Category : Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(Local Paper Yesterday’s front page) Inside DHEC, where workers fight anxiety, frustration, fatigue amid crush of pandemic

Microbiologist John Bonaparte can count on one hand the days he has taken off from work since South Carolina recorded its first cases of the coronavirus in March 2020.

One of his co-workers in the state’s public health laboratory, Kendra Rembold, has missed three seasons of her children’s soccer games while pulling 12-hour shifts to keep up with the state’s unprecedented demand for COVID-19 testing.

And one of their supervisors in the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s cramped lab in Columbia, Christy Greenwood, decided she couldn’t adequately juggle the demands of the pandemic and her responsibilities as a single parent. So she took her 5- and 7-year-old children to stay at their grandmother’s house until things calmed down at work.

More than 550 days since the coronavirus took hold in South Carolina, that respite still hasn’t come for the hundreds of public health workers who toil in the background of the state’s response.

Instead, they say, COVID-19 has proven to be an unending nightmare, serving up 12- and 15-hour shifts, seven-day workweeks and a buffet of anxiety, frustration and fatigue.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(NWE Mail) Barrow MP supports Church of England project for carers

The Diocese of Carlisle is partnering with a Christian charity to provide free retreats for people who were frontline carers during the Covid pandemic.

Barrow and Furness MP, Simon Fell has put his support behind the scheme and is asking the public to get behind the Crowdfunder that is hoping to raise £20,000.

This project is hoped to achieve some much-needed respite for carers.

Mr Fell said “This is a fantastic project which will help some of the people who have had a harder job than others over the past year.

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Posted in Church of England, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(NYT) Cape Cod restaurant shuts down for a ‘day of kindness’ after customers make its staff cry

But since restaurants in the state were allowed to fully reopen on May 29, the treatment of the Apt Cape Cod’s 24 employees, many of whom are young and who include the couple’s two children, had gotten worse.

“It’s like abuse,” she said. “It’s things that people are saying that wouldn’t be allowed to be on TV because they would be bleeped. People are always rude to restaurant workers, but this far exceeds anything I’ve seen in my 20 years.”

Felt Castellano, 39, said that some customers had assumed that it would be business as usual, but had not grasped that restaurants were still grappling with staffing and supply shortages. That can mean that wait times are longer and that some items on the menu are not available, which she said has been a source of some of the verbal abuse toward the restaurant’s employees. When a group of diners didn’t get the table that they had requested, she said, they threatened to sue.

“I would say that it is its own epidemic,” she said.

The restaurant’s Facebook post resonated with many people online, who condemned the boorish behavior.

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Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology

(NPR) With Workers In Short Supply, Seniors Often Wait Months For Home Health Care

For at least 20 years, national experts have warned about the dire consequences of a shortage of nursing assistants and home aides as tens of millions of baby boomers hit their senior years. “Low wages and benefits, hard working conditions, heavy workloads, and a job that has been stigmatized by society make worker recruitment and retention difficult,” concluded a 2001 report from the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Robyn Stone, a co-author of that report and senior vice president of Leading Age, says many of the worker shortage problems identified in 2001 have only worsened. The risks and obstacles that seniors faced during the pandemic highlighted some of these problems.

“COVID uncovered the challenges of older adults and how vulnerable they were in this pandemic and the importance of front-line care professionals who are being paid low wages,” she says.

Michael Stair, CEO of Care & Comfort, a Waterville, Maine-based agency, says the worker shortage is the worst he’s seen in 20 years in the business.

“The bottom line is it all comes down to dollars — dollars for the home care benefit, dollars to pay people competitively,” he says. Agencies like his are in a tough position competing for workers who can take other jobs that don’t require a background check, special training or driving to people’s homes in bad weather.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(WSJ) The ‘Great Reshuffling’ Is Shifting Wealth to the Exurbs

A shift to the exurbs started years before the pandemic hit, according to data from the Brookings Institution, and the population of these more-remote places continued to swell with more white-collar workers even as the pandemic weakened. Why? These regions allow employees to be within commuting distance of cities as many firms ask workers to be back in the office for at least part of the work week. U.S. Postal Service data showed that between March and November of last year, 72% of those who filed for address changes in the Bay Area only moved as far as another Bay Area county.

