Today’s News and Commentary — December 12, 2017
A piece at the New York Times profiles “disposable workers” in Europe. Hundreds of thousands of these workers are recruited by agencies each year to perform cheap manual labor and service jobs (e.g. picking vegetables or pouring concrete). The article details the low wage rates (the equivalent of just over $4 per hour) and the agencies’ total control over the labor supply chain (some transport and house the workers for the duration of the job). As employers increasingly rely on short-term contracts for labor, questions about labor protections and employment benefits arise.
Might technology companies have a responsibility to help workers whose livelihoods are threatened by machines? Maybe. Lolade Fadulu, writing for the Atlantic, makes the case. IBM had a Job Training Program that administrative professionals whose jobs were affected by IBM’s computer and software could take advantage of. Google announced a program that provides free training for small-business owners and job seekers to become familiar with Google’s business tools.
Today, the 9th Cir. Court of Appeals will hear oral argument in Rizo v. Yovino. Aileen Rizo challenges a ruling that her salary history could be used to justify paying her less than her male counterparts. The decision was based on precedent from a 1982 case that salary history can warrant gender-differentiated pay so long as the use of the history is reasonable and accomplishes a business purpose.
As light continues to be shed on the magnitude of the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace (we have covered the problem and ameliorating responses here, here, and here), the New York Times discusses the shortcomings of corporate sexual harassment training, and points to some alternative, more effective approaches.