November 17, 2017

Since Uber’s founding in 2009, the ride-hailing service has relied on tens of thousands of drivers that it considers to be independent contractors. Although this policy has been controversial from the start, executives claim it is a vital component of the company’s historic growth rate. After all, the money that Uber saves from paying employment benefits allows it to charge lower fares. That explanation simply isn’t good enough for many critics, however, who claim the company is depriving drivers of Continue reading

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For most non-rural people, the classic image of a dairy farm likely involves a solitary, bucket-toting farmer trudging out to the barn to milk the cows before dawn. As this video shows, though, modern American dairy farms are far more advanced than most city slickers would imagine. From automated milking machines to robot feeders, these high-tech tools help dairy farmers cut costs while also improving efficiency.

Questions:

 

  1. What are the advantages of automation on dairy farms?
  2. How have labor Continue reading
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john-edwardsIn 2007 members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike for 100 days, bringing much of the entertainment industry to a halt. The action left tens of thousands of workers idled and reportedly cost the Los Angeles economy $2 billion. The writers eventually reached a deal with Hollywood studios and ended a dire situation that neither side wanted to see happen again.  

Ten years later, though, these two groups found themselves at yet another stalemate during Continue reading

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January 26, 2017

DaveSTo people familiar with sunny Silicon Valley, Finland may seem like a questionable tech hub. But thanks to the telecommunications giant Nokia, for years the snowy Scandinavian nation served as one of the central destinations in Europe for tech workers. Once Nokia began to collapse, however, the fortunes of many Finnish engineers declined as well.

These formerly prominent staffers then signed up for unemployment benefits in the hopes that the tech industry would turn around. When jobs largely failed to Continue reading

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January 19, 2017

ArvindGroverFor many corporate executives, non-compete agreements are just a part of doing business. Since companies want to hang on to top talent as long as possible, they often insert clauses in contracts that prevent employees from joining competitors for a certain amount of time. While this limits a staffer’s options when looking for a new job, their high-level status usually provides them with plenty of alternative choices.

That’s not quite the case for sandwich makers, however. While non-compete clauses are Continue reading

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November 1, 2016

MarkOhIn April 2013, more than one thousand Bangladeshi garment workers died when the Rana Plaza building collapsed. Considered to be the deadliest garment factory accident in history, the tragic event led to worldwide condemnation of many Western clothing companies. After all, brands like H&M, Walmart and Zara had long pushed producers in Bangladesh’s growing garment industry to make clothes faster and cheaper. While this allowed retailers to set low prices at their stores, the focus on efficiency forced Bangladesh’s factories Continue reading

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October 18, 2016

LindsayHolmwoodThe grisly nature of the meat industry practically ensures that the business will never be pretty. Still, conditions in a slaughterhouse can always get worse if management marginalizes their workforce. According to the global development agency Oxfam America, that’s precisely what’s happening at a number of U.S. poultry plants. In facilities owned by big names like Tyson, Perdue and Pilgrim’s Pride, workers complained that superiors regularly denied them bathroom breaks. Some even reported wearing diapers while working on the line. Continue reading

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October 7, 2016

DamianSFor those who have spent years ordering items from online retailers like Amazon, setting foot inside a store can sometimes seem like taking a trip back in time. But while the shift away from brick-and-mortar locations has utterly changed industries like music and clothing, grocery stores have remained largely the same since the dawn of the digital revolution. After all, most people still prefer to examine food in person before they buy it.

But that hasn’t stopped a collection Continue reading

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April 1, 2016

This week, America’s labor lobby scored a major victory thanks to a split Supreme Court decision that upheld unions’ right to collect membership fees from public sector workers. The short video linked below brings clarity to this complicated story and focuses on the perspectives of both sides.

http://on.wsj.com/1VSf1RU

Questions:

  1. Is it ethical to require teachers like Rebecca Friedrich to pay for membership to unions they oppose?
  1. What benefits do union members receive from the dues they pay?
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March 2, 2016

For decades China’s industrial economy grew at a breakneck pace thanks to heavy investment from the state. This expansive age may be at an end, however. Over the last few years, demand for Chinese goods has dropped and its stock market has become increasingly unpredictable. Analysts say that China built up far too much manufacturing infrastructure that has now become an excessive drain on resources. As a result, last week the Chinese government announced the drastic measures it would take Continue reading

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