Tag Archives: workers’ issues

The time for a four-day week has arrived

A new experiment from Iceland confirms what many of us have long suspected: reducing working hours improves wellbeing and productivity

By Jack Kellam.  Published 7-8-2021 by openDemocracy

Photo: Rawpixel Ltd/flickr/CC

Over the past six years, Iceland has been quietly conducting a major economic experiment. More than 2,500 public sector employees – representing over 1% of the country’s entire working population – reduced their working hours from 40 hours per week to 35 or 36 hours, with no loss of pay.

Trials of shorter working weeks are not new: in recent years a number of ‘four-day week’ experiments have taken place around the world – from Microsoft’s trial in Japan to Unilever’s experiment in New Zealand. But Iceland’s two trials, which took place between 2015 and 2021 among employees of the country’s national government and Reykjavík City Council, are unparalleled in terms of scale and scope. Progress was meticulously monitored by Icelandic researchers, which generated an unrivalled amount of evidence on the impact of shorter working hours. This week the key findings were published in a joint report published by Alda (Association for Sustainable Democracy) and Autonomy. Continue reading

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‘Shameful Failure’: Biden’s OSHA Excludes Most Workers From Covid Protections

“We’ve learned over decades that employers, especially in low wage industries, rarely choose to prioritize their workers’ safety; we need government to mandate actions that safeguard lives and well-being,” said Oxfam America.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-10-2021

Screenshot: 12news

Scientists and workers’ rights advocates were among those late Wednesday who denounced the Biden administration’s new workplace safety rules regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, which were unveiled months later than expected and which the Labor Department made enforceable only for healthcare settings—leaving grocery store employees, manufacturing workers, and others vulnerable to the continuing public health crisis, critics said.

At a Wednesday hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told lawmakers that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) final Covid-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) will apply only to healthcare workplaces, requiring those employers “to provide their workers with a safe and healthful workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” Continue reading

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It’s too late for court rulings: Shell must fall

It’s time for a proper debate about how to dismantle fossil fuel companies

By #ShellMustFall . Published 6-9-2021 by openDemocracy

Dressed as construction workers, #ShellMustFall took a wrecking ball to the Shell headquarters | Alex Bleu, CC BY-SA 2.0

On 26 May a Dutch court ordered the oil giant Shell to reduce its global carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 in a landmark ruling. That Shell is finally being held accountable for its role in the climate crisis is a victory not only for Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) and the more than 17,000 co-plaintiffs who brought the case, but for the entire global movement against the fossil fuel industry.

But despite the excitement that we at action coalition #ShellMustFall share, we want to remind the world: litigation will not be enough to stop Shell’s leaders from damaging our planet. Continue reading

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Washington Post Publisher Says Biden DOJ ‘Intensified’ Trump-Era Attacks on Press Freedom

“The egregious acts by the outgoing Trump Justice Department, and the apparent doubling down on them during the Biden administration, should alarm all Americans, regardless of political persuasion.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-7-2021

The entrance to the Washington Post on 15th street Northwest DC. Photo: Dion Hinchcliffe/flickr/CC

In an opinion piece, the Washington Post‘s publisher on Sunday accused President Joe Biden’s Justice Department of exacerbating the Trump administration’s assault on press freedom and called for a “full accounting” of the Biden DOJ’s recent practices in order to prevent such a “brazen infringement of the First Amendment rights of all Americans” from happening again.

Recent reporting revealed that during the last days of then-President Donald Trump’s term, DOJ officials authorized subpoenas to secretly obtain the phone and email records of reporters at the PostCNN, and the New York Times. In the wake of the revelations, Biden last month condemned the unconstitutional actions taken by his predecessor’s Justice Department and vowed that his administration would protect the rights of journalists and, by extension, those of the public. Continue reading

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‘Negotiate With Us, Not the GOP’: Sunrise Activists Rally at White House to Protest Biden’s Climate Compromise

The president has “spent more of his time meeting with a Republican Party who to this day contests he is the democratically elected president,” said Varshini Prakash of the Sunrise Movement.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-4-2021

Activists with the Sunrise Movement protest in front of the White House on June 4, 2021. Photo: Sunrise Movement/Twitter

As President Joe Biden looks to cut an infrastructure deal with Senate Republicans by dramatically curtailing the size and scope of his American Jobs Plan, activists with the youth-led Sunrise Movement gathered outside the White House Friday morning to make clear that compromising on climate action to appease the GOP is unacceptable.

