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Will the New Federal Overtime Protections Apply to You?

The Labor Department just announced that millions of Americans will now be eligible for overtime protection for the first time. 

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais In this June 26, 2015, photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Editor’s note: In 2013, Economic Policy Institute vice-president Ross Eisenbrey co-authored with economist Jared Bernstein a paper that first proposed expanding the eligibility of workers for overtime pay. Yesterday’s Labor Department ruling closely follows their proposal. T he overtime rules the Department of Labor announced yesterday are hugely important. They would restore in one action most of the overtime protections that have been lost over the past four decades through neglect and hostile regulatory changes, and prevent them from ever eroding again. Altogether, 15 million salaried workers would gain the right to time-and-a-half overtime pay or have their existing rights strengthened. Since the New Deal, the law has protected workers from being forced to work overtime without getting paid for it. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938...

Are the Dems Being Sucker-Punched on Trade?

With TPP on the ropes, passage hinges on a paltry worker assistance program. 

Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP Images
Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP Images House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi conducts her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, June 4, 2015. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . T hanks to a last-minute deal last Thursday between President Obama and the Republican leadership in Congress, the fast-track bill is still alive. Its passage depends on whether a handful of Senate Democrats can be persuaded to go along. Quick recap: The trade negotiating authority that Obama needs to complete his cherished Trans-Pacific Partnership has been linked to passage of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). The House at first voted down assistance in order to kill the whole deal, but then Republicans promised a separate vote on adjustment assistance; and so the House on Thursday narrowly approved fast track, 218-208, with 28 Democrats in support. Now the Senate has to concur. Back in May, when the Senate voted for the package that was rejected by the House, 14...

With Oregon's Bill, Paid Sick Leave Gains Momentum

How Oregon became the fourth state to mandate paid sick leave. 

Doug Geisler
Doug Geisler B uilding on a strong and growing level of momentum nationwide, on Friday, the Oregon legislature passed a bill that mandates paid sick leave. Governor Kate Brown, a progressive Democrat, is sure to sign the bill, making Oregon the fourth state to pass mandated paid sick leave. The vote is a significant win for a nationwide movement that’s been quietly gaining steam among cities, states, and presidential candidates in recent years. It’s also coming not a moment too soon. Half of the Oregon’s private sector workers don’t have access to paid sick leave; about 80 percent of the state’s low-wage workers are without it—this legislation will mandate access for somewhere north of 500,000 Oregon workers. The bill mandates that employers with more than 10 workers must offer up to five days of paid sick leave; businesses with less than 10 employees still must provide protected sick leave, though it may be unpaid. Both full-time and part-time workers are covered. The success in...

What Made the Difference at Gawker? The Boss

Management at Gawker has been open to workers' new push to organize a union. That's far from the norm. 

D oes the union victory at Gawker portend a new day for American unions? I wish. No question that the vote of three-quarters of the online media site’s employees to have the Writers’ Guild of America represent them in bargaining with Gawker management is a big deal. The victory marked a breakthrough for unions in one of those new sectors of the American economy from which organized labor has been totally absent. And the importance of the victory was magnified by the pro-union case that Gawker writers made to their readers. But did this victory among Gawker’s largely young and self-consciously hip employees signal that hitherto union-free millennials are now turning to unions? Actually, no—because every recent poll makes clear that a decisive majority of union-free millennials already support unions. Gawker’s writers and editors were simply able to do what millions of millennials would like to do. The crucial difference at Gawker was that their boss let them do it. Every year, both...

Why Voluntary Standards Won't Make the Global Garment Industry Safer

After voluntary codes of conduct failed to prevent the Rana Plaza disaster, garment companies pass the blame. 

AP Photo/A.M. Ahad
AP Photo/A.M. Ahad In this Monday, April 20, 2015 photo, Mahamudul Hasan Ridoy, 27, who worked at Rana Plaza, the garment factory building that collapsed, walks with the help of a crutch at the site of the accident in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. O n Monday, June 1, police in Bangladesh filed murder and other charges against the owners of the Rana Plaza building, the landlord of the factories that collapsed two years ago, killing at least 1,138 workers and injuring about 2,500. The collapse was a spectacular moment in a sordid history of fires and collapses in the Bangladesh and global garment industry. The cutthroat competition of that industry is a furnace that fuels thousands of deaths and injuries. Last weekend, by coincidence, a conference was held at Harvard, called Transformation Challenges and Opportunities for the Bangladesh Garment Industry. Attending were Bangladesh cabinet members and the heads of two major safety initiatives—The “Accord” and the “Alliance”—as well as...

