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Angry and Underpaid U.S. Steelworkers to Strike for Higher Pay

Over 30,000 angry unionized steelworkers at the United States’ two largest steel makers will likely go on strike in October following repeated stonewalling by management of their demands for higher pay and profit sharing amid a renaissance in the steel industry.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Pittsburgh, PA, United States (4E) – Over 30,000 angry unionized steelworkers at the United States’ two largest steel makers will likely go on strike in October following repeated stonewalling by management of their demands for higher pay and profit sharing amid a renaissance in the steel industry.

Leaders of United Steelworkers (USW), the union representing workers at both ArcelorMittal (the world’s largest steel producer) and the United States Steel Corporation (U.S. Steel), the second largest domestic producer, in the contract talks said a strike is very likely. Together, ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel account for nearly 25 percent of U.S. steel production.

“If I had to put a number on it, there is a 90 percent chance” of a strike, said Thomas Conway, the union’s international vice president. “Our people are (angry). They understand the risk of this and what it means for their families.”

Workers at ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel want a bigger portion of the windfall these firms have accumulated in recent years. Steelworkers at the two firms say they haven’t benefited in any way from these corporate gains.

Union officials pointed out the U.S. steel industry was enjoying strong growth even before Trump’s protectionist tariffs. ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel reported massive profits after Trump’s protectionist tariffs went into effect while other American firms hard hit by Trump’s trade war were struggling to survive.

Lasr week, the USW union at U.S. Steel returned to the bargaining table at Pittsburgh after both sides failed to do so on Sept. 1.

“Members sent the management at U.S. Steel a clear message: that the workforce recognizes the greed management has displayed in lining their own pockets,” said USW in an update to members. “We also know that workers have sacrificed to help the company over the past several years, and that the U.S. Steel bosses need to come to their senses, bargain in good faith and drop their ridiculous concessionary demands. Solidarity works, and this union knows that.”

After three years with no pay increases, USW seeks raises at a time when the steel industry is booming. USW, however, said U.S. Steel management wants concessions, including more out-of-pocket health care costs, reduced retiree benefits and no raises in the last half of a six-year contract. The 16,000 U.S.

USW claim top company officials at U.S. Steel have given themselves more than $50 million in pay and bonuses since 2015 while the hourly workforce has not received a wage increase over the same period. Steel workers then unanimously voted for a strike authorization.

This week, 15,000 members of the USW at ArcelorMittal unanimously voted to authorize a nationwide strike at plants operated by the company if negotiations over new contracts flounder. ArcelorMittal also wants concessions from workers despite recently reporting its highest quarterly profit in seven years.

A strike by workers at either or both companies be a major blow to the industry, which the Trump administration sought to strengthen by imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

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Labor

Here are the New Minimum Wages in 22 States and D.C.

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia are slated to increase the minimum wage for employees starting January 2019 from $8 to $15 an hour or thereabouts.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia are slated to increase the minimum wage for employees starting January 2019 from $8 to $15 an hour or thereabouts. In addition, 38 cities and counties are also scheduled to hike their minimum wages.

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) report reveals that more than 17 million workers will benefit from the 2019 wage increases. It said the increases are either due to policies designed to help lower-income workers or are part of regularly scheduled cost-of-living adjustments.

Cost-of-living adjustments are small increases, but at least workers won’t be falling behind inflation in the coming years, said Yannet Lathrop, policy analyst at NELP.

The next step is a wage higher than $15 in more expensive states and cities. Lathrop pointed out that in some parts of the country, $15 is not a living wage, “so folks need to think about a higher wage.”

She noted that Hawaii is already thinking about a $17 minimum wage bill.

Here are the states where the minimum wage is set to rise in 2019.

* Alaska

Current minimum wage: $9.84

2019 minimum wage: $9.89 (as of Jan. 1, 2019)

* Arizona

Current minimum wage: $10.50

2019 minimum wage: $11 (as of Jan. 1, 2019)

* Arkansas

Current minimum wage: $8.50

2019 minimum wage: $9.25 (as of Jan. 1, 2019)

* California

Current minimum wage: $11 for large employers; $10.50 for small employers

2019 minimum wage: $12 for large employers; $11 for small employers (as of Jan. 1, 2019)

* Colorado

Current minimum wage: $10.20

2019 minimum wage: $11.10 (as of Jan. 1, 2019)

* Delaware

Current minimum wage: $8.25

2019 minimum wage: $8.75 and then another to $9.25

Effective date: First increase in January; second increase in October

* District of Columbia

Current minimum wage: $13.25

2019 minimum wage: $14 (as of July. 1, 2019)

* Florida

Current minimum wage: $8.25

2019 minimum wage: $8.46 (as of Jan. 1, 2019)

* Maine

Current minimum wage: $10

2019 minimum wage: $11 (as of Jan. 1, 2019)

* Massachusetts

Current minimum wage: $11

2019 minimum wage: $12 (as of Jan. 1, 2019)

* Michigan

Current minimum wage: $9.25

2019 minimum wage: $9.48

Effective date: 90 days after the Michigan legislature adjourns, approximately late March or early April

* Minnesota

Current minimum wage: $9.65 for large employers; $7.87 for small employers

2019 minimum wage: $9.86 for large employers; $8.04 for small employers (as of Jan. 1, 2019)

