Today’s News & Commentary — September 17, 2018

Published September 17th, 2018 -  - 09.17.183


Workers at Marriott hotels across the country are voting to go on strike.  Under the banner of “one job should be enough,” these workers — members of UNITE HERE — are calling for living wages that will enable them to support themselves and their families.  Workers at the Marriott and other hotels in Chicago have been on strike for over a week, protesting seasonal layoffs and calling for year-round pay and benefits.  Marriott workers in Hawaii, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, and San Jose have also voted to strike, and Marriott workers in additional cities will soon hold strike votes as well.  UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor said, “There are too many of our folks who are working full time . . . who frankly can’t survive without doing two or three jobs.  We think the largest, most powerful hotel company could set a standard for the entire hospitality industry.  And that’s not where we’re at now.”  Marriott workers also hope to win improved workload protections and more regular schedules.  Yeqing Wei, a guest room attendant at a Marriott hotel in Boston, reports that she often is required to be ‘on call’ even on days when she is not scheduled to be working; this erratic schedule makes it hard for her to care for her children and her aging parents.

Alexia Fernández Campbell writes in Vox that the Fair Labor Standards Act leaves low-wage workers especially economically vulnerable when hurricanes or other natural disasters occur.  Hourly workers do not have to get paid when businesses close due to a natural disaster; and employers can force salaried workers to use their paid vacation days or sick days during periods of disaster-induced business closure.  Due to these anti-worker laws, low-income families in New Jersey suffered $832 million in lost wages as a result of Hurricane Sandy, according to a 2013 Rutgers study.

72% of workers across eight countries favor a shorter workweek as long as their pay remains the same, according to a study conducted by the Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated.  A similar percentage of those surveyed — 71% — reported that their work interferes with their personal life.  The researchers surveyed workers from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Two leaders of the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU) write in The Hill about the importance of unions in nonprofit workplaces.  The authors explain that nonprofit workers generally earn lower wages than do their counterparts who work for government agencies or for-profit companies, and that nonprofit workers frequently experience burnout.  The authors then explain that at their workplace (the Economic Policy Institute), their union has secured better wages and benefits; reduced staff turnover; and improved communication between workers and management.

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