Today’s News & Commentary — April 6, 2018
Over the last few weeks, Walmart announced plans to lean more heavily on automation and the gig economy, reports The Atlantic. The piece discusses two ways by which employers, like Walmart, keep wages down. First, by creating platforms for gig workers that allow employers to easily shop for labor. Second, by cutting its workforce down to a smaller, better-trained group that will be supplemented by gig workers and automation. One interesting note: the growth of flexible work arrangements, which include crowdsourcing platforms like Uber as well as freelancers and independent contractors, account for 94 percent of the net employment growth in the U.S. from 2005 to 2015.
Juli Briskman, the Virginia woman who lost her job after she was photographed giving the finger to President Trump, sued her employer, reports The New York Times. Her employer, a government contractor fearing retaliation from the Trump administration, made her resign for violating the company’s social media policy by sharing the photo on her personal Facebook page. Her complaint alleges that the gesture was “core political speech” protected by Virginia law and the Constitution.
The New York Times reports that the restaurant industry is facing a labor shortage. Employers have been forced to use creative means to recruit and retain employees, like repayment for culinary-school tuition, hiring formerly incarcerated persons as kitchen assistants, and using events like tequila-tasting seminars, flexible schedules and a promise of faster promotion. The Trump administration’s aggressive stance on immigration has played a part in the shortage, as restaurants are more weary to hire undocumented immigrants.
A group of unions is urging companies to reveal how they are spending the windfall from this year’s tax cuts, reports The Washington Post. The group, which includes the Teamsters, the Service Employees International Union, the Communications Workers of America, and the American Federation of Teachers, say that tax cuts have not translated into higher wages like the Trump administration promised. The most concrete result thus far has been an increase in large company’s buying back their shares, though an increasing number of small businesses report plans to raise wages in the future.