* Missouri

Current minimum wage: $7.85

2019 minimum wage: $8.60 (as of Jan. 1, 2019

* Montana

Current minimum wage: $8.30

2019 minimum wage: $8.50 (as of Jan. 1, 2019)

* Nevada

Current minimum wage: $8.25 with no benefits; $7.25 with benefits

2019 minimum wage: The Nevada Labor Commissioner will determine in April whether to increase the state’s minimum wage in 2019 based on a formula in the state constitution. (as of Jan. 1, 2019)

* New Jersey

Current minimum wage: $8.60

2019 minimum wage: $8.85 (as of Jan. 1, 2019)

* New York

Current minimum wage: $13 for large employers in New York City; $12 for small employers in New York City; $11 in Long Island and Westchester County; and $10.40 everywhere else

2019 minimum wage: $15 for large employers in New York City; $13.50 for small employers in New York City; $12 in Long Island and Westchester County; and $11.10 everywhere else

Effective date: Dec. 31, 2018

* Ohio

Current minimum wage: $8.30

2019 minimum wage: $8.55 (as of Jan. 1, 2019)

* Oregon

Current minimum wage: $12 in Portland; $10.75 standard; and $10.50 in rural areas

2019 minimum wage: $12.50 in Portland; $11.25 standard; and $11 in rural areas

Effective date: July 1, 2019

* Rhode Island

Current minimum wage: $10.10

2019 minimum wage: $10.50 (as of Jan. 1, 2019

* South Dakota

Current minimum wage: $8.85

2019 minimum wage: $9.10 (as of Jan. 1, 2019

* Vermont

Current minimum wage: $10.50

2019 minimum wage: $10.78 (as of Jan. 1, 2019

* Washington

Current minimum wage: $11.50

2019 minimum wage: $12 (as of Jan. 1, 2019)

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Labor

UK Employers Prefer ‘Job Readiness’ Over Academic Credentials

A surprising new study shows most employers in the United Kingdom place greater weight on “job readiness” instead of formal academic credentials.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

London, United Kingdom (4E) – A surprising new study shows most employers in the United Kingdom place greater weight on “job readiness” instead of formal academic credentials.

The study published in the Journal of Education Policy challenges existing theories that higher levels of formal education determine the result of jobs competition in the UK labor market. It analyzed more than 21 million UK job advertisements based on labor market analytics and found that only 18 percent of job ads specified a qualification requirement.

Employers were also more likely to highlight social qualifications, specific skills and cognitive abilities such as organizational skills or time management in their recruitment ads. These attributes are aspects that signal job readiness.

The study reveals that employers look for a wide range of technical and social skills in new employees. Employers emphasized performance rather than assuming academic squalifications equal the skills they needed, or indicated that candidates would be easier to train.

The focus on job readiness rather than trainability indicates employers are looking for ways to reduce training costs and shorten the time it takes for newly-hired employees to make a productive contribution to the company.

It also emphasizes the need for job candidates to develop marketable skills of immediate value to employers. This outcome helps explain the increasing popularity and importance of high quality internships in Britain.

There is, however, little to suggest that a reduced emphasis on academic credentials will lead to a reduction in class-based inequalities in the competition for jobs.

The study noted that candidates with greater financial, cultural and social resources will likely maintain a major advantage when specific skills and personal traits not a central part of formal education are perceived as an important part of what it means to be job ready.

The study’s findings call for a fresh discussion on the meaning of merit and fairness in the relationship between education and the labor market. This is especially relevant at a time when government reforms in the UK are premised on the assumption that increasing intergenerational social mobility can be achieved by widening access to higher education.

The research was led by Professor Phillip Brown and Professor Manuel Souto-Otero of Cardiff University.

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Labor

Global Wage Growth Falls to Lowest Level in a Decade

Employees around the world aren’t getting the salaries they deserve despite companies raking-in more profits than ever before.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Geneva, Switzerland (4E) – Employees around the world aren’t getting the salaries they deserve despite companies raking-in more profits than ever before.

The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Global Wage Report reveals that global wage growth fell to its lowest in almost a decade in 2017. The report found that international wage growth saw a 0.6 percent decline in 2017 based on data from 136 countries.

Surprisingly, the rich G-20 nations saw wage growth fall from 0.9 percent to 0.4 percent between 2016 and 2017. Average wages in advanced G-20 economies only grew by 9% during the period.

Emerging and developing G-20 countries saw wage growth fall from 4.9 percent to 4.3 percent. Average wages in emerging and developing G-20 countries almost tripled over the last 20 years in contrast to the 9% growth in G20 countries.

Wage inequality between genders was also a key issue. This problem was more marked in low and middle-income economies. ILO said wages were frequently insufficient to cover workers’ needs or provide for families in these countries.

ILO Director General Guy Ryder said wage growth was generally seeing a continuous slowdown.

“It’s puzzling that in high-income economies we see slow wage growth alongside a recovery in GDP growth and falling unemployment — and early indications suggest that slow wage growth continues in 2018,” he said.

“Countries should explore, with their social partners, ways to achieve socially and economically sustainable wage growth.”

Earlier this week, a study suggested wage growth could slow in the U.S. if Trump went ahead with the 25% tariffs on Chinese goods. This move will mean households spending an extra $2,400 in 2019 and as much as $17,300 by 2030.

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