Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Archive for January, 2012

Sexual Harassment is Illegal: Know Your Rights

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Image: Linda MericColorado newspapers have covered extensively the recent trial, conviction and sentencing of former 7th Judicial District Attorney Myrl Serra on extortion and unlawful sexual contact charges. The conviction against Serra stemmed from his illegal maltreatment of three female employees in his Montrose and Delta, Colorado western slope offices – sexually harassing and assaulting them, threatening their jobs, and forcing them to provide sexual favors.

This case, of a public official and lawyer breaking the law, reminds us that sexual harassment continues to occur in all types of occupations and workplaces. There are steps everyone can and must take to stop and prevent it.

If you experience sexual harassment on the job, remember that you’re not alone. Trust your instincts, and don’t blame yourself. Be assertive and say no clearly. Document every incident in detail. Look for witnesses and other evidence from co-workers or former employees. Research your employer’s and your union’s channels for reporting sexual harassment, and use them. As Serra’s staff found out, addressing sexual harassment in the workplace is difficult, so seek emotional support. If all else fails, take legal action.

If you are not the one being harassed, support your co-worker by validating that harassment is wrong, affirming her feelings, and listening without judgment. Be sure that your behavior isn’t part of the problem. Challenge the harasser’s inappropriate behavior. Work with others toward a harassment-free work environment, whether that harassment is sexual in nature or based on someone’s race, sexual orientation or other characteristics.

If you’re a manager, you have special responsibilities. You also have special opportunities to be part of the solution. Be a role model. Be a good listener. Be objective and consistent. Be informed, and be willing to ask for help when you need it. Be vigilant, and don’t wait for a crisis.

Employers can develop, update and uniformly implement policies to stop and prevent sexual harassment. Emphasize prevention through education and training. Clearly define procedures, give several options for reporting, and be sure that investigations are prompt and fair. Administer appropriate discipline, regardless of the position of the harasser.

To learn more about what you can do at work and what your legal rights are concerning sexual harassment, call the 9to5 Job Survival Helpline at 1-800-522-0925 or visit us online at www.9to5.org.

About the Author: Linda Meric is the Executive Director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, a multi-racial membership organization founded in 1973 to strengthen the ability of low-wage and low-income women to win economic justice through grassroots organizing and policy advocacy on workplace and safety net issues. Linda helped found 9to5 Colorado in 1996 and served as the chapter’s Director until the Fall of 2004 when she became 9to5’s national Executive Director. Under Linda’s leadership, 9to5 has won important victories in the arenas of work-family, anti-discrimination, wages, good jobs, welfare, unemployment and child care.

Three Years After Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Passed, Women Still Earn Far Less Than Men

Monday, January 30th, 2012

waldron_travis_bioSunday marked the third anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first legislation signed into law by President Obama. The law, which expanded the statute of limitations on fair pay lawsuits, was a response to a Supreme Court ruling against Ledbetter in her fair pay case.

Though the law expanded the legal remedies available to women who have been victims of discriminatory pay, little has been done to address the pay gap that exists between male and female employees. Since the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed into law, the pay gap has closed at less than half-a-cent per year. That trend is continuing, as the pay gap barely closed from 2009 to 2010.

Women made 77 percent of men’s earnings in 2009, the year the law passed. In 2010, that wasvirtually unchanged, as women’s wages rose to 77.4 percent of men’s. The gap is even larger for African Americans and Latinos: black women made 67.5 percent of all men’s earnings in 2009, while Latino women made 57.7 percent. In 2010, those figures ticked up to 67.7 percent and 58.7 percent, respectively.

Women make up half of the American workforce, and in two-thirds of American families, the mother is the primary breadwinner or a co-breadwinner. But they make less than their male counterparts in all 50 states, though the size of each state’s wage gap varies. While the gap continues to close in places like Washington, D.C., where women make 91.8 percent of men’s earnings, it is growing in others, like Wyoming, where women’s earnings dropped from 65.5 percent of men’s in 2009 to just 63.8 percent in 2010.

