labor

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Life goes a lot faster when we like what we do at work.  Being passionate rivets the attention and can result in eruptions of creativity. 

But it can also lead to exploited workers, says new research out of Duke University.  It shows employers taking advantage of passionate workers, asking them to do things--including work for free--that they do not ask of workers who lack passion. 

Public Domain

"A rising tide lifts all boats" is often the rationale for tax cuts for wealthy people.  But the phrase can be applied in other ways, too. 

For one, the California Immigrant Policy Center recommends helping residents develop skills for the workforce, regardless of immigration status, because it can help the overall economy.  CIPC lays out the case in a recent policy brief

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Stephanie Land's career as a writer had to take a back seat to motherhood.  With a baby, no partner, and no money, Stephanie turned to cleaning houses for her income. 

She learned a lot... not just about the work of cleaning, but about the attitudes of the people who pay for the service.  It turned her thoughts about people in the upper-middle class around. 

We hear how in her book, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive.  Barbara Ehrenreich, of Nickel and Dimed fame, wrote a foreword. 

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It's been called the sharing economy or the gig economy.

Whatever the name, the legions of temporary Amazon employees, Uber drivers, and Taskrabbit workers inhabit a work environment that offers flexibility, but fails to offer basic worker protections or any stability.

Alexandrea Ravenelle explores the contradictions of the new gig economy in the book Hustle and Gig: Struggling and Surviving in the Sharing Economy

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The days when your boss would bark "get into my office, now!" are mostly behind us (we hope).  But managers bring a wide range of skills and attitudes to their jobs. 

What counts the most?  Kate Zipay at the University of Oregon says that leadership should be exceptional and kind. 

We explore the concepts of management, and how employees can make their work time better by making better use of their free time, in this month's edition of "Curious: Research Meets Radio." 

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Surprise!  People actually stay at jobs a little longer now than they did 30 years ago.  But 4.6 years is still not a career; people used to switch careers a lot less than they do today. 

The switches are often necessary because of the changing nature of work, and the jobs left for people to do. 

That results in what Farai Chideya calls The Episodic Career, which is the title of her book. 

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Don't get confused by the use of the term "talent assessment" in relation to Oregon higher education; it's not about singing and dancing or anything like that.  Instead, it's a chance to assess the skills of Oregon's workforce, figure out what's lacking, and address the shortfall. 

The private firm ECONorthwest helped put the assessment together, and the state Workforce and Talent Development Board approved it in September. 

What's in the report and how might the state universities and community colleges respond to it? 

Lance Cpl. Julien Rodarte, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52238924

Anybody in your family work as a steam locomotive engineer or maker of buggy whips?  There's not much call for those jobs anymore. 

And there's no guarantee that the jobs we do today will be needed in a few years. 

One study suggests that close to HALF the jobs in the workplace now will be eliminated by technology in the next 20 years. 

The non-profit WorkingNation works to prepare people for this future.  Joan Lynch, Chief Content and Programming Officer, visits with details. 

And the Oregon Employment Department tracks the trends as well.

Leslie McClurg/Capital Public Radio

A frequent complaint from hourly workers in many businesses is that they do not know what hours they will be working until a new schedule is posted. 

Oregon state law now addresses when that posting has to take place. 

Under the Fair Work Week Law, in effect for three weeks now, some large employers now have to post worker schedules two weeks in advance. 

Oregon Working Families pushed hard to get the bill passed, with help from both parties. 

You notice the singer, the actor, the barista, and the guy at the checkout counter, among others. 

But there are plenty of people who make the world work who you never hear about.  As long as things are working well, anyway.  These are the people David Zweig calls "invisibles." 

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To hear some employers tell it, there's a lot of eye-rolling in the workplace these days: eye-rolling from the young employees given tasks, eye-rolling from the managers assigning tasks. 

