Wells Fargo: End the Obsession with Sales GoalsThe LA Times recently reported that roughly 30 Wells Fargo branch employees in the L.A. area tried to meet sales goals by opening accounts that were never used. Lying and cheating should never be tolerated in the workplace -- especially at a financial institution. But the situation also suggests that Wells Fargo take stock of its community banking program and the sales goals employees are pressured to meet each week. According to the Times, the pressure to meet sales goals can be intense. Managers have required sales agents to stay late and call their friends and family members to open accounts in order to meet sales objectives. Sales at all costs is no way to build trust with our communities. Everyone has unique banking needs, and Wells Fargo employees pride themselves on being able to deliver quality products to individuals and community businesses. But when aggressive sales goals compete with customers' needs, one side always wins. We're calling on Wells Fargo to immediately review its community banking program and lower excessive sales targets for team members. Photo credit: http://bit.ly/16vf2lK
WeWork Employees Deserve Lawful WagesWeWork is a network of shared work spaces with over 90 locations in 28 cities around the world. It’s a startup that has been valued at $16 billion. Its mission is, “to create a world where people work to create a life not just a living.” Yet this doesn’t include its employees. I worked as an Associate Community Manager for WeWork in the Bay Area from March to November 2015. I was given a salary of $42,000 per year, or $82 per day. My responsibilities included working the front desk, giving tours, hosting events and replacing office supplies and kegs -- among other activities. I loved my job, but noticed myself and my coworkers with similar positions were constantly short staffed, doing mostly menial tasks, and working an extra 10 or more hours a week. Eventually, I realized employees were misclassified as “salary exempt” in order to avoid key benefits like overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, and reimbursement of expenses, like using your personal cell phone for work. Myself and other employees consistently brought the issues to the attention of management, but were ignored. When my lawsuit was discovered, I was told by a manager my talk about wages with coworkers was negative to the work environment and I should stop talking to other employees about their rights because, “their path is their path” and I should let everyone discover it on their own. I was asked if I wanted to resign, and declined. A few weeks later, WeWork surprised employees with over 50 pages of new employment documents, including a 9-page arbitration agreement which waived employee’s rights to class action claims and waived a person’s right to a jury trial, individually or collectively. I refused to sign the papers and asked what would happen. I was informed that my “continued employment would count as [my] consent to the new agreements.” Since I already had an active complaint and did not want to waive my civil rights, I refused to sign the new papers. I was fired the following day. My lawsuit was filed against WeWork in December 2015. Sadly, the case was still forced into arbitration and out of the public eye. I am still determined to make this right and help others via this campaign. The company, valued at $16 billion, should not be allowed to make its profits at the expense of their employees. WeWork should not be allowed to hide behind unlawful arbitration agreements to avoid being held accountable to federal and state labor laws. Companies should never have the power to take away the rights of citizens. Please help and support this campaign. If you are a current or former employee we would love to talk to you.
Tell Myer: clean up your act!My name is Susan* and I work as a cleaner at a Myer store in Melbourne. Cleaners like me work around the clock keeping Myer stores clean and hygienic. But dodgy subcontractors are underpaying us by up to $20 an hour. We are denied basic rights like sick pay, weekend rates and superannuation. If we complain we can be sacked at any time – many of us are too frightened to join our union and speak out. A few weeks ago a Myer cleaner was sacked when he asked about his rights. So was his sister – and his partner. And they weren’t even there! Myer threw out its last contractor earlier this year because cleaners were being exploited. Now it’s happening again. We should be paid properly, and be able to work without fear or intimidation. The system is unjust and is failing us. Please stand with me and my fellow cleaners and tell Myer it needs to clean up its act and demand we are directly employed and receive our full legal pay. *Not my real name.
