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North American Edition
10th July 2024
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California heat waves: Hundreds dead, billions lost in economic impact
A new report from the California Department of Insurance reveals that extreme heat events in the state from 2013 to 2022 resulted in several hundred deaths, thousands of injuries, and a total economic impact of $7.7bn. The report highlights that extreme heat has caused more deaths and economic losses than wildfires over the past decade. The effects of extreme heat are often underestimated, and it is crucial to take swift action to address this silent killer. The report calls for data-driven policies and programs to tackle the impacts of extreme heat, particularly on vulnerable populations. It also emphasizes the need for insurance coverage for the various costs associated with extreme heat. The report's recommendations include expanding investment in disaster planning, implementing strategies to reduce heat-related illnesses for workers, and improving tracking of costs related to extreme heat events. The report underscores the importance of equity in addressing extreme heat and highlights the disproportionate impact on low-income communities, older adults, and outdoor workers.
Free Webinar: CA Workplace Violence Prevention: After the Deadline

The July 1, 2024 deadline to comply with California’s Workplace Violence Prevention mandate has passed. Perhaps you missed the deadline for completing prevention plans and employee training. Or maybe you met requirements and are wondering what comes next.

Join Traliant’s 60-minute “After the Deadline” webinar on July 18 at 2 pm ET to hear legal experts address:
  • Does a good faith effort to comply protect me from violations?
  • What if my company hasn’t yet started to comply with CA’s mandate?
  • Will CA ask to see my prevention plans and proof of training?
  • Will inspectors visit my CA work locations to see if I’m compliant?
  • What are the penalties for non-compliance?
  • What states are considering similar laws?
By attending the live webinar, you’ll be eligible for SHRM and HRCI credits.

