Today's News & Commentary — August 5
The Market Basket standoff is now in week three, The Boston Globe reports. Market Basket employees are calling for the return of ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, and at rallies and over social media have asked loyal customers to boycott Market Basket in the meantime. Workers say that their protest is costing company management $10 million per day, the hope being that the continued drop in revenue will move the board to reinstate Arthur T. Demoulas as CEO. As business has slowed to a trickle, store managers have been told by upper management to adjust staffing and scheduling accordingly, and the past couple of weeks store managers have been drastically reducing hours given to part-time workers. Local store managers have said that according to the company staffing formula, which is based on expected profits, even assistant managers and full-time department heads should not be kept on duty; the profits have been so low. Despite this, many of the managers of the 71 Market Basket locations have refused to cut full-time staff hours, and are calling for company management to act. On Sunday, the board, led by Arthur S. Demoulas, rejected Arthur T. Demoulas’ offer to return to leadership while terms of a possible sale are negotiated.
U.S. Department of Labor reported Monday that LinkedIn, the professional networking website, will pay nearly $6 million dollars in unpaid overtime and damages to 359 former and current employees working in company branches in California, Illinois, Nebraska and New York. An investigation by DOL’s Wage and Hour Division found that LinkedIn was in violation of the overtime and record keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under FLSA, federal law requires that hourly employees get paid 1.5 times their regular hourly rates for hours they work beyond 40 per week. In addition to backpay and liquidated damages, the company has entered into an enhanced compliance agreement with the department that includes agreeing to provide compliance training and distribute its policy prohibiting off-the-clock work to all nonexempt employees and their managers, and reminding employees of LinkedIn’s policy prohibiting retaliation against any employee who raises concerns about workplace issues. The Wage and Hour Division has praised LinkedIn for their cooperation, Dr. David Weil, administrator of the Division stated that the company “has shown a great deal of integrity by fully cooperating with investigators and stepping up to the plate without hesitation to help make workers whole.”
In international news, last week a Greek court cleared strawberry farm owners who shot 28 Bangladeshi farm laborers after they asked for almost six months of unpaid wages, The Guardian reports. Media investigations during the trial reported the migrant workers to be toiling in subhuman conditions without access to basic sanitation, a condition human rights groups say is all too common for migrant workers in the country. Union organizers, anti-racism groups and politicians have condemned the verdict as scandalous and racist. Vassiliki Katrivanou, an MP with the main opposition radical-left Syriza party, told The Guardian that the ruling “sends the message that a foreign worker can die like a dog in the orchard,” adding that in Greece, where many of the farm laborers are migrants, the attack was far from being an isolated incident. Following the verdicts, crowds of migrants, devastated and enraged by the courts ruling, protested outside the magistrate’s court. Petros Constantinou, coordinator of the Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat said in a statement regarding the verdict: “The hundreds of millions of profit made in the strawberry industry cannot come about by shooting laborers in strawberry fields.”