Varshini Prakash, Sunrise’s executive director, said in a statement that by rolling back his infrastructure ambitions to cater to Republican lawmakers, Biden is betraying the young people who helped him win the presidency. Continue reading

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As Pandemic Wiped Out Workers, Covid Crisis Proved No Obstacle to Soaring CEO Pay

“This should have been a year for shared sacrifice,” said one economist. “Instead it became a year of shielding CEOs from risk while it was the frontline employees who paid the price.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-28-2021

Carnival CEO Arnold Donald’s pay package in 2020 surged to $13.3 million, a 19% increase over the previous year, even though the cruise operator recorded losses of $10.2 billion. Photo: World Travel & Tourism Council/flickr/CC

Even as the Covid-19 pandemic created record losses in the second quarter of 2020—and claimed the lives and livelihoods of millions of workers—median CEO pay in the U.S. increased yet again last year, according to a new analysis.

At a time when “CEOs’ big pay packages seemed to be under as much threat as everything else,” many boards of directors “made changes to the intricate formulas that determine” executive compensation to “make up for losses created by the crisis,” the Associated Press reported Friday. Continue reading

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IG Report Shows Top Trump Officials at EPA Hid Threats of Toxic Dicamba Herbicide

“Now that the EPA’s highly politicized, anti-science approach to fast-tracking use of this harmful pesticide has been fully exposed, the agency should cancel dicamba’s recent approval,” said one critic.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-25-2021

Significant cupping of leaves from dicamba drift on non-Xtend soybeans planted next to Xtend beans in research plots at the Ashland Bottoms farm near Manhattan, Kansas. Photo: K-State Research and Extension/flickr/CC

A new report released Monday by a federal oversight agency revealed that before former President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency reapproved use of dicamba in 2018, high-ranking officials in the administration intentionally excluded scientific evidence of certain hazards related to the herbicide, including the risk of widespread drift damage.

The Office of the Inspector General found that the 2018 decision by the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs to extend registrations for three dicamba products “varied from typical operating procedures.” Continue reading

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Biden EPA Admits Faulty Glyphosate Review Under Trump But Still Won’t Take It Off US Market

“Time to face the music, not run and hide,” said one critic of the agency’s latest legal maneuver.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-19-2021

A monarch butterfly sits on milkweed. (Photo: Mara Koenig/USFWS)

The Center for Food Safety on Wednesday denounced the Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency for arguing that Roundup should remain on U.S. shelves for an undisclosed period of time even after admitting that the Trump-era review of glyphosate—the key ingredient found in Roundup, the world’s most widely used herbicide—was flawed and requires a do-over.

In its federal court filing (pdf) requesting to redo the Trump administration’s faulty assessment of glyphosate, the EPA failed to provide a deadline for a new decision; instead, the agency maintained that Roundup—created by agrochemical giant Monsanto, which was acquired in 2018 by the German pharmaceutical and biotech company Bayer—should stay on the market in the meantime. Continue reading

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Progressive Groups Mark May Day With Rallies Urging Passage of PRO Act

“The fight for the PRO Act is a fight for a future of dignity for all workers,” said Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-1-2021

Protest at Amazon HQ on Cyber Monday 2019. Photo: War on Want/flickr/CC

A coalition of over 40 progressive organizations on Saturday rallied online and in person to support the PRO Act—legislation that would strengthen workers’ right to organize among other pro-worker provisions.

Groups behind the May Day actions include MoveOn, Indivisible, Democratic Socialists of America, and the Working Families Party.

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act passed the House in March but has not yet faced a vote in the upper chamber, where it confronts the 60-vote legislative filibuster and no support from three Democrats—Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Mark Kelly (Ariz.), and Mark Warner (Va.). Continue reading

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200+ Groups From 67 Nations Demand ‘Transformational Change’ at Corporate-Friendly WTO

“The WTO’s hyperglobalization rules shaped a global economy that is not working for most people, and it’s due time to replace them.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-28-2021

WTO Headquarters. Screenshot: Sky News

More than 200 environmental groups, labor unions, and civil society organizations from 67 nations sent a letter to global heads of state on Wednesday demanding “transformational change” at the World Trade Organization, a relatively new institution that critics say is structurally inadequate and much too corporate-friendly to confront the planet’s most pressing challenges.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed how the WTO model exacerbates insecurity, inequality, and instability,” argues the coalition, which includes Public Services International, Third World Network-Africa, and Public Citizen. “Legitimate global commercial rules should facilitate the improvement of the livelihoods, health, and wellbeing of all people around the world and the long-term survival of the planet. The WTO system has not met these goals: It was never fit for purpose and certainly is not now.” Continue reading

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