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Aug 12, 2022
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

UPS workers demand air-conditioned vans

They’re known the world over for driving their often opened-doored vans, but UPS delivery drivers now want proper air-conditioned vehicles instead. Brooklyn driver Matt Leichenger, together with other workers represented by the Teamsters union are pushing for air conditioning to be provided in their vehicles. “We don’t have contractual language that guarantees air conditioning, but I think this is something the federal government should be stepping up to implement – not just at UPS, but for workers across every industry where extreme weather conditions are really taking a toll on workers,” Leichenger said. The call follows UPS driver, Esteban Chavez, collapsing and dying in California last month while working in temperatures hitting the high 90s. As part of their call, Teamsters has demanded UPS details its plans, training materials, and assessments for protecting workers from excessive heat. The Guardian quotes Elliot Lewis, a driver in New York City, who said the back of UPS trucks can reach 130F during hot summer days.

New York promises $3,000 bonuses to grow healthcare workers

Prospective and existing nursing home employees and other healthcare workers have renewed reasons to cheer after it was announced New York’s governor has approved a bill that will allocate more than $1.3 billion for the payment of recruitment and retention bonuses. The bonuses are an attempt to grow the beleaguered sector by 20% in the next five years, and retention bonuses of up to $3,000 will be paid to those already employed in the sector. Data shows there are 9,300 openings for healthcare workers in New York – something that is already causing a “severe shortage” of workers in nursing homes, long-term care facilities and hospitals. The bonuses will be start to be paid in the 2023 fiscal year. Bonuses will be awarded to eligible workers who make less than $125,000 annually and remain in their positions for at least six months. Disbursements will be commensurate with the number of hours worked and duration of service within designated vesting periods for up to a total of $3,000 per employee, the governor’s office said.

Employers added more than half a million jobs in July

In the face of looming economic uncertainty, US employers added a prediction-beating 528,000 jobs last month. This is a level of job creation that saw unemployment levels fall from 3.6% to 3.5%, matching the 50-year low that had been reached just before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. The data means the US economy has now recovered all 22 million jobs lost during March and April 2020. The rise surprised analysts who had only been expecting a more moderate 250,000 new jobs to be added. Jobs growth was particularly strong in the health care sector, and amongst hotels and restaurants. The Labor Department also reported that hourly earnings posted a healthy 0.5% gain last month and are up 5.2% over the past year. ”Underestimate the U.S. labor market at your own peril,″ said Nick Bunker, head of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “Yes, output growth might be slowing and the economic outlook has some clouds on the horizon. But employers are still champing at the bit to hire more workers. That demand may fade, but it’s still red-hot now.″

US Steel publishes first ever diversity and inclusion report

United States Steel Corporation has this week published its first-ever Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) report, and has revealed its aim to increase representation of women and people of color in leadership positions by 50% by 2030. The report unveils that 10% of its workforce are women, while 21% are people of color, 5% are veterans and 1% are people with disabilities. One in two employees hired in 2021 identified as diverse, while last year it increased its higher female representation by 60%. It says it offer 100% pay, performance and advancement equity, while the proportion of people with disabilities was boosted 2.8 times during 2021 compared to 2020. David Burritt, president and CEO for US Steel said: “The US Steel Diversity, Equity & Inclusion report recognizes that when we respect and value our differences and share common goals, we create an environment where our employees and our company can reach our fullest potential – together.” Added Barry Melnkovic, HRD: “We’ve made important, measurable progress in our DE&I strategy consistent with our core values. We can – and will – continue to do more and be better, because our work in this critical area is not done.”

US economy is being ‘propped up’ by older employees

The US economy is being described as being ‘propped up’ by older workers, after new data revealed there are now 20 million more 55+ employed than there were in 2000 – a number equivalent of the entire workforce of Spain. During this time, the total US population increased by 48 million. The 55+ population increased by 42 million (from 57 million in 2000 to 99 million today) – or a 74% increase. But total employment in the 55+ cohort increased by 113%. In 2000, only 17.6% of the 55 and older populace had a job. Now the percentage is 37.5%. According to website Seeking Alpha: “In an economy with an expanding workforce of young employees and rising productivity, more older workers could retire early. But this is no longer the case. The bottom line is that nest eggs that were once deemed adequate are no longer adequate, and the only way for people to fill the gap is to keep earning money.” 

Ex-Twitter employee guilty of spying for Saudi Arabia

Former Twitter employee – Ahmad Abouammo – has been found guilty of spying. The dual Lebanese-US national, who used to be a media partnership manager for Twitter’s Middle East region, was found guilty on six charges this week, including acting as an illegal agent of a foreign government (Saudi Arabia), money laundering and fraud. Prosecutors claimed Bader Al-Asaker, a close adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, recruited Abouammo to dig up personal information on Saudi dissidents. In a statement, US Attorney Stephanie Hinds said: “Abouammo violated a sacred trust to keep private personal information from Twitter’s customers and sold private customer information to a foreign government.”

Great Resignation leads to ‘knowledge loss’ concerns

The so-called ‘Great Resignation’ isn’t just leaving companies with headcount to replace, but it’s precipitating a huge ‘knowledge loss’ out of organizations too. This is the conclusion of a study by search cloud provider, Sinequa, which finds 67% of managers questioned were “concerned” about the loss of knowledge and expertise. Overall, 71% of respondents agreed that the Great Resignation was contributing to organizational knowledge loss, while 64% felt their organization had experienced loss of knowledge due to people leaving the company. The impact of this loss of knowledge is claimed to hurt productivity most (from 45% of those polled), followed by creating communication gaps (12%) and poor customer experience (11%). Some 70% agreed that if employees could easily find and access relevant organizational information, knowledge loss would be reduced.


This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.