Fired by an algorithm, and no one can figure out why

Ibrahim Diallo was eight months into a three year contract with a big company when its systems abruptly decided that he was fired: first it told his recruiter that he'd been let go, then it stopped accepting his pass for the parking and the turnstyles, then his logins stopped working, and at each turn, his supervisor, and that person's boss, and the HR people, were at a loss to explain or reverse the steady, automated disappearance of Ibrahim from the company. Read the rest

History's most productive geniuses goofed off like crazy

In Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less (published in 2016, just out in paperback), Alex Soojung-Kim Pang painstakingly investigates the working lives of the likes of Charles Darwin and finds that history's most productive high-performers were working about four hours a day and slacking off the rest of the time: napping, strolling, having leisurely lunches. Read the rest

Employees who practice mindfulness meditation are less motivated, having realized the futility of their jobs

In the NYT, a pair of behavioral scientists describe a forthcoming Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes article (Sci-Hub mirror) that studied the effect of mindfulness meditation (a trendy workplace moral-booster) on workers' motivation and performance. Read the rest

GDP vs human thriving: a "healthy" economy means debt-haunted people, desperately searching for housing

GDP and stock market performance are the two metrics that economists (and politicians) use to measure the health of a nation's economy, and by those metrics, Trump is doing a hell of a job. Read the rest

UPS Teamsters ready to stage America's biggest strike since 1997, with solidarity as the main sticking point

Unionized UPS Teamsters -- 260,000 of them -- are set to strike in the biggest American strike since UPS's unionized drivers walked out in 1997. Read the rest

America: where rising productivity means longer working hours

In most countries, rising productivity means fewer working hours: but US workers, among the world's most productive, put longer hours than other rich-country workers, especially nordic workers -- if America's productivity/hours curve worked like it does in Denmark and Norway, American workers would get an additional 2.2 months of vacation every year. Read the rest

Private equity bosses took $200m out of Toys R Us and crashed the company, lifetime employees got $0 in severance

Private equity's favorite shell game is to take over profitable businesses, sell off their assets, con banks into loaning them hundreds of millions of dollars, cash out in the form of bonuses and dividends, then let the businesses fail and default on their debts. Read the rest

Bernie Sanders rallies Disneyland employees for a $15 minimum wage

Disneyland employees' average hourly wages have decreased in real terms every year for more than 15 years, while the company has taken in record municipal subsidies from the city of Anaheim and soared in profitability, returning high dividends to its shareholders. Read the rest

Trump's Labor Department is planning a rollback of teen labor laws, allowing kids to work in "hazardous" jobs

Under a leaked draft plan from Trump's Department of Labor, 16- and 17-year-olds would be permitted to work for extended periods in "Hazardous Occupations" as apprentices; at present, these apprentices are only allowed to train on machines like chainsaws and meat-slicers for short periods under close supervision. Read the rest

Chinese law professor: AI will end capitalism

Feng Xiang is a prominent Chinese legal scholar with an appointment at Tsinghua University; in a new Washington Post editorial adapted from his recent speech at the Berggruen Institute’s China Center workshop on artificial intelligence in Beijing, he argues that capitalism is incompatible with AI. Read the rest

An upcoming Supreme Court ruling could force all workers into forced arbitration, deprived of the right to class lawsuits

One of the cases that the Supreme Court heard this season was NLRB v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc. which rolls up several cases where employers are hoping to establish that they can force prospective employees to sign a mandatory arbitration waiver as a condition of employment; if they prevail, the majority of workplaces in America will likely adopt the practice. Read the rest

An excerpt from "Bullshit Jobs," David Graeber's forthcoming book about the rise of useless work

Anarchist anthropologist David Graeber made a landmark contribution to the debate about inequality, money, and wealth with his massive 2012 book Debt: The First 5,000 Years (a book that helped inspire my 2017 novel Walkaway). Read the rest

Neurobollocks with Chinese characteristics: Chinese employers use "brain wave sensors" to tune workforces

Giant Chinese companies are outfitting millions of employees -- everyone from factory workers to military personnel to pilots and train drivers -- with special uniform hats containing an unspecified neurological sensor package claimed to be capable of detecting "depression, anxiety or rage" as well as "fatigue and attention loss with an accuracy of more than 90 per cent"; the practice is largely unregulated. Read the rest

Colorado Senate Republicans introduce legislation to fire, imprison striking teachers

SB18-264 -- AKA the Prohibit Public School Teacher Strikes Bill -- was introduced by Colorado Senator Bob Gardner [R-12/303-866-4880/@senbobgardner] and Representative Paul Lundeen [R-19/303-866-2924/@paul_lundeen]; it allows school districts to seek court injunctions banning public school teachers from striking, so that they can be held in contempt should they withdraw their labor, and be imprisoned for contempt. Read the rest

Tesla pulls a Trump, smears critical press outlet as "extremists"

Tesla was extremely upset to learn that the employees who'd been injured and maimed in its factories spoke to Reveal News about the unsafe working conditions and culture of cover-ups at the Tesla plants. Read the rest

The US workforce is the most productive, best educated in history and unemployment is at an all-time low, but wages are stagnant

Orthodox market economics holds that when unemployment falls and the labor supply gets tighter wages go up; it also predicts that better-educated workers and more-productive workers get paid more for their work -- none of this has happened. Read the rest

Leaked docs reveal Koch/Walton/DeVos's anti-teacher talking points

The "State Policy Network" is a coalition of 66 far-right organizations who've been given $80M by a small number of billionaires, including the Walton family (heirs to the Walmart fortune), the Koch Brothers, and Betsy DeVos; they're terrified of the teachers' uprising, in which wildcat strikes have raced across America because teachers whose unions were neutralized have been put on starvation wages in underfunded facilities. Without any union bosses to keep them in check, the teachers have demanded the world -- and they're getting it. Read the rest

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