The Great Google Revolt

Some of its employees tried to stop their company from doing work they saw as unethical. It blew up in their faces.

JPMorgan Chase Seeks to Prohibit Card Customers From Suing

The change, which affects about 47 million accounts, including those for Chase’s popular Sapphire cards, reflects a broader effort by Wall Street firms to prevent customers and employees from engaging in class-action lawsuits that can result in large settlements and bad publicity. Unlike court cases, arbitration cases do not leave a trail of public documents and they cannot be brought by groups of aggrieved customers.

JPMorgan — the country’s largest bank — is far from alone in increasing the use of arbitration clauses. Seventy-two percent of banks used such clauses in 2016, up from 59 percent in 2013according to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The notifications said the arbitration agreement would apply not just to the customers’ current accounts but “all claims or disputes between you and us,” including “any prior account.”

The policy change turns back the clock in another way by bringing back the kind of arbitration clauses the bank and others agreed to temporarily drop in 2009 as part of a class-action lawsuit. The bank agreed to remove such provisions for three and a half years, starting in 2010, to settle a lawsuit that alleged large banks were working together to push customers into arbitration.

The Google Walkout Doesn’t Go Far Enough

The group and its supporters are advocating for five key changes. They want

  1. an end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination;
  2. a commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity;
  3. a publicly disclosed sexual-harassment transparency report;
  4. a clear, uniform, and globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously; and
  5. promotion of the chief diversity officer to answer directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the board of directors, along with the appointment of an employee representative to the board.

.. The Google walkout, in particular, has done a great job of raising awareness of company wrongdoings, but at the end of the day, Google is a for-profit corporation. The way to negotiate with a for-profit corporation isn’t through symbolism, but by jeopardizing profits.

.. “If women and men and anyone who supports these efforts had an actual strike, then you’d see lasting change,” Prashar said. “They need to say we’re not going to work unless these things actually change.” He also doesn’t see lasting changes coming from Google itself, or any other for-profit tech company for that matter. “It would be brilliant for businesses to do this [protect workers from sexual harassment and punish abusers], but to create a countrywide change, it’s going to require state and federal government to come in and change the laws too.”

What #MeToo Has to Do With the Workplace Gender Gap

A new study from Lean In and McKinsey shows the pervasiveness of sexual harassment at the office and the persistence of inequality. That isn’t a coincidence.

What has been less apparent, though, is how harassment and the gender gap are inextricably linked. In fact, management experts and executives say, harassment can be a direct side effect of a workplace that slights women on everything from pay to promotions, especially when the perception is that men run the show and women can’t speak up.

Putting more women into executive ranks where they can have a greater collective voice goes hand-in-hand with making workplaces feel safer and more inclusive

.. “You can’t separate them,” she says. “When women see other women in a position of leadership, it reframes what they think is possible to them.”

.. Among women in technical roles, 45% reported experiencing harassment, while 55% of women in senior positions did.

“This is about power,” says Rachel Thomas, president of LeanIn.Org, the nonprofit founded by Facebook Inc.’s Sheryl Sandberg to support women in their career ambitions. “And there is still a dramatic power imbalance in the workplace.”

.. One in five women say they are often the only, or one of the only, women in the room or a meeting—and women commonly in those situations are at greater risk of harassment and more subtle forms of discrimination
.. “I joke that I chose a career where there’s no line for the bathroom,” says Kate Mitchell
.. “Decisions get made in the men’s room,” she says. “Do you follow them into the men’s room? Do you put your ear against the wall? Many times, it was easy to hear and so when they came out, I’d just start up the conversation” where they’d left off.
.. there are signs #MeToo is having an effect. Corporate hotlines have lit up since Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein became the first of dozens of powerful men to be toppled by harassment allegations last October.
.. Microsoft Corp. , Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. have scrapped agreements that forced employees to resolve harassment claims in arbitration hearings rather than in open court.
.. cracked down on a frat-house work culture by banning alcohol in the office.
.. One thing managers spotted and changed was that there wasn’t always a woman on the job-interview team. That could both discourage female applicants and contribute to biased hiring decisions
.. To help get the conversation going, Ms. Steinberg told the group how, early in her career at another company, one of the most senior men cornered her in the copy room and groped her breast. Though she told her then-boss, they concluded the man held so much power that she would be better off not pressing the matter.
“I think back on it and still feel humiliated,” she says. At Zenefits, “we need to make sure employees know they have a voice.”
.. Another frequent question: whether hugging a colleague is still all right.
.. While nearly 60% of men say gender diversity is a high priority at their companies, only 44% of women do. Men are also more likely to worry the diversity focus will make their workplaces less of a meritocracy. In fact, one in seven say they worry that being a man will make it harder for them to advance.
.. That could include efforts as small as highlighting a point a woman made in a meeting if someone interrupts her, or, if a colleague repeats her idea without giving her credit, pointing out that she raised it first
.. create succession plans for their positions, and each has to include at least one woman and a person with a minority background. That motivates bosses to make sure those candidates get the experience and support they need to be viable potential successors
In the past, “everything we did was a program, this thing on diversity or this thing on unconscious-bias training,” Mr. Schlifske says. “I don’t think those are bad, but I just never saw those work if you didn’t add something in the workplace that was more day-to-day kind of stuff.”

Trump Campaign Files Complaint Saying Ex-Staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman Breached Secrecy Pact

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign filed a complaint against former White House official and campaign aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, alleging she violated a confidentiality agreement signed during his 2016 presidential bid.

