Neil H. Greenberg & Associates, P.C.

McDonald’s Workers Stage Protests In Spite of Voluntary Pay Increases

The center of the wage controversy

The center of the wage controversy

May 7, 2015–  Earlier this year McDonald’s Corporation announced it would be voluntarily raising its base pay to $9.90 an hour.   This figure exceeds the current Federal and State minimum wage requirements.  While the fast food giant’s compensation also exceeds the base pay for numbers of large employers throughout the United States it is far below the increase sought by a vocal band of fast food workers that call themselves Fight For 15.

Fight For 15 is an emerging band of increasingly organized fast food workers seeking a base pay of $15 an hour as their minimum wage.  These workers make it clear that it is more than a matter of principle for them.   It is economics.   The group, through its video and literary campaign, have spotlighted full-time employees with several years of employment with McDonald’s, and similarly situated companies, that are unable to meet the most basic of household expenses.   Many of these full-time employees are on government assistance because their full-time pay does not exceed the established poverty line.   Fight For 15 is looking to dispel the notion that being on government assistance and lacking work ethic are synonymous concepts.  They argue they are just being undervalued and underpaid.

McDonald’s workers have announced their intention to stage a protest at the May 21st Annual Shareholder’s meeting to highlight the economic plight of the workers.  They intend to present a petition signed by, over, 1 million Americans calling for the pay raises they are seeking.  This would not be the first such protest by the group.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s is in the midst of increasing economic pressure from rising food costs, diminishing sales, and competition.  Announcements have been made to close a number of locations and to undergo a revitalization of the company into a more “progressive” burger company.  New CEO Steve Easterbrook has made verbal commitments to address training, pay, and benefits on an ongoing basis; however, with 420,000 workers nationwide he has been unwilling to commit to a, more than, $6 per hour increase per worker.  The economic impact of this dramatic increase on the company is unclear.

Workers and employers across the country are carefully watching the McDonald’s saga unfold. The impact of the changes, or resistance thereto, for such a large employer and industry leader will likely resonate far beyond the purview of the Golden Arches.

 

How Raising the Minimum Wage Can Impact Workers

April 23, 2015-2015 has been marked by political and media debate over the relative benefits and pitfalls of significant raises in the current minimum wage law.  While politicians on the Federal and state level propose and debate legislation on this important topic many major corporate employers have begun to undertake voluntary increases, ranging from negligible to substantial.  As 2015 proceeds the outcome of this legislation, these voluntary increases, and their economic impact will continue to be an issue of national discussion and analysis on both sides of the argument.

Dave Jamieson, of the Huffington Post, wrote a thoughtful article entitled “How Raising The Minimum Wage To $15 Changed These Workers’ Lives” which considers one position on the impact of raising the minimum wage for workers:

SEATAC, Wash. — In late 2013, voters in this airport town outside Seattle narrowly approved a groundbreaking measure setting a minimum wage of $15 per hour for certain workers. When the new law went into effect last year, Sammi Babakrkhil got a whopping 57 percent raise.

A valet attendant and shuttle driver at a parking company called MasterPark, Babakrkhil saw his base wage jump from $9.55 per hour, before tips, up to $15. Having scraped by in America since immigrating from Afghanistan 11 years ago, he suddenly faced the pleasant predicament as his co-workers: What to do with the windfall?

To read the remainder of the article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/22/life-on-a-15-minimum-wage_n_7107792.html?utm_source=Alert-blogger&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Email%2BNotifications

Domino’s Pizza Latest Franchise To Settle Wage Claims

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April 15, 2015– Five owners of a total of 29 Domino’s Pizza stores across New York State have agreed to pay a combined $970,000 in restitution to workers to settle labor violation complaints, Attorney General  Scheiderman’s office reported Tuesday.

The violations, in general, involved minimum wage and tip rules and allegations that the subject stores failed to properly reimburse delivery workers who used their own cars or bicycles for deliveries, according to the state’s official news release

The settlements follow similar cases last year involving another 26 stores statewide.

From the Official Press Release:  NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced settlements totaling $970,000 with four current Domino’s Pizza franchisees, who together own 29 stores across New York State, as well as with one former franchisee who owned 6 stores. With stores located in Cortland, Dutchess, Erie, Genesee, Monroe, Nassau, New York, Onondaga, Ontario, Orange, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester counties, the franchisees admitted to a number of labor violations, including minimum wage, overtime or other basic labor law protections. In light of today’s agreements – which follow similar settlements last year with the owners of 26 other Domino’s stores statewide – Attorney General Schneiderman also called on the Domino’s Pizza corporation and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Doyle to exercise increased oversight of Domino’s franchisees’ pay practices.

