Sunday, November 28News That Matters

Tag: Labor and Jobs

Supply Chain Shortages Help a North Carolina Furniture Town

Supply Chain Shortages Help a North Carolina Furniture Town

Business
HICKORY, N.C. — Six months into the coronavirus pandemic, as millions of workers lost their jobs and companies fretted about their economic future, something unexpected happened at Hancock & Moore, a purveyor of custom-upholstered leather couches and chairs in this small North Carolina town.Orders began pouring in.Families stuck at home had decided to upgrade their sectionals. Singles tired of looking at their sad futons wanted new and nicer living room furniture. And they were willing to pay up — which turned out to be good, because the cost of every part of producing furniture, from fabric to wood to shipping, was beginning to swiftly increase.More than a year later, the furniture companies that dot Hickory, N.C., in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, have been presented with...
Volkswagen C.E.O. Herbert Diess Sets Sights on Beating Tesla

Volkswagen C.E.O. Herbert Diess Sets Sights on Beating Tesla

Business
WOLFSBURG, Germany — In July, when Herbert Diess, Volkswagen’s chief executive, wanted to congratulate the company for a strong first half of the year, he posted a video of himself zipping across a waterway at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg on an electric hydrofoil, delivering a message of thanks to VW’s roughly 200,000 workers.“I look forward to seeing you again after the vacation,” he said, cutting lazy doughnuts in the water, “and continue working together on the success of VW.”At a time when Volkswagen is still trying to regain trust lost in the emissions scandal of 2015 and fend off the growing threat of Tesla, the message was clear: This was not a 62-year-old engineer atop a hidebound business founded in the 1930s, but a dynamic mover and a shaker, ready to lead a revived co...

Wall Street Warms Up, Grudgingly, to Remote Work, Unthinkable Before Covid

Business
In private, many senior bank executives tasked with raising attendance among their direct reports expressed irritation. They said it was unfair for highly paid employees to keep working from home while others — like bank tellers or building workers — dutifully come in every day. Salaries at investment banks in the New York area averaged $438,450 in 2020, up 7.8 percent from the previous year, according to data from the office of the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli.Two senior executives, who declined to be identified discussing personnel matters, said they might push out subordinates who are not willing to come back to the office regularly. Another manager expressed frustration about a worker who refused to show up at the office, citing concern about the virus — even though the person...

The Searing Beauty, and Harsh Reality, of a Kentucky Tobacco Harvest

Travel
I step into the tobacco field as the first rays of sunlight begin to pierce the early-morning fog. The men of the cutting crew are already hard at work harvesting the tall burley tobacco plants that have taken root in the soil over the past few months. The sound of hatchets resonates across the field: thwack, thwack, thwack.With each swing, another tobacco plant is felled in the fields of Shelby County, Ky.The workers skewer freshly cut plants onto a wooden tobacco stick, five at a time, the slender metal cone placed at one end of the stick allowing them to pierce the fibrous stalk. Their shirts are already completely soaked through — not just with sweat, but with the morning dew that coats the green and yellow leaves of the tobacco plants.Over the course of the morning, the field slowly t...

Cities Try to Lure Factories as U.S. Pushes to Fix Chip Shortage

Technology
TAYLOR, Texas — The shortage of computer chips has zapped energy from the global economy, punishing industries as varied as automakers and medical device manufacturers and contributing to fears about high inflation.But many states and cities in America are starting to see a silver lining: the possibility that efforts to sharply increase chip production in the United States will lead to a busy chip factory in their backyard. And they are racing to get a piece of the potential boom.One of those towns is Taylor, a Texas city of about 17,000 about a 40-minute drive northeast of Austin. Leaders here are pulling out all the stops to get a $17 billion Samsung plant that the company plans to build in the United States starting early next year.The city, its school district and the county plan to of...
The Worst of Both Worlds: Zooming From the Office

The Worst of Both Worlds: Zooming From the Office

Business
For months, the putt-putt course sat unused. The beanbag chairs lay empty. The kitchen whiteboard, above where the keg used to live, displayed in fading marker “Beers on Tap” from a happy hour in March 2020.But on a recent weekday, over in the common area was a sign of life — fresh bagels.As employees at the financial technology start-up CommonBond got Covid vaccines, and grew stir-crazy in their apartments, they started trickling back into the office.“We call it Work From Work Wednesday,” said Keryn Koch, who runs human resources at the company, which has 15,000 square feet of sunlit SoHo real estate.At one point, autumn had been billed across corporate America as the Great Office Reopening. The Delta variant intervened, and mandatory return-to-office plans turned optional. Still, many pe...
John Deere Attempts to End Strike With a Third Tentative Deal

John Deere Attempts to End Strike With a Third Tentative Deal

Business
The United Automobile Workers said late Friday that the agriculture equipment maker Deere & Company had made modifications to an earlier agreement that was rejected by its membership, setting up another vote over whether to end a nearly monthlong strike.The strike began on Oct. 14, a few days after roughly 10,000 workers primarily in Iowa and Illinois overwhelmingly rejected an agreement negotiated between the company and the union.The initial agreement would have raised wages 5 or 6 percent this year, depending on a worker’s pay grade, and another 3 percent in both 2023 and 2025. It would have denied traditional pension benefits to future hires.A second agreement reached in late October would have raised wages 10 percent this year and 5 percent in the third and fifth years of the six-...
Amazon Staten Island Workers Withdraw Request for Union Vote

Amazon Staten Island Workers Withdraw Request for Union Vote

Technology
Workers at four Amazon warehouses on Staten Island have withdrawn their request for a union vote, throwing into doubt the future of an organizing push that could have led to the second election at an Amazon workplace in less than a year.The group asked on Friday to withdraw its petition for an election, and the National Labor Relations Board approved.Christian Smalls, a former Amazon employee leading the effort, said the board had told his group that it needed more signatures to demonstrate that enough workers were interested in holding an election. He said the group planned to refile once it got more workers signed on.Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokeswoman, said in a statement that the company’s “focus remains on listening directly to our employees and continuously improving on their behalf....
Vietnam’s Workers Hesitate to Return After Covid Outbreak

Vietnam’s Workers Hesitate to Return After Covid Outbreak

Business
Thu Trang traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in 2019, ecstatic to get a job at a factory. She worked eight-hour shifts and was guaranteed overtime pay, and the wages were nearly triple what she had made as a farmer back home.But during a Covid-19 outbreak this summer, the factory where she worked making Adidas, Converse and New Balance shoes virtually shut down. She and her co-workers were forced to live in a cramped apartment for nearly three months, subsisting on a diet of rice and soy sauce. In October, when restrictions loosened as global supply chain issues surged, Thu Trang decided she would pack up and return to her home province, Tra Vinh.Her manager promised her higher wages, but she didn’t bother to find out how much.“Even if the company doubles or triples our wages, I insist...

275 Minutes on Hold: Why Airline Customer Service Still Can’t Keep Up

Travel
“When you cannot plan things on your day off, it can break your morale,” said Edison Fraser, the transportation coordinator for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, a union that represents reservation agents for Southwest Airlines.Emirates, which employs 1,900 people to handle calls, says that the median wait time to get an agent on the phone is just over six minutes. The company, which is one of the world’s largest airlines, pulls this off by giving agents goals involving a specific number of seconds for handling various types of calls, emails shared with The New York Times show. Keeping a call to around 500 seconds, or 8.5 minutes, became far more stressful during the pandemic, said a former Emirates reservation agent, who asked not to be identified by name ...