Because of the gender pay gap, women with the same education doing the same job as men earn far less over their working lifetimes. The wage gap costs $723,000 over a 40-year career for women with college degrees. In some industries, the gap can cost women close to a million dollars.

In November 2010, Senate Republicans killed efforts to close the pay gap when they unanimously voted to block the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have updated the Equal Pay Act, closed many of its loopholes, and strengthened incentives to prevent pay discrimination.

This blog originally appeared in ThinkProgress on January 30, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Travis Waldron is a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Travis grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and holds a BA in journalism and political science from the University of Kentucky. Before coming to ThinkProgress, he worked as a press aide at the Health Information Center and as a staffer on Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s 2010 Senate campaign. He also interned at National Journal’s Hotline and was a sports writer and political columnist at the Kentucky Kernel, the University of Kentucky’s daily student newspaper.

Chart: Nearly One Quarter of American Workers are in Low Wage Jobs, More Than In Other Developed Nations

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Image: Pat GarofaloAccording to data from the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation that was highlighted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, nearly 25 percent of American workers are in low-wage jobs, defined as “earning less than two-thirds of the national median hourly wage.” This is higher than many other industrialized nations, including the U.K., Canada, and Australia. CEPR found that the developed world’s high number of low-wage jobs “may contribute to broader income and wealth inequality and constitute a threat to social cohesion.”

This post originally appeared in ThinkProgress on January 26, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Pat Garofalo is Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Pat’s work has also appeared in The Nation, U.S. News & World Report, The Guardian, the Washington Examiner, and In These Times. He has been a guest on MSNBC and Al-Jazeera television, as well as many radio shows. Pat graduated from Brandeis University, where he was the editor-in-chief of The Brandeis Hoot, Brandeis’ community newspaper, and worked for the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life.

'Get a Job'? Not So Easy for Teens, as Adults Snap Up Openings

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

kari-lydersenTeen employment rate of 26 percent is lowest since World War II—and much worse for African Americans

Even as the economy slowly picks up, finding a job is harder than ever for teenagers, according to a national study released on Tuesday. That’s likely because the jobs that are being “created” in recent months are being snapped up by adults—often people over age 50 who were laid off from other positions or forced out of retirement during the economic crisis. Meanwhile, funding for youth jobs has suffered because of state and local budget crises, and significant “stimulus” funding for youth jobs and training under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has now expired.

The study, by researcher Andrew Sum at the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston,looks at teen employment over time through “jobless” numbers rather than “unemployment” numbers, since unemployment figures don’t include youth who are not actively looking for work. As with adults, since it has become harder and harder to get a job many youth have given up and hence dropped from the unemployment figures.

A press release for the report says:

The teen employment rate declined by 19 percentage points, or more than 40%, nationally from 1999-2000 to 2011, falling to 26, the lowest rate since World War II… The figures are bleakest for African-American teens in the city of Chicago, of whom 90 percent are jobless, including 93 of every 100 teens from families with incomes under $40,000; upper-middle-income whites were nearly four times as likely to hold a job, the data show.

Ironically, the growing dearth of employment opportunities for youth—particularly low-income and minority youth—has come just as families most need that extra income, and as the experience the jobs provide is more important than ever for youth to get a leg up in an increasingly competitive labor market. Jack Wuest, executive director of the Alternative Schools Network in Chicago, told me:

If you’re an employer and have a choice between a 56-year-old man or woman who’s worked a lot, you’re probably going to take the adult; you might not want a ‘surly teenager.’

Wuest added that even before the economic crisis, automation, downsizing, the increase in part-time and contract work and other factors in the larger labor market have either eliminated the jobs once filled by youth or funneled adults into them. As a kid, Wuest was one of an army of newsboys in Chicago’s far north side Rogers Park neighborhood, each delivering a separate paper on their specific routes. He told me:

Now one guy delivers all the newspapers – The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Chicago Sun-Times – across the whole neighborhood…It’s another example of an adult taking a job that would’ve employed four or five kids back in the 1950s or 1960s.

