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"Sanctuary Union": American Fed. Of Teachers to Protect Undocumented Students

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Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers addresses an immigration reform rally in Washington, D.C. | New York State United Teachers

From People's World:

By Mark Gruenberg

You’ve heard of sanctuary cities, right? Welcome to what may become the nation’s first “sanctuary union,” the American Federation of Teachers.

In a recent statement, the union vowed to protect undocumented students, teachers, and staff from deportation plans if and when the incoming Republican Trump administration puts them into effect.

If so, AFT would join a growing movement in major cities – including New York and Chicago, places where it is the dominant teachers union – to resist the mass deportation plans Trump advocated during his presidential campaign.

The issue is important to teachers, students, and their families. The Pew Research Center calculates three million of the 11 million undocumented people in the U.S. nationwide are children, including students. It adds 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools every year. (There are no numbers available for the numbers of undocumented teachers and school staffers.)

Citing census data, Pew adds 59 percent of all undocumented people – students and adults – live in six states: California, with 814,000, New York, Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, and Florida. Two-thirds of the adults have lived in the U.S. for at least a decade.

AFT plans to protect them and their kids. A check on the nation’s other teachers union, the National Education Association, shows it has yet to decide on a course of action vis-à-vis undocumented people. But two big joint AFT-NEA affiliates, in San Francisco and Los Angeles, have also told members about AFT’s initiative.

“In classrooms and on campuses across the nation, undocumented immigrants, from preschoolers to college students, are terrified. Immigrants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and visa-contingent educators are also worried that changing immigration policies could jeopardize their safety,” AFT explained.

DACA is Democratic President Barack Obama’s program, implemented several years ago, to protect young undocumented people brought to the U.S. years ago by their parents, who are now in school, working, or in the military. Trump may well dump it.

Union President Randi Weingarten told a telephone town hall on Nov. 22 that AFT will “do everything in our power to stop any kind of action against our immigrant families, our Muslim families, our Latino families and especially our undocumented students.” Some of the listeners on the conference call were undocumented, the union said. Specifically, AFT pledged to support the sanctuary cities, including those that establish municipal ID programs to protect immigrants with no identification from being detained unnecessarily. The AFT will also “help union members establish and maintain sanctuary status” in schools, colleges and cities.

Further, it promised to “provide guidance and resources for teachers and staff to support and prepare undocumented students and their families for changes in immigration law – including basic ‘know your rights’ advice” on how to handle immigration raids and detentions. It’s also urging governments “to reaffirm that children cannot be barred from enrolling in public schools based on their immigration status or their parents.

Read more from People's World.

Most Jobs Created Since 2005 Are Nontraditional

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Graphic describing keywords associated with the gig economy.

Mark Warner/Flickr

From NBC News:

By Ben Popken

If you're wondering why it's so hard to find a steady 9-5 job, here's a really good reason.

The answer could be a dark lining to last week's silvery jobs report. Unemployment fell to 4.6 percent for November, the lowest since the financial crash of 2008. It's also within the range of what Fed policy makers call "full employment."

But a recently updated study by Harvard and Princeton economists shows that 94 percent of "net job growth" -- the number of jobs created minus the number of jobs lost -- from 2005-2015 was in "alternative work."

It's a big bucket that includes independent contractors, freelancers, temp agencies, on-call employees, and people who work for contract companies, like janitors.

Yes, the Uber-driving, on-demand cupcake delivery economy is part of it — but a small one, just 0.5 percent of 2015 employment.

"The bottom line is that the nature of work is changing," study co-author Alan B. Krueger, a Princeton professor of economics told NBC News. "The traditional 9-5 steady job still exists, but it's less common than it used to be." 

One aspect is that as companies have added back jobs that were cut, they want to have more flexibility. They staff up for specific projects and initiatives without bringing on board full-time workers — or having to pay for their health insurance.

They also have pushed on-demand scheduling for part-time employees who have to call in an hour or two ahead of time to find if they get to work that day. 

