Today's News & Commentary — December 31, 2015
Jubilee Jobs, a Washington, D.C., career pathway organization, encourages and supports workers who have spent years in minimum wage jobs transition into positions with livable wages through its Move Up program. As Lydia DePillis at the Washington Post explains, the Move Up mission is nothing new, but it’s “timely” now; nationwide debate around raising the minimum wage focuses on job mobility, and studies this year suggest that minimum wage workers are spending years in entry-level positions, a problem that has only gotten worse recently. Minimum wage workers face unique challenges today: applicants need at least a high school diploma and often have to answer a series of online questions even before an interview, and then, the jobs are often part-time, where opportunities for advancement are rare. The Move Up program pairs workers with coaches and provides soft skills training; Jubilee searches for positions that might pay livable wages, and they guarantee that applicants are motivated and job-ready. This is a different approach from the traditional model, which generally focuses on helping people get the first job, rather than the promotion after the job.
As 2015 comes to a close, the Huffington Post has declared the year a “tipping point” for paid leave in the U.S. In January, President Obama included paid parental and sick leave as a priority in his State of the Union address. Over the year, businesses in tech and finance announced they would expand paid leave benefits to employees. The Post lists 16 companies that “did the right thing for parents” in 2015 here. The Department of Labor began offering grants to states studying how paid family leave would work; three states—California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey—have paid family leave policies, and 18 others are considering paid leave initiatives. It has become an issue that presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle have addressed. And, the article stresses, the movement focuses not only on birth mothers, but also adoptive parents, fathers, and same-sex couples.
The Huffington Post also took a look into the bill the New York City Council proposed earlier this month to ensure stability for freelance workers. The bill provides that where clients retain independent contractors for compensation greater than $200, the client must (1) execute a contract that includes a payment due date with the freelancer before the work begins, and (2) pay the freelancer within 30 days of the project’s completion, unless the contract states otherwise. Such legislation is particularly important in the increasingly “freelance” economy, especially in a city like New York, full of writers, artists, and other creative freelance workers. As the article stresses, the main question that lingers is the enforceability of such a law.
As DuPont prepares for its merger with Dow Chemical, it announced this week that it will be cutting 1,700 jobs in Delaware alone, and thousands more internationally. According to the New York Times, DuPont wanted to let affected employees know of the news first, but Delaware legally requires companies to inform the state of impending job cuts by end of the year. This is a product of DuPont’s $700 million cost savings and restructuring program that the company announced earlier this month. The restructuring program is anticipated to affect about 10% of DuPont’s 54,000 employees worldwide.