Gas Pains May Boost Telecommuting
Skyrocketing gas prices may speed the popularity of telecommuting in America. So far, only 20 percent of workers are considered telecommuters, but $3 a gallon (or more) gasoline could change all that. “The average worker commutes 16 miles each way to work every day. That adds up to more than 8000 miles per year going to and from work,” observes John A. Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. “Companies will be forced to help ease the financial burden of higher gas prices or risk losing their workers to companies located closer to their homes or companies that offer telecommuting.” Employers showed increased interest in telecommuting when gasoline prices soared last summer and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. However, surveys of employers show that they have been slow to take proactive steps. “With the labor market getting tighter as a result of stronger job creation,” Challenger predicts “employers may change their tune this summer.”
Immigrant Rallies Impact Workplace
Employers across the nation can expect a significant drop in productivity Monday. Hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of legal and undocumented immigrants, as well as American-born supporters, plan to take part in strikes, rallies and boycotts to oppose the much harsher immigration laws being proposed in Congress. Some experts predict that a number of employers may even close their doors on Monday, fearing a backlash from workers and consumers and expecting only a skeleton staff to show up. The Census Bureau estimates that as of 2005, there were 35.2 million legal and undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States, representing 12.1 percent of the population. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates there are 7.2 million undocumented workers among the 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
On the Job Front
NATIONWIDE – It takes the average woman worker 16 months to earn what a man is paid in 12 months. To dramatize how much longer women have to work, women’s groups designated April 25 as Equal Pay Day. In general, women earn 77 cents for every dollar men make. Women’s advocates are urging CEOs to rectify the problem . . . Hiring in the manufacturing sector in April was at its highest level in 12 years, according to a report by the Society of Human Resource Management. Retirements and plant expansions created the strong demand.
CALIFORNIA – The University of California and the California Nurses Association, which represents 9000 nurses at five medical centers around the state, are back at the bargaining table. Just four months ago, the two parties reached an accord following a prolonged dispute. While raises and other changes were approved, both sides must now resolve issues like the extension of retiree health benefits and health insurance in 2007.
ALAMEDA – Construction is underway on a Peet’s Coffee roasting and distribution facility. The Emeryville firm now has 110 outlets, with more on the drawing board.
CUPERTINO – In three to four years, Apple Computer plans to build a new 50-acre campus near its present headquarters. That’s space for 3500 new employees.
EMERYVILLE – The purchase of Chiron Corp by Swiss drug company Novartis will result in the dismissal of 111 Chiron workers, effective June 19. More layoffs may follow.
OAKLAND – Several hundred union members rallied last week at the Port of Oakland on behalf of independent truckers, a group teamsters say is being exploited. As independent contractors, freelance truckers receive no healthcare or retirement benefits. Similar rallies were held at other US ports.
PALO ALTO – Biopharmaceutical company CV Therapeutics Inc has won $200 million in financing which it will use to underwrite general operations and drug development. No word on whether the firm plans to expand staff.
PLEASANTON – Ford Motor Credit will close its office here in July, idling 45 to 50 workers. Current employees will be given the opportunity to apply for other jobs with the firm.
SACRAMENTO – Grocery chains are merging, and so are unions. Area grocery workers have agreed to merge with their Fresno counterparts in hopes of increasing their bargaining clout. The merger takes effect May 1.
SANTA CLARA – Layoffs may be in store for chip maker Intel. Concerned by its loss of market share, the microchip giant is looking to save $1 billion through an aggressive reorganization plan by year’s end . . . Jobs for about two dozen employees went up in smoke last week when an overnight blaze destroyed facilities at circuit-board maker Redwood Space Controls. No word on whether the company will survive the $4-million loss.
SAN FRANCISCO – A recent study documented the top-paying industries in the city by the bay. They are: financial services ($134,635), information ($80,783), professional and business services ($79,986), construction ($59,152), trade, transportation and utilities ($51,638), education and health services ($45,825), manufacturing ($40,947), leisure and hospitality ($26,506) and other services ($28,295).
Likability Pays Off
Managers typically say talent trumps likability. But a study by the Harvard Business School says otherwise. The survey asked participants if they would rather work for or with one of four types of employees – the competent jerk, who knows a lot but is unpleasant to deal with; the lovable fool, who doesn’t know much but is great to have around; the lovable star, who’s both smart and likable; and the incompetent jerk. The majority, of course, said they wanted to work with the lovable star. Absent that, a boss will tend to promote a likeable employee rather than a jerk, no matter how competent that disliked worker is. “We found that if someone is strongly disliked, it’s almost irrelevant whether or not she is competent – people won’t want to work with her anyway,” explains Tiziana Casciaro, coauthor of the report.
Global Perspective on US Labor Shortage
Plumbing, carpentry, electrical work, healthcare and nursing will be the fastest growing fields in the future as predicted by the World Economic Forum. Their annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland included experts from employment staffing companies, academia and trade groups. Among their findings for the US: a looming shortage of skilled tradespeople and growing demand for healthcare workers, created by the aging population. “We need about 1.2 million nurses in the next ten years,” claims US Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. Worker training was also cited as a critical issue to both companies and nations in the coming years.