The Tenure Conundrum

Higher education is under attack, but defending tenure is just half the battle. 

AP Photo/Gerry Broome
AP Photo/Gerry Broome Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker delivers remarks during the North Carolina Republican Party convention in Raleigh, Friday, June 5, 2015. This article orginally appeared at The Huffington Post . R epublican presidential hopeful Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, thinks he's hit political pay dirt with his proposal to gut faculty tenure protections at his state's public universities, notably the flagship University of Wisconsin, long one of the nation's best state universities. His idea is to remove tenure protection from state law, and leave the actual policy to the Board of Regents, his political appointees. For Walker, this is a three-fer. It's another attack on a public institution, in the wake of his successful campaign to weaken collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin public employees. It is a thinly disguised assault on a university perceived as a hotbed of liberals and liberalism. And it continues Walker's faux-populist theme by seemingly going...

The Uphill Battle of Unionizing a Philly Charter School

How a Philadelphia charter operator can spend tens of thousands of public dollars to fight a union.

Sean Kitchen/ Raging Chicken Press
Sean Kitchen/ Raging Chicken Press Teachers from Olney Charter High School in Philadelphia rally at the Pennsylvania headquarters of ASPIRA, a national charter school operator, on April 30. O n April 30 th , faculty at North Philadelphia’s Olney Charter High School voted 104-38 in favor of forming a union, an NLRB election that Olney’s charter operator, ASPIRA, has since announced they’re challenging . Olney’s union campaign is only the latest in a small but rapidly growing wave of charter union drives nationwide. But few efforts have been as contentious, or as revealing, as this one. Ever since the campaign began three years ago, ASPIRA has pumped tens of thousands of dollars into an elaborate union-busting effort, even as the beleaguered district it’s funded by struggles with massive debt. Unionizing Olney also threatens to shine light on ASPIRA’s questionable finances, at a time when authorities at the state and district level have failed to act. More broadly, the union drive in...

Gawker Changed the Internet. Can It Change Workplace Organizing?

What the site's very public union drive means for the future of digital journalism. 

Scott Beale / Laughing Squid
Scott Beale / Laughing Squid Gawker Media offices in New York City. A round 100 editorial staffers will vote next week on whether to unionize the workplace behind Gawker.com. The secret online vote, set for June 3, is a first among digital native outlets like Gawker that have dramatically recast the world of online journalism in recent years. The decision marks a new chapter for the company, and for a media landscape still grappling with the complex realities of a digital future. The union drive at Gawker began as you might expect: loudly. Six weeks ago senior writer Hamilton Nolan announced at Gawker.com that the editorial staff was in the early stages of organizing a union with the Writers Guild of America, East. The bold announcement sent shockwaves throughout the Internet for a number of reasons—primarily because it involved Gawker and people like Gawker. It also turned on its head the traditional organizing strategy of not going public until the organizing is near completion...

The Robots Are Coming! The Robots Are Coming!

Bad economics, not automation, lies at the heart of persistent joblessness. 

Imaginechina via AP Images
Imaginechina via AP Images A Chinese worker controls a robot arm to weld components of elevators at an auto plant of XD Elevator in Lianyungang, China. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . A re robots destined to wipe out most human jobs? Is this round of automation somehow different from all previous ones? There has been a lot of commentary lately to that effect, including several books . Is there nothing to be done? Robots have indeed eliminated a great deal of factory work and are rapidly moving on to product design, medical diagnostics, research, teaching, accounting, translating, copy editing, and a great deal more. Once-secure professions are no longer safe. From that, many economists conclude that we may just have to adjust to a high plateau of unemployment. In the past, the story goes, as technology displaced some forms of work, the innovation eventually created new, mostly better jobs: fewer buggy-whip makers, more automobile assemblers; fewer telephone...

How Big Money Lost in Philly’s Mayoral Race

Support from unions and public-education advocates won Jim Kenney the primary election, despite $7 million in outside spending for his opponent.

(Photo: AP/Matt Slocum)
(Photo: AP/Matt Slocum) Democratic mayoral candidate Jim Kenney, center, celebrates after winning Tuesday's primary election in Philadelphia. Broad union and progressive support gave the former city councilman more than half the votes in the six-candidate race. O n Tuesday, Philadelphia city council veteran Jim Kenney won the Democratic mayoral primary with 56 percent of the vote—a commanding victory in a crowded campaign of six candidates. Kenney’s win is not only a step in the right direction for the progressives who supported his candidacy; it’s also a refreshing reminder that heavy outside spending doesn’t always guarantee electoral success. Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams, the runner-up with 26 percent, was backed by a trio of suburban Philadelphia hedge fund financiers with a strong interest in market-driven education reform. As Paul Blumenthal noted in The Huffington Post , the PAC’s $7 million support (as of the latest filing date) of Williams’s candidacy was...

