Today's News and Commentary – August 15

Published August 15th, 2014 -  - 08.15.14


The New York Times reports that the coffee giant Starbucks has announced a revision in its work scheduling policy to better accommodate employees. The move comes after the newspaper published an article highlighting the challenges of working on an erratic schedule. In an email to 130,000 Starbucks employees in the U.S., the group president Cliff Burrows explained that Starbucks would update its software to “allow more human input from managers” for scheduling matters. Burrows also indicated that the company would prohibit the popular but despised practice of “clopen,” which forces employees to close stores late at night only to reopen them again in the early morning. Starbucks is just one of many employers that uses automatic scheduling software, but the method deeply disadvantages low-wage employees who cannot plan daily activities (such as childcare) because their schedule changes from week to week.

More research needs to be done on how a higher federal minimum wage may impact small business owners. The debate has gained national attention as several Democrat officials have signed up for Live the Wage, a week-long challenge that asks participants to spend just $77, the approximate take-home pay for an individual earning minimum wage. However, the movement has drawn criticism from writer Tom Bevan who argues that officials should also strive to understand the economic impact on small business owners should the minimum wage be raised. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 16.5 million workers would make more money if the federal minimum wage rose to $10.10. Although small business owners seem to be divided on the issue of raising the minimum wage, a Gallup poll found that they were not likely to reduce their workforce, cut benefits, or reduce capital spending even if workers earned more.

The LA Times reports that editors of the popular CBS show “Survivor” who had walked off the job due to a labor dispute earlier this week will have their contract talks today. According to The Motion Picture Editors Guild, the company has agreed “to the demand we issued on Tuesday for union recognition.” Two dozen post-production employees had “voted themselves off the job” when they asked for a union contract with health and retirement benefits. The newest season of the show is set to air in late September.

Amidst controversy, Uber announced that it would continue to serve Berlin despite a ban imposed by Berlin’s state department for citizens’ and regulatory affairs. The government said it was prohibiting the ride-sharing app for passenger protection reasons. Uber has been functioning in the capital city of Germany for more than a year. Berlin has threatened to impose a €25,000 fine ($33,000) for each breach of the prohibitive order. Meanwhile, Uber was recently found to be valued around an impressive $18.2 billion. A second city in Germany, Hamburg, banned Uber in July but has not enforced the injunction pending an appeal.

In international news, the Editorial Board of The New York Times argues that immigration will not harm Britain’s economy or endanger its relationship with the European Union. Arguing that the global workforce has become more itinerant in this economy, the article criticizes Prime Minister David Cameron who has made controlling immigration a top policy priority. A survey last year showed that 46% of British respondents blamed immigration for economic hardship. The populist U.K. Independence Party has also fanned fears of foreign freeloaders and wants Britain to leave the European Union, the only solution the party sees to controlling Britain’s borders.

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