National Whistleblowers Center: Do Not Enforce Gag ClausesWe thought that working for the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) meant that we would be free to question our employer. We were wrong. We, attorneys Richard Renner and Lindsey Williams, along with three of our co-workers, were fired after questioning our bosses about the NWC’s finances and trying to organize a union. It all started when the NWC announced the historic $104 million award granted to UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld. Shortly afterward, the NWC founders told us that despite our hard work and the influx of cash, they were unable to afford the raises they had repeatedly promised. This did not make any sense to us. After our questions were ignored, we attempted to organize a union as a way to force them to be more transparent with their finances. Retaliation was swift and harsh. We were all fired on November 5, 2012, one by voicemail. To add insult to injury, the severance agreements they offered included an appallingly broad gag clause. The proposed agreements said if we accepted the money we could “not, criticize, disparage, or say or do anything that casts [the employer] in a negative light” to “any other person.” There is huge financial pressure on employees to sign these types of gag clauses. In fact, The Whistleblower’s Handbook written by one of the NWC founders, Stephen M. Kohn, has an entire chapter encouraging employees not to sign gag clauses. Apparently, he did not mean that advice to apply to his own employees. Three of our co-workers signed the agreements. We refused because we believed that the gag clauses violated labor laws and NWC’s stated mission. We filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in January 2013. The NLRB investigated the charges and found enough evidence to proceed with prosecution against NWC for wrongful termination. We were finally able to reach a settlement shortly before the trial would have begun. As part of the settlement, the NWC agreed to remove all mention of our terminations from their records and post a notice to all employees that they would not be retaliated against for exercising their legal rights to work collectively to improve their wages and working conditions. We want the NWC Board of Directors to publicly state that gag clauses in severance agreements (or other employment agreements) are against the core mission of the organization, in violation of the National Labor Relations Act, and, therefore, will not be used by the NWC in the future. We also want NWC to commit that existing gag clauses will not be enforced. We don’t want what happened to us to happen again. Our case serves as a reminder that any worker can have his or her legal rights violated – even lawyers. It also reminds us that every employer should be held accountable when they break the law – even the National Whistleblowers Center. For more information visit: www.fearinghonesty.org.
B&E Poultry, pay your workers what they're owed!You might not have heard of B&E Poultry but they’re quickly becoming one of the biggest poultry companies in Australia. They are involved in supplying chicken to Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, KFC and Pizza Hut. B&E Poultry and their subcontractors pay their employees wages that are below the legal minimum. Their workers are now owed tens of thousands of dollars in back pay and B&E is refusing to pay up. NUW backpackers here on working holidays are demanding back pay now! Here is one couple's story: We came to Australia for a working holiday. We wanted to earn some money and travel around Australia. We really wanted to see Uluru, Cairns, Sydney and Tasmania, but we haven't been able to see any of these. We haven’t been able to earn enough money to leave Victoria. In July 2014 we got a job with a man at a poultry factory. We regularly worked more than 10 hours a day, sometimes until midnight. We were paid $16 or $17 per hour cash-in-hand no matter what time of day it was or how long we worked. We didn't realise this was not legal in Australia. Lots of holiday makers were being paid this way. We signed a lot of paperwork, but it was never clear what it was. Our breaks changed all the time, sometimes when it was busy our smoke break would disappear. We would clock on and off, but our supervisor would pay what he thought instead of what our clock cards