Think Progress

Posted: June 29, 2014
By: Clay Cerny


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.

Posted: April 22, 2014
By: Clay Cerny

Think Progress reports on Treehouse, an online education company that only works 4 days a week. Company founder Ryan Carson was working 7 days a week on a new start up. He made a decision that life was as important as work and instituted a 4 day work schedule for all employees. Treehouse is one of Carson’s 3 companies that follow the 4 day work week model. Some experts think this kind of work model improves performance while working more (60 hour weeks) hurts productivity. Time will tell if more companies follow Carson’s model – if he can even sustain it with his companies. The first step is to try. Three cheers to Ryan Carson for remembering that life is not all work.

Posted: April 5, 2014
By: Clay Cerny

Bryce Covert of Think Progress reports that Americans are failing to do something important: Take paid vacations. 15% take none of the time coming to them – 75% take only part of it. That’s a lot of compensation that is going back into the employers’ pockets. Covert adds that 60% of those surveyed say that they often do some work while on vacation. Paid time off is a type of compensation. When we don’t take that time or when we work while on vacation, it’s the same as working for free. Many of my friends and clients have told me that they don’t take time coming to them or work while on vacation because their companies are understaffed. “There is no else to do the work.” What that means is that it pays for companies to stay understaffed, which keeps them from paying for time off. It’s not quite wage theft, but it’s close.

Posted: March 16, 2014
By: Clay Cerny

Think Progress reports that some businesses are asking their customers to do something very odd:  Stop tipping wait staff.  Instead, these moral businesses are pricing their food and drink in a way that lets them offer living wages and benefits, which is a common practice in other countries.  The article also notes that under the current tip based system, the poverty rate for restaurant employees is three times higher than other workers.  If the average tip is 20% and the restaurant raised its price by that amount, we could be confident that hard working people are being properly compensated.  Anyone who thinks that paying such a small amount is unfair has another option:  Cook your own meals.

Posted: February 11, 2014
By: Clay Cerny

Writing in Think Progress, Bryce Covert examines problems at Walmart.  Some stores have lost sales because the shelves are empty.  Why are they empty?  Because there are no workers to fill them.  As the retail giant cuts its full-time work force, the quality of work has gone done as well.  Shelves are not being refilled, which also means that shoppers will find other places to buy.  Covert points out that several research companies have downgraded Walmart because of this problem.

Sooner or later, employees will show that they have had enough.  They will not work hard, do sloppy work, or jump from job to job to punish the employer who mistreats them.  Shoppers will go where they get the best price and the product they want.  Some shoppers may even be paying attention to how a company treats its workers.

Posted: January 28, 2014
By: Clay Cerny

Apparently, college football players do.  Think Progress reports that the National College Players Association has filed a petition on behalf of football players from Northwestern University to be recognized as members of a union.  This effort is being support by the United Steelworkers Union.

I’ve long believed that college athletes who generate millions of dollars for their universities deserve some kind of compensation, and I have no problem with their organizing.  However, it says a lot about our country when this story gets so much attention while the ongoing effort of low wage workers at Walmart and similar companies is almost ignored.  Public sectors unions are under fire at the Supreme Court, again, with little or no coverage.

Until working people recognize that we are all in this together, it will be easy for the super rich and their lackeys in politics and the media to play games of divide and conquer.  I hope low wage workers stand with college athletes in their struggle for union right.  And I hope college athletes do the same for the people who serve them at fast food restaurants and big box retail stores.  On this day that has seen the passing of the great Peter Seeger, a man who loved working people, we need to all stand together and support unions.

Posted: January 26, 2014
By: Clay Cerny

Where does the money go?  Many Americans are asking that question, and, according to Bryce Covert of Think Progress, they have good reason to confused and questioning.  American wages are growing at their slowest rate since 1965, barely outpacing the rate of inflation.  Worse still, real wages have declined 7% since 2007.  Covert breaks out the sectors of the economy that have grown their wages in this time, but that news seems almost irrelevant to me.  If more than 50% of the country is falling behind at the current pace, we are all going to have to pay the piper.

When I advise clients on career planning, I always emphasize the importance of income and challenges of current salary trends.  Too many of my clients have told me horror stories over the past few years about working more and make the same (or less).  For most of us, the only alternative to the wage trap is to be on keep looking for a better job that will pay more.  The never-ending job search is exhausting and frustrating.  But, in the current market, it’s the only way to get ahead.

Posted: January 22, 2014
By: Clay Cerny

Citing a report by the New York Federal Reserve Bank, Think Progress examines the plight of recent college graduates who can only land low paying jobs.  Ironically, some jobs that don’t require college degrees pay significantly more.  The report does not deny that people with degrees have better work opportunities.  What it notes is that more graduates are not enjoying opportunities they had in the past.  As a country, we need to start paying attention to the kind of jobs that are being created in the current “recovery.”  As more stories of college students falling through the economic cracks become prominent, especially when they are backed by data from the New York Fed, it’s logical to assume that some students will give up on college and give up on their future.  Opportunity needs to be more than a political slogan.

Posted: June 8, 2013
By: Clay Cerny

Writing in Think Progress, Alan Pyke reports that wages fell by 3.8% during the first three months of 2013.  This is the largest drop in the 65 years that this statistic has been measured.  I’ve written in the past that too little attention is being paid to stagnant or falling wages.  Even if inflation is low, too many people are falling behind because they are not keeping pace with increased costs.

What can we do as working people?  Don’t be loyal to companies that are screwing us.  Anyone who is unhappy with their current pay or benefits needs to dust off their resume and start looking for a better employer.  In the same three months that wages have fallen at a record pace, several of my clients have found new employers that increased their salaries.

How did they do that?  First, they aligned their skills, experience, and achievements to what potential employers needed.  Second, they looked hard to find a job.  They didn’t wait for the job to come to them.  Third, they did not take jobs that offered the same kind of salary or benefits.  There is no guarantee that you will find a better job.  However, if you don’t look, there is a guarantee that you are locking yourself in a work place that does not value or compensate your work.

If you’re unhappy with the way your current employer is treating you, get active and make a change.

Posted: April 1, 2013
By: Clay Cerny

Travis Waldron of Think Progress reports on a on a disturbing trend:  college graduates working low wage jobs.  The statistics are a bit confusing, but the bottom line is that even college grads are now having trouble finding jobs that pay well.  Waldron explains that most of the new jobs generated in the post-recession economy have been low wage, which means that will be all that is available for some college grads.  He also notes that these better educated workers will push less qualified candidates out of the job market.  This trend needs to be watched – and worried over.