News & Commentary

August 26, 2019

20,000 AT&T workers across the Southeast are on strike after the company allegedly committed unfair labor practices in bargaining (or not bargaining) a new contract.  The Communications Workers of America, the union representing the workers, says that the negotiating team appointed by the company did “not have real authority to make proposals or to reach an agreement with us,” meaning that AT&T has not been bargaining in good faith.  Negotiations for the contract under discussion first began back in 2015.  Senator Bernie Sanders spoke with striking workers in Louisville, Kentucky yesterday.

The Wall Street Journal reports that companies in Hong Kong are facing a critical choice between supporting their employees involved in the ongoing anti-extradition bill protests and bowing to pressure from the Chinese government to oppose the unrest.  While many employers initially backed their workers, allowing some to take off work to participate, that support has waned as Beijing officials have called on the city’s elites to publicly support the government’s position.  Hong Kong companies are also taking a financial hit as industries like tourism experience falling demand in the protests’ wake.

While the mammoth size of CEO pay in the United States is already well publicized, the way that large corporations report that pay often understates how much money executives actually take home.  Pay in the form of equity can rise not only because of stock market returns, but also because of performance-equity awards that give CEOs additional shares if the company performs well over time.  For CEOs at S&P 500 companies, realizable pay was 16 percent higher than reported pay after three years.  At a third of those companies, realizable pay was over 25 percent higher.

A feature in the Smarter Living section of The New York Times explores how personality assessments like the Myers-Briggs used by employers to gauge employee working styles can be applied over-broadly and in discriminatory ways.  Many of the personality traits the assessments test for have little to no impact on one’s ability to the job, but nonetheless may end up disadvantaging workers because those traits are personally less desired by managers.  Experts explain that factors like race, ethnicity, gender, region, socioeconomic status, and disability can also affect both the way that employees interpret the questions and the way that managers understand employees’ scores.

New York’s Working Families Party (WFP), a left-of-center political party founded in 1998 by labor unions, community organizations, and good government groups, is fighting to preserve the system of fusion voting that has allowed the party to become so influential in the state.  With fusion voting, the WFP and other third parties can cross-endorse candidates that other parties have nominated, giving major party candidates incentive to seek the endorsement of third parties and to embrace their policy positions.  Ever since the WFP endorsed progressive insurgent Cynthia Nixon over Andrew Cuomo in the race for governor last year, Cuomo has sought to weaken the labor-backed party.  In the latest round of battle, the state-run commission overseeing the adoption of a public campaign finance system has tied the enactment of the proposal, which the WFP strongly supports, to a ban on multiple party nominations.

Enjoy OnLabor’s fresh takes on the day’s labor news, right in your inbox.