The money stockpiled from leaving pricier areas, coupled with stimulus checks and enforced saving over the last year, are padding the bank accounts of these new movers. Rising credit scores are, in turn, enabling other major purchases such as cars. The new arrivals in the exurbs are finding they need their first or second automobile now that they are located in a more remote part of a metropolitan area. A January survey conducted by Engine Insights on behalf of Xperi DTS found 55% of millennials surveyed said car ownership was more important than ever.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Travel

(Forbes) 93% Of Managers Watch As Mental Health Negatively Impacts Bottom Line

Gone are the days when workers asked themselves, “How could someone like me be having a nervous breakdown?” Today, one in 5 people will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime and now more likely due to the pandemic.

Mental health concerns, often called invisible disabilities, aren’t flying under the radar at work anymore. They are being identified by team managers and the C-suite, who are quickly realizing that there is no going back to normal.

If your CEO wasn’t paying attention before, this should keep them up at night: According to a Verizon Media white paper. A stunning 93% of managers are finding that the mental health of their employees is having a negative effect on their bottom line. Top issues included grief, burnout, discrimination, and stress and all of this comes coupled with the added strain that families and caregivers are feeling. When employees miss work, are less productive and even communicate less clearly than than usual, their teams’ performance also slips.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, Theology

(NYT The Upshot) Workers Are Gaining Leverage Over Employers Right Before Our Eyes

It also means companies thinking more expansively about who is qualified for a job in the first place. That is evident, for example, in the way Alex Lorick, a former South Florida nightclub bouncer, was able to become a mainframe technician at I.B.M.

Mr. Lorick often worked a shift called “devil’s nine to five” — 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. — made all the more brutal when it was interspersed with day shifts. The hours were tough, but the pay was better than in his previous jobs, one at a retirement home and another serving food at a dog track. Yet it was a far cry from the type of work he had dreamed about in high school, when he liked computers and imagined making video games for a living.

As a young adult, he took online classes in web development and programming languages, but encountered a Catch-22 many job seekers know well: Nobody wanted to hire a tech worker without experience, which meant he couldn’t get enough experience to be hired. College wasn’t for him. Hence the devil’s nine to five.

Until late last year, that is. After months on unemployment during the pandemic, he heard from I.B.M., where he had once applied and been rejected for a tech job. It invited him to apply to an apprenticeship program that would pay him to be trained as a mainframe technician. Now 24, he completed his training this month and is beginning hands-on work in what he hopes is the start of a long career.

“This is a way more stable paycheck, and more consistent hours,” Mr. Lorick said. “But the most important thing is that I feel like I’m on a path that makes sense and where I have the opportunity to grow.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(Forbes) What Will The New World Of Work Actually Look Like?

The most helpful resource I found in understanding the future of the workplace is a whitepaper produced by the folks at Haworth. Haworth is a privately held furniture company focused on building work environments that help people be their best, whether they’re at the office, at home or at their “third place.”

In their whitepaper, Haworth describes the new world of work as “Work from Anywhere.” They point out that employees are often in the driver’s seat and “they’re naturally drawn to places that make them feel comfortable and productive.” The most salient argument from this whitepaper is that there is no one single answer—no one-size-fits-all approach for companies in the post-pandemic workplace.

According to Marta Wassenaar, “Work from Anywhere is the ecosystem that gives organizations and employees choice in when and where work occurs. This autonomy supports creativity and drives innovation. The flexibility serves as a tool for attraction and retention. The work from anywhere ecosystem certainly has an impact on organization culture and workforce wellbeing, too.”

Employees will split their time among these three work locations. When at the office, people will be working with each other—think collaboration and access to equipment and resources that are not available at home. Meeting centers, video studios, and other places for collaboration, play, broadcasting and engaging will replace walled-in offices and individual workstations. Wassenaar from Haworth adds, “Although collaboration can happen virtually, working together on the same task is better done in person. Virtual teams need to put in more effort, time and intentionality toward developing and maintaining social connections.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(Gallup) Seven in 10 U.S. White-Collar Workers Still Working Remotely

Before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcement last week that fully vaccinated people can forgo masks in most settings, the majority of U.S. workers reported doing their jobs remotely during the pandemic, including 51% in April. But this varied widely by job type, including 72% of white-collar workers and 14% of blue-collar workers. These rates have been fairly stable since last fall, after declining from their peaks in April 2020, when most schools and non-essential businesses were shuttered.