Ultimately, the new hiring architecture makes payroll more efficient for companies, but pushes burdens onto employees. They must deal with erratic income, childcare, and other scheduling issues. The practice has resulted in labor lawsuits alleging wage theft.

Obamacare and monitoring technology has made this kind of contingent workforce more possible and in some ways appealing as a lifestyle choice.

"The Katz and Krueger evidence is mixed on whether these workers would prefer full-time regular employment," said Harvard economics professor Gabriel Chodorow-Reich. "Some would, others are happy with their alternative arrangement."

However, for some of the nation's workforce, the choice is either an "elastic" job — or none at all. And while employment may be close to full, it's not necessarily as filling. 

Read more from NBC News

GOP Plans New Assault on Unions

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Terry Branstad

© Getty Images

From The Hill:

By Reid Wilson

Republicans in crucial states across the country are planning a renewed assault on the political power of labor unions after GOP victories in November’s elections handed the party control of states where Democrats have long defended union rights.

Labor unions have been on the defense in states like Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina in recent years, after Republicans swept to power in the 2010 midterm elections. Republicans in those states have advanced measures limiting public employee unions’ collective bargaining rights and unions’ power to compel workers to contribute dues.

Democrats have held firm in states such as New Hampshire, Missouri, Kentucky and Iowa, where the party maintained enough of a toehold to block anti-union measures. But November’s elections gave Republicans big wins in those states, paving the way for an aggressive new campaign to undermine Democrats’ once-powerful labor allies.

“Labor had a disastrous election in the Rust Belt,” said Jake Bookwalter, who lobbies state governments at Stateside Associates.

Republican leaders in New Hampshire, Missouri and Kentucky are planning in the coming months to take up and pass so-called right-to-work measures, allowing workers to opt out of joining a union and out of paying union dues. 

Twenty-six states currently have right-to-work laws on the books, and governors-elect in both Missouri and New Hampshire campaigned on pledges to implement those laws in their states.

Those new governors-to-be, along with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R), have hinted that they plan to reform collective bargaining laws as well, similar to a push made by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) five years ago.

“Voters reward elected officials that champion free-market labor reforms,” said Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy at the center-right Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Republicans in Missouri have already filed legislation addressing collective bargaining agreements between the state and public employee unions. Gov. Jay Nixon (D) has vetoed anti-union legislation in the past. But come next year, Nixon, who faced term limits, will be replaced by Gov.-elect Eric Greitens (R).

“Leadership is preparing for a battle,” said outgoing state Rep. Lincoln Hough (R). “The House and the Senate both have GOP supermajorities, so it’s not a matter of if, but when.”

Republicans in Iowa, led by Branstad, are considering stripping unions of the right to bargain over employee health insurance. The GOP captured control of the state Senate in November’s elections, giving the party total control of state government.

“Every little piece of good working-place policy that we’ve put in place over the last 20 years, I expect Republicans to begin picking away at,” said Iowa state Rep. Marti Anderson (D). “I expect to have bargaining units be decimated.”

Kentucky, where Republicans captured control of the state House of Representatives for the first time in nearly a century, is likely to revisit prevailing wage laws, which require state government contractors to pay higher wages on public construction projects.

“What we want to do as a caucus and what we want to do as a Republican House is to change the landscape in Kentucky for business,” said state Rep. Jonathan Shell (R), a member of House GOP leadership. “Our look forward as a leadership team and as a caucus is going to be on trying to make Kentucky one of the premier centers for business in the United States.”

In targeted states, Democrats have pledged to fight back, using both legislative and political means. 

“The Democrat caucus will be working with our friends in labor to message,” said Joni Jenkins, a Democratic state representative in Kentucky. “If they’re going to take a vote, we’re going to hold them accountable for it.”

States that had Republican majorities even before November’s elections are planning new pushes to curb union rights. 

In Texas, legislators may consider a bill requiring parental consent before a minor joins a union. Michigan legislators working in a special session are trying to pass a measure strengthening its right-to-work laws.

Labor allies are planning their own pushes in states where they hold control. Bookwalter said he expects Democratic-led states like California to push new prevailing wage laws and to increase the minimum wage. Other groups are likely to push to raise the minimum wage through ballot measures in states such as Texas, New Jersey, Missouri and Florida in coming years.

