Raising minimum wage significantly would boost economy
Consumer spending isn’t likely to collapse in 2012, but it’s also not likely to get measurably better. In fact, to the extent that there’s any room to run on consumer spending, it will come from the fact that the minimum wage will increase in eight states and several localities across the country. In these states, the minimum wage is indexed to inflation, a campaign priority of Barack Obama back in 2008 that never got past the formative stage. This can actually have a pretty decent impact.
Proposed changes to child labor laws could affect life on the farm
If recent proposals from the U.S. Department of Labor become law, Adam may have to wait five years before he can be paid to drive a tractor, climb more than six feet up a ladder or perform other farm jobs deemed hazardous. The proposed rules — the first to address youth labor in more than four decades — have stirred alarm and confusion among family farms, where children have been pitching in since mankind’s earliest harvests.
Safe sex in the porn industry
City Atty. Carmen Trutanich has gone to court to block a proposed Los Angeles city initiative requiring performers in adult films to use condoms on the set. His motivations make sense — he believes that the ballot measure, even if adopted, would infringe on state regulatory power and would be struck down in court; he wants to save the city from the needless expense of conducting a special election, and perhaps the additional cost of defending a purportedly unenforceable new ordinance.
American sweatshop: A Utah group is teaching companies how to misclassify employees
Worker misclassification is not a small or regional problem. It is a national epidemic wherein workers are incorrectly labeled as independent contractors so that companies can avoid paying them overtime or giving them proper benefits. Misclassification was recently exposed in Utah by KSL 5 News, which took a look into how Utah companies were cheating construction workers out of their fair wages.
Conn. woman suing former employer, alleging she was paid $2 per hour
While many people are working temporary jobs over the holidays to pick up some extra cash, one woman in Connecticut is suing her former employer. She claims she was paid less than minimum wage when paid at all. Her name is Ana Aranda and she is getting help from Yale law students as she sues for back wages and overtime. And Ana is just one of many people across the country who faces this kind of thing.
Does shift work plus a poor diet equal an occupational hazard?
Shift work is becoming increasingly common in this 24/7 world, but it may come at a price: worse health for workers. An editorial published today in the journal PLoS Medicine draws attention to the health risks of shift workers, including a greater chance of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes from bad eating habits and sleep disorders because of disrupted circadian rhythms.
Texas company to be seriously fined by OSHA
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced Dec. 28 that it has cited Piping Technology and Products Inc. of Houston for 13 willful and 17 serious violations of worker safety regulations at the company’s Houston facility. OSHA alleges that the company exposed workers to the risk of amputations and other serious injuries from dangerous machinery, as well as other hazards.
Margarita Mojica, pregnant woman crushed to death by printing press, may get justice
This week a judge ordered top officials at a San Francisco printing company stand trial in the death of a pregnant worker who was fatally crushed inside a piece of heavy machinery in 2008. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Newton Lam ruled Digital Pre-Press International CEO Sanjay Sakhuja and Pressroom Manager Alick Yeung will go to court for felony counts of involuntary manslaughter and labor code violation in connection with the gruesome death of 26-year old Margarita Mojica.
UC system, UCLA professor charged in lab fire that killed staffer
Felony charges have been filed against the University of California and a UCLA chemistry professor in connection with a laboratory fire that killed a staff research assistant three years ago. On Dec. 29, 2008, Sheharbano “Sheri” Sangji, 23, was severely burned over nearly half her body when air-sensitive chemicals burst into flames during an experiment and ignited her clothing. Sangji, who was not wearing a protective lab coat, died 18 days later.
Mt. Rainier ranger shot to death, gunman sought
A Mount Rainier National Park ranger was fatally shot following a New Year’s Day traffic stop, and the 368-square-mile park in Washington state was closed as dozens of officers searched for the armed gunman over snowy and rugged terrain.