Invest in Job Seekers not Obsolete Jobs

Four-year colleges and universities are not the only path to prosperity; community colleges and technical schools offer cost-effective pipelines to the workforce, writes Staff Writer Richard P. Hand. For more on the role community colleges can play in promoting social mobility, check out Mary Deweese’s Failed: The Myths And Realities Of Community Colleges, and How to Fulfill the American Dream Through Community College Reform. Available on WestLaw and Lexis.

by Richard P. Hand

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Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump often spoke about the nation’s loss of unskilled manufacturing jobs.[1] For many of his followers, “Make America Great Again” was the rallying cry for bringing back American manufacturing jobs.

One can see the logical appeal to his simple message. Factories that hired employees for unskilled manufacturing jobs were in America. Factories that hired employees for unskilled manufacturing jobs are now in other countries. Therefore, if we bring back said factories to America, then there will be more unskilled manufacturing jobs.

The harsh reality, however, is that the factories that once hired a multitude of unskilled workers now hire a few unskilled workers and use a multitude of automated machines.[2] While bringing back unskilled manufacturing jobs may sound appealing, at best it could provide a short-term fix for a few unemployed Americans,[3] and at worst it could create trade wars that drive up prices on everyday goods.[4]

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Republicans Hurt Low Wage Workers by Overturning Obama Era Worker Protection Rule

In this blog post, Staff Editor Keith Taubenblatt reflects on the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule and its recent repeal.

By Keith Taubenblatt

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Republicans in Congress and President Trump have done away with an important Obama era worker protection measure.[1] On July 31, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13673, requiring companies seeking or holding federal contracts in excess of $500,000 to disclose their prior labor law violations to the government. EO 13673 was the Obama administration’s response to decades of evidence showing labor law violations by federal contractors, and it was an attempt to protect workers employed by those companies from hazardous working conditions and wage theft.[2] A significant number of the workers employed by federal contractors are low-wage earners most at risk for abuse by employers.[3] Nonetheless, Congressional Republicans and the President have deemed EO 13673 unnecessary to the protection of these vulnerable workers.[4] The evidence suggests that their judgment is flawed.

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On-call is Being Called Off: Attorneys General Inquiry Leads Several Retailers to End On-Call Scheduling

By Rachel Deitch

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In 2016, eight state attorneys general, including the attorney general for the District of Columbia, launched an inquiry into several retailers’ “on-call” scheduling practices.[1] When retail workers are assigned to on-call shifts, they must call their employer an hour or two before a potential shift to learn if they should appear for work.[2] The attorneys general sent letters to the companies, and requested information and documents.[3] Several news outlets covered the investigation, highlighting the negative effects on-call scheduling has on employees.[4] In response, six companies, including Disney and Aeropostale, agreed to stop using on-call scheduling.[5]

On-call scheduling can have a negative impact on employees despite its popularity among employers. Retailers use on-call scheduling because they can adjust their staffing based on the amount of store traffic, [6] and address unexpected staff absences.[7] However, the attorneys general argue that on-call scheduling has a negative financial impact on employees because it creates unpredictable work schedules. If employees are not assigned to work, they receive no compensation and may have already paid for unnecessary childcare.[8] Employees who keep their days open are also unlikely to obtain other work to make up for the shortfall.[9]

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Could a Supreme Court Case Light the Spark that Dissolves Unions?

by Beatrice Igne-Bianchi

Friedrichs v. California Teachers’ Association[1], a public labor union case, is pending before the Supreme Court this term, with oral arguments scheduled for January 11. Many are apprehensive it will harm — and potentially dissolve — the strong tradition of public employee unions in the United States.[2]  Named plaintiff Rebecca Friedrichs is a teacher in Orange County and she, along with the Christian Educators Association[3] and nine fellow public school teachers, filed a lawsuit arguing against paying agency, or fair share, fees to the Association of which she is not a member.[4]

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