News & Commentary

November 26, 2014

Mother Jones explains San Francisco’s new law that will sharply curtail “on call” scheduling in the city’s major retailers. The new law requires employers to post schedules at least two weeks in advance and pay employees whose shifts are cancelled at the last minute. In addition, employers must offer available shifts to existing employees before part-time workers, a move that should make it harder for them to rely on part-time workers to avoid paying benefits. The new law is aimed at reducing the unpredictability faced by countless retail workers, a condition Jodi Kantor has described as “injecting turbulence into parents’ routines and personal relationships, undermining efforts to expand preschool access, driving some mothers out of the work force and redistributing some of the uncertainty of doing business from corporations to families.”

The New York Times has run a profile of Michele Roberts, the new head of the NBA players’ union, and the first female lead of a major sports union. Roberts is expected to be more confrontational than her predecessor had been with the league’s commissioner, Adam Silver, on various aspects of the league’s pay model. The article describes how Roberts has actively used the media to shape her public profile, in order to position herself on equal footing with the league’s management once collective bargaining begins.

The Atlantic wonders if we are seeing the reemergence of conscious capitalism. We’ve covered this idea before; it involves the philosophy both that employees will be treated well with regard to wages and benefits, and also that a company might focus on goals aside from pure profits, say, the environment, or local communities. The article cites the recent rise in benefit corporations, which make these commitments explicit; in some states, there is a certification process through which an outside non-profit inspects the business and reports on whether it is actually meeting its public-minded goals. The article also cites this summer’s Market Basket controversy to suggest that generous policies towards employees and the public might be favored and rewarded by consumers.

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