Also in tighter economic times, companies are less willing and able to invest in future workers by hiring teens for the summer. This trend probably especially hurts in terms of professional jobs that offer more specific training and opportunity to advance than the fast food and other service-sector jobs that youth are most likely to get.

Congress has introduced legislation, namely the Pathways Back to Work Act sponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), that would provide significant funding for youth employment and job training. But passing the bill will be an uphill battle, given Republican opposition and the distractions of the election year.

A press release from the Alternative Schools Network and partners explains:

The proposed Pathways Back to Work Act would create a $5 billion fund that provides $2 billion for subsidized employment programs for unemployed, low-income adults, $1.5 billion for summer and year-round employment opportunities for low-income youth, and $1.5 billion for a competitive grant program for work-based training and education programs for both adults and youth.

At an event in Chicago Tuesday, teens described the frustrating process of applying for job after job with little luck, often being told they will get a call back, but that call never comes. One bright note was provided by Deshon Carr, an 18-year-old senior at Community Christian Alternative Academy in Chicago who started a landscaping and snow removal business that employs other teens, working full-time in the summer and on weekends and over holiday break during the school year.

Carr, who is also enrolled in a culinary arts program at the Washburne Culinary Institute at Kennedy King city college, is proud he is able to create jobs for other teens in his North Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago’s west side. In the course of looking for jobs himself several years ago, he would call landscaping and construction companies and seek out mentors, ultimately leading to his own business, called Top of the Line Landscaping Inc.

“If you can’t find a job, make a job,” he told me. “If you want something bad enough you won’t give up on it, you just have to keep striving. I want to be a leader in bringing jobs to my community.”

This blog originally appeared in Working in These Times on January 26, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Kari Lydersen, an In These Times contributing editor, is a Chicago-based journalist whose works has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Reader and The Progressive, among other publications. Her most recent book isRevolt on Goose Island. In 2011, she was awarded a Studs Terkel Community Media Award for her work. She can be reached at[email protected].

Super Bowl Players Should Stand Up For Indiana Workers

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

waldron_travis_bioLast July, Major League Baseball blew an opportunity to make a difference. With 28 players who were either Hispanic or of Hispanic descent participating in the league’s annual All-Star Game in Phoenix, Arizona, and the eyes of the sports world watching, nary a one spoke out against the radical anti-immigration law Arizona had passed a year before, even though it could have directly affected the players and will directly affect many of their fans. “I ain’t Jackie Robinson,” David Ortiz, one of baseball’s biggest characters, said.

Over the next 10 days, the National Football League will have a similar chance to make a difference.

Just two weeks before Super Bowl XLVI kicks off at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, more than10,000 people marched through the city to protest right-to-work legislation that is being pushed through the state’s legislature. The legislation passed the state Senate this week and the state House today, and is backed by Gov. Mitch Daniels (R). Considering the NFL nearly lost its 2011 season, and Super Bowl XLVI with it, to a labor dispute, Indiana Republicans’ assault on workers is a cause the players should be familiar with.

Fortunately, there are signs that the NFL players aren’t going to repeat Major League Baseball’s mistake. Several players have spoken out against the legislation, and NFL Players Association President DeMaurice Smith said his organization is already taking action. “We’ve been on picket lines in Indianapolis already with hotel workers who were basically pushed to the point of breaking on the hotel rooms that they had to clean because they were not union workers,” Smith told the Nation. “We’ve been on picket lines in Boston and San Antonio. So, the idea of participating in a legal protest is something that we’ve done before.”

