“”Wage theft” is a catch-all term for not paying workers what they are owed under the law, such as violating minimum wage or overtime regulations. It is a crime under the Fair Labor Standards Act and is enforced by the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. It can involve business owners sneakily ripping off employees. It can also result from honest confusion or mistakes regarding what is owed.”
“A 2014 survey of economists found that nearly 20 percent of workers have noncompete clauses in their contracts. That number is more likely 50 percent for people in high-skilled and high-tech jobs”
“Marx added that these agreements don’t just specify that you can’t share a specific company’s secrets, but are often interpreted more broadly so that a person can’t use skills they had prior to working at that company — something he said can be debilitating to high-skilled workers and entrepreneurs.”
“Detractors of noncompete clauses say the agreements prohibit workers from getting jobs with competitors or even within the same industry. In doing so, they restrict job mobility and prevent workers from being able to push for higher wages, since changing jobs is often how workers get higher pay. These clauses can send them on lengthy job searches or even “career detours.””
“Pro-employer groups like the US Chamber of Commerce have argued that noncompete clauses can actually be pro-competitive because they protect an “employer’s special investment in, training of, and disclosure of sensitive business information to its employees.” In a statement released shortly after the FTC’s announcement, the organization called the rulemaking “blatantly unlawful” since it says the FTC doesn’t have the authority to promote the rule. “When appropriately used, noncompete agreements are an important tool in fostering innovation and preserving competition,” the Chamber said in an emailed statement.”
What Lower Labor Force Participation Rates Tell Us about Work Opportunities and Incentives Joint Economic Committee. 2015 7 15. What’s Happening with Today’s Labor Force? California Workforce Development Board. 2022. What’s behind the US labour shortage? | The Bottom Line Al Jazeera
“The FTC announced..that it proposed a rule that would ban the practice of forcing workers to sign noncompete clauses, which forbid employees from working for their employer’s competitors for a certain amount of time after they leave.
“The freedom to change jobs is core to economic liberty and to a competitive, thriving economy,” Khan said in a statement. “Noncompetes block workers from freely switching jobs, depriving them of higher wages and better working conditions, and depriving businesses of a talent pool that they need to build and expand. By ending this practice, the FTC’s proposed rule would promote greater dynamism, innovation, and healthy competition.”
If enacted, the proposed rule would give Americans more choice in where they work and, by extension, higher pay. They could more easily work for rival companies or start their own companies with less fear of being sued. Such mobility could make what’s already a tight hiring economy even tighter, as workers have even more options of which open jobs they can take.”
“The Teamsters, the union in this case, allegedly timed a 2017 strike so that it would begin after some of Glacier Northwest’s mixing trucks were already filled with concrete, forcing the company’s non-union employees to race to dispose of this material before it hardened in the trucks. But the company was able to remove this wet concrete from the trucks before they were damaged, and there are a wealth of cases establishing that workers may strike even if doing so will cause some of their employer’s product to spoil.
In one case, for example, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) — a kind of quasi-court that hears disputes between unions and employers — sided with milk truck drivers who struck, even though their strike risked spoiling the milk before it was delivered to customers. Another case, handed down by a federal appeals court, reached a similar conclusion regarding striking cheese workers.
That said, there are also some cases establishing that workers may not walk off the job at a time that could result in truly egregious damage to their employer’s business. In one such case, for example, a federal appeals court ruled that foundry workers who work with molten lead could not abruptly walk off the job and leave the lead in a state where it could melt the employer’s facilities or injure other workers.
In any event, the Supreme Court’s decision in San Diego Trades Council v. Garmon (1959) lays out the process that employers must use if they believe their workers timed a strike so recklessly that the union should be held liable. In nearly all cases, the employer must first obtain a ruling from the NLRB establishing that their workers’ strike was not protected by federal law. Only then may they file a lawsuit against the union.
The employer in Glacier Northwest, however, wants the Supreme Court to water down Garmon considerably, potentially enough to render that decision toothless.
If that happens, it would be a tremendous blow to workers. One important reason the Garmon process exists is that it shields unions from lawsuits that could drain their finances and discourage workers from exercising their right to strike — after all, that right means very little if well-moneyed employers can bombard unions with lawsuits the union cannot afford to litigate.”