Register for Webinar

President Biden rallies labor leaders, continues campaign amid calls to step aside
U.S. President Joe Biden returns to the campaign trail today, rallying labor leaders amid pressure from fellow Democrats to drop out. Biden will join the AFL-CIO's executive council meeting to discuss their shared commitment to defeating Donald Trump. Labor votes were key to Biden's win in 2020. While some Democrats have called on Biden to step aside due to health concerns, public defections remain a small segment of the party. Biden has surrounded himself with his staunchest supporters and has made his alignment with labor leaders a major pillar of his economic platform. Vice President Kamala Harris, the party's top alternative, will also be speaking at a campaign stop. Biden will continue his campaign in competitive states, Michigan and Nevada. Despite questions about his health, the White House physician has stated that Biden is not being treated for any neurological condition.
Drivers for ride-hailing companies in Massachusetts push for union rights
Drivers for ride-hailing companies in Massachusetts are pushing for union rights through a first-of-its-kind ballot question. The measure, if approved, would grant Uber and Lyft drivers the collective bargaining benefits of unions. This effort comes despite a recent settlement that guarantees a minimum pay standard of $32.50 per hour for drivers in Massachusetts. Supporters of the ballot question, including the president of the Service Employees International Union, believe that gig workers deserve the same rights as other workers. However, some drivers feel that the question does not go far enough in ensuring democratic rights and driver control. Meanwhile, another group is advocating for legislation that would provide full employee rights and a path to unionization for all app workers. The ballot question, if passed, would define "active drivers" and establish a process for union recognition. The settlement between the ride-hailing companies and the state also includes sick day pay and a $175m payment to resolve wage and hour law violations.
CFOs face labor shortages and hybrid work challenges
Steve Gallucci, Deloitte's U.S. National Managing Partner for the CFO Program, highlights the immediate concerns of CFOs regarding ongoing labor shortages, especially in AI skills, and adapting workplace cultures to new work preferences. Deloitte’s 4Q 2023 CFO Signals survey reveals a significant shift towards hybrid work models, with 65% of CFOs planning to offer such options. The survey underscores the necessity for CFOs to adapt management styles to monitor productivity remotely and the importance of continual learning and flexibility within the finance function to stay resilient amidst rapid technological changes. Gallucci emphasizes that flexibility in work arrangements and upskilling employees are critical in retaining talent and ensuring organizational adaptability in an evolving corporate landscape.
Federal watchdog investigates UAW president's alleged demands for personal benefit
A federal watchdog is investigating United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain over allegations that he made demands to benefit his domestic partner and her sister. The investigation is being conducted by federal monitor Neil Barofsky, who is examining whether union officials are complying with a 2020 settlement following a corruption investigation. Barofsky is specifically looking into Fain's decision to remove UAW Vice President Rich Boyer from his role as the union's top negotiator with Stellantis. The probe aims to determine if this move was in retaliation for Boyer's refusal to accede to demands that would have benefitted Fain's domestic partner and her sister. The UAW has also been involved in attempts to unionize auto plants in Alabama, with a recent vote at the Mercedes-Benz plant failing to unionize. The UAW has filed a request with the National Labor Relations Board to reject the election and order a new one. The investigation into Fain's alleged misconduct also includes allegations of retaliation and potential embezzlement by other union officials.
Disneyland Resort faces strike authorization vote by union workers
A coalition of four major unions representing 13,000 Disney workers is planning a strike authorization vote after filing labor charges against the Disneyland Resort. The unions claim that Disney has committed unfair labor practices, including intimidation and disciplinary threats against workers wearing union buttons. The National Labor Relations Board is currently investigating these allegations. The key issues in the negotiations include higher wages, a fair attendance policy, raises based on seniority, and park safety. The company's pay proposal, which it claims represents a 40% increase, is disputed by the unions. The current minimum wage under Anaheim's living-wage law is $19.90 an hour. Seniority-based raises are also a point of contention. If the strike authorization vote is successful, the union coalition will have the authority to organize a walkout if necessary. Contract talks between Disney and the unions are scheduled after the vote.
Costco to pay former employee $2m for wrongful termination
A jury has ordered Costco to pay a long-time former employee more than $2m for illegally terminating his employment due to his age. Stuart Nover, 77, sued the membership-only warehouse club two years ago, claiming he was wrongly terminated from the Bridgewater store following 22 years of employment after taking a company-approved COVID-leave program.
Veteran reporter files disability discrimination lawsuit against WSJ
A disability discrimination lawsuit has been filed against the Wall Street Journal by veteran reporter Stephanie Armour. The lawsuit accuses the paper of using "trumped up performance issues" to shed staffers with high healthcare costs. Armour, who left the Journal in May, alleges that the paper falsely assessed her performance as a means to fire her. The suit claims that the Journal's layoffs have targeted employees with high salaries and medical costs. Armour had been allowed to work from home as an accommodation for her disabilities, but the suit alleges that her editor retaliated against her. The suit also mentions other veteran journalists who were allegedly targeted by the paper. The Journal's lead union says that disciplinary reviews have been increasing.
California fast food workers struggle with minimum wage increase
When California's minimum wage increase went into effect in April, fast food workers across the state faced challenges as their wages jumped from $16 to $20 an hour. Lawrence Cheng, a Wendy's owner, had to cut back on employees and work extra hours himself to cover the increased labor costs. While it's too early to determine the long-term impact, the industry has shown job growth since the wage hike. However, many fast food chain operators are cutting hours and raising prices to stay in business. Experts predict a divide between corporations with money for automation and smaller chains that may face closures. Despite the challenges, some workers are benefiting from the higher wages, using the extra money for investments and personal expenses. Gov. Gavin Newsom defended the wage increase as necessary to provide a living wage for fast food workers. Overall, the wage hike has brought both benefits and challenges to the fast food industry in California.
ACLU report: 95% of deaths in ICE custody could have been prevented
