Subscribe to E-Update here.
Labor Report

Labor Day Commentary

DollarAs we wind ourselves back into gear for this shortened work week, I wanted to share some commentary about Labor Day, especially as it relates to work in general and the minimum wage.

One of Pennsylvania’s excellent psychology professors went beyond the “Why is productivity falling?” question yesterday on LinkedIN to share some ideas about how to help the American worker feel better about what they do.

While it is vitally important to increase the minimum wage, it’s equally important for employers to improve work environments and perspective.

Swarthmore College Professor Barry Schwartz hits the bullseye with, “I think that this efficiency and wage-driven approach to work is entirely backwards. It is making us unsatisfied with our jobs — and it is also making us worse at them. For our sakes, and for the sakes of those who employ us, things need to change.”

Schwartz delivers a well-thought and researched article on this subject. Bottom line, and I hope you’ll take the time to read his piece, that there must be more at the end of the day for workers than just money.

“How can we do this? By giving employees more of a say in how they do their jobs. By making sure we offer them opportunities to learn and grow. And by encouraging them to suggest improvements to the production process and listening to what they say. But most important, we need to emphasize the ways in which an employee’s work makes other people’s lives at least a little bit better,” Prof. Schwartz wrote.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale delivered a resounding minimum wage op-ed yesterday on and in many other newspapers. His work also echoed Schwartz’s thoughts:

“All of us deserve to make more than a decent living, we deserve a decent life. It’s time America's economic policies put people and families first, instead of the interests of a handful of wealthy and well-connected corporate CEO's. We need to change the debate from ‘what is good for the economy’ to ‘what is good for America and working people’,” Bloomingdale wrote.

As we work to improve pay and working conditions, NBC News is noting the persona of the people fighting for these overdue changes. We’ve been working together for a long time, and it’s good to have them as a driving force in the battle.

“At or near the bottom of nearly every social and economic indicator, black women represent all that is not working in our economy and society. It’s precisely that position that makes black women eager to engage in the kind of activism necessary to make lasting change,” the NBC editorial reads.

Minimum Wage Cranky

MachineThere have been many ways people working with minimum wage earners have tried to get people who don’t make minimum wage to understand just how little $7.25 an hour really is.

The latest example, and one of my favorites, is this piece of art by Blake Fall-Conroy: The Minimum Wage Machine.

The MWM has been around since 2009 but it makes a great point now: work 4.11 seconds and a minimum wage earner will pocket one penny.

“If the participant stops turning the crank, they stop receiving money,” Fall-Conroy writes on his website.

You might not remember his name, but you probably remember his decision to raise his employees’ minimum wage to $70,000 a year. Well, Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price is still the talk of the business community and he is sharing how his decision has impacted his company and his own bottom line. It’s a worthwhile 8:48 of your time – especially when he talks about the need to instill a greater sense of integrity and performance.

Labor News

FlagUber is back in the news – but not in a good way. A California federal judge sided with Uber drivers last week who claimed they were being cheated out of tips.

This relates to the NLRB’s recent decision to crack down on companies that misclassify employees as independent contractors.

Also, in case you missed it, the U.S. generated a modest 173,000 jobs in August.

The U.S. unemployment rate is now at 5.1 percent while Pennsylvania’s percentage of joblessness, as of July, is 5.4.