The threat to labor unions and their political power comes after decades of a gradual but steep decline in union membership. 

Read more from The Hill.

How Part-Time Work Hurts U.S. Workers' Retirement Security

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Grace Tan, right, bags up a grocery purchases for Angela Coffer and her daughters at a Gladstone, Mo. Walmart.

Walmart/Flickr

From Reuters:

By Mark Miller

The Great Recession took any number of wrecking balls to the retirement security of American workers, including wages and pension benefits, home equity and savings. But one of the less understood areas of hurt continues to this day: part-time work.

The recession pushed the U.S. part-time labor force to 20.1 percent in January 2010 from just under 17 percent, and it remains high today at 18.3 percent of the workforce, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

New research from the Pew Charitable Trusts shows who that trend is hurting most when it comes to saving for retirement: young people, Latinos and African-Americans.

These workers tend to be employed in “lower-hour” industries where part-time work is more prevalent, including retail trade, arts, entertainment, recreation, hospitality and food service. And they are far less likely to have a retirement plan - or other benefits, such as health insurance and paid time off.

The availability of a workplace plan is a key component of success in building savings for retirement. Often, enrollment is automatic when workers start new jobs, as are the pretax contributions that follow. “It’s all about providing access,” said John Scott, director of Pew’s retirement savings project. “For the most part, people take advantage of the opportunity to save if it’s easy.”

For young people, lack of access is especially troubling because getting an early start on retirement saving is the financial equivalent of low-hanging fruit. The magic of compounding means that early starters can do more with less, accumulating savings with lower contribution rates.

For minority workers, the access problem is a key driver of retirement security later in life - namely, the yawning racial divide in retirement savings that has been evident for years. Savings among nonwhite households near retirement (age 55-64) average $30,000 - four times less than white households, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security.

Pew’s research, based on U.S. Census Bureau survey data, found that 56 percent of part-time workers in lower hour industries do not have access to a 401(k) or other retirement plan, compared with just 29 percent of fulltime workers in higher hour industries. And when a plan is offered, participation rates also are lower than average for part-time workers.

CLOSING THE GAP

The gaps affect millennials and minorities disproportionately. Nearly 39 percent of millennials work in lower-hour industries, compared with 20 percent of older workers. Meanwhile, 28 percent of Hispanics and 26 percent of African-Americans work in lower hour jobs, compared with 23 percent of whites.

The gaps could close somewhat if the economy continues to expand, creating more full-time jobs in high-hour industries, such as manufacturing, construction, technology, education and healthcare. But policy advocates also have called for structural changes to workplace savings plans to encourage higher coverage rates for part-time workers.

A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published in October noted that even long-term part-time workers can be excluded from retirement plans if they work less than 1,000 hours annually (about 19 hours weekly). The Obama administration proposed in its 2017 budget to drop that ceiling to 500 hours annually over a three-year period.

The GAO's study concluded that plan rules on eligibility and vesting pose a significant barrier that should be tackled through reforms of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). For example, “last day” rules used by some plans require workers to be employed on the last day of the year to receive an employer match. And some plans prohibit participation by workers younger than 21 years old.

GAO also urged Congress to consider re-evaluation of rules on vesting in light of rising workforce mobility. The report found, for example, that if a worker leaves two jobs after two years, at ages 20 and 40, where the plan requires three years for full vesting, the employer contributions forfeited could be worth $81,743 at retirement (in future dollars).

Finally, improving overall availability of workplace saving should be a priority, since roughly half of all workers have no access to a workplace retirement plan. Some states, led by California and Illinois, are creating their own programs for uncovered workers that would require employer participation.

Read more from Reuters

Racism Is Built Into Sharing Economy, and Startups Are Doing Little About It

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Lyft's pink car mustache

From MarketWatch:

By Caitlin Huston

Racism has infected the platforms of some of Silicon Valley’s tech darlings, and experts say the business models of the “sharing economy” could keep startups from addressing the issue.

