When robots take routine middle-class jobs, those workers drop out of the workforce

In Disappearing Routine Jobs: Who, How, and Why? economists from USC, UBC and Manchester University document how the automation of "routine" jobs (welders, bank tellers, etc) that pay middle class wages has pushed those workers out of the job market entirely, or pushed them into low-paying, insecure employment. Read the rest

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's MIDAS program had a 93% error rate and falsely accused 20,000 workers of unemployment fraud

Under the cruel austerity of Michigan governor Rick Snyder -- whose policies led to the mass-poisonings of children in Flint -- any claims for unemployment insurance were vigorously investigated, with the state operating on the assumption that any worker who claimed a benefit was probably committing fraud. Read the rest

Silicon Valley's CEOs are just like CEOs everywhere: banal financial engineers, not superheroes and supervillains

The financialization of everything is just as real in the boardrooms of technology as it is everywhere else; though the deferential press likes to paint the tech-sector leaders as geniuses, superheroes (Elon Musk as Iron Man), and super-villains (Peter Thiel as Lex Luthor), the reality is that they're basically run-of-the-mill financial engineers, whose major creation is stock bubbles, not "revolutions." Read the rest

Interviewing for Amazon: a literal Orwellian experience

Shivan, a computer science student in Montreal, applied for a job at Amazon; the second round interview was conducted remotely by a proctor from an online service called Proctor U who insisted that Shivan install a remote-access trojan on his computer that let the proctor completely control his machine; then he was made to use the camera on his laptop to give the proctor a view of his room and all the things in it (with the proctor barking orders at him to shift his belonging around to give a better view. Read the rest

Company town + Internet of Things + Drones = total surveillance of remote mine workers

Rio Tinto is a giant UK/Australian mining corporation that operates many facilities in Australia's remotest reaches, where there is no housing for workers, so the company ends up building "company towns" where their laborers live, closing the loop between home and worklife, and putting them both under control of a corporation; now the company is flirting with the kind of "smart city" technology that has been tried elsewhere, but generally in places where the residents are citizens, not employees, and the governing law is created by a legislature, not a non-negotiable employment contract. Read the rest

Robots vs the middle class: everyone's endangered, white people less so

On Common Dreams, Paul Buchheit rounds up a ton of scholarly/economic papers on the ways that automation is coming to employment niches occupied by well-educated middle-class professionals, who face the same dilemma their "low-skilled" industrial colleagues have been living through for three decades and counting. Read the rest

Trump Department of Labor pick is a foreign labor exec who's brought "over 40,000" cheap workers to the USA

Veronica Birkenstock is Practical Employee Solutions, a company that boasts of having brought "over 40,000" cheap H-2B workers from 80 countries to the USA to work in "hospitality, landscaping, welding, and construction" for companies like Marriott and Starwood Hotels, for whom it is the "preferred vendor." Read the rest

Bernie Sanders: Trump just used your taxes to reward Carrier for offshoring American jobs

Last February, Carrier announced that it was offshoring its US air-conditioner manufacturing jobs to Mexico, despite having made a $7.6B profit that year, despite having received more than $6B in US military contracts, despite having recved a $50M tax-break, despite having paid its retiring CEO a $172m bonus, despite having spent $12b on stock-inflating accounting tricks. Read the rest

France's next President could be an Islamophobic "Thatcherite" who wants to dismantle the social safety net

The Trump election gave real legitimacy to Europe's fascist parties, including France's Marine Le Pen of the National Front; and in the absence of real, left-win alternatives for populist discontent, the only real opposition to these authoritarians is coming from the hard right parties, which are swinging even further to the right to try to gain back some of their supporters. Read the rest

If blue-collar workers want better jobs, they need unions, not Trump

Even though the majority of American workers would like to join a union, America's anemic labor laws scare them away from it -- after all, if you're fired for attempting to unionize, all your boss owes you is back pay, a sum so trifling that business groups call it a "hunting license." Read the rest

Walmart smears worker-based chat app with lies and scare tactics

Workit is an Android app from OUR Walmart, a pro-labor/pro-union organization: it allows Walmart workers to ask questions about Walmart policy and employee rights, which are answered by a database compiled by using IBM's Watson to come up with answers to hundreds of frequently posed questions; questions can also be answered by other users. Read the rest

Senate investigates Wells Fargo retaliations against whistleblowers

One after another, ex-Wells Fargo employees have come forward to reveal that when they blew the whistle of millions of frauds committed against the bank's customers, the bank's management fired them and blackballed them from the banking industry for life, by falsifying claims of wrongdoing on a semi-secret list of corrupt bankers that is consulted by the industry before they make new hires. Read the rest

Wells Fargo blackballed employees who refused to commit fraud, forcing them out of the industry forever

Earlier this month, Planet Money aired an interview with a Wells Fargo whistleblower who was fired for trying to alert the bank to the millions of criminal frauds being committed against its customers, and we learned that the whistleblower had been added to a confidential blacklist used by the finance industry, preventing her from ever getting work in the industry again. Read the rest

Icelandic women walk off the job 14% early to protest 14% pay-gap

On October 25, thousands of Icelandic women went home at 2:38PM, after 86% of their work-days had passed, to protest the fact that they only earn 86% of their male counterparts' wages. Read the rest

Joi Ito interviews Barack Obama for Wired: machine learning, neurodiversity, basic research and Star Trek

Joi Ito (previously) -- director of MIT Media Lab, former Creative Commons chief, investor, entrepreneur, and happy mutant -- interviewed Barack Obama for a special, Obama-edited issue of Wired. Read the rest

Wells Fargo whistleblower describes bank's culture of blackballing threats and coerced corruption

On the latest Planet Money podcast (MP3), a former San Francisco Wells Fargo banker describes the bullying and coercion she faced from senior management while working at the bank's head office, and how the bank forced her out when she blew the whistle on fraud and then blacklisted her with other banks, forcing her out of the sector altogether. Read the rest

The Wells Fargo fraud came to light because of union organizers

Though Wells Fargo had been pressuring its employees to commit fraud since 1998, firing those who couldn't make quota, as well as the whistleblowers who came forward to report the fraud, it wasn't until the Committee for Better Banks launched a unionization drive to organize retail banking workers against punitive sales quotas that the crimes came to light. Read the rest

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