certified LEED Platinum. Flambeau River Papers will be the first pulp and paper mill in North America to go fossil fuel free by using a biofuel plant that turns wood byproducts into green diesel fuel to power the mills.

Read more »

 

Livable wage at Walmart would have huge impact on associates, while leaving low prices intact

Guest Post by Chair of UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, Ken Jacobs.

Walmart is well known for both its low prices and its low wages, and the drive to keep prices down is offered as a ready rationale for the company’s substandard wages and benefits. New findings show that Walmart can still keep those prices low and pay its workers a living wage.

In a recent study I completed with my colleagues Dave Graham-Squire and Stephanie Luce, we found that Walmart could raise its starting wage to $12, a significant improvement for many Walmart workers, with only the slightest impact on customers. Read more »

 

Equal Pay Day: Walmart didn’t get the memo

Tuesday was Equal Pay Day, and if the ongoing Supreme Court case is any indication, Walmart still has a long way to go on this issue.

Late last month, over one million female employees from more than 3,000 Walmart branches  presented their class-action lawsuit against  America’s largest private employer to the nation’s highest court. The women allege rampant and widespread sex discrimination by the retail giant, including unequal pay. Read more »

 

Equal Pay Day- women working hard(er) for the money

Today, April 12 , is Equal Pay Day in the United States. Strategically chosen, the date marks how long it takes women to make up for the disparity in pay between genders. Just think, 102 days passed this year before women finally earned the same salary as men in comparable jobs during the past year.
Read more »

 

The Right To Join A Union: From Eleanor Roosevelt to John Kasich

Guest Post by Author and Labor Scholar Brigid O’Farrell.

When my phone rang in Moss Beach, California, I was surprised to find a young girl calling from a small town in Ohio, not far from Columbus. She and her friends in eighth grade were writing a play about Eleanor Roosevelt for a school project. She saw my book on the internet, She Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker. They wanted their drama to address the workers in Ohio and Wisconsin. “Eleanor Roosevelt went into a coal mine, didn’t she?” the girl asked. “Do you think she would be supporting the workers today?” Read more »

 

Gov. Rick Scott is striking out

It’s opening day at Florida’s Tropicana Field – meaning ice cold beer, fly balls, and family fun are just around the corner for baseball lovers across the state. But with the surge of attacks on public employees fresh in the air, today’s season opener is turning out to be a lot more than just another day in the park for Florida fans. Read more »