For the entire transcript visit: http://www.ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-announces-settlements-five-domino’s-pizza-franchisees-violating

Mixed News For Employees As 2nd Fiscal Quarter Begins

Photo by David Castillo Dominici.  Image ID: 100157605

Photo by David Castillo Dominici.
Image ID: 100157605

April 9, 2015-U.S. workers, as they attempt to understand what is happening in the American job market, are being confused by mixed economic signals which, simultaneously, forecast an economic expansion and economic slow down.  For many workers these mixed economic signals have made financial planning for their family’s future a nightmare.

Last week’s economic indicators foretold of some instability in the employment sector.   For the first time this year unemployment claims increased over the prior month’s filings, indicating, potentially, that an increased number of Americans were out of work.  Similarly, the hiring numbers for new employees also indicated a contraction over the, more robust, prior six months. These two factors, in isolation, could be the signs of a real economic slowdown and trouble for working families that have not yet recovered from the depths of the Great Recession. However, it may be too early to judge the state of the economy based on these factors because the relative increases, and contractions, were not significant enough to demand panic, yet.  There could be a number of fluctuating components, from the weather, to increased eligibility for unemployment filing, that may have contributed to these alarming figures.   The real test of whether this is a trend, or an anomaly, will be the results of April’s figures in these areas.

Meanwhile, there appears to be some hopeful signs for American workers as some of the country’s largest employers have begun to raise their minimum wage, voluntarily, above the Federal and state standards.   Employers such as Walmart, McDonalds, and AETNA have all begun implementing these increases, with other companies, likely, to follow suit.  While the raises they have instituted are not close to the wages some labor groups and government officials have been calling for, they are a positive economic trend for employees.

For employees looking to improve their standard of living by seeking higher wages, within, or outside of their current positions it may be a difficult time to forecast what the remainder of 2015 will bring.  For many, perhaps, fear of a second wave of economic downturn will inhibit their willingness to leave the security of their current position for a new, higher paying job.   It may also impede their confidence in seeking an increase in wages in their current employment, if they are employed. The net result may be a kind of economic stagnation and paralysis that is the result of the insecurity caused by years of economic fear and struggle for American workers.

 

 

 

 

Improving Workplace Productivity

 

Freedigitalphotos.net

Freedigitalphotos.net

April 2, 2015

What can be done to make American workers more productive?”

It would seem the simplistic answer to this question might come down to three things; money, money, & more money; however, recent studies of the American workplace seem to indicate that there are other, non-monetary components that contribute to employee productivity.  In fact, according to Ronald Friedman, author and Phd. specializing in workplace psychology, meeting workers’ emotional needs is just as significant as meeting their financial needs when it comes to employee productivity.

In a recent article from the Huffington Post entitled, “5 Surprising Things Ways To Be More Productive At Work” some of the following non-monetary suggestions were made to improve the workplace environment and productivity of American workers. These included:

1. Introduce Plant Life into the Work Environment– Studies have shown that plants in the workplace create a more pleasant and productive environment. Any type of foliage will do.  It is best to suit them to the environment, lighting, and the workers’ abilities to care for them when choosing plant types.

2. Temperature Control– Creating a comfortable temperature through thermostat,  or clothing, adjustments is vital to productivity. One study even found that typists made less errors at 71 degrees F than at lower temperatures.  The key is finding a comfortable temperature that works for the whole staff. Fighting over the thermostat is not conducive to a healthy work environment.

3. Save Your Exercise for the Gym– Whether it is to save time, or because workers are under the impression that physical activity during the conduct of business was beneficial, exercise on the job, actually, decreased worker productivity according to one analysis. Workers that ran on a treadmill while conducting business did neither, particularly, well.

4. Ambient Lighting and Noise– Low lighting and some level of noise have tested as positive to worker productivity. While blocking out all noise may seem like a good way to concentrate, it seems that the complete absence of noise is not the optimal environment for being productive.

5. Lose the Angles– If you have any say in the furniture in your work environment it seems that studies reveal that softer, rounded edges to furniture are more conducive to productivity than sharp, hard edges like conventional business furniture.

There are numerous factors that contribute to worker satisfaction and productivity. Financial compensation and remuneration are, certainly, important considerations; however, they are not the only ones. Most American workers, spending most of their waking hours in a workplace, are more productive when the environment of that workplace provides them with emotional comfort, security, and non-monetary features that increase their happiness.

Creative approaches to improving work environments can be keys to employee retention and satisfaction.

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