said. The work was hard and we felt very tired. We were pushed to work harder and faster and I was scared that I would be injured. I felt like my English wasn’t good enough so I wouldn't be able to get work anywhere else. It felt like discrimination. Taiwanese holiday makers were always forced to do overtime for the flat rate. Permanent workers didn't get offered overtime. We can understand how local workers are angry about this too. Somewhere along the line we became employees of a contractor called B&E poultry. It was always unclear who we were working for. One day we found out about the union through another backpacker. Organisers from the union came to our house and spoke to us. We realised what was happening wasn't right. We all decided to join the union. Through word of mouth and social media, working holiday visa workers in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney who work for B&E subcontractors heard what we were doing and joined us in demanding back pay and fair treatment. We would like all holiday makers in Australia to be treated with respect during their time in Australia and earn at least the legal minimum for the work they do. If we had been on minimum wage we would have been earning $25.44 , and maybe we would have been able to see Uluru. This petition is about equality and respect, something we have learned the union movement in Australia will fight for. **************************** 你在澳洲可能從未聽過 B&E 雞肉廠這家公司，但在他們在雞肉產業快速成長，他們所提供的勞動力遍佈全澳。他們上游的供應商包括知名的超市，Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, 等，大型速食業KFC 和Pizza Hut。這家人力仲介與他旗下的工頭聯手，以低薪價格來欺瞞背包客，現今，所有他們旗下的背包客共欠薪高達澳幣數十萬元，而他們還以拖延手段不願償還！NUW 代表這些工會裡的背包客要求B&E 立即清償所有欠薪！ 以下是來自兩個背包客的自述： 我們到澳洲打工度假，所參與的短期工作只是為了賺錢可以環遊澳洲，我們很想看烏魯魯的大石頭、雪梨、凱恩斯、和塔斯馬尼亞，但我們哪都沒去，我們根本沒賺到足夠的錢離開維多利亞州。 去年七月我們在雞肉廠找到一份工作 一開始時從下午一點半開始工作到晚上十點，有時甚至工作到半夜。老闆給我們一小時時薪$16-17元不等，而且都是領現金。我們不曉得這在澳洲是違法的，很多背包客的工作都是算小時直接領現金的，剛進入工廠時，我們簽屬了一堆文件，但從沒人跟我們解釋我們簽了甚麼。 我們的休息時間經常變動，很多時間當工廠訂單大時，我們連休息時間都被犧牲了，我們跟其他在地工人一樣，打卡上下班，但是我們的薪水從來沒有依照打卡時間來給付。 工作很辛苦而且我們常覺得很累，生產部門常常要我們做快一點，我常覺得不知道甚麼時候我就會在工作時發生意外，因為自己的英文能力有限，我覺得在別的地方會找不到工作。 常常在工作時，我都會感受到種族歧視，台灣的背包客總是被強迫加班，而且也沒有加班費，在地的工人因為全職的保障，起薪高加班費也加成，所以老闆不會給他們加班的機會，我也能理解到為何在地工人常常藉機找我們麻煩。 我常覺得就是因為我的薪水比別人低，所以經理常常使喚我們做東做西 在無意間我們得知，原來我們是受雇一家叫做B&E的雞肉處理廠仲介，之前我們根本不知道自己的雇主是誰。 透過其他的背包客我們才知道有工會的存在，這些工會的組織者到我們家跟我們解釋我們的工作權利，我們才知道原來一直以來我們拿的薪水連基本的薪資都不到，另一方面，連最基本的工作權利都被雇主故意忽略。 透過社群網路的宣傳力量，散落在全澳各地如墨爾本、雪梨或阿德等為B&E工作的背包客們，都紛紛加入了我們，除追訴欠薪外並要求再工作上最基本的尊重。而這些背包客所處理的雞肉供應跨及全澳，包括最大的量販賣場如Coles, Woolworths, 及其他速食業等。 我們希望所有在澳洲的打工度假者，在勞動市場中都能跟在地的工人一樣，享有最基本的工作權利，拿取法定基本的薪資。如果我們能拿到法定雞肉廠的時薪$25.44澳幣，我們就能完成去烏魯魯的夢想了。 這份聯署書是起草於尊重與平等，我們相信澳洲的工會運動會起而跟我們並肩作戰。
McDonald's: Managers Assaulting Workers Won't Be ToleratedTwo nights ago, after standing on my feet for hours during a late shift, I asked my shift manager who was coming in to replace me so I could finally go home and rest. My shift manager berated me and threatened me with violence saying he was going to hit me with the fry basket. I backed away but after the threats continued I firmly told him he needed to stop. Then he slapped me across the face in front of other workers. The next morning my General Manager and District Manager called me into their office, said they had watched the tape of the incident and told me, "He didn't hit you that hard" I am offended, outraged and disappointed that no one in management, even though they had watched the security tape of the assault, was taking it seriously. Letting my shift manager off the hook because he didn't draw blood or knock me out is beyond insulting.
HAEU Workers Need to Be Part of the Solution for Open Enrollment & Vermont Health ConnectWe are employees of the Health Access Eligibility Unit. With Open-Enrollment for Vermont Health Connect now upon us, it has become increasingly clear that there are major roadblocks in our path to effectively and empathetically serving our customers. Many of the existing problems in HAEU have been exacerbated to crisis levels, and many of our co-workers are starting to break under the relentless pressure and emotional strain. We do not feel supported by management in our work, are regularly given conflicting, incomplete, or inaccurate information, are discouraged from holistically taking care of our customers, and are denied training which is essential for us to efficiently complete the immense task before us. Some of us are even concerned about the legality of tasks we are asked to do.