Grand Theft Automated

Why the crackdown on wage theft could be a sign of labor's growing strength. 

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . T he day after the New York Times published its stunning two-part exposé of labor conditions in New York City's nail salons, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, nobody's idea of a radical, discovered that he was sitting on power that he didn't know he had. Cuomo ordered a crackdown against a broad pattern of thefts of wages that were hidden in plain view, had he bothered to look. Cuomo's new efforts will collaborate with an enforcement initiative by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, two officials who don't like each other and seldom work together. The Times and writer Sarah Maslin Nir deserve immense credit for this investigative piece of work. At the same time, these broad patterns have been well-documented before. To name just two examples, organizer Kim Bobo's 2009 book, Wage Theft (2009), not only documented that theft of wages is epidemic in the low wage and casualized economy. She popularized the concept...

Little Magazine, Big Ideas: The American Prospect at 25

Reflecting on a quarter century of politics and change.

T he American Prospect began 25 years ago with a small circulation, a limited budget, and great ambitions. Our aim was to rethink ideas about public policy and politics and thereby to restore plausibility and persuasiveness to American liberalism. The first issue appeared in spring 1990, a moment when Democrats had lost three successive presidential elections, conservatives were pushing schemes for privatization, and liberals were in disarray. But in 1990, Congress was still in Democratic hands, the Cold War was coming to an end with the Soviet collapse, and the focus of politics was turning from foreign to domestic policy. Rising economic anxieties, it seemed, might spur political change just as a “peace dividend” could finance new initiatives. By historic good fortune, the Prospect had arrived at a time not only of global change but also of “liberal opportunity,” as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., called it in the first issue, which carried a cover image of an old world cracking open to...

Mother's Day, For Real

In the real America, the lives of women—especially black and brown women—are no bed of roses.

In partnership with The OpEd Project, The American Prospect presents this series, curated by Deborah Douglas, examining aspects of life unique to women, on one of greeting card industry's biggest days. (Photo © Christopher Futcher: iStock) Why There Are No Children Here: A Mother's Day Lament DEBORAH DOUGLAS “What have you ever done right?” That was the question that dominated my mind one night two years ago as I lay in my bed, surrounded by fluffy pillows and a sleepy Yorkie at the foot. This wasn’t one of those self-denigrating moments I engage in when I internally chastise myself for not writing enough that day or holding my temper tighter, or not giving one of my journalism students much-needed grace under the pressure they face to prepare for an industry that asks them to do everything at once masterfully. No, this was a true thought experiment to force myself to fully identify the things I’ve gotten right in my life as a way of charting a course to build on something righteous...

The Politics of Offense and Defense

Once reliably blue strongholds, Wisconsin's and Minnesota's political paths have diverged in recent years.

(AP Photo/Andy Manis)
(AP Photo/Andy Manis) Sean Conard, left, of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Shyla Deacon of Milwaukee cheer during protests at the state Capitol in Madison, Saturday, February 26, 2011. In a dramatic example of the politics of defense, protests of the governor's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights drew as many as 150,000 people in an occupation of the capitol building. This article appears in the Spring 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine, as a sidebar to Ann Markusen's article, " The High Road Wins ," on the results for citizens of Minnesota and Wisconsin yielded by the opposing political ideologies of their governors. Subscribe here . Celebrate our 25th Anniversary with us by clicking here for a free download of this special issue . U ntil very recently, the political cultures of Minnesota and Wisconsin seemed pretty much in step. In the 1930s, both Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor Party and the Progressive Party of Wisconsin anticipated the New Deal with their own brands of...

Some More Radical Ideas for Hillary Clinton

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during the sixth annual Women in the World Summit, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in New York. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . I am going to periodically suggest ideas that Hillary Clinton might consider—both to establish that she is a real-deal progressive and to rally political support from voters whom the economy is leaving behind. Clinton might even outflank some leading progressives by going beyond what is considered politically safe in the current environment. Another name for that is leadership. So if Hillary wants to show that she's a fighter, let her pick some good fights. Control Drug Costs. On Thursday, Medicare released a detailed breakdown of the staggering costs paid for drugs prescribed under Medicare Part D. That's the privatized prescription drug insurance program sponsored by the Bush administration in 2003 as a gift to the drug and insurance industries, taking advantage of Medicare's good...

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