Studies have tracked racial discrimination in car-sharing services such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc., as well as on home-rental sites like Airbnb, as part of a growing body of research finding bias among contractors and hosts. While the racism may be enacted on an individual basis, experts argue that the independent-contractor model of the sharing economy enables it, and that these cases could force these unicorn startups to dramatically change their business models if they try to address it.

The most recent study, which collected data from close to 1,500 app-hailed trips in Seattle and Boston, found that African-American customers using ride-hailing apps faced longer acceptance times—the time before the driver accepts a passenger’s ride request—and longer wait times after being accepted on Uber specifically. The findings mirror a study on Airbnb that found greater discrimination against guests who had names typically thought to belong to African-Americans. 

The authors of both studies suggest several changes, mostly focused on removing passenger names and pictures from the apps, to address the behavior of people working on the platform. However, that is where the difficulty lies—by making changes meant to address racism exhibited by drivers and hosts, such businesses could threaten the model on which they have based their businesses.

Uber and Lyft call themselves transportation network companies, meaning they act as just a platform to connect users with drivers, rather than a transportation company that has ownership over its drivers. Both have faced lawsuits calling for drivers to be considered employees. Airbnb says it is just a platform that connects hosts and users.

This means that as “aggregators,” Uber, Lyft and Airbnb may not be subject to Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination or segregation of any kind by a business, said Nancy Leong, an associate professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

“The laws that we have right now are not a perfect fit for what’s going on in the sharing economy,” Leong said.

If the companies attempt to enforce a system that attempts to control the decisions people using their platforms make, they may have to classify them as employees because they would take on “employer-like responsibility,” said Max Wolff, market strategist at 55 Capital Partners. That seems unlikely, as Uber and Lyft have already fought lawsuits seeking to classify drivers as employees.

“None of these companies are going to go out of their way to reclassify anyone, ever,” Wolff said.

The platforms have taken minor steps to address issues of racism. Airbnb has increased the instant book option, in which hosts do not decide who to accept, and said it would work on the diversity of its own staff following last December’s study. Uber’s app does not allow the driver to see a passenger’s name until he or she accepts the ride and has a maximum cancellation rate for drivers that varies based on the city.

“We believe Uber is helping reduce transportation inequities across the board, but studies like this one are helpful in thinking about how we can do even more,” Rachel Holt, head of North American operations at Uber, said in a statement in response to the study.

In the case of Lyft, which the study’s authors note may have a different matching algorithm than Uber, the company said it would consider the study findings.

“We intend to use this opportunity to jump-start a dialogue within the Lyft community on these issues. Inclusivity has always been a core part of who we are, and we condemn discrimination in any form,” said Adrian Durbin, a spokesman for Lyft.

While acting as independent contractors, these workers are displaying individual racist tendencies that are not necessarily indicative of the company, the ride-hailing study authors note. Still, Leong said she believes the companies can be partly to blame for not taking further steps to address racism on their platforms.

“I think there is certainly blame to go around,” Leong said. 

While trying to find a way to change the inherent issues in the system while not changing classification, or hoping the storm blows over, the companies could alienate customers who expect service without a side of bias.

“They have to professionalize up to the minimum standard that their customers demand,” Wolff said. 

Read more from MarketWatch.

Violent Crime Is a Daily Occurrence At Walmart and Now Its Workers Want Better Security

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Photograph of a Wal-Mart store exterior in Laredo, Texas

From Fortune:

By Joseph Hincks

Workers rights group Making Change at Walmart, which is supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, has launched a television campaign to pressure Walmart into improving security across its stores.

An investigation by Bloomberg Businessweek — based on analysis of police reports relating to stores across the country — determined that on average one of the country’s Walmart store is hit with at least one violent crime per day. Petty crimes, the analysis found, likely numbered in the hundreds of thousands for 2016.

The data also showed that significantly more crimes occur at Walmart than at Target, the second-largest discount retailer in the United States.

Walmart reportedly says it is working to address security issues at its stores, which have put pressure on police departments. Bloomberg reports that in an effort to deter shop-lifters the company has positioned store-staff at self-checkout areas and installed eye-level security monitors in areas where theft is rampant, among other measures.

