day one

BossFeed Briefing for January 14, 2019. Last Wednesday, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos announced their divorce via a screenshot posted to Twitter. Last Thursday the mayor of New York City proposed to require private employers in that city provide at least two weeks of paid vacation. Last Friday the Alaskan Way Viaduct in downtown Seattle closed for good, and officials are promising three weeks and/or five years of traffic havoc will result. Tuesday is the 99th anniversary of Prohibition taking effect. And as of this coming Sunday there will be exactly two years until the next Inauguration Day.


Three things to know this week:


The 2019 session of the Washington State Legislature gets underway today, and we know that corporate lobbyists will be there at the Capitol building telling elected officials what they want. So let’s make sure they hear from workers about we want, too.

New research by found that workers' wages fell 1.3% last year after adjusting for inflation. Related: about three quarters of women say they are “somewhat” or “extremely” anxious about paying their bills.


About 100,000 au pairs have won a $65 million settlement of a lawsuit over artificially low wages and unpaid overtime. Most were paid just $195.75 for each 45-hour workweek providing childcare and often other types of domestic work.

Two things to ask:

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Is your employer going the extra mile during the Seattle Squeeze? Rachel Lauter, the Executive Director of Working Washington, has an op-ed in the Seattle Times spelling out what employers can do to accommodate the transportation needs of employees who work in food, retail, warehouses, and other positions where you have to show up at the workplace to do your job. Check out those recommendations, and then let us know how your employer is doing.


So uh what else is a lie? We all know by now that trickle-down economics was a lie from day one, and now there’s evidence that the so-called “skills gap” is a lie too. Researchers found that employers simply boost the skills “required” in a given position when unemployment was high, then relaxed those requirements when unemployment fell.

And one thing that's worth a closer look:


 In a surprise twist expertly explained by Seattle University Professor Charlotte Garden in On Labor, the forced arbitration clauses which Uber & Lyft forced drivers to sign are having some unintended consequences… for Uber and Lyft. When 16,000 drivers for the two companies had their class-action lawsuit rejected because the companies required arbitration instead, they turned around and filed 16,000 individual arbitration cases. Each case could cost about $10,000 for the companies, simply to host the forum (renting a room to hear a case, pay the arbitrator, pay their own attorneys, etc), so the potential liability is enormous — before any one case is even argued in any forum. All of which is part of the reason class-action lawsuits exist in the first place, and while this amusing situation certainly doesn't address the fundamental problems with forcing workers to waive access to courts as a condition of employment, it does provide an excellent excuse to look up the word schadenfreude.


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!