That’s a good first step. But it’s not enough. Indiana union officials are contemplating disrupting Super Bowl-related events to draw attention to their cause, clogging city streets and slowing down events around Lucas Oil Stadium (which was built and is maintained by union workers). Labor leaders are hesitant, though, fearing that such actions could give the city and their cause “a black eye” with people who think sports and politics don’t mix. If some of the league’s top players, particularly those participating in the Super Bowl, spoke in support of those efforts, however, that perception could change.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, one of the NFL’s most recognizable players, felt strongly enough about his own rights that he signed on as a plaintiff in the players’ antitrust lawsuit against the league last year. So did Logan Mankins, Brady’s teammate, and Osi Umenyiora, a prominent defensive end for the New York Giants. Those players were willing to risk backlash from the league, public scrutiny, and their own images to fight league owners for better benefits and wages. In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, they should do the same for workers who don’t have the luxury of multimillion-dollar contracts, rich endorsement deals, and the good fortune of playing a game for a living.

Sure, with Super Bowl week ahead of them, political causes may be the furthest thing from the minds of most players. But with thousands of reporters conducting hundreds of interviews before, during, and after the big game, the players will have the chance to stand up for the rights of people they should be fighting for. Unlike their counterparts in baseball, they shouldn’t blow it.

This blog originally appeared in ThinkProgress on January 25, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Travis Waldron is a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Travis grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and holds a BA in journalism and political science from the University of Kentucky. Before coming to ThinkProgress, he worked as a press aide at the Health Information Center and as a staffer on Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s 2010 Senate campaign. He also interned at National Journal’s Hotline and was a sports writer and political columnist at the Kentucky Kernel, the University of Kentucky’s daily student newspaper.

Is OSHA Getting Tougher? For 2nd Time Ever, Federal Agency Pushes Company-Wide Settlement

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Mike ElkWASHINGTON, D.C.—When the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) cites a company for workplace safety violations, it usually tells it to fix the problems at the specific location where the violation was discovered. But in an unusual—and for safety advocates, promising—move, the Department of Labor (DOL) agency is pushing for “enterprise-wide” changes as part of a violation settlement.

Last week, for the second time in OSHA history, the Labor Department told the agency to force more than 60 locations of a New England-based grocery chain to comply with federal standards protecting workers from falls and lacerations.

On Wednesday, DOL’s regional solicitor in Boston filed a complaint against the Demoulas Super Markets grocery chain, also known as Market Basket. OSHA inspections of a handful of the company’s facilities revealed company-wide “fall hazards from unguarded, open-sided work and storage areas.” Inspections of a number of facilities also found that the company “allegedly failed to protect employees in produce, deli, and bakery department against laceration hazards from knives and cutting instruments,” according to this report. Employees at two Market Basket locations sustained at least 40 hand lacerations between 2008 and 2011.

The only other time DOL and OSHA have attempted to settle safety citations through an “enterprise-wide” solution was last year, when the government told the USPS to fix persistent electrical safety problems found at hundreds of postal locations. The Obama administration is the first administration to seek enterprise-relief for safety violations, according to OSHA Spokesman Ted Fitzgerald.

“Worker safety is not optional, and it cannot be addressed in a piecemeal fashion. It must be addressed across the board,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels, in a statement on the Demoulas grocery chain case. “This employer has the responsibility to safeguard all its employees at all its locations, something it has failed to do.”

It’s unclear how often OSHA will seek “enterprise-wide” fixes to problems in the future.

“Determination was made that this would be the appropriate course of action … to address a hazard that is corporate-wide,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t know if we are going to be doing it in more approaches to case. The Department will utilize legal tools in the appropriate circumstances when we feel there is a situation where enterprise-wide relief is required.”

This blog originally appeared in Working in These Times on January 23, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Elk is an In These Times Staff Writer and a regular contributor to the labor blog Working In These Times. He can be reached at[email protected].

Apple’s Overseas Jobs, The Tech Industry, And The American Economy

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Alyssa RosenbergOne of the big dynamics in the debate over SOPA and PIPA is who’s getting money from whom. The entertainment industry’s currently spending a great deal more on lobbying than the tech community is; MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd has threatened to turn off Hollywood campaign contributions to Democrats if SOPA or a form of it doesn’t pass; and both Democrats and Republicans are attempting to position themselves for the future. What a big, and usefully clear, New York Times story about Apple’s decision to move much of its work overseas makes clear, though, is while the tech industry may eventually have more to offer in terms of lobbying cash and campaign contributions, it may not have much to offer Democrats in terms of creating critically important American manufacturing jobs. In a conversation between Steve Jobs and President Obama before the former’s death, the Times reported that this exchange took place about the Apple jobs that have moved overseas:

Why can’t that work come home? Mr. Obama asked.

