Unemployment insurance cutoff threat sends states scrambling
Ohio is one of several states where the local government needs to take quick action to claim the final 20 weeks of federal unemployment insurance. The Extended Benefits program is only available in states with high and rising unemployment rates. Depending on the rate’s severity, the program provides either 13 or 20 weeks of compensation to layoff victims who exhaust 26 weeks of state benefits and up to 53 weeks from the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.
States attempt to instill ‘work ethic’ by rolling back child labor protections
It’s been a long time since the engines of American industry were driven by tiny fingers. So when Newt Gingrich recently proclaimed, “Young people ought to learn how to work,” and suggested that children could develop a strong work ethic by working as janitors in their own schools, many Americans probably missed the throwback to the early twentieth century, when hundreds of thousands of children toiled in factories. But after decades of campaigns against youth exploitation, the right is rekindling vestiges of the sweatshop era with legislation aimed at rolling back child labor laws.
Washington State adopts rule to protect healthcare workers from hazardous medications
Washington State becomes the first in the nation to adopt specific workplace safety rules to protect healthcare workers who are potentially exposed to anti-neoplastic drugs and other hazardous medications. The new rule, issued earlier this month by the State’s Department of Labor & Industries, stems from legislation passed in April 2011 and signed into law by Governor Chris Gregoire.
Supreme Court: Churches can’t be sued by ministers for employment discrimination
Employees of religious organizations whose job duties reflect “a role in conveying the Church’s message and carrying out its mission” are barred by the First Amendment from suing over employment discrimination, said the Supreme Court in a unanimous opinion handed down Wednesday morning. The decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was the first time the Supreme Court had endorsed the “ministerial exception” to discrimination protections that many courts of appeals have come to recognize over the past several decades.
Workers have right to class-action lawsuits against bosses: NLRB
Last week, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that it is illegal for employers to require their workers to sign mandatory arbitration agreements that prevent them from joining together to file class-action employment-related lawsuits. According to Alex Colvin of Cornell University School for Industrial and Labor Relations, 25 percent of nonunion employees are currently forced to sign mandatory arbitration agreements as a condition of employment that prevents them from filing class-action lawsuits.
Hotel workers stiffed millions in wages, lawsuit alleges
More than a dozen low-level hotel workers in Indianapolis have filed a class-action lawsuit against ten of the city’s hotels and a labor staffing agency, claiming they were routinely cheated out of pay with the knowledge of hotel management. The workers — most of them Hispanic immigrants employed as housekeepers, dishwashers and bussers — say they were forced to work off the clock and through their unpaid breaks, sometimes pushing their earnings below the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The suit could potentially involve more than a thousand workers and millions of dollars in claims, according to the hotel workers union UNITE HERE, which is organizing workers in Indianapolis.
Republic Windows revisited? Chicago bakery faces class-action suit for pre-Christmas closure
Almost exactly two years after workers at Republic Windows and Doors famously occupied the plant after the company’s owner closed it suddenly (without giving them advance notice and severance and vacation pay), in December 2010 a suburban Chicago bakery called Rolf’s Patisserie similarly shut down operations without notice. Like with the republic closure, Rolf’s closure allegedly violated the WARN Act and left employees without a job a few days before Christmas. This week renowned labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the workers laid off from Rolf’s in December 2010 and December 2011.
More than a number: Troubling trends behind the dropping unemployment rate
So the unemployment rate’s drop last month means we’re heading out of this tunnel, right? If only it were as simple as that. There’s more to the nation’s unemployment situation than December’s decline to 8.5 percent joblessness. Some are significant long-term changes that first began to take off and which are likely to affect workers for a long time to come.
Microsoft probes mass suicide threat at China plant
Microsoft is investigating a report that workers at a Chinese plant that makes its Xbox game systems threatened mass suicide in a pay dispute, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the company’s Hong Kong office. Foxconn — a Chinese contractor that makes brand-name electronics for companies such as Microsoft and Apple — would only say that there was a protest at its Wuhan, China factory and it was over.
Hyundai Motor worker almost dies after setting himself on fire to protest
The labour union of Hyundai Motor has threatened to suspend the entire activity in the southeastern city of Ulsan, after a union member set himself ablaze due to alleged bullying by bosses. The worker is hospitalised in a critical condition while police are investigating the case. The employee, whose name translates as Shin Seung Hoon, had burns on 71 per cent of his body, it said.