Millennials do get a bad rap at work, and Crystal Kadakia explains why and how in her book The Millennial Myth: Transforming Misunderstanding into Workplace Breakthroughs

Are millennials lazy, entitled, disrespectful, and disloyal?  Kadakia says no, these are all myths. 

She addresses those and moves on to approaches to getting work done and keeping both worker and boss satisfied. 

Howard R. Hollem/Library of Congress/Wikimedia

Walk out of high school, walk into a factory job.  Stay until 65, then retire.  Millions of Americans followed exactly that pathway for generations. 

They worked hard and were paid well, in money and fringe benefits.  But the social contract changed, as Rick Wartzman points out in his book The End of Loyalty

Wartzman tracks the changes at four major American employers--GM, GE, Kodak, and Coca-Cola--to see just how profoundly the relationship shifted. 

Wikimedia

California public employees belonging to SEIU Local 1000 planned a one-day strike for Monday (December 5th), and ultimately called it off in favor of further bargaining with the state. 

Issues on the table: raises, gender pay differences, and employee health-care payments.  SEIU is the largest public employee union in California. 

John Frahm of the Humboldt and Del Norte Central Labor Council has a broad view of labor and its challenges in his part of California

How Unions Lost Their Power

Dec 2, 2016
949billwright/Wikimedia

The planned and averted one-day strike by state workers in California is the exception, not the rule, in our time. 

Strikes used to be much more common because union membership used to be much more common.  But union membership has slid over three decades, and so has union influence. 

Management professor Raymond Hogler at Colorado State University argues that declining unions means a declining middle class.  He makes a strong case in his book The End of American Labor Unions

Lining Up The Jobs: "Singletasking"

Jun 25, 2015
Berrett-Koehler Publishers

Bosses who want to get more out of workers may suggest multitasking. 

And Devora Zack says they're wrong when they do. 

Zack is an executive coach and consultant, and she has put multitasking behind her, forsaken as an empty promise. 

Her book Singletasking explains the approach, focusing on ONE task at a time. 

Working For Paid Sick Time

Jan 5, 2015
Public Domain

It's a matter of fact for many full-time workers: feel sick, stay home… and still get paid. 

But paid sick leave is not a given for all workers. 

And that's something the Oregon Legislature will be asked to change in its upcoming session. 

U of O Resident Elder Ramon Ramirez

Nov 21, 2014
AFT-Oregon

Not everybody gets to go to college.  So certain segments of life and knowledge are just hard to find on campuses. 

Which is why the University of Oregon runs an Elder-in-Residence program. 

It brings to campus an elder from a community that traditionally has little representation in higher education. 

This year's EIR is Ramon Ramirez, founder of PCUN, Oregon's farmworkers union. 

SOU Faculty Votes No Confidence In Administration

Mar 6, 2014

Southern Oregon University professors overwhelmingly lack confidence in the school's administration, according to the results of a confidential vote released yesterday..

The results of the week-long tally, released by the Faculty Senate, show that most of the 217 faculty members who voted have no confidence in the ability of Vice President of Finance and Administration Craig Morris, Provost Jim Klein and President Mary Cullinan.

The Mail Tribune reports that all but one member of the Faculty Senate voted in favor of holding the confidential vote.

Medford Teachers To Vote Next Week

Feb 26, 2014
Joi Riley/JPR

Medford teachers won't vote on a tentative contract agreement with the Medford School District until next week, according to the Medford Mail Tribune.

Union officials say they want an informed vote, so they will distribute ballots Monday to union representatives from each school. Those representatives will pass the ballots out to teachers, who will seal their votes in confidential envelopes.

Medford Union Supporters Plan Occupation

Feb 21, 2014

Supporters of the striking Medford teachers are being called to occupy the offices of the Medford School District this morning. A facebook effort has been launched, urging supporters to go to the offices at 7 this morning.

Union officials say they don’t know who is organizing the event, but it is posted as a peaceful protest.

In a comment on the Occupy549C facebook page, the author says he recognizes that teachers will not be able to go on the district property, but urges teachers to ask family and friends to participate.

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