A Trump campaign official said in a brief statement Tuesday that the claim was filed with the American Arbitration Association of New York City. The statement doesn’t specify how Ms. Manigault Newman might have violated the agreement.

.. . On Twitter on Tuesday, he called Ms. Manigault Newman a “dog” while denying her contention that he used a racial slur.

.. Ms. Manigault Newman has said during her book promotions that she has heard a recording of Mr. Trump using the N-word racial slur. On Monday night, the president wrote on Twitter that Mark Burnett, the television executive who created Mr. Trump’s “Apprentice” franchise, had told him no tapes exist from the production of the show in which he used “such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa.”

“I don’t have that word in my vocabulary,” he wrote.

.. Mr. Kelly called Ms. Manigault Newman into the Situation Room last December and fired her, a meeting she recorded despite protocols barring staff from bringing electronic devices into the secure space in the White House basement.

Mr. Trump tweeted on Monday that Mr. Kelly had wanted to fire her immediately after becoming chief of staff last summer, but held off because the president believed she had said “only GREAT things about me.”

.. The last recording was aired Tuesday on CBS News. In it, Ms. Manigault Newman said, she and other campaign aides are heard discussing the possible existence of a tape in which Mr. Trump uses the N-word. One aide said she had talked to then-candidate Trump about the matter. The aide said she asked him, “Can you think of any time this might have happened, and he said, ‘No.’ ”

Ms. Manigault Newman is then heard saying, “Well, that’s not true.”

The first aide later said that Mr. Trump had told her, “Why don’t you just go ahead and put it to bed.”

For Wages, a Trump Slump

If the Trump economy were so wonderful, why would the speaker of the House feel the need to traffic in disingenuousness? Because the Trump economy isn’t actually so wonderful. For most Americans, it is downright mediocre, and it has deteriorated somewhat since President Trump took office, despite the healthy G.D.P. and unemployment statistics.

.. Let’s start with the good news. The unemployment rate keeps falling, and economic growth is solid. These headline numbers are the ones that Republicans emphasize

.. As a result of the growth, nominal wages — that is, the numbers people see in their paychecks, before taking inflation into account — are growing. You can see the pickup in the gentle upward slope of the chart’s solid gray line. Over the past year, the average hourly nominal wage has risen 2.7 percent.

.. Prices matter, too. When the prices of good and services are rising faster than nominal wages, people end up with less buying power. And that is exactly what’s happening now.

.. Events in the Middle East, Russia and Venezuela have reduced the supply of oil, even as a growing global economy is increasing demand. Trump has aggravated the situation by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, further raising oil prices.

.. My best guess is that real wages will do modestly better over the next year, barring another oil spike or an unexpected recession. But there is no reason to think that most Americans are on the cusp of truly healthy pay increases

.. They face too many obstacles:

Right now, Trump is presiding over precisely the wage growth that he deserves: zero.

The Class Struggle According to Donald Trump

the fact that a worker’s wealth and well-being is much more dependent upon her employer than the employer is on a given worker tilts things in the employer’s favor.

.. Two trends demonstrate the decline of labor and the ascent of business. Since 1979, after-tax corporate profits as a share of gross domestic product have grown by 22.8 percent, while the share of nonfarm business sector income going to labor has dropped by 10.3 percent.

The decline in worker bargaining power in the United States is the cumulative effect of numerous small and large changes over recent decades reaching into almost every area of law and policy. This combines with a decline in the enforcement of existing laws that could protect workers’ bargaining power — laws protecting unions, laws against wage theft, nondiscrimination laws, and more.

.. Among these changes is the requirement that employees sign what are known as “noncompete” and “no-raid” agreements, both of which restrict workers’ ability to extract pay hikes by threatening to take similar jobs at competing companies.

.. “less than half of workers who have non-competes also report possessing trade secrets.”

When entry-level workers at fast food restaurants are asked to sign two-year non-competes, it becomes less plausible that trade secrets are always the primary motivation for such agreements.

.. The treasury report estimated that 30 million American workers have signed noncompete agreements.

.. 94 percent of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work arrangements.

The growing emphasis on “shareholder value” has provided additional justification for all of these anti-worker developments.

.. “the shareholder value movement starting in the late 1980s and now institutionalized through industry analysts” was crucially important in the devaluation of employees:

.. Accounting in business is mainly about costs. Finance people hate fixed costs because of the challenges they raise to share price valuation when there is uncertainty, and the biggest fixed costs are labor. Simply moving the same labor costs from employees to outside staffing companies moves it from one part of the accounting ledger to another and makes analysts happier.

This mentality, in turn, encourages “the use of temps and contractors” to fill high-wage jobs because “that way the employer doesn’t have to raise wages for all their employees.”

.. Companies could outsource work to areas with cheaper labor and less of a union presence. This both weakened the union and ramped up competitive pressure on the companies that were unionized. The result was fewer unions.

.. In 2017, 6.5 percent of the private sector work force was unionized, down from 35 percent in 1955.

.. The contemporary weakness of organized labor and the threatened status of employees has roots in the breakdown in the 1970s of the postwar capital-labor accord — what A.H. Raskin, the legendary labor reporter for The Times, called a “live-and-let-live relationship” that held sway for 30 years.

.. First, they would alter antitrust enforcement to require consideration of the likely effect of mergers on concentration in the labor market, in order to prevent “too high a risk of wage suppression.”

.