Weekend News & Commentary — September 24-25, 2016
A pioneer in developing co-working spaces, WeWork has been impacted for more than a year by labor and employment disputes. On Friday, it took a step toward resolving at least one of those outstanding issues by signing a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board regarding policies on employee communications. The Board had alleged that portions of the company’s policies and handbook could be read to forbid the discussion of wages and unionization in violation of federal law. Remedial steps agreed to include emailing employees about their right to work together on employment issues, and to form unions. The handbook will also be changed.
The New York Times reports on troubling news from a recent study by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute about the wages of home care workers: such aides now actually earn less than they did a decade ago. That decrease in wages—from an inflation-adjusted median of $10.21 an hour in 2005 to $10.11 an hour today—comes despite Labor Department action in 2013 to extend minimum wage and overtime rights to the industry. The Times notes two bright spots within the study: the Affordable Care Act has boosted the number of home care workers with health insurance, and the more than 600,000 aides who have joined the Service Employees International Union in recent years have secured raises.
In the aftermath of Senate hearings this week on fraudulent sales practices at Wells Fargo, two former employees have filed a class action lawsuit in California alleging that the company punished employees who failed to meet aggressive sales quotas. The former employees argue that those workers who refused to engage in fraud and then missed their targets were often pressured to work off the clock or fired. The suit alleges wrongful termination, wage theft, and overtime violations under California labor statutes.
Also in California, the state labor commissioner announced this week that eighteen garment companies based in Los Angeles were fined more than $682,000 for violations of state labor laws. Investigators seized more than $150,000 in illegally manufactured garments, which state officials said would be distributed to local homeless and domestic violence shelters.