Stop Walmart & Whole Foods from Sourcing Forced LaborMy name is Olivia Guzman. For 17 years, my husband Fausto and I have been coming to the U.S. each season from our hometown in Mexico as H-2B guestworkers. We worked with thousands of other guestworkers who process and pack seafood for big retailers like Walmart and Whole Foods. The guestworker visa requires us to work for only one employer. The name of our boss is inscribed in our passport, and if we are fired or leave to seek work somewhere else we can be detained and deported by ICE. Our employers paid us a piece rate—by the weight of seafood we cleaned—that often came out to be less than the minimum wage no matter how fast we worked. They housed us in decrepit labor camps on company property where snakes crawled up through cracks in the floor. Bosses and managers surveilled us in the camps, humiliated us, and even physically abused us. To keep us silent, they constantly threatened us with firing, deportation, and blacklisting so we could no longer find work as guestworkers. There comes a time you can’t take the abuse any more, and in spite of the threats, you have to speak up. I did that when I became of member of the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA). I traveled across the Gulf Coast and organized my fellow guestworkers into committees to try to change conditions in the industry. I traveled to Washington, DC, and Mexico City to tell political leaders about the abuse. But when I hosted NGA meetings in my house, the recruiter spied on us. She said we were all trouble makers and threatened to have us blocked from coming back to the United States. And I learned that the threats were real, because this year, my employer blacklisted me in retaliation for my organizing. I was removed from the employment list, accused of being a trouble maker, and blocked from coming back on an H-2B visa to my employer. Walmart says it wants to stop forced labor on its supply chain, but continues to buy from suppliers who abuse guestworkers every day. Whole Foods tells customers all about where its fish were caught, but not that the fish were packed by workers who were trapped in severe labor abuse. Walmart and Whole Foods set the standards that thousands of suppliers follow. My fellow NGA members and I are calling on them to sign the NGA’s Forced Labor Prevention Accord. The Accord is a binding agreement that would ban retaliation and blacklisting, ensure basic labor standards, and create a binding dispute resolution process that includes employers and workers. We are urging retailers to sign the Accord to ensure that their suppliers don’t trap guestworkers in exploitation and forced labor.
Bank of America: Provide adequate training that keeps jobs and customers safeWe are Bank of America call center workers. Every day, we help customers with their daily account needs from handling deposits to opening credit card accounts. We are dedicated employees, and value giving our customers the best service possible. However, the bank often does not provide us with training that prepares us to adequately and ethically serve our customers. Much of the training call center employees do receive happens online with no facilitator and no opportunity to ask questions. At work, neither our team leaders nor company’s help desk are able to answer many of our questions that arise. What’s worse: our team leaders and managers are never held accountable when they give us inaccurate information which means that we’re the ones who end up being disciplined and even fired. Team leaders and managers should receive a higher level of training than the associates who report to them, so that they are experts in our policies and procedures. When we take leaves of absence, we’re not given enough time to be trained on new procedures to ensure we’re doing everything according to up-to-date standards. Not only is this frustrating for us as employees, it means that customers won’t get the best possible service. In fact, due to strict performance metrics for employees, we are encouraged to limit our time spent with clients instead of taking the time to answer all of their concerns. We want to be able to do right by our customers and keep our jobs. We have seen too many of our co-workers get fired for making mistakes that adequate training could have prevented. We are asking that independent, federally-guided training be implemented immediately for employees and managers alike. ** UPDATE (from March 2015)! Since we started speaking out about these issues, we’ve seen some improvements to our training. For example, Bank of America introduced a new online banking feature that allows employees to use their mouse to guide their client and navigate them through the online system. But we still need more improvements. Specifically, we would like to see more and up-to-date training on credit cards (that takes into account federal regulations and training); better online banking training; and diligent training and cross training of managers to ensure that they are fully prepared to assist us in handling any difficult situations that arise. We need this to be consistent and up to date so that it reflects the needs of customers and accountability of the bank.
