Posts Tagged ‘working conditions’

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.

 

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 »

 

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 »

 

NFL Lockout means big losses for players—and their families

At the start of this year, we let you know that a lockout of NFL players would hurt more than just the athletes. We underscored that it would also threaten the jobs and livelihoods of countless workers and business owners who rely on the industry to support their families. Read more »

 

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.

Read more »

 

#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 »