Today’s News and Commentary – September 24
The Charlotte Observer reports that an administrative law judge with the Department of Labor ordered Bank of America to pay $2.2 million in back wages and interest to more than 1,000 black job applicants. The case dates back to 1993 when the DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance conducted a review of Bank of America’s Charlotte branch and determined that the branch was discriminating against black applicants for entry-level positions, in violation of an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating. In issuing the $2.2. million award, ALJ Linda Chapman found the branch guilty of utilizing “unfair and inconsistent selection criteria” in its hiring process. She added that there was no evidence that the branch had taken “any action in good faith to prevent [the] illegal behavior.”
Medical staff at the non-profit AIDS Healthcare Foundation have filed a petition with the NLRB to unionize under the National Union of Healthcare Workers, the LA Times reports. The non-profit, which has a budget of $750 million and maintains facilities around the world, alleges that the petition is invalid because some of the organizers are supervisors (who cannot participate in union organizing under the NLRA). The employees, for their part, accuse the non-profit of retaliating against workers involved in the unionizing effort.
The New York Times Editorial Board notes that for all the virtues of the DOL’s new rule entitling home-care workers to minimum wage and overtime protections under the FLSA, the rule also contains a potentially fatal weakness – it does not go into effect until January 1, 2015. That delay could spell trouble for home-care workers because as the Editorial Board writes, “one delay could beget more delay, which could beget repeal.” Indeed, when a similar rule was passed at the end of Clinton’s presidency, the Bush administration immediately reversed it.
In international news, the Wall Street Journal writes that China’s industrial workforce is being increasingly replaced by robots. Electronics manufacturers in particular are seeking ways to cut labor costs by utilizing high-end humanoid machines instead of human workers. Although the robots are currently more expensive than factory workers, the difference in cost is shrinking as robots get cheaper and wages rise.
The Associated Press reports that Greek civil servants began a two-day strike today, the second in the last two weeks, to protest austerity measures. Thousands of people in Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, demonstrated against austerity-imposed job cuts. In order to continue receiving rescue loans from the European Union and the IMF, Greece must suspend 12,500 workers by the end of this month.
South Korea’s largest news organization, the Yonhap News Agency, reports that leaders of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union vowed to begin an indefinite hunger strike on Thursday to protest a government rule barring dismissed teachers from union membership. The union, which counts about 20 dismissed workers as members, has argued that union membership rules should be left to unions to decide without government intervention. The union has planned a two-day protest rally in Seoul on October 18 – 19.