But according to Making Change at Wal-Mart, it’s not doing enough.

Randy Parraz, the group’s national campaign director told Bloomberg,“They haven’t been investing in the proper security.”

“They are pinching and squeezing the taxpayers for something the company should be paying for. It isn’t like this is a company operating in the red,” he added.

Read more from Fortune.

More Than 6 Million Americans Who Want Full-Time Jobs Are Stuck Working Part-Time

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On April 14, fast food workers around the USA walked out on strike. Protesters gathered outside the McDonald's restaurant at University Avenue and Marion Street in St. Paul and called for a $15 per hour minimum wage, paid sick days, and union rights.

Fibonacci Blue/Flickr

From In These Times.

By David Moberg

 The recovery from the Great Recession has been long, slow and steady. But it has also contributed unexpectedly to an increase in involuntary part-time work, which needs new regulation to protect workers from abuse, according to a new study released this week by the Economic Policy Institute.

Author Lonnie Golden finds that voluntary part-time work has remained more or less stable since 2007, around the start of the recession. But involuntary part-time work has increased by about 18 times the rate of growth of all work, and five times faster than part-time work. Currently, some 6.4 million Americans who want full-time jobs are stuck working part-time hours, according to Golden. 

“The increase is almost entirely due to the inability of workers to find full-time jobs, leaving many workers to take or keep lower-paying jobs with less consistent hours to make ends meet,” he says. “In several industries, relying more on part-time work seems to have become the ‘new normal.’”

Employers often play it cautious after a recession, waiting to restore full-time jobs and hiring more part-timers as their businesses pick up. But, as Golden points out in his study, the recession isn’t responsible for the rise in involuntary part-time work. Structural shifts are almost entirely at play in this change in employment.

Golden argues that such an expansion represents a change in the long-term strategy of businesses in four key sectors of the economy, specifically, retail trade, leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and educational and health services.

He reports that about 54 percent of the growth of involuntary part-time employment since 2007 comes from retail and leisure and hospitality, while the remainder of the growth mostly stems from the other two types of industries.

Involuntary part-time workers are about equally men and women, but workers in other demographic groups—black, Hispanic and prime-age workers, for example—more commonly suffer from not being able to find full-time jobs.

Notably, Golden found no evidence that the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate caused the rise in involuntary part-time work.

Involuntary part-time workers usually work about half the hours of full-timers, get lower rates of pay per hour and fewer, if any, benefits. Workers at fast-food chains and other employers that rely extensively on part-timers also report that managers often reward or punish workers by adjusting the number of hours they are given. Such irregular scheduling of involuntary part-time work can disrupt family life. On the other hand, if workers have control over their schedules, such variation is one of the principal appeals of part-time work.

Golden reports that some experiments in public policy suggest a way of regulating part-time work to improve the prospects for part-time employees. One approach used in many countries and recommended by the International Labor Organization (ILO) is to require employers to provide part-timers the benefits of full-time workers, prorated to the hours they work. The ILO recommends setting minimum standards for hours of work, as the Washington, D.C., city council did recently for janitors in large commercial buildings.

Following the lead of legislation such as San Francisco’s “Predictable Scheduling and Fair Treatment” ordinance, states and cities could enact rules giving part-time workers a right of first refusal if additional hours of work become available. Golden also recommends adjusting unemployment insurance to make sure that part-timers can benefit.

Read more from In These Times.

How to Really Help the Middle Class

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graphic describing the disappearing middle class.

Michael Quizon/Flickr

From Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

By David Madland

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election to be the next president of the United States, many pundits and politicians are focused on how rural Americans, especially those living in the Rust Belt, voted. Rust Belt states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, which were presumed Democratic strongholds, went red this election, while voters in rural America overwhelmingly supported Mr. Trump.

This may be explained, in part, by these voters’ desire to give a sharp poke in the eye to the establishment figures of both major parties. The poke was needed. Wages have been largely stagnant for decades, and too many politicians are doing the bidding of rich elites instead of truly fighting for the middle class.

