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Sep 9, 2022

US Open caterers claim they’ve not been paid

Some of the players involved earn $millions, but at this week’s US Open Tennis Tournament, a protest was staged by three caterers who claim they’ve still to be paid for labor they provided at last year’s event. The three women, Cecilia Valdes, Maria Taverna and Luc Taverna, allege they have not been paid a total of $4,500 in wages after working for the US Tennis Association’s catering company. Moreover, they also claim there are more than just them still waiting for their wages. According to New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), an organization aiding immigrant laborers, US Open representatives did speak with the women during the protest, and attempts are now being made to resolve the issue. It is unclear if the company the caterers worked for is a subcontractor, but it is claimed that the women involved were hired by the tennis championship and given US Open employee identification cards.

Union vows to ‘press on’ in contract fight with UPS

Trade union, Teamsters, says it is taking the fight to delivery firm, UPS, over proposed changes to employees contracts. The union wants a better 2023 contract for staff – one that gives them more overtime, better pay for part-time employees, as well as an elimination of a so-called ‘second tier’ status of delivery driver, that they say gives workers less protections for doing the same work. According to The Guardian, the union is particularly aggrieved by UPS mis-classifying workers “as a means to pay them less,” such as personal vehicle drivers who work as temporary contractors. They also want at least a $20 an hour starting pay for part-time employees and heat protections (UPS vehicles are not equipped with air conditioning). “Our union is resolved to win the best contract for UPS members and to reset the standards for wages and benefits in this industry by August 1, 2023,” said the Teamsters International president, Sean O’Brien, said in a statement. He added: “We won’t extend negotiations by a single day. We’ll either have a signed agreement that day or we will be hitting the pavement,”

Google staff at loggerheads with company’s ‘Project Nimbus’ contract

A group of Google employees, who include Palestinians, Jews, Muslims, and Arabs, have come out to put pressure on their employer to shelve ‘Project Nimbus’ – a contract that they claim will provide surveillance and other forms of powerful AI technology to the Israeli government and military. They are also speaking out against “the anti-Palestinian bias” they say they have witnessed within the company. “By doing business with Israeli apartheid Google will make it easier for the Israeli government to surveil Palestinians and force them off their land,” said the group that calls itself Jewish Diaspora in Tech. Google claims Project Nimbus is merely a cloud computing contract for the Israeli government, but it is accused of providing the Israeli government with a full suite of machine-learning and AI tools that would give Israel capability to surveil people and process vast stores of data on the Palestinian population. “Instead of listening to employees who want Google to live up to its ethical principles, Google is aggressively pursuing military contracts and stripping away the voices of its employees,” said Googler, Ariel Koren, who resigned from the company last week after protesting for more than a year against the project.

Two-fifths of Americans have not taken a holiday this year

The rising cost of living could worsen people’s propensity to ‘burn-out’ – after new data revealed that with less than four months of 2022 to go, 42% of Americans have not yet taken a holiday this year. Not surprisingly, some 49% of employees say they feel burned out at work, but they cannot afford to take time off. The data found nearly half of workers (47%) said it was specifically the cost of taking a vacation that was the biggest obstacle to them taking time off. The data also revealed, that not taking time off was higher (50%) amongst younger employees – those who have less disposable income – and low income workers (56%). Apart from cost being a barrier, 31% cited pressure to stay on task, while a further 27% cited their heavy workload. A quarter (25%) also said they didn’t have someone else who could cover their workload. The research was done by Ipsos, for the latest Eagle Hill Consulting Workforce Survey.

Gallup reveals extent of ‘quiet quitting’

It’s the phrase that’s rapidly becoming HR’s new problem for 2022 – ‘quiet quitting’. But the concept of not really quitting (but just doing the bare minimum at work), has been found to be rampant according to Gallup. It published research this week which found quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the US workforce – and “probably more.” It suggests this is the case after finding the proportion of engaged workers in Q2 remains the same at 32% but the proportion of ‘actively disengaged’ workers increased to 18%. It means the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is now 1.8 to 1, the lowest in almost a decade. Gallup argues quiet quitters fit Gallup’s definition of being “not engaged” at work – that is, people who are psychologically detached from their job. This, Gallup argues, describes half of the U.S. workforce. Everyone else is either engaged (32%) or actively disengaged (18%). The latter are “loud quitters.” Gallup also found that the percentage of engaged employees under the age of 35 dropped by six percentage points between 2019-2022. During the same period, the percentage of actively disengaged employees increased by six points.

Remote-working staff still create work ‘friendships’ claims research

Staff who are not physically at their workplace are still able to build and develop close work friendships, according to new research. The survey – by Qualtrics – challenges the idea that remote workers are emotionally cut-off, and more lonely, by finding that US employees in hybrid environments are just as likely to have real friends at work as on-site workers. It found 70% of each employee group had close work friends. Another 35% of employees said that the people they work with are part of the reason they want to stay with an organization. This was second only to being happy with their current responsibilities. The data found more than half (51%) of workers agreed that their workplace offered ways to connect with staff with similar interests, with more (65%) of remote workers agreeing. Around a quarter of remote working staff said they had daily check-ins with their teams.

Unemployment rises for the first time in six months

Are we seeing the first signs of recession? New data suggests that despite 315,000 more jobs being added to the economy in August, the unemployment rate rose for the first time in six months to 3.7% from 3.5%. This means six million Americans are now looking for work. Analysts are hinting that the Fed’s tightening measures are now reaching the job market. But others suggest the rise in unemployment is more to do with the normal summer increase in the number of people entering the workforce – particularly young people leaving college. Statistics show the total size of the U.S. workforce grew by 786,000 in August alone (some 300,000 of these were those aged 16-19). All told, there were nearly 442,000 more employed Americans in August compared to July. But there were 344,000 additional Americans collecting unemployment benefits during the month.