UPS on verge of largest single employer strike; Delta tells staff to delete TikTok

UPS workers set to stage biggest single-employer walkout in US history; Delta tells staff to delete TikTok from their devices

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Jul 7, 2023

UPS workers set to stage largest single employer strike in US history

Workers at UPS are on the verge of staging what is likely to be the largest single employer strike in US history – after contract talks between UPS and Teamsters (the union representing 340,000 of the company’s workers), broke down, with no agreement reached its next four-year contract for staff. Workers’ current contract expires at midnight on 31 July, and to beat this deadline, UPS pledged reaching an agreement on a new contract by 5th July. But with the talks collapsing, reports now suggest workers will go on strike from August 1st. “This multi-billion dollar corporation has plenty to give American workers — they just don’t want to,” said Teamsters general president, Sean O’Brien in a tweet. O’Brien also said that Teamsters members would not work past July 31 without a fully ratified contract. The last time UPS Teamsters walked off the job was in 1997, creating the 19th largest strike in American history. The 15-day strike by 185,000 workers “largely crippled the world’s largest package delivery company,” according to a New York Times article from August 1997.

Delta demands staff delete TikTok from their personal devices

Delta Air Lines has reportedly demanded staff remove the Chinese-owned TikTok app from any personal devices used to access it systems. Staff apparently had till the end of June to remove the app. The Atlanta-based airline reportedly cited a US requirement that government contractors cannot have the popular social media app or any other program by the Chinese company ByteDance on any device used to perform work for the federal government. And that includes most airlines. The ‘ban’ is the latest example of growing mistrust of the social media app, which has been accused of tracking people’s data and ‘spying’ for the Chinese government. In February, the White House said it would give US federal agencies 30 days to delete TikTok from all government-issued mobile devices. Congress, the US armed forces and more than half of US states had already banned the app. Delta hasn’t posted anything on its own TikTok page since 18th June.

More jobs added in May, but unemployment rises…

May’s jobs data has revealed a tale of two halves, as on the one hand, more jobs than expected were added, but on the other, unemployment also actually rose. This bizarre combination was explained by the US adding 339,000 jobs in May – much more than the anticipated 180-200,000 being predicted – but overall, the labor force only increased by 110,000, while there was an addition of 440,000 unemployed Americans, leading to a 310,000 drop in employment overall. According to Bill Adams, chief economist for Comerica Bank, the numbers show “the long-expected softening of the labor market.” But while some suggest the horizon is fast filling up with dark clouds, Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics, said employers should be cautious, and not read “too much into that one-month decline, particularly when it was driven by a drop in reported self-employment.” And according to the Hammonton Gazette, which featured these statistics, the still-solid labor market “should be good news for young workers who are seeking summer employment.”

…as best cities for starting a career are revealed

As the class of 2023 leave their college days behind, and take their first, tentative steps into the world of employment, a new poll has revealed which US cities are best to start a career in. And San Francisco or New York are nowhere to be seen in the top five. Topping the list for the best metro area is the…drumroll… Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown area, Texas, according to the poll compiled by Bankrate. Its researchers looked at a number of factors including GDP per capita, year-over-year job growth, cost of living, entertainment options per capita, percentage of remote workers and more. Using those stats, they ranked the top 50 US metros based on three broad categories: affordability, employment opportunity and quality of life. The Austin area ranked first for quality of life and third for employment, while its Pacific Northwest runner-up scored first for employment opportunities and fourth for quality of life. Austin was substantially more affordable, according to Bankrate, landing in 12th place while Seattle came out 20th. Second place was Seattle-Taxoma-Bellevue, WA; followed by Salt Lake City, UT; Raleigh-Cary (NC) and Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN. Rounding out the top 10 were Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Indiana; Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri-Kansas; Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, Georgia; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California.

…and as worst state for black jobs is named

Continuing the theme, a new nationwide study of racial equality sees Illinois have the ignominy of being ranked bottom of the barrel in terms of black wealth and employment. According to a study by WalletHub, each state was graded by metrics that included annual income and home ownership rate, and the result was that Illinois had the lowest ranking. Commenting on the figures, Larry Ivory, president and CEO of the Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce said: “I think it’s systemic racism, quite frankly.” He added that more needs to be done to award contracts to minority-owned companies. Citing the fact 96% of all black businesses are single ownership and generate under $50,000 in annual revenue, Ivory said: “We can’t grow unless we win contracts.” According to WalletHub black Americans represent 14% of all US workers, yet hold just 7% of managerial jobs and 4-5% of senior managerial positions nationally. Black unemployment is also higher than that experienced by whites.

Christian employee wins right to refuse to provide services to same-sex clients

A Christian web designer has won her right to say she has a First Amendment right to refuse providing services to same sex couples – despite a Colorado law prohibiting discrimination against people who identify as LGBTQ+. The US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the First Amendment protects Lorie Smith, a website designer, who said her Christian faith requires her to decline customers seeking wedding-related services for same-sex unions. The court ruled that for Colorado to force her to do so, against her religious convictions, would be unconstitutional compelled speech. In a dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, “Today, the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class.” Smith’s opponents argued that a ruling in her favor would potentially pave the way for discrimination against not just people who identify as LGBTQ+, but also against other people according to their race, religion or immigration status by refusing service to such groups. However, Smith and her supporters say a ruling in her favor protects Americans from having to take work that violated their beliefs.

Twitter settles ex-worker’s return-to-office protest case

Social media company, Twitter, has reportedly reached a settlement with former employee, Alexis Camacho, who was claiming unfair treatment (being put on administrative leave) in retaliation for posting a message urging co-workers to take collection action against the company’s return-to-office policy. The case had already found merit by the National Labor Relations Board, and if Twitter had not settled, the NLRB said it would have been prepared to issue a formal complaint. The original dispute centered on a return-to-office policy (that staff should work in offices 40 hours’ a week), introduced after controversial billionaire Elon Musk took over the company in November 2022. Although the exact terms of the settlement remain undisclosed, Shannon Liss-Riordan, who represents Camacho said her client was “satisfied.” Liss-Riordan, currently represents more than 1,900 former Twitter employees with claims against the company and said she will continue to vindicate the rights of remaining clients through litigation, arbitration, and any other appropriate means.