Gallup’s remote-worker trend is based on data collected each month via web as part of its COVID-19 tracking poll, a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults aged 18 and older, using the probability-based Gallup Panel. Workers are considered remote if they report working from home at least 10% of the time in the past week.

Given the relative stability of remote work over the second half of the pandemic to date — from October 2020 to April 2021 — it is appropriate to use the combined data to analyze aspects of remote work in greater detail. On average during this period, 52% of all workers, including 72% of those in white-collar occupations and 14% in blue-collar occupations, have performed their job all or part of the time from home.

Gallup’s white-collar job category comprises occupations traditionally performed in offices or behind a computer. The blue-collar category includes jobs mainly involving manual work or physical labor. Three job areas — education, healthcare and sales — primarily involve interaction with clients or the public and are harder to categorize using the blue-collar/white-collar definitions. Their orientation to remote work is unique and is discussed below in the context of other specific occupations.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology, Sociology

(FT) US employers struggle to find willing workers after pandemic year

Franchise owners of the convenience store chain 7-Eleven begged the company not to force them to return to round-the-clock operations because they could not find anyone to work night shifts. Managers at a short-staffed McDonald’s in Texas placed a sign on its drive-through menu asking for patience because “nobody wants to work any more”, making the restaurant famous on TikTok.

Breakfast cereal maker Post Holdings said a shortage of workers has caused severe production delays. On Monday, Donnie King, chief operating officer at Tyson Foods, the largest US meat processor, said “it’s been taking us about six days to do five days’ worth of work because of turnover and absenteeism” at its pork plants, which were among the worst-hit in the initial months of the pandemic.

The National Federation of Independent Business, a small business group, said that 42 per cent of small business owners say they cannot fill roles. Among them is Matt Glassman, who owns the Greyhound Bar & Grill in Los Angeles.

Two weeks before reopening, Glassman scheduled 15 interviews to hire kitchen staff. But a dozen candidates did not show up, he said. Of the three who did, one was “completely wrong for the job” and another quit on the first day, leaving him with only one hire.

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Posted in Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(ABC) Thursday Encouragement–A Beloved Oklahoma cafeteria worker becomes a US citizen

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(Fortune) Adoption of work from home will lift productivity by 5% in the U.S., according to new study

The great work-from-home experiment occasioned by the pandemic has divided opinion in the corporate suite and sparked endless debates about whether employees work as effectively from the kitchen table as they do from the office.

A new study finds that, in fact, remote work does indeed make us more productive.

The work-from-home boom will lift productivity in the U.S. economy by 5%, mostly because of savings in commuting time, the study says. The findings suggest the rapid adoption of new technology amid the pandemic will offer lasting economic gains, helping to boost sluggish productivity that has long weighed on global growth.

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Posted in Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(Wash Post) Burned out by the pandemic, 3 in 10 health-care workers consider leaving the profession

The doctor’s bag now sits in his closet gathering dust. He lost his stethoscope somewhere in the house — a familiar weight that sat on his neck for two decades.

It’s been months since Justin Meschler, 48, practiced medicine. And he wonders if he ever will again.

He quit his job as an anesthesiologist during the pandemic last spring when fear began seeping into every part of his life. And what began as a few months off has now turned into something much longer.

“I feel guilty for leaving. I think about the others who stayed on. I think about the patients I could have helped. I feel like I abandoned them,” Meschler said. “But mostly, I feel relieved.”

A year into the pandemic, many others are joining Meschler at the door — an exodus fueled by burnout, trauma and disillusionment. According to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll, roughly 3 in 10 health-care workers have weighed leaving their profession. More than half are burned out. And about 6 in 10 say stress from the pandemic has harmed their mental health.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

A Reflection on Saint Joseph the Worker for his Feast Day

ZENIT spoke with Father Tarcisio Giuseppe Stramare of the Congregation of Oblates of Saint Joseph, director of the Josephite Movement, about Tuesday’s feast of St. Joseph the Worker….