Mr. Jobs’s reply was unambiguous. “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” he said, according to another dinner guest.

The president’s question touched upon a central conviction at Apple. It isn’t just that workers are cheaper abroad. Rather, Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.

It’s absolutely true that there would have to be radical changes in the American economy to retrain workers, to move huge parts of the supply chain back to the United States, and perhaps most difficult, to get American workers to expect a vastly different standard of living or to get Apple executives to accept slower development times and more expensive production costs. I’d argue that American workers have already made substantial compromises on the former proposition. But I don’t foresee a future where companies are going to move toward the latter out of the goodness of their own hearts. There’s no question that companies have a right to maximize profits, and that if they don’t care how they’re perceived or about creating a sense of moral obligation to buy their products, they have every right to produce their products wherever and under whatever conditions they can get away with. But if they’re going to take that approach, I sort of wish they’d be as blunt about it as possible, so we don’t risk mistaking shiny toys for some sort of greater good.

This blog originally appeared in ThinkProgress on January 23, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Alyssa Rosenberg is a culture reporter for ThinkProgress.org. She is a correspondent for TheAtlantic.com and The Loop 21. Alyssa grew up in Massachusetts and holds a B.A. in humanities from Yale University. Before joining ThinkProgress, she was editor of Washingtonian.com and a staff correspondent at Government Executive. Her work has appeared in Esquire.com, The Daily, The American ProspectThe New RepublicNational Journal, and The Daily Beast.

California Warehouses Hit with Huge Fines; Workers Allege Retaliatory Firings

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Laura ClawsonThe warehouses in California’s Inland Empire are important distribution points for many of the stores you shop at and goods you buy. They’re also terrible, terrible places to work, and in recent months, California has been taking action against some of their worst abuses. This week:

The California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) issued citations to warehouse owner National Distribution Centers and its temporary staffing contractor, Tri State Staffing, for more than 60 violations at four warehouses in San Bernardino County. The violations include lack of fall protection for high-rise pickers, unstable storage stacking and unguarded machinery.

National Distribution Centers and Tri State Staffing were fined $256,445. In November, the California labor commissioner fined Premier Warehousing Ventures more than $600,000 for failing to provide proper wage statements (a great way to clear the way for rampant wage theft) and Impact Logistics was fined $499,000 for similar violations. Both of those firms employed workers at Schneider Logistics.

If you’re already losing track of the “logistics” this and “staffing” that, it’s because workers in Inland Empire warehouses tend to have multiple employers, starting with the temp staffing firms that hire them, then the companies that actually run the warehouses. Down the road, of course, those companies are contracted to distribute goods by businesses you’ve actually heard of, like—in the case of Schneider Logistics—Walmart.

The fines to staffing agencies employing workers at Schneider Logistics aren’t Schneider’s only labor problem right now, either. Workers sued Schneider and Rogers-Premier Unloading Services (same as Premier Warehousing Ventures mentioned above, but, for an extra layer of confusion, referred to by different names in different accounts), last year because they weren’t being paid the minimum wage or overtime. Now, in a total coincidence that is in no way retaliatory, the workers are losing their jobs as Rogers-Premier pulls out of its contract with Schneider more than a year before the contract was set to expire, putting 100 workers out of work. And when I say this wasn’t retaliatory, I mean that:

At an Oct. 18 meeting, Schneider managers informed workers that if they supported the lawsuit, they would be “destroyed” and “thrown away,” and two workers were suspended for taking these stands, according to court records.

Two days, later, Rogers-Premier told Schneider it was canceling its labor services contract 18 months early, citing increased costs, unless Schneider renegotiated. Schneider declined to do that.

In addition to filing a complaint in court, workers rallied Wednesday to protest the firings.

