News & Commentary

January 25, 2016

Blizzard or no blizzard, it was business as usual for many of New York City’s workers.  While most of the city prepared for Saturday’s storm by taking shelter at Mayor DeBlasio’s behest, others simply had to go to work.  Nurses and airport personnel, apartment superintendents and liquor store employees, they all found themselves working this weekend, writes The New York Times.  It’s a gentle reminder that the proverbial “snow day” really only exists for the 9-to-5 crowd.

The spotlight is on a new study indicating that small-business employees may be more likely to be harassed in a Wall Street Journal article circulating over the weekend.  According to findings published by the Journal of Ethics and Entrepreneurship, workers at institutions of 50 persons or less report enduring more abuse at the hands of their supervisors than those at larger firms.  Specifically, the study found that they are twice as likely to experience “a high level of abuse.”  The abuse covers “[e]verything from forcing long hours on workers to yelling and behaving in a threatening way.”  The study’s researchers point to a lack of education and performance reviews as the culprits of the abuse problem.  But might America’s “exceptional” treatment of small-businesses in employment policy also be to blame?

A union skeptic turned believer now occupies the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) top position for health care workers in Massachusetts, reports The Boston Globe. Tyrek Lee, who began as a hospital switchboard operator, is now the executive vice president of SEIU Local 1199, which represents over 52,000 individuals.  He is also the first black male to head a union with statewide reach.  But what caught the attention of Adrian Walker, writing for the Globe, is the fact that Lee began his career at Boston Medical Center as “anti-union.”  Initially, Walker writes, Lee was skeptical of why he had to join any organization to keep his job and especially why he owed that organization membership dues.  Yet as Lee’s tenure at SEIU wore on, the union’s social-justice agenda began to resonate with him and soon he found his calling fighting for low-income workers.  As vice president Lee hopes to address “[t]he fight for $15 . . . Black Lives Matter, gender equity, immigration reform” and all the issues that “members care about.”

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