“Most Americans who enter independent work arrangements do so because they prefer them to the more structured and controlled world of traditional employment, not because they have no other choice. A 2021 Upwork survey found that more than 70 percent of both full‐time and part‐time independent workers see increased flexibility as the major reason for engaging in independent work. A separate 2021 survey from MBO Partners showed that nearly 90 percent of respondents were happier in independent work than in traditional jobs. It also found that roughly three‐quarters of independent workers are satisfied with their work, intend to remain in independent work, and are optimistic about their career future. Just 11 percent wanted to find full‐time traditional employment.
This preference extends to oft‐maligned gig work. According to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, for example, almost 80 percent of gig platform workers rated their experiences positively, with almost half citing schedule flexibility as a major reason for doing the work. Only 28 percent of respondents said they performed gig work because there were few other job opportunities available where they live. And in 2019, when economist M. Keith Chen and his colleagues did a study of more than a million U.S. Uber drivers over an eight‐month period, they found that drivers valued the flexibility the arrangement provided—in both the timing and amount of work—at $150 per week (or 40 percent of expected earnings). Chen’s team also learned that drivers would need a 50 percent raise to work for a less flexible taxi company.”
“Hey, remember the pandemic economy? How could you not, right? In early 2020, millions of people lost their jobs in the blink of an eye, through no fault of their own. In the United States, their subsequent attempts to get help from the government overwhelmed unemployment offices across the country, revealing the system to be fundamentally broken. The infrastructure was bad, the benefits insufficient, and the entire scheme next to impossible to navigate.
And then, something remarkable happened: The federal government stepped in to shore things up. It added extra dollars to state unemployment benefits to make sure people could get by and pay their bills. It expanded the pool of people who were eligible for benefits, so workers such as freelancers and contractors could access them, too. While far from perfect, the extra efforts to help the unemployed made a real difference in people’s lives and played a part in the country averting a deeper and longer recession.
It felt, for a while, like maybe there would be momentum to finally address the issues in America’s unemployment system. So many people had experienced first-hand just what a disaster it was on a massive scale, from outdated administrative systems to inadequate benefits. It seemed obvious that this hybrid state-federal program that had left so much discretion up to individual states just didn’t work.
And then … America’s UI setup didn’t really get fixed, because it never does.”
“As workers stare down the barrel of another potential recession — and the layoffs that would accompany it — the problems that dogged unemployment insurance before the pandemic, many of which have persisted for decades, remain. Most of the momentum to repair the system has dissipated.
Congress and the White House allocated $2 billion to the Department of Labor in 2021 to try to help states update their unemployment systems, combat fraud, and promote equitable access to benefits. But that funding and the accompanying efforts can only go so far, and they are aimed at administrative fixes, not policy fixes. The benefit amount a worker is entitled to, how long the benefits last, and the requirements to get them largely depend on which state that worker lives in. Many states are still digging themselves out from under the last crisis. Given the narrative that has taken hold around unemployment during this most recent economic recovery — that UI kept people out of the workforce, that too much government assistance contributed to inflation — it’s not clear what kind of appetite would exist in Congress to help workers if and when another recession hits.”
“The point of unemployment insurance is to replace income for people who have lost their jobs and keep them attached to the labor market. It’s meant to be a support for the broader economy in times of economic downturn, too, and keep consumer spending going. If I lose my job and can’t pay my rent, it is a problem for me and for my landlord and for the sandwich guy I no longer buy from down the street.”
“UI is financed through state and federal payroll taxes that are supposed to cover both administrative systems and the benefits themselves. Many states have kept those taxes quite low, leaving the system chronically underfunded and resulting in luck-of-the-draw situations for workers applying for UI, depending on where they live.
The average weekly benefit paid out in regular unemployment insurance nationwide was about $385 in the 12 months ending in September. But if you look at Mississippi, for example, the average benefit is in the low $200 range, while it’s now above $600 for Washington state.
These benefits do not move with inflation, either.”
“Many UI offices are understaffed, are still dealing with pandemic-era backlogs, and are using outdated technologies to administer benefits. Or, they’ve updated their technologies and they’re intentionally designed to make the whole thing harder for workers to navigate, or the update was just bad.”