Workers’ right to sue employers over pay, other conditions in flux
In 2010, Stephen Brown was living in York, Pa., and needed work. Most days Labor Ready, a temporary staffing company, had it. The company slogan highlighted one benefit of taking its often physically demanding assignments: “Work Today, Paid Today.” But getting paid every day cost Brown a lot, according to a lawsuit he later filed in federal district court in Pennsylvania. If Brown wanted his day’s wages paid in cash, he had to use a company ATM that charged a $1 fee. Worse, the ATM rounded down. This meant if Brown was owed $44.85 for a day’s work, he received $43. Often, he took home less than minimum wage.
Kip Smith’s drunk driving arrest unlikely to slow Georgia drug testing bills
A Georgia lawmaker’s ironic drunk driving arrest is unlikely to slow local Republican efforts to drug test the poor and unemployed. State Rep. Kip Smith (R-Columbus), who co-sponsored one of several bills to drug test welfare applicants, was arrested and charged with a DUI on Jan. 12. But even though the arrest story went viral, people on both sides of Georgia’s drug testing legislation say that it’s improbable Smith’s bust will change the course of drug screening efforts in the Georgia General Assembly.
Ramsey: Drug test welfare recipients, business owners
A Tennessee lawmaker wants to require anyone getting government assistance to be tested for drugs. That includes anyone on welfare and employees of any business getting government money. State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says he expects lawmakers will stand behind him in support of a strategic plan to require drug tests for Tennesseans who get government assistance or workers’ compensation.
US Department of Labor’s OSHA orders AirTran Airways to reinstate pilot, pay more than $1 million in back wages and damages
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of Dallas, Texas-based Southwest Airlines Co., to reinstate a former pilot who was fired after reporting numerous mechanical concerns. The agency also has ordered that the pilot be paid more than $1 million in back wages plus interest and compensatory damages. An investigation by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program found reasonable cause to believe that the termination was an act of retaliation in violation of the whistleblower provision of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, known as AIR21.
Across-the-board cuts in federal workplace may not be wise or safe
Federal employees don’t need Paul Revere riding through the Federal Triangle on a Segway yelling, “Budget cuts are coming, budget cuts are coming,” to know that times are tough for the workforce. Already in the middle of a two-year freeze of basic pay, the best workers can hope for is Congress accepting President Obama’s proposal for a measly 0.5 percent raise next year.
Problems plague cleanup at Hanford nuclear waste site
Seven decades after scientists came here during World War II to create plutonium for the first atomic bomb, a new generation is struggling with an even more daunting task: cleaning up the radioactive mess. The U.S. government is building a treatment plant to stabilize and contain 56 million gallons of waste left from a half-century of nuclear weapons production. The radioactive sludge is so dangerous that a few hours of exposure could be fatal. And the project is not going well.
After tragedy, Apple tries to polish image on workers’ rights
Apple’s trademark is the intuitive elegance of its designs. Yet when it comes corporate and labor practices, Apple’s track record looks like a morass of obfuscation and murky public-relations smokscreens. So activists seeking a more user-friendly Apple on the human rights front should welcome the company’s new “Supplier Responsibility” report. But the results of 229 documented audits display the troubling gap between its slick modern ethos and grim working conditions in its supply chain.
Apple: Explosions caused by aluminum dust
Apple on Friday said that explosions at two of its parts suppliers last year were caused by airborne aluminium dust created during the milling and polishing of products such as iMacs, MacBooks and iPads. The company made the disclosure as part of its sixth annual “Supplier Responsibility Progress Report”, in which it also for the first time listed all of its major suppliers. The report covers issues such as worker safety, labour rights and environmental impact.
Fatal worker’s mishap raises safety issues
Officials say Seaway Painting, the employer of a worker missing after falling from a Detroit River bridge in Detroit has a history of safety violations. Shane Morton told the Detroit Free Press he and his 27-year-old brother Kent were painting and sandblasting when Kent fell more than 100 feet into the river about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Home Depot employees fired for pursuing shoplifting suspects
Two men are speaking out after being fired from their jobs at Boardman’s Home Depot for trying to stop two suspected shoplifters. The men admit the store has a policy for employees when it comes to shoplifters, but in this case they say they were specifically asked to help a co-worker, and they would do it again. They didn’t hesitate because they were concerned about their co-worker’s safety.