ZENIT: What does “Gospel of work” mean?

Father Stramare: “Gospel” is the Good News that refers to Jesus, the Savior of humanity. Well, despite the fact that in general we see Jesus as someone who teaches and does miracles, he was so identified with work that in his time he was regarded as “the son of the carpenter,” namely, an artisan himself. Among many possible activities, the Wisdom of God chose for Jesus manual work, entrusted the education of his Son not to the school of the learned but to a humble artisan, namely, St. Joseph.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology

(The Cut) A Wonderful story on Nasim Alikhani, who opened a New York restaurant at age 59

I was born in Iran, and I went to school to study law to become a judge. Then the revolution happened, and women could no longer be judges. The only option for an outspoken woman like me was to leave my country, and so I came to New York in my early 20s on a student visa. I lived in Jackson Heights, Queens, and I didn’t have any money. I couldn’t study law in the U.S.; I couldn’t afford it. I was starting over completely.

I found a job as a nanny, and the family paid me a little extra to cook their meals. My own mother had taught me to cook when I was growing up, and it was always something I was passionate about, but I never considered it professionally. The family noticed that I could cook really well, and the wife recommended me to her friends, so I started cooking in other people’s homes for parties, people’s birthdays, things like that. People would tell me, “You should open a restaurant.” But I was so young, and still a student in a master’s program. To me, the only way to advance was through higher education, so I got a useless master’s degree and kept doing all kinds of odd jobs — waitressing, babysitting, working in a copy shop.

When I got the opportunity to open my own copy-and-print shop, I was beside myself. It was the first chance I had for financial stability. I had that business for eight years, and it did really well. During that time, I got married, and between my husband and me, our financial situation improved significantly. We were working hard and dining out a lot, and I would always look at the food scene and say, “Why is nobody doing a good job with Iranian food?” I started thinking seriously about opening a coffee shop in the East Village that would serve Persian food for breakfast and lunch. We were also trying to start a family, and it was difficult. I lost pregnancies. And then I got pregnant with twins, so I put the restaurant idea on the back burner.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iran, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Middle Age, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(Bloomberg) CEOs Become Vaccine Activists as Back-to-Office Push Grows

Some chief executive officers are so eager for their employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19 that they’re granting workers time off or cash incentives to get shots.

In the U.S., retailer Lidl is giving its staff $200, while Aldi, Dollar General Corp. and Trader Joe’s Co. are offering extra hours of pay. Online grocery delivery firm Instacart Inc. is providing a $25 stipend for workers and contractors. Yogurt makers Chobani LLC and Danone SA are offering as much as six hours of paid leave, and the French company says it will cover the cost of inoculation in countries where vaccines aren’t free.

Other companies are taking a harder line. U.K. handyman empire Pimlico Plumbers Ltd. has said it plans a “no jab, no job” policy for new members of its workforce. United Airlines wants to make shots mandatory, drawing concerns from unions.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(NYT) The Robots Are Coming for Phil in Accounting

The robots are coming. Not to kill you with lasers, or beat you in chess, or even to ferry you around town in a driverless Uber.

These robots are here to merge purchase orders into columns J and K of next quarter’s revenue forecast, and transfer customer data from the invoicing software to the Oracle database. They are unassuming software programs with names like “Auxiliobits — DataTable To Json String,” and they are becoming the star employees at many American companies.

Some of these tools are simple apps, downloaded from online stores and installed by corporate I.T. departments, that do the dull-but-critical tasks that someone named Phil in Accounting used to do: reconciling bank statements, approving expense reports, reviewing tax forms. Others are expensive, custom-built software packages, armed with more sophisticated types of artificial intelligence, that are capable of doing the kinds of cognitive work that once required teams of highly-paid humans.

White-collar workers, armed with college degrees and specialized training, once felt relatively safe from automation. But recent advances in A.I. and machine learning have created algorithms capable of outperforming doctors, lawyers and bankers at certain parts of their jobs. And as bots learn to do higher-value tasks, they are climbing the corporate ladder.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(Bloomberg Businessweek) Is the Four-Day Week Is Coming Soon?