This blog originally appeared in Daily Kos Labor on January 19, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos. She has a PhD in sociology from Princeton University and has taught at Dartmouth College. From 2008 to 2011, she was senior writer at Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

African-American Unemployment Rate Was ‘Virtually Unchanged’ In 2011

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Tanya SomanaderAs 2011 progressed, Americans overall saw a slowly decreasing unemployment rate, ticking down from 9.1 percent in January to 8.5 percent in December. However, a new report from UC Berkeley reveals that the unemployment rate for African Americans stayed almost exactly the same. In January of 2011, the unemployment rate for African Americans stood at 15.7 percent. In December, it stood at 15.8 percent.

Even as the underlying factors affecting the overall unemployment rate (employment level, unemployment level, and number of people not in the labor force) changed, African-Americans saw “virtually no movement” in their official rate. The report compares the unemployment rate change by race:

Many factors are contributing to the stubbornly high unemployment rate of African-Americans. Since the recession began, at least 600,000 public sector jobs have been sacrificed for budget cuts. These layoffs fall heaviest on African-Americans, as “about one in five black workers have public sector jobs, and African-American workers are one-third more likely than white ones to be employed in the public sector.” Economists also note that the younger age of the African-American workforce, the lower number of college graduates, and the larger number living in low-income areas that were harder hit by the recession are all keeping the rate as high as it is.

Whatever the reasons, the trend is certainly disturbing. As the report notes, “Black male unemployment rates have fallen slightly and Black female unemployment rates have risen. In contrast, unemployment rates for white men and white women have fallen over the same time period.”

This blog originally appeared in ThinkProgress on January 19, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Tanya Somanader is a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Tanya grew up in Pepper Pike, Ohio and holds a B.A. in international relations and history from Brown University. Prior to joining ThinkProgress, Tanya was a staff member in the Office of Senator Sherrod Brown, working on issues ranging from foreign policy and defense to civil rights and social policy.


New Mexico Lawmaker Proposes State Guest Worker Program For Undocumented Immigrants

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Amanda Peterson BeadleWhile neighboring Arizona keeps its notorious anti-immigrant law on the books, New Mexico may be taking another path. State Sen. Steve Fischmann (D) is proposing a guest worker plan to let undocumented immigrants work legally in the state. If immigrants can prove they have lived in New Mexico for the past year and pass a background check, they could get a worker’s permit and legal status.

Fischmann told a local TV station that he is pushing the guest worker plan because current immigration policy is not working:

The feds are failing us,” said Fischmann. “We make lawbreakers out of everybody with our current immigration policy whether you’re an employer or someone trying to get a job.”

Fischmann said about six percent of New Mexico’s workforce is undocumented, working mainly agricultural jobs.

“It really strives to keep immigrant families together,” said Fischmann. […]

But the idea seems to be going nowhere fast.

To try to set up a state guest worker program is doomed to failure,” said Rep. Dennis Kintigh, R-Roswell.

Kintigh said a guest worker program would be giving amnesty to thousands of immigrants who have broken federal laws.

The federal government would have to approve Fischmann’s plan, and before that could happen, the New Mexico legislature would have to pass the bill. The legislative agenda is set by the governor, and Gov. Susana Martinez (R) has not commented on the proposal except to say that she thinks immigration reform is a federal issue.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed into law a guest worker plan that allows undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements to have a state-issued permit to work in Utah. And California may consider its own version of the Utah law. Given the important role immigrants play in the U.S. economy and military, these state guest worker plans are helpful measures to let more people actively participate in the workforce.

This blog originally appeared in ThinkProgress on January 18, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Amanda Peterson Beadle is an editorial assistant at ThinkProgress.org. She received her B.A. in journalism and Spanish from the University of Alabama, where she was editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper The Crimson White and graduated with honors. Before joining ThinkProgress, she worked as a legislative aide in the Maryland House of Delegates. In college, she interned at the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, the Press-Register (Mobile, Alabama), and the Ludington Daily News. She is from Birmingham, Alabama.

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