News & Commentary

August 8, 2013

The Washington Post reports that Wal-Mart has reached a settlement with the Department of Labor to provide safer conditions for custodial employees at more than 2,800 stores. Under the settlement, Wal-Mart will provide more training to workers who use trash compacters and cleaning chemicals in stores in the twenty-eight states that follow federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

In a different kind of occupational health and safety news, the Major League Baseball Players Association announced an appeal of Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension.  Rodriguez had been suspended for using steroids; the player’s union argues that Rodriguez’s suspension is disproportionate.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the pay-scale, the New York Times editorial board announced its support for fast-food workers’ attempt to unionize.  Fast-food workers organized day-long walkouts over the past week to protest wages that are too low to earn a living. The Times reported on the workers’ reasonable request for a higher wage – $15 an hour – and enforcement of their right organize without fear of retaliation. The Washington Post discussed what it’s like living on McDonald’s wages with a two McDonald’s employees.

In political news, the Laborer’s International Union of North American Mid-Atlantic Region plans to endorse Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) for the 2014 Maryland gubernatorial race. This will be the first labor union endorsement in this race.

The New York Times published a long analysis of affluent women who chose to leave the paid workforce over the past decade to raise children, and are now seeking to return to paid employment. This follow up to the (in)famous 2003 article on the “opt-out revolution,” and the many similar pieces that followed, provides insight into the difficulties of re-entering the paid workforce, the advantages that the elite have in exiting and re-entering the paid workforce, the ways that employers still do not accommodate men and women who have child-care obligations outside of work, and how engaging in paid work can change one’s view of oneself.

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