When the world went into lockdown last year, the 1,000 employees at Berlin-based tech company Awin did what millions of others did: They flipped open their laptops and started working from the kitchen or dining room. At the same time, Awin started running flat-out as its business with online retailers soared, putting intense pressure on the staff.

So last spring the company told everyone to sign off around lunchtime every Friday to ease into the weekend. The experiment was so successful—sales, employee engagement, and client satisfaction all rose—that in January, Awin decided to go a step further, rolling out a four-day week for the entire company with no cuts in salaries or benefits. “We firmly believe that happy, engaged, and well-balanced employees produce much better work,” says Chief Executive Officer Adam Ross. They “find ways to work smarter, and they’re just as productive.”

Awin is in the vanguard of a trend that’s getting increased attention worldwide. Jobs website ZipRecruiter says the share of postings that mention a four-day week has tripled in the past three years, to 62 per 10,000. Consumer-goods giant Unilever Plc in December started a yearlong trial of the idea for its New Zealand staff. Spain’s government is considering a proposal to subsidize companies that offer a four-day week. And even in notoriously busy Japan, whose language includes the word karoshi—death from overwork—lawmakers are discussing a proposal to grant employees a day off every week to protect their well-being. “The four-day week is picking up momentum,” says Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, a U.K. think tank. “For the large majority of firms, reducing working hours is an entirely realistic goal.”

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(PRC FactTank) Unemployed Americans are feeling the emotional strain of job loss; most have considered changing occupations

Job losses during the pandemic have hit workers in low-wage occupations particularly hard – something that distinguishes this downturn from the Great Recession, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. From December 2019 to December 2020, the percentage decrease in employment in low-wage occupations was more than twice as great as in middle-wage occupations (-12.5% vs. -5.3%). At the same time, employment in high-wage occupations increased marginally over this period.

The Center’s survey, conducted Jan. 19-24, finds that 49% of adults who are unemployed and looking for work say they are pessimistic they will find a job in the near future: 18% are very pessimistic about this and 31% are somewhat pessimistic. A similar share (51%) are optimistic, with 15% saying they are very optimistic and 36% saying they are somewhat optimistic.

For some, that positive outlook comes with a caveat. Among those who say they’re optimistic about finding a job, a substantial minority – 37% – say they are not too or not at all confident they will find a job that pays as much and provides the same benefits they had in their last job. Among all unemployed adults, 55% say they are not confident they’ll find a job with the same income and benefits; 45% say they are somewhat or very confident this will happen.

Not only are many unemployed adults feeling discouraged about their future job prospects, two-thirds say that, since losing their jobs, they have seriously considered changing their occupation or field of work. This sentiment is shared by lower-income unemployed adults, as well as those with middle or upper incomes. (Incomes are based on 2019 earnings.) A third of unemployed adults say they have already taken steps to retool their skills by pursuing job retraining programs or educational opportunities.

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Posted in Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(NPR) Why Sea Shanties Have Taken Over TikTok

Argh, the latest trend in pandemic distraction may be – shiver me timbers – sea shanties.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Singing) There once was a ship that put to sea, and the name of that ship was the Billy of Tea.

SIMON: Landlubbers on TikTok and other social media are now appreciating the 200-year-old art form.

MARY MALLOY: Sea shanties are a particular kind of song that accompanies work.

SIMON: That’s Mary Molloy. For 25 years, she taught a program out of Woods Hole, Mass., called the Sea Education Association Semester. She says sea shanties are influenced by the rhythms of African work songs with lyrics that are Anglo Irish. Mary Malloy is also a folk singer. How could she not be with so fine a name? And yes, she sings sea songs. Here be Mary.

Read it all and do not miss this example of the fun:

Posted in Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Music

(NYT front page) They’re Under 25 and Jobless, And Their Prospects Are Bleak

Young and eager, Harry Rosado never had trouble finding a job.

Fresh out of high school, he was hired as a sales associate in Midtown Manhattan at Journeys and then at Zumiez, two fashion stores popular with young shoppers. He moved on to Uncle Jack’s Meat House in Queens, where he earned up to $300 a week as a busboy.

Then Mr. Rosado, 23, was laid off in March when the steakhouse shut down because of the pandemic. He was called back after the steakhouse reopened, but business was slow. In August, he was out of work again.

