News from the Daily Kos Labor
- Think about who doesn’t get a Thanksgiving, and who’s to blame, this week in the war on workers
November, 21 2020
We’re heading into Thanksgiving week, and we’re hearing a lot of discussion of how people are—or aren’t—staying safe, from solitary living to plans for large gatherings and everything in between. We also need to be talking about how this holiday season kicks off after 35 straight weeks of a million or more people applying for unemployment insurance, and with Republicans still blocking the aid working people need in the COVID-19 economy.
Coronavirus rates are rising and it’s more important than ever for people to stay home as much as they can. But that would mean paying them so they could afford to do so, rather than being driven out to scrounge for whatever work they can find, however unsafe it may be. Congress won’t do that, and major companies are showing how little they value their workers. So on Thanksgiving, think about the people who can’t have a holiday not just because they can’t see family and friends, but because they are struggling to buy food and stay housed. And, just as important, think about why that is and who’s to blame.
- Companies are getting creative to pay workers as little as they can get away with in the pandemic
November, 20 2020
Unemployment remains high, Republicans allowed expanded unemployment benefits to expire, and retail companies are using that desperation to get vulnerable people to risk their health or their lives for low, low wages. Early on in the pandemic, many retail chains paid their workers some amount of hazard pay. It was usually an inadequate amount and often wasn’t backed up by a commitment to safety, but it was something.
Well, no more. Most of the companies that offered hazard pay back in the spring have phased it out, often replacing it with bonuses, so workers aren’t tempted to think of it as part of their hourly pay and fight to keep it. And, The New York Times reports, many of those same companies have spent far more buying back stock to benefit their shareholders even as they strategize carefully to avoid paying their workers a penny more than they have to. All while coronavirus rates are again surging.
- Lawsuit over meatpacking worker’s COVID-19 death alleges truly grotesque abuses
November, 19 2020
This is sickening. We’ve known that the meatpacking industry has acted with callous disregard for its workers’ lives in the coronavirus pandemic, keeping them on the job in unsafe conditions. But according to a lawsuit by the family of the late Isidro Fernandez, it’s worse than that. At the Tyson pork processing plant where Fernandez worked in Iowa, the family alleges, supervisors and managers placed bets on how many workers would get COVID-19.
That winner-take-all betting pool rooting against the health of workers in the plant was organized by one manager, Iowa Capital Dispatch reports. Another manager called COVID-19 a “glorified flu” and “not a big deal,” and said “everyone is going to get it.” He did his part to make sure everyone got it, too, by at one point ordering a sick supervisor to skip testing and stay at work, because “We all have symptoms—you have a job to do.”
- Katie Porter called for an investigation into PPP layoffs. Under Biden, that could actually happen
November, 18 2020
Back in October, a group of Democratic House members wrote to the Small Business Administration asking for an investigation how an owner of dozens of hotels had spent Paycheck Protection Program funding while laying off many of the workers whose paychecks the program was supposed to protect. Now, the signs are good that President-elect Joe Biden is going to take exactly that kind of oversight seriously. (Disclosure: Kos Media received a Paycheck Protection Program loan.)
A recent report from Bloomberg Law notes that, back in April, as the Trump Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was saying it would do basically nothing to enforce the provisions of the CARES Act, former CFPB head Richard Cordray called for tougher enforcement—and Cordray is reportedly under consideration to lead the CFPB again. Cordray’s former deputy director, who should have succeeded him as acting director, is heading up the Biden transition efforts on the CFPB.
- Who will Biden choose as his labor secretary?
November, 14 2020
Speculation is flying and some aspirants are campaigning hard for the position of labor secretary. Names being mentioned frequently include Boston Mayor Mary Walsh, Rep. Andy Levin, AFL-CIO economist Bill Spriggs, and Julie Su, secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. Levin, a former AFL-CIO staffer, has endorsements from the Communications Workers of America, the United Auto Workers, the Utility Workers Union of America, and National Nurses United. Walsh, a former head of the Boston Building and Construction Trades Council, has the support of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who is lobbying other labor leaders to back him. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten also praised Walsh.
Sen. Bernie Sanders is actively running for the role, but President-elect Biden is reportedly trying to avoid appointing senators.
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