Income inequality is at levels we haven’t seen since the 1920s, according to Gary Burtless, an economist at the Brookings Institution. But Burtless says there’s a key difference between then and now -- government safety net programs like unemployment benefits and food stamps. But Burtless says the fruits of the current economic recovery aren’t being distributed equally.
"The stock market has hit new record highs and there has been a very sharp recovery in the income position and the wealth position of people who were very affluent," he says.
Wages for lower income Americans haven’t improved much since 2007. And, Burtless says, the high unemployment rate certainly doesn’t help.
“If there are three people looking for a job for every vacancy then workers are in a very weak bargaining position," he explains.
And those workers are spread out. In Republican, and Democratic congressional districts. Which is one reason why both parties are paying attention to inequality.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child takes church officials to task for their handling of sex abuse allegations, saying the Holy See must "take all appropriate measures" to keep children safe.
The good news is that it appears layoffs are not piling up too rapidly. The bad news is that new jobs aren't either.
Labor advocates scored two legal victories this week in their multi-pronged campaign against retail giant Walmart: at the National Labor Relations Board, and in a federal court in Southern California. In both cases, Walmart has pledged to fight the charges.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder, of California's Central District, reaffirmed an earlier decision that a class-action lawsuit (Carrillo v. Schneider Logistics) filed on behalf of warehouse workers who loaded goods for Walmart outside Los Angeles, can go forward. The judge rejected the claim by Walmart and Schneider (a national logistics company that operates warehouses for Walmart), that she should dismiss the lawsuit because the warehouse workers were directly employed and paid by subcontractors (in this case, temporary staffing agencies), and not Walmart or Schneider.
And on Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel issued a formal complaint against Walmart for allegedly taking illegal retaliation against dozens of Walmart workers in 14 states. Those workers (many affiliated with the group OUR Walmart, backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers union) had engaged in protests and strikes over wages and working conditions. More than sixty Walmart supervisors and one company executive are named in the complaint, for allegedly threatening workers who participated in strikes at Walmart stores in May and June of 2013, in California, Kentucky, Texas, Washington and other states. The NLRB complaint says the workers were given written and verbal warnings and reprimands for striking. The complaint also says Walmart has miscategorized time spent on strike as an ‘unexcused absence’ from work.
Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg told Marketplace on Wednesday that the company looks forward to making its case on the merits of the NLRB complaint, and believes it will be vindicated. The case will come before an administrative law judge after Walmart files its response to the general counsel’s complaint at the end of January. The judge’s decision on Walmart’s culpability will then be accepted or rejected by the full five-member NLRB board.
"No reasonable person thinks it’s OK for someone to come and go from scheduled shifts as part of a union-organized campaign without being held accountable," Lundberg said of the Walmart workers who went on strike at stores last year.
Labor attorney Michael Rubin of Altshuler Berzon LLP in San Francisco, who is representing warehouse workers in the Carrillo case and has followed the worker-retaliation case as well, says the NLRB complaint is significant. "Retaliation is usually an individual-by-individual matter," says Rubin. "It is a big deal if a company had a nationwide policy or practice, established, implemented, or overseen from corporate headquarters, to retaliate against on-the-ground employees."
In reference to Judge Snyder’s denial of Walmart’s motion to dismiss the Carrillo class-action case (which alleges wage theft and other labor violations in Southern California warehouses operated for Walmart), Rubin says the judge has let the plaintiffs’ argument that Walmart was a 'joint employer' of the workers go forward. That is in spite of Walmart's claim that it was a 'customer' of the warehouse operator, Schneider Logistics, and wasn’t directly responsible for the subcontracted temporary workers’ wages or working conditions.
More than 100 college presidents will meet with President Obama to discuss ways to help low-income minority students graduate.
NBA officials have made it clear; they want to expand the brand in Europe.
Most local government finances are doing well when it comes to balance sheets, even capturing that elusive word -- surplus! We take a look at the state of state finances.
An education summit at the White House focuses on finding new ways to help poor students succeed. "The dirty little secret of American higher education is that universities care about racial diversity and do a good job of trying to promote that, but they completely ignore the issue of socioeconomic diversity," says one scholar.
Researchers analyzed proposal language and found projects with phrases like "even a dollar" or "not been able" don't do well. Talk like that in your campaign pitch, and I hope you have rich relatives. As for winning projects, they stressed reciprocity, scarcity and authority.
The latest nominees for the movie industry's highest awards are out. Nine films have also been nominated for the "best picture" award. The others: American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street.
Many spirits are tied to a particular place, but liquor companies have gone global and a small number of firms now dominate the market internationally.