New York City has been hit harder by the economic crisis set off by the pandemic than most other major American cities.

But no age group has had it worse than young workers. By September, 19 percent of adults under 25 in the city had lost jobs compared with 14 percent of all workers, according to James Parrott, the director of economic and fiscal policy at the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Young Adults

(NYT front page) As Hospitals Fill, Travel Nurses Race to Virus Hot Spots

It is a nomadic existence and, in a pandemic, a particularly high-risk one. The nurses parachute into cities like New York, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Green Bay for weeks or months at a time, quickly learning the ways of a new hospital and trying to earn the trust of the existing staff.

At the end of their shifts, they return to their temporary homes: hotels, Airbnb apartments or rented houses. Their families and friends are sometimes thousands of miles away, available only through phone calls or FaceTime.

Last week in Green Bay, where the surrounding county has averaged more than 150 cases a day since late September, a team of four travel nurses worked at Bellin Hospital, grappling with the unrelenting pressure of the emergency room and a Thanksgiving holiday far from home.

More than eight months into the pandemic, many travel nurses have done little else but treat Covid-19 patients.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology

(McKinsey) What’s next for remote work: An analysis of 2,000 tasks, 800 jobs, and nine countries

Now that vaccines are awaiting approval, the question looms: To what extent will remote work persist? In this article, we assess the possibility for various work activities to be performed remotely. Building on the McKinsey Global Institute’s body of work on automation, AI, and the future of work, we extend our models to consider where work is performed. Our analysis finds that the potential for remote work is highly concentrated among highly skilled, highly educated workers in a handful of industries, occupations, and geographies.

More than 20 percent of the workforce could work remotely three to five days a week as effectively as they could if working from an office. If remote work took hold at that level, that would mean three to four times as many people working from home than before the pandemic and would have a profound impact on urban economies, transportation, and consumer spending, among other things.

More than half the workforce, however, has little or no opportunity for remote work. Some of their jobs require collaborating with others or using specialized machinery; other jobs, such as conducting CT scans, must be done on location; and some, such as making deliveries, are performed while out and about. Many of such jobs are low wage and more at risk from broad trends such as automation and digitization. Remote work thus risks accentuating inequalities at a social level.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(Church Times) Churches must challenge the systems that cultivate modern slavery, webinar in Wales hears

Church communities and people of faith must challenge the systems and structures that have allowed modern slavery to become the fastest-growing crime around the world, a panel of international experts and activists told a webinar hosted by the Church in Wales in advance of Modern Slavery Day on Sunday.

The speakers concluded that it had to be about more than raising awareness of something in which services and products used every day were implicated: manufacturing supply chains, casual labour, and sexual and criminal exploitation. Statutory systems were fragmented and not working well, despite the Modern Slavery Act and the introduction of the National Referral Mechanism, they said; “pitifully small” numbers of perpetrators were being brought to justice.

An estimated 40.3 million men, women, and children worldwide are estimated to be trapped in modern slavery, among them potentially up to 136,000 victims in the UK alone. “We are losing the battle,” the former Bishop of Derby, Dr Alastair Redfern, founder of the C of E’s Clewer Initiative on modern slavery, said. He described it as “the sharp end of inequality”. There was a “massively strange silence” among Christian people, he said, in a climate in which consumers wanted cheap goods and claimed rights without responsibilities.

Awareness was not enough, panellists said. Unity was the greatest weapon against trafficking, said Commissioner Christine MacMillan, who is the founder and director of the Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Commission, and chairs the World Evangelical Alliance’s Global Human Trafficking Task Force.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of Wales, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Violence

(NYT) More Companies extend working from home until next summer

When the coronavirus pandemic shuttered offices around the United States in March, many companies told their employees that it would be only a short hiatus away from headquarters.

Workers, they said, would be back in their cubicles within a matter of weeks. Weeks turned into September. Then September turned into January. And now, with the virus still surging in some parts of the country, a growing number of employers are delaying return-to-office dates once again, to the summer of 2021 at the earliest.

Google was one of the first to announce that July 2021 was its return-to-office date. Uber, Slack and Airbnb soon jumped on the bandwagon. In the past week, Microsoft, Target, Ford Motor and The New York Times said they, too, had postponed the return of in-person work to next summer and acknowledged the inevitable: The pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon.