A new report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in collaboration with American Oversight and Physicians for Human Rights, reveals that 49 of 52 deaths in ICE detention from 2017 to 2021 could have been prevented with proper medical care. The report, analyzing 95% of the cases, pointed to severe medical neglect and a lack of COVID-19 safety measures, notably contributing to 21 deaths in 2020 alone. The ACLU criticizes ICE's investigation methods, including the omission of critical information and destruction of evidence. It urges the cessation of mass detentions, suggests terminating contracts with facilities linked to fatalities, and calls for Congressional action to redirect funding towards community-based alternatives and legal support for detainees.
Diverse teams drive innovation and performance, studies show
Maria Alonso, a seasoned marketing expert and founder of Fortune 206, emphasises the critical importance of diversity in driving business innovation. Citing research from McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group, Alonso points out that companies with greater ethnic and racial diversity not only perform better but also enjoy higher financial returns than their industry averages. She shares insights from her extensive experience, including her role at Starbucks as LATAM senior brand manager, underscoring how diverse teams contribute uniquely across various domains like social media, graphic design, and data analytics to enhance marketing campaigns. Alonso advocates for hiring for trainability and supporting team members from nontraditional backgrounds with personalized training programs, mentorship, and continuous feedback to foster adaptability and engagement within teams.
Black women's Equal Pay Day: Addressing the wage gap
Tuesday, July 9th was Black Women's Equal Pay Day, highlighting the wage gap between Black women and non-Hispanic white men. The gap stands at 66 cents for every dollar paid, impacting the financial well-being of Black women and their families. With the majority of Black mothers being the sole or primary breadwinners, fair wages and promotions are crucial. Financial influencers are advocating for fair pay and sharing resources. Dasha Kennedy, known as the Broke Black Girl, provides culturally relevant financial advice. Mykail James, the Boujie Budgeter, educates TikTok followers on financial topics.
Governments explore AI chatbots for efficient public service
As government chatbots evolve from basic automated tools to more sophisticated generative artificial intelligence (AI) systems, they promise more efficient public services but also raise concerns about accuracy and reliability. Initiatives like the U.K.'s GOV.UK Chat and Portugal’s Justice Practical Guide illustrate the potential and pitfalls of these advanced systems. While they can handle simple inquiries effectively, complex questions often reveal their limitations, highlighting issues of trust and accuracy. Experts emphasize that while AI can enhance service accessibility, it should not replace human workers, but rather complement them. Accountability remains a crucial challenge, as AI cannot be responsible for its actions, necessitating human oversight in public administration. Estonia offers a contrasting model by using Natural Language Processing (NLP) rather than generative AI. This approach limits errors but also restricts the chatbots’ conversational abilities. Estonia's Bürokratt initiative demonstrates a controlled integration of chatbots, prioritising reliability over conversational depth. 
Restaurant chain Mod Pizza may file for bankruptcy
Fast-casual restaurant chain Mod Pizza is reportedly considering filing for bankruptcy. The company, which has over 500 locations across the U.S., may enter court protection as early as next week. Mod Pizza received a $150m investment from Clayton Dubilier & Rice in 2019 and filed for an IPO in 2021. “We’re working diligently to improve our capital structure and are exploring all options to do so. Since this is an ongoing process, it would be inappropriate to speculate about an outcome,” a Mod representative said on Wednesday. Several casual dining chains, including Rubio's Coastal Grill and Red Lobster, have sought bankruptcy protection this year due to rising inflation and a decline in consumer spending.
UPS names new CFO
United Parcel Service (UPS) has appointed Brian Dykes as its new CFO. Announced on Tuesday by the Atlanta-based package delivery giant, Dykes, a UPS veteran with over 25 years at the company, steps into the role previously held by Brian Newman. Dykes has extensive experience within the company, having served as Senior Vice President of Global Finance and Planning, and has held various finance positions in both the U.S. and international sectors.
Chipotle CFO to retire in March
Chipotle Mexican Grill finance chief Jack Hartung is to retire on March 31st, having served in the role since 2002. He will be succeeded by vice president of finance Adam Rymer. The company also announced that Jamie McConnell has been appointed as chief accounting and administrative officer. 
U.K. campaigners prepare new pilot project for four-day working week
Campaigners for a four-day working week are launching a new pilot project in the U.K. to explore flexible working options. The project, which will start in November, aims to present its findings to the U.K. government in 2025. The campaign for a four-day working week, without a loss of pay, has been gaining momentum since the COVID lockdowns. The pilot project will also examine other flexible working policies, such as shorter working weeks and flexible start and finish times. The project will be run by the U.K.'s 4 Day Week Campaign and the consultancy Timewise, with support from academics at the University of Cambridge, Boston College, and the Autonomy Institute. The campaign hopes that a Labour government will be more receptive to changing working practices.
Thailand launches Happy Workplace Centres to combat high resignation rate
Thailand has launched Happy Workplace Centres across the country to address the high resignation rate among employees in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The centers aim to improve workplace health and wellbeing for SME employees, thereby boosting industrial productivity. The Office of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion attributes the high resignation rate to neglect of workplace health by SMEs, leading to stress and unhappiness among employees. The Happy Workplace Centres will assist SMEs in developing policies, activities, and innovation for healthy workplaces. This initiative is part of the "SMEs Happy and Productive Workplace" project, which has already promoted health for 497 enterprises and almost 30,000 employees.
Americans are fed up with tipping as survey shows decline in tipping rates
A new Bankrate survey reveals that Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated with tipping practices. The survey shows a decline in tipping rates across various industries, including food delivery, taxi or rideshare services, hotel housekeeping, and coffee shops. Many Americans believe that tipping has spiraled out of control, with businesses relying too heavily on customer tips instead of paying their employees better. The resentment towards tipping is widespread, with 74% of Americans expressing their dissatisfaction.

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