Blog Archive - June 2014
Nick Hanauer makes no bones about being wealthy. He also understands that consumers need money to buy the things that make people like him rich. He’s written a great open letter to his fellow “zillionaires.” It’s long, so I’ll just link and let you take it from a billionaire with great common sense.
The Supreme Court’s ruling In Harris v. Quinn seems limited in its scope. According to Matthew Rothschild of the Progressive, the Court’s decision could be best called “odd.” The result could have been a disaster for public sector unions. Instead, the decision is limited to home care workers in Illinois. Rothschild does not the language of Judge Samuel Alito’s decision, which could set up more problems for public sector workers in the future. Norman Goldman, a former lawyer and current radio talk show host, made a similar comment. He noted that the Court sometimes rules by small steps. If the Court maintains its current line up or adds more conservative justices, this decision might be just the first slice. However, if more liberal justices are put on the Court, this case could be forgotten and meaningless.
In other news at the Court, the same justices who took rights from unions gave them to employers. In the Hobby Lobby case, the Court ruled that an employer could limit what kind of health coverage it provides employees based on the owners’ religious beliefs. Again, the case was limited to certain kinds of health insurance. However, this case is chilling to me. What if an employer’s religious beliefs held that women should be in the home? Could that company not hire women or not promote them to positions of management? Or, as in the case of Christian Scientists, what if the owner followed a religion that did not believe in traditional medical care?
Both cases are troubling because they are so limited in their scope. Following Goldman’s reasoning, the real problems for workers might be the result of cases that build on each other. The Supreme Court has always been a political institution. Working people need to remember what the Court has done when it comes time to vote. Justice may be blind, but judges are not.
Ian Millhiser, Supreme Court writer for Think Progress, examines the case of Quinn v. Harris, which will have a major impact on worker’s rights. This case could affect the future of labor unions and possibly the legality of the minimum wage. Millhiser’s analysis is rich in detail and explanation that I don’t want to try to summarize. I urge you to read this article.
I will post commentary on the decision tomorrow.
Yes magazine explores the ways people work together to enhance the common good. It reports that there is good news out of New York City, where the City Council has appropriate $1.2 million to support worker-owned cooperatives. Though the fund is small and is predicted to create fewer than 250 jobs, it helps set a model for other cities. In 2013, Yes outlined the ways worker-owned and other co-ops are changing the economy. In a time when Wall Street is booming and large corporations are merging, it’s refreshing to see that some people are building an alternative economy, one where workers can have some say in how a business is run. If you’re looking to start a business, see if co-ops are legal in your state. They might be a good way to have a successful business in which all workers will “take ownership.”
Retailer IKEA has shown leadership in raising its minimum wage to $10.76 per hour. Better still, the company will adjust that wage in areas where the cost of living is higher. The company only has 38 stores in the U.S. But, hopefully, it is setting a model for its larger competitors in the retail world. America needs a raise, and IKEA is helping lead the way.
What is the most important element on your resume? Contact information.
If an employer cannot reach you because your phone number or email are incorrect, it will probably move on to the nest resume. Take an extra minute to review your contact information. Make sure it is correct and easy to read. This is especially true of email addresses. I recently had trouble sending email to a client because she used zero after a letter. I assumed it was the letter O. If need be, change the font or font size so it is easy for someone to read your email address. After you check your phone number, test your voice mail or answering machine. If an employer calls and finds that your message box is full or that you have not set up you message box, you might be losing an opportunity.
Finding a job is never easy. Don't make it even harder by making it hard for employers to reach you. Check your contact information, and make sure that your voice mail works.
I recently read an article that listed 10 words employers don't want to see on a resume. After each word, the article listed a percentage of employers that did not like a given word. None of the words had more than 20% rating, which means that most respondents didn't care about a given word. Worse still, many of the words listed in the article are often featured in job posts. My take away from this article is that we should worry much more about showing why we are qualified to do a job than worry about one word a hiring manager or HR manager might not like. Anyone who rejects a resume based on one word must have a great pool of talent. My advice is to find words that show your strengths and qualifications. That is what employers want to see.
One of my favorite websites Big Think featured a quotation from the great Zen teacher Alan Watts: “The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
We often resist change and hang on to what we can no longer have, or – worse still – cling to that which is not good for us. Watts’ advice is very relevant to anyone thinking about changing jobs or careers. Don’t dread the change. Dance with it.
A prospective client called yesterday. I took the person's number and repeated to make sure I had it right. When I called the number, there was a message saying that the mail box was full. I called the next morning and got the same message. What if I was an employer trying to schedule an interview? Small, sloppy mistakes can have big consequences.
Huffington Post reports that 9 Senate Democrats are proposing to expand the guidelines for what workers will receive overtime for working more than 40 hours in a week. A bill proposed by retiring Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa would raise the very low threshold used to make employees exempt (not eligible for overtime). The current limit is $455 per week (about $22,000 annual). The Democrats would phase in increases that would raise the limit to $1,090 per week (about $54,000 annual).
This is a great proposal because it would be an immediate improvement for those making more than the minimum wage, and it would eventually even help the middle class. Critics will say that employers will just cut hours and make more positions part-time. The problem with that claim is that many companies who have tried to do this are getting what they pay for: bad work from employees who will leave the first chance they get. Given the current political climate, this bill – like the minimum wage – has almost no chance of passing. What it does do is change the conversation. Democrats are trying to find ways to help the middle class. Hopefully, some Republicans will join with them and do the right thing for hard working Americans.