In Uber’s ongoing battle over whether its drivers should be classified as employees or independent contractors, it found a new ally in the National Labor Relations Board, which in a memo confirmed that from now on the drivers will be considered contractors when it comes to federal labor law.
The NLRB’s General Counsel’s office issued an Advice Memo holding that drivers providing personal transportation services” using Uber Technologies’ “app-based ride-share platforms” were independent contractors and not employees.
The counsel’s office also directed NLRB Regional Directors in San Francisco, Chicago and Brooklyn to dismiss unfair labor charges that had been filed by the board in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
The board’s memo was issued less than a month after the U.S. Department of Labor made public an Opinion Letter that took a similar position, and which had been sought by an unnamed company that by its description strongly resembles the Uber and Lyft operations (AA, 5-31-19, P. 3).
The new NLRB memo relies on a decision voted on by the full board earlier this year declaring that SuperShuttle van drivers were independent contractors. In it, the NLRB said the question of whether a worker is a contractor should be based on “the common-law agency test,” which measures the control a contrator has over his or her operations.
Before radical changes were made five years ago by the Obama NLRB, the board had for years applied the traditional common-law agency test to determine whether a worker was an employee or independent contractor under the National Labor Relations Act. But that was before Obama-era federal agencies mounted a concerted assault on independent contractor status.
This stemmed from both an ideological distaste for the independent contractor concept, which they believe is inherently exploitative, and as a way for the Obama Administration to lend support to its labor union allies, who legally can only organize employees – not contractors, who are considered independent businesses under antitrust law.
SC Workers Job Satisfaction Up
Most supply chain professionals surveyed admit to high job satisfaction, and rising salaries and benefits contributing to a healthy work and life balance, the Association for Supply Chain Management reports.
The survey shows high job satisfaction, strong job stability and narrowing gender pay gap. While 85% of all kinds of workers tell pollsters they are displeased with their jobs, the mood is much happier among supply chain professionals.
When asked to rate their overall satisfaction with working in the supply chain field on a 0-10 scale, 80% of respondents provided a rating of 8 and above. In addition, an overwhelming majority (82%) said they are likely to stay working in the supply chain field for the next five years.
Although there was still a gap between men’s and women’s salaries, it appears to be narrowing, especially for supply chain professionals under 40 where the salary difference is less than $1,000.
These results represent a challenge to other industries where the average difference between men’s and women’s salaries was $10,000 in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
“The supply chain industry offers people of all profiles and backgrounds a fast-track to career advancement, professional and personal satisfaction, and high levels of compensation,” notes ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi.
Respondents also said they received an average base salary increase of 4.2% in 2018, up from the reported 3% pay raise in 2017. Nearly all of the respondents (91%) said they received an increase.
Nearly all respondents reported that they receive holiday pay, and 80% have three weeks or more of paid vacation. More than half also say that their employers offer them flexible schedules and allow them to work from home when necessary.
Debt Relief Aid Helps Hire Grads
More than one-half of working Americans said employer-provided student loan repayment benefits would play a role in how they evaluate job opportunities, according to new research from the Society for Human Resource Management.
The survey’s finding comes as SHRM is leading support for bi-partisan legislation in Congress that is designed to expand current employer- provided education assistance to include employer-provided student loan repayment as a type of tax-free benefit.
“Expanding the scope of employer-provided education assistance to include student loan repayment would be a win for both employees and employers,” says Chief of Staff Emily M. Dickens, who oversees SHRM’s Government Affairs.
“Providing employers with the flexibility to offer support gives employees choices when making decisions on education,” she adds. “And, as the research shows, education assistance helps employers attract talented employees and build diverse teams to compete globally.”
A Federal Reserve study found that student loan debt has increased by 96% since 2010, which signals that more people entering the workforce are graduating with significant student debt.
As a result, employees are seeking benefits such as employer-provided education assistance and student loan repayment. In this competitive labor market, some employers are already restructuring benefit offerings to attract and retain talent, SHRM notes.
SHRM chairs the Coalition to Preserve Employer Provided Education Assistance, made up of about 100 organizations representing employers, unions and higher education institutions who wish to strengthen employer-provided education assistance.
Outlook Good for Chemical Sector
U.S. chemical industry output will continue to grow in 2019 despite a challenging global economy, according to the American Chemistry Council’s Mid-Year outlook report.
Growth in key domestic end-use markets, and a sustained competitive advantage tied to surging supplies of natural gas and NGLs from shale activity, are spurring new capital investment in American chemistry, ACC says. Solid production gains are anticipated as new capacity comes online.
With slowing growth prospects across much of the globe and rising trade tensions, chemical exports are not performing as well as expected a year ago. Manufacturing also appears to be slowing.
On the plus side, ACC says chemical inventories are more balanced, housing is seen easing slightly before continuing its slow recovery, and automotive production remains at relatively elevated levels.
“During 2019, performance among individual chemical segments will be mixed,” ACC predicts. “Output gains will be strongest in organic chemicals, inorganic chemicals and other specialty chemicals. Production of agricultural chemicals and consumer products will fall slightly before recovering in 2020.”
Rising business investment and consumer spending will continue to drive Gross Domestic Product growth, though at slower rates than the previous two years. Growth in exports, while moderating, is also making a positive contribution.
GDP is projected to rise by 2.5% in 2019, 1.9% in 2020 and 1.8% in 2021. The chemical industry will be a source of strength, with growth of 2.5% in 2019 and 3.0% in 2020. “In fact, chemical industry growth will exceed that of the U.S. economy through 2024,” the council predicts.
“Since 2010, petrochemical producers have reported significant expansions of capacity in the United States, reversing a decades-long decline.” To date, 334 chemical and plastics projects cumulatively valued at $204 billion have been announced.