Dissatisfaction with the establishment wasn’t the only force at play in electing Mr. Trump, however. A troubling wave of white nationalist sentiment — encouraged by Mr. Trump’s many hostile remarks toward communities of color and immigrants — also played a powerful role.

Racist scapegoating must stop. In any case, it does nothing to improve the economic conditions of rural, working-class America.

A few of Mr. Trump’s economic positions do point in the right direction. He has correctly stated, for example, that the United States needs to invest in infrastructure, and that doing so will help the American middle class. However, what few details of Mr. Trump’s infrastructure proposal have been released indicate that he is more interested in helping Wall Street than Main Street. His plan shortchanges investment in bridges and schools in hard-hit communities and instead allows wealthy private investors to reap huge profits by charging high tolls on public roads and other infrastructure facilities, increasing costs on already-strapped families.

Mr. Trump is also correct that trade deals have given short shrift to American workers. But the effectiveness of his proposed response remains questionable. Rejecting similar new deals, vigorously enforcing trade laws when companies and countries cheat, and using the bully pulpit to question CEOs who move profitable companies overseas are fine, in general. But they will not bring factories back.

At best, these actions will slow off-shoring, but they may not even do that: Companies that Mr. Trump has targeted say they still plan to close factories and outsource. Similarly, the extreme tariffs that Mr. Trump supports won’t create new jobs. Instead, they will slow trade and damage, especially as they almost certainly would set off trade wars

The rest of Mr. Trump’s agenda is likely to be unambiguously bad — especially for the middle class. He has pledged to dismantle banking regulations, and thus make communities and individuals more vulnerable to another housing and financial crash. His tax plan would cut taxes for the rich by far more than President George W. Bush, while actually raising taxes for some middle-class households.

In addition, instead of working to strengthen unions, which is necessary to raise wages and reduce inequality, Mr. Trump is likely to seek to weaken them. This will only hurt workers and reduce wages even further.

Over the coming months, progressives have an important role to play pushing back on conservative proposals that likely would devastate the middle class. They must do more than play defense, though: They also must promote policies that would improve the lives of rural and working-class families across the country.

A real agenda for middle-class America would invest in infrastructure the right way, set trade rules that put U.S. workers on a more level playing field with workers elsewhere, promote labor unions and ensure high workplace standards — from the minimum wage, to overtime and paid leave.

A real agenda also would give workers a say on big corporate decisions by putting them on the boards of corporations, dramatically increasing access to high-quality apprenticeships and other training programs, and promoting broad-based profit-sharing so that, when companies do well, workers do, too. High-quality education — from pre-school through college — also must become available and affordable to all.

During the campaign, Mr. Trump promised to improve economic conditions and life prospects for Americans living in rural and Rust Belt communities. But it’s far more likely that his anticipated actions will hurt workers and middle-class families wherever they live.

Read more from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Introducing the JORNALER@ App: Grow Knowledge, Build Community, End Wage Theft

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JORNALER@ App description-based image

From The Worker Institute at Cornell:

Jornaler@ is a mobile phone application that combines technology with worker education for preventing wage-theft and other labor rights violations. The app has been tailored to the specific needs of day laborers, who are among the most vulnerable members of the workforce. Their high visibility while searching for work often places them on the frontline of anti-immigrant backlash, and yet the social invisibility of their labor makes them frequent victims of labor violations. Nationwide, studies have shown that over 50% of day laborers have experienced some type of wage theft. Much of their employment is established on a temporary and informal basis, which makes them a target for unethical and unscrupulous employers.

The Jornaler@ application provides day laborers and worker centers with a recordkeeping and data sharing tool, which would help them to both prevent wage-theft incidence, and expedite the processing of claims (when wage-theft cases do occur). The project’s long term goal is to enable stakeholders to increase the capacity of community based organizations to address low-wage workers’ issues.

The Jornaler@ app builds on collaborations between The Worker Institute at Cornell and an array of partner organizations, including the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and its affiliates in the New York metropolitan area, as well as the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT). The development of the Jornaler@ app began with the work of social practice artist Sol Aramendi and workers and leaders at the New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), an affiliate of NDLON.

