Wal-Mart Dismisses Labor Protests at Its Stores
New York Times
(11/24/12) Steven Greenhouse
Wal-Mart faced a series of protests on Black Friday, but said they were largely a made-for-TV event and hardly affected the company on what it said was its best Black Friday. The group OUR Walmart—which works closely with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union—claimed there were protests at 1,000 stores in 46 states. “The number of protests being reported by the UFCW are grossly exaggerated,” said David Tovar, a Wal-Mart spokesman. ”We are aware of a few dozen protests at our stores today.”
OUR Walmart said the protests were aimed at fighting retaliation and not at gaining union recognition. Tovar said the company did not retaliate and was always ready to hear employees’ concerns. He added, ”The large majority of protesters aren’t even Wal-Mart workers.” He said the number of employees who missed their scheduled shifts on Friday was 60% lower than Black Friday last year.
Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. Increases
Conference Board News Release
The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.2% in October to 96.0 (2004 = 100), following a 0.5% increase in September, and a 0.4% decline in August. The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.1% in October to 104.8 (2004 = 100), following a 0.2% increase in September, and a 0.4% decline in August.
“Based on current trends, the economy will continue to expand modestly through the early months of 2013,” says Ken Goldstein, economist at the Conference Board. “Hurricane Sandy, which is not yet fully reflected in the LEI, will likely adversely affect consumer spending and home building in the short-term, but it’s too soon to gauge the net impact. In addition, the outcome of the ‘fiscal cliff’ debates is another factor which could alter the outlook.”
Deadline Looms for Long-Term Unemployed
Wall Street Journal
(11/26/12) Ben Casselman
More than 40% of the nearly five million Americans who receive unemployment insurance are set to lose those benefits if federal programs expire as scheduled at year-end. While some economists have expressed concern that cutting off those benefits could harm the economy by leaving millions of Americans with less money to spend, others warn that overly generous benefits can prolong unemployment by giving people an incentive to keep looking for jobs they are unlikely to find. “If you’ve been unemployed for a year, that job you’re looking for probably doesn’t exist,” says James Sherk, a senior policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation. Jesse Rothstein, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, says unemployment benefits can encourage people who might otherwise have given up to instead keep looking for work, or provide the opportunity to develop new skills.
Congress has repeatedly extended unemployment benefits amid high joblessness, and it could do so again. But the programs have gotten caught up in the fight over the “fiscal cliff,” a package of tax increases and spending cuts due to take effect early next year. Some Democrats are pushing to extend benefits again, but the programs must contend not only with Republican opposition but also competing priorities such as business and individual tax breaks.
New York State Creating 5,000 Temporary Jobs in Storm-Stricken Areas
New York Times
(11/26/12) Thomas Kaplan
New York State will hire more than 5,000 unemployed residents in temporary positions to help clean up debris and distribute supplies in areas stricken by Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Nov. 25. The jobs will pay approximately $15 an hour and could last as long as six months. They will be available to residents in the communities that were most affected by the storm, including areas of New York City, Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley. State officials said that hiring would be focused on young people as well as the long-term unemployed, and that the positions would be financed by a grant of nearly $28 million from the federal government.
TAG Manufacturing Cited in Death of Worker in Chattanooga
Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN)
(11/26/12) Kate Harrison
Tennessee officials have fined TAG Manufacturing nearly $16,000 in the death of a plant worker. TAG employee Larry Chubbs was killed May 7 when a panel of a catwalk on a large machine became dislodged and he fell into the fast-moving machinery below. After investigating the conditions surrounding Chubbs’ death, the Tennessee Department of Labor fined the company $14,500 for five safety violations deemed “serious” and an additional $1,350 for nine “nonserious” citations. TAG has contested at least four of the penalties.
Chubbs had worked at TAG several years before the accident but left. He recently had gone back to work there as a temporary employee through a staffing firm. Chubbs’ family has hired an attorney and has been negotiating with his temporary firm to receive workers’ compensation funds, says TAG’s attorney Mike Carter.
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