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Labor Notes


1. Conditions at Chinese computer manufacturing plants remain horrible. Apple has claimed they will look into these problems, but actual action remains unlikely. The workers themselves are fed up and 1000 employees at a Jingmo Electronics Corporation factory, which makes keyboards for many computer companies, have gone on strike:

According to what workers have told China Labor Watch, the motivation behind the strike was the factory’s decision to make workers work nightly overtime. The factory decided to require workers to work from 6 p.m. until 12 p.m., and sometimes even until 2 a.m. the next morning, in addition to their regular work hours (7-11:30 a.m., 1-5 p.m.) Workers now commonly worked anywhere from 100 to 120 hours of overtime a month. Moreover, the factory refused to let the workers work this overtime on Saturday, which would necessitate paying them double wages in accordance with Chinese Labor Law.

Apart from the overtime issue, the workers said that they also had other grievances with the factory. These include the high rate of workplace injuries (there have been nearly 20 recently), mass layoffs of older workers and the lack of any benefits. Apart from these more tangible hardships, factory managers often verbally abuse and bully the workers, causing them severe emotional distress.

But hey, if workers would only give up negotiating everything but wages, they would totally gain more power!

Corporate claims that they don’t have control over the factories where their products are made are absurd. These contractors do whatever the multinational wants. If Apple and IBM decide to sacrifice a small amount of profit to pay workers more, reduce workplace injuries, and hire more workers rather than make current employees work obscene hours, it will happen very quickly.


2. Of course, the great thing about the race to the bottom is that companies can make working conditions in the United States really bad too! If you haven’t read Spencer Soper’s piece on the terrible working conditions at Amazon warehouses, you will want to check this out. Soper won a Sidney for this piece. An outstanding piece of labor journalism.

3. I guess conservatives are right–Obama is directly costing people jobs. Or at least, one lunatic has decided he won’t hire anyone until Obama is gone! Good luck keeping your company open!

4. Cooper Tire has locked 1050 workers out of its Findlay, Ohio plant after the United Steelworkers represented employees rejected a new contract that would not only include higher insurance premiums but outright pay cuts. Cooper is moving to use scabs. The salary of Cooper CEO Roy Armes has risen from $2.6 million in 2008 to $4.7 million in 2010.

5. American Airlines is following its competitors into bankruptcy in order to reduce labor costs. Depressing.

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