An ant can't

BossFeed Briefing for September 18, 2017. Last Monday, several bikini baristas sued the city of Everett, charging that the city’s new dress code ordinance violates their freedom of speech and effectively discriminates on the basis of gender. Last Tuesday, the lawsuit over ownership of the famous monkey selfie was finally settled with an agreement that 25% of future revenue from the photo goes to protect the habitat of the monkey who actually took the picture, with 75% going to the guy who owned the camera. Last Thursday it was revealed that several Snohomish County cities intend to officially submit a joint proposal to be the site of Amazon’s second headquarters. And tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of Seattle workers winning the nation’s strongest secure scheduling law.


Three things to know this week:

Despite their occupational title, it turns out that about 40% of so-called “worker ants” manage to get away without doing much work. New research finds that these "lazy" ants are a reserve labor force and will get down to work if the more productive members of the colony disappear; otherwise “they really just sit there,” researchers claim.


Nine months after we raised the statewide minimum wage, unemployment in Yakima County has plummeted below 5%. There are three times more job openings in the county now than there were last year, and employers are "scrambling" to find workers.

A new company called DailyPay has developed a system that gives workers access to wages they’ve earned but not yet gotten a paycheck for — for a fee of course. Unlike payday loan operations, DailyPay plugs directly into corporate payroll systems, letting low-wage employers create a new revenue stream as a side benefit of paying employees so little they can’t reliably make it from one paycheck to the next. 


Two things to ask:

Can it happen here? More than 5,000 cafeteria workers, shuttle drivers, security officers, and other contracted-out low-wage workers in Silicon Valley have organized unions the past few years. Their successful campaigns have focused attention on the corporate responsibility of the brand-name tech companies whose employees they serve and whose offices they work in.

 Think these things are related? The latest census data shows that adjusted for inflation, median household income in 2016 is barely higher than it was 17 years ago. And a recent survey by Harris Poll for CareerBuilder found that 78% of workers live paycheck to paycheck


And one thing that’s worth a closer look:


After the Phoenix New Times exposed an abhorrent practice at Phoenix Motel 6 locations where federal immigration enforcement authorities were routinely given personal details on motel guests, the corporate PR team first attempted to blame front-line workers, claiming that senior management just didn’t know about it. It was a poor excuse, because it seemed highly unlikely that these particular workers just happened to enjoy such a remarkable level of on-the-job autonomy for the chain hospitality industry, and even less likely they chose to use that unique power to send customer lists to ICE. When Motel 6 eventually announced the practice would stop, they revealed even more: they showed that huge chains can in fact take responsibility to change practices across corporate and franchised locations when they think they have to, contrary to what they all try to say when they’re being held accountable for wages and working conditions.


Read this far?


 Consider yourself briefed, boss.

Let us know what you think about this week's look at the world of work, wages, and inequality!

Let us know what you think about this week's look at the world of work, wages, and inequality!