The collaborative project has involved the design of the day laborer application as well as on-going research on the challenges facing low wage worker communities.  Faculty and staff from The Worker Institute, as well as Cornell ILR students have contributed to this collaboration over the past two years.

How it Works

Within the app there are three key functions Check In/Check Out; Alert; and Report.

  • Check-In/Check-Out: this function is a “punch card” that helps workers keep track of their hours, wages, work location, breaks, as well as employer and worksite information. The app collects the data and creates a “Job Log” for the user that displays weekly and annual wages, as well as a monthly average wage for jobs in the area.
     
  • Report: The app collects the necessary information to properly document and to begin a wage theft complaint that can eventually be delivered directly to the Department of Labor. The report section asks for additional information and immediately informs the affiliated worker center that will be available to assist in filing an official complaint or contacting their employer to arrange for mediation.
     
  • Alert: The technology breaks through the inherent isolation of day labor work by fostering a network of workers regardless of where they are located. The Alert function allows workers to anonymously warn others of non-paying jobs and bad employers.

Jornaler@ is now available for Android and iPhone. Search for “Jornalera” on Google Play or the App Store. You will require a code when you attempt to register. Please contact Cal Soto at csoto@ndlon.org if you do not have a code via a participating worker center and would like to request one.

Connecting Community

Jornaler@ is a tool designed with input from day laborers to be used by any worker with an irregular schedule and varied wages. Data shows that these circumstances create a heightened risk of wage theft. Jornaler@ works to reduce this risk by connecting similarly situated workers, notifying them instantly of bad employers, and amplifying that message to a network spanning entire metropolitan areas. With Jornaler@ installed, no worker is alone on the job.

To ensure that users are connecting with local communities of workers, we have developed the “center code” model. Those that want to use Jornaler@ can get in touch with their closest worker center. If the center is already connected to the Jornaler@ Network, they will train the worker in how to best utilize the app and distribute a “center code” to allow that worker to register.

If the local worker center is not yet connected to the Jornaler@ Network, the lead organizer can get in touch with Cal Soto at csoto@ndlon.org to get information about training and receive a unique center code.

Registering

Once you have received a center code you can follow the registration process and start using Jornaler@ to keep track of your hours, report wage theft, and stay connected with other workers in your area. All of your data will be stored anonymously and can be accessed on your phone or, at your request, through your local worker center during a personal appointment.

For more information about the role of The Worker Institute in this project, contact Maria Figueroa at mcf22@cornell.edu or for more information about the app and for downloads, contact Cal Soto at csoto@ndlon.org.

Read more from The Worker Institute at Cornell.

NYC Retail Workers Would Get More Control Over Schedules in New Council Bill

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Retail workers would have more control over their schedules if a package of City Council bills is passed. Above, shoppers pay for items at a Toys "R" Us on Dec. 24, 2015.

Getty Images/Kena Betancur

From amNewYork:

By Ivan Pereira 

A bill that would give retail and fast food workers more control over their work schedules is set to be introduced to the City Council Tuesday.

Under the measure, small businesses would be fined if they forced their employees to work “on call” for shifts that aren’t confirmed until the last minute.

Supporters of the bill, like City Councilman Brad Lander, said such provisions hamper working class New Yorkers’ schedules.

“New Yorkers trying to pay the rent and feed their families should not be subject the whims of shift cancellations and last-minute changes to their hours,” he said in a statement.

Under the bill, employers would be prohibited from requiring a worker to come into work with fewer than 72 hours’ notice without written permission from the employee. It would also forbid employers from canceling scheduled work hours within 72 hours of the start of that job.

The bill would apply to “retail businesses with five employees or more, or an average of five workers for the year,” and chain stores will be treated as one employer.

Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Union said the protections were long overdue.

“This groundbreaking new City Council bill will ban the cruel and unfair practice of on-call scheduling in the retail industry, and protect countless retail workers,” he said in a statement.

Read more from amNewYork.