Today’s News & Commentary — August 11, 2015

Published August 11th, 2015 -  - 08.11.151


Irregular work schedules and the increased use of on-call scheduling are making workers sick, according to Teresa Tritch in the New York Times Studies have found that workers with little advance notice of work schedules experienced greater stress, anxiety, fatigue, and family conflicts.  The article noted that increasingly erratic scheduling has resulted from business practices that incent managers to have the leanest staffing possible in order to control labor costs.  Tritch noted that these practices put the short-term profits of companies above the long-term health of the economy because such practices depress consumer spending.  Tritch argued that just as it is illegal for employers to make workers sick with harmful substances, “[i]t  also should be illegal to make them sick with irregular and on-call schedules.”

New York is taking steps to ensure that nail salon workers who win minimum-wage cases against employers can collect their judgments, according to the New York Times.  Under the new rule proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, nail salons must secure wage bonds to ensure that they can pay back wages.  Although seen as a step forward in an industry that has come under criticism for its wage practices, critics claimed that the move still required putting trust in nail salon owners who may already be suspected of breaking the law.  The critics advocate allowing workers to secure liens on owners’ property until the wages are paid.  Nevertheless, Kara Williams, an attorney representing workers in wage disputes, called the move “a huge leap forward in protecting workers.”

California has removed the word “alien” from its labor code, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.  State Senator Tony Mendoza, who sponsored the bill, stated that the move sought to remove the term from the state’s laws because of its derogatory connotation.  He said, “The word ‘alien,’ and any law prescribing an order for the issuance of employment to ‘aliens,’ have no place in the laws of our state and more importantly, should never be the basis for any employment hiring. (The law) deletes this outdated, discriminatory and unnecessary reference in state law.”

At NPR, Anya Kamenetz explored the changing meaning of the summer job for college students.  In the early 1980s, a student working a minimum wage job needed to only wor 16 hours a week year-round, 9 hours a day for three months, or some combination of the two in order to pay for college.  Rapidly soaring college costs combined with the glacial rate of the minimum wage’s increase, however, have made this practice impossible for today’s college students, who would have to work 35 hours a week all year long in order to pay for school fees–a virtually impossible and unhealthy lifestyle for a full-time student.

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