End Sexual Abuse of International Students at Brisbane AirportI came to Australia in March on a student visa, and while studying here, I decided to take a job as a contract cleaner at Brisbane Airport. While working at the airport, I witnessed my employer harass and abuse several of my female colleagues. Until now, everyone was too afraid to speak out. That all changed last week, when five brave women came forward to alert authorities of harassment and sexual abuse they experienced at Brisbane Airport. These women are international students who say their employer forced himself on them in locked rooms, and threatened them with deportation if they resisted. He offered them rides home, then drove into dark alleys with an expectation of sexual favours. And in case there was any confusion about his intent, they say he openly and unapologetically fired any woman who resisted him. Right now, these women are scared of being kicked out of Australia for speaking out -- the very thing they were threatened with by their accused abuser. No one should be punished for alerting police of illegal abuse. As the contractor's employer, BAC needs to speak out in support of these workers remaining in Australia. All the women I work with know what this guy is like, and while he has never done anything to me, I was warned about him when I started working at the airport. I've seen so many young people come here to study, and many have taken on work with airport contractors to cover basic expenses. Some of these contractors are fair-minded, lawful businesses. But too many contractors rely on shadowy business practices to keep costs low. It's in this environment that sexual harassment has been allowed to thrive. The Brisbane Airport cleaning contractor accused of sexually abusing these women should be fired, and if found guilty, jailed. But it's also important that we prevent this from ever happening again. I don't want Brisbane Airport to ever again be the scene of exploitation and abuse. BAC should take steps to ensure that all airport workers are protected from potential exploitation. If enough airport employees, customers and members of the public speak out, Julieanne Alroe will listen. Please add your name and share with others. Together, we can repair the damage that's been done, and make Brisbane Airport a safer workplace for all its workers.
McDonald's Must Pay!http://youtu.be/E8lKrbD2U84 Dear Mr. Thompson, My name is Jorge Rios. I’m a student guestworker from Argentina who came to the U.S. on the State Department’s J-1 Summer Work Travel Program, together with other students from Latin America and Asia. We paid $3,000-4,000 each to come to the United States on this program, expecting a cultural exchange and good work that would let us earn back this money over three months and travel a bit at the end. Instead, we became exploited workers at McDonald’s restaurants in Pennsylvania. We had terrible working and housing conditions. We faced threats, stolen wages, grease burns up and down our arms. We were only used to enrich our employer. We expected to have 40 hours of work a week, but we were given as little as four hours a week at the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The employer knew we were desperate for more hours, and he kept us on call to come in with 30 minutes’ notice all day and night. I didn’t even have time to visit the public library. If we ever answered that we couldn’t work a shift—if someone was sick or exhausted when they got a call at 4 in the morning—the managers retaliated by giving us even less hours. We could not quit because we knew that if we did, our visas would be cancelled. One manager told us, “You better remember, all we have to do is make one phone call and we can deport you back to your country at any time.” Our employer Andy Cheung charged us $300 each per month to live in basement apartments he owned. As many as eight of us lived in a single basement. We slept on bunkbeds made for children that shook and squeaked. We had no privacy whatsoever. When we talked to the U.S. workers alongside us, we learned that they were being exploited too. They told us they also faced too few hours, threats from managers, and unpaid overtime. This is not the America we believed in. We believe America is a beautiful country, where everyone can have respect and fair treatment at work. We decided to stand up for ourselves, for other J-1 student guestworkers, and for U.S. workers. Today, with the support of the National Guestworker Alliance, my fellow students and I held a surprise work stoppage at the McDonald’s where we worked. We met with allies from the community, with local workers, and with unemployed people. We told our stories, and said that no one should have to experience what we did. We asked to meet with our employer Andy Cheung, but he refused. So we are respectfully asking you, as President and CEO of McDonald’s: 1. That McDonald’s pay us students back all the money we are owed, including the money we spent to come work for the company, unpaid overtime, and housing overcharges; 2. That McDonald’s offer full-time work to its U.S. workers, who are struggling with too few hours; 3. That McDonald’s reveal all the stores where it employs guestworkers, and sign an agreement with the National Guestworker Alliance to guarantee basic labor standards for them, including protections from retaliation when workers organize against abuse. Sincerely, Jorge Rios and the McDonald’s J-1 Student Guestworkers