“Let’s just bite the bullet,” said Joan Burke, the chief people officer of DocuSign in San Francisco. In August, her company, which manages electronic document signatures, decided it would allow its 5,200 employees to work from home until June 2021.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(WSJ) The Covid Economy Carves Deep Divide Between Haves and Have-Nots

A two-track recovery is emerging from the country’s pandemic-driven economic contraction. Some workers, companies and regions show signs of coming out fine or even stronger. The rest are mired in a deep decline with an uncertain path ahead.

Just months ago, economists were predicting a V-shaped recovery—a rapid rebound from a steep fall—or a U-shaped path—a prolonged downturn before healing began.

What has developed is more like a K. On the upper arm of the K are well-educated and well-off people, businesses tied to the digital economy or supplying domestic necessities, and regions such as tech-forward Western cities. By and large, they are prospering.

On the bottom arm are lower-wage workers with fewer credentials, old-line businesses and regions tied to tourism and public gatherings. They can expect to bear years-long scars from the crisis.

The divergence helps explain the striking disconnect of a stock market and household wealth near record highs, while lines stretch at food banks and applications for jobless benefits continue to grow.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Politics in General

(NPR) Regal Movie Chain Will Close All 536 U.S. Theaters On Thursday

Movie studios have delayed dozens of big releases over the past six months as cinemas sat empty or showed films only to limited audiences.

The postponed titles include likely blockbusters such the superhero movies Wonder Woman 1984 and Black Widow along with A Quiet Place Part II and Candyman. In addition, Disney shifted several high-profile releases to online-only, including Mulan.

“The prolonged closures have had a detrimental impact on the release slate for the rest of the year, and, in turn, our ability to supply our customers with the lineup of blockbusters they’ve come to expect from us,” Greidinger said. “As such, it is simply impossible to continue operations in our primary markets.”

While the company calls the closures temporary, it did not name a date for a possible resumption of business, saying it will “continue to monitor the situation closely.”

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Posted in Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Movies & Television

(FT) Covid recovery will stem from digital business

In a pandemic, it is better to own a company built on customer data than one with bricks and mortar retail outlets. Indeed, it may turn out to be smarter to own companies rich in intangible assets from any sector rather than bet on the Big Tech companies that have been driving the S&P 500. This will be particularly true if regulators begin to pick apart the business models of Facebook, Google and the like.

Finally, coronavirus-related digital shifts may put a lot more downward pressure on pricing power than expected, according to Robert Kaplan, head of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank. In a recent essay on US economic conditions and monetary policy in the wake of the pandemic, he noted how people’s work and shopping habits have changed. They are doing more online, which allows digital platforms to grow bigger, and this in turn has damped business pricing power.

“To respond to this trend, businesses are investing substantially more in technology to replace people, lower their costs and improve their competitiveness,” he wrote.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(NPR) ‘This Is Too Much’: Working Moms Are Reaching The Breaking Point During The Pandemic

Youli Lee is proud of the years she worked for the U.S. government, prosecuting cybercrime in some of the world’s darkest places. These days, she’s the one hiding out — mostly from her three children, ages 8, 11, and 13.

“I just actually locked my door so that nobody could come here,” she says, from her bedroom.

The constant interruptions from children are happening in households across the country. Nearly half of all school districts in the U.S. started the school year with remote learning, including Lee’s district in Fairfax County, Va. With the added complexities of managing multiple Zoom calls at work and online learning for the kids, parents – especially moms — are hitting a breaking point.

For Lee, the juggling act fell apart in the spring. Her husband, a doctor, was at the hospital seven days a week while she worked from home, struggling to maintain her own grueling schedule of nonstop work calls. That went on for weeks until she realized that her younger two children were routinely skipping lunch. Without the structure of the school day, the kids never quite knew when it was time to eat.

So, when news came that the kids’ schools would only partially reopen at best, she realized that was it. “I can’t keep this up,” she remembers thinking. “This is too much.”

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Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Prayer Manual

Protect us, O Lord, and prosper us as we labour in our vocations, that our work may be done with Thy blessing and be crowned with Thine approval; through Him Who was numbered among the craftsmen, Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Spirituality/Prayer