Workplace Issues Today
Daily News for Monday, March 10, 2014
Selected by the Catherwood Library Reference Staff each Monday through Friday, excluding University holidays, WIT is a free alert service, providing abstracts and links to workplace-related news stories covered in the major media. Subscribe to WIT »
Established in 1999, this service also includes a searchable archive.
Labor shortage in China showing in recent strikes’ boldness
Last week more than 1,000 workers at an IBM factory in China went on strike after it was announced that the factory was slated to be sold to Lenovo. The strike was sparked by the worry that the plant, which makes low-end servers, may be moved, downsized, or closed altogether. Wildcat strikes have become more frequent as the labor shortage in China grows with 1,171 such strikes and protests recorded between June of 2011 and December of 2013. A similar strike happened at a Nokia plant in November after it was sold to Microsoft, and some of the workers in that case are still pursuing arbitration. In many Western nations, a union might be formed or called upon to negotiate with management in these situations. In China, however, the union is an arm of the government and has rarely sided with the workers, often leaving wildcat strikes the last viable choice of employees.
See “IBM factory strike shows shifting China labor landscape,” by John Ruwitch, Reuters, Mar 10 2014 (BCS)
Unite Here report: Obamacare’s potential to cut low-wage workers’ pay
Unite Here, representing more than 300,000 low-wage workers, has released a report which claims that Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act as it is more officially known, may actually increase income inequality rather than reduce it. If employers shift low-wage workers from employer-provided healthcare insurance to the state healthcare exchanges, then workers could end up paying upwards of the equivalent of $5 per hour for similar healthcare coverage. While some workers would qualify for subsidies and employer contributions, the report seems to be assessing the healthcare situation not only of workers who work full-time and are shifted onto healthcare exchanges, but also of workers who will be shifted to part-time status or have their hours cut so that their employer need not offer healthcare insurance at all. The head of Unite Here, Donald Taylor, also sent a letter to members of congress demanding changes to the healthcare law, but not going so far as to call for its repeal.
See “Union: Obamacare will slash wages by up to $5 an hour,” by Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, Mar 10 2014 (BCS)
Temporary work in U.S. steadily increasing, especially in manufacturing industry
Nissan and Tennessee seem to be leading the way in a shift in the U.S. manufacturing industry that has led the state from temporary jobs representing 15% of manufacturing jobs in 2002 to 26% in 2012. The growth in temporary work in all industries in the state accounts for almost all of the job growth seen since the recession. At Nissan in particular, the temporary work is believed to make up over half of the jobs in the Smyrna plant, although the company states that as the economy improves, it will transition to more regular jobs. The state of temporary workers in manufacturing across the country is not as extreme, but follows the same trend, rising from about 14% in 2001 to about 21% in 2012. Local politicians can see the effects of such a large portion of the workforce being paid less than half as much as they would be if they were more permanent, yet they are still convinced allowing a union entry to the community would lead to devastating job losses as employers fled to other nearby anti-union states.
See “This is what a job in the U.S.’ new manufacturing industry looks like,” by Lydia DePillis, The Washington Post, Mar 10 2014 (BCS)