Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘Emily Udell’

Around the Country, State Employees Rally Against Furloughs, Pay Cuts

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

State workers in West Virginia spent Presidents Day staging a rally at the capitol to ask for a $1,000 cost-of-living raise and better working conditions. Meanwhile, workers in California hope a bill advances that would ease some of their furlough pain.

As part of a plan to deal with California’s budget gap, state workers have given up three days of work per month, essentially cutting the pay of some 200,000 state employees by 14 percent. The future is uncertain for these workers, as Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed to end the layoffs come June, but cut pay and payroll by 5 percent each.

The California state Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee will hear the bill today. It is among more than two dozen bills aimed at fueling job creation in the state, and one of those that’s been received tepidly by Republicans, who want a jobs bill more focused on creating jobs in the private sector. It would affect jobs in revenue- and tax-collecting jobs.

The rally in West Virginia focused on a small cost-of-living increase and a smaller caseload for workers in the Department of Health & Human Resources.

“There’s bigger issues to deal with, but we’re having to beg for $1,000 a year,” said Jay Miner, of the Bateman Chapter of the West Virginia Public Workers Union, UE Local 170. The demonstrators presented a 2,000-word petition of support to the governor. They also face health insurance premium hikes.

The Charleston, W.Va., public service workers are among those around the country have been staging protests in recent weeks in response to the looming threats of pay cuts, furloughs, retirement benefit losses, insurance increases and spending cutbacks that affect their jobs.

On February 4, county, city and schools workers in Detroit marched downtown to demonstrate their opposition to furloughs and pay cuts. The protest was spearheaded by AFSCME, which represents about 60,000 Michigan workers, after Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano announced that workers would have to take a day each week off without first negotiating with the union.

Furloughs are an increasingly common tactic being used by both government entities and companies to improve the bottom line. But it puts workers in perilous conditions because they often can’t apply for unemployment.

Jacqueline Price, a 12-year county veteran, told The Michigan Citizen:

It’s terrible. Ficano is calling a lay-off a furlough. We can’t file for unemployment, and we are only working 32 hours a week so we are no longer considered full-time employees.

Detroit city employees are facing a possible 10-percent pay cut. The demonstration in Michigan came just days after public-sector workers stormed the capitol in Santa Fe, N.M., to show their opposition to a proposed 2-percent pay cut for state employees and teachers.

*This post originally appeared in Working in These Times on February 16, 2010. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Emily Udell is a writer for Angie’s List Magazine in Indianapolis. In 2009, she finished a stint drinking bourbon and covering breaking news for The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky. Her eclectic media career also includes time at the Associated Press, Punk Planet (R.I.P.), The Daily Southtown in southwest Chicago, and Radio Prague in the Czech Republic. She co-hosted and co-produced In These Times’ radio show “Fire on the Prairie” from 2003 to 2006.

Hyatt Continues Catching Flack over Fired Boston Workers

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Hyatt’s efforts to woo fired housekeepers has been mostly unsuccessful, with only six taking up the hotelier’s offer of employment with the company that replaced them.

Hyatt says the new jobs will extend their pay through 2010 and healthcare through May 2010. But workers aren’t buying the company’s efforts to assuage the public relations disaster they set off when they fired the 98 housekeepers in August. Luz Aquino, who worked at the Hyatt Harborside told Reuters: “Hyatt, I think, is playing games because they think we’re stupid.”

Protesters rally outside Bostons Hyatt Regency hotel in October. Photo by Elizabeth Washburn

A Boston news station reported yesterday that a worker said the hotel had not kept its promise to continue health coverage through March after her son was denied care during a hospital visit. Hyatt said this was just a clerical error and the problem was fixed. But the report also said Emerson College yanked its holiday party from the Hyatt to protest the company’s treatment of workers.

We documented here how the firing has sent ripples within the state and across the nation. On November 12, UNITE HERE kicked off a series of North American solidarity demonstrations in Toronto that was attended by hundreds in an effort to bring attention to the workers’ plight.

Hyatt’s explanation for the firings was that it needed to remain profitable in a down economy. But that’s a hard argument to swallow when Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced it raised $127.3 million at the closing of its initial public offering last week.

Some Money Reversing Flow to U.S. from Mexico

As we reported on ITT Working, the down economy hasn’t sent workers back to Mexico en masse despite the special challenges it poses to migrant workers. Predictably, hard times have led to unemployment for some and the inability to send money home, but anecdotal evidence shows that some money is even reversing course. The New York Times yesterday reported some families are scraping together funds to send to their unemployed relatives in the U.S.

This post originally appeared in Working In These Times on November 17, 2009. Reprinted with permission from the author.

About the Author: Emily Udell is a writer for Angie’s List Magazine in Indianapolis. In 2009, she finished a stint drinking bourbon and covering breaking news for The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky. Her eclectic media career also includes time at the Associated Press, Punk Planet (R.I.P.), The Daily Southtown in southwest Chicago, and Radio Prague in the Czech Republic. She co-hosted and co-produced In These Times’ radio show “Fire on the Prairie” from 2003 to 2006.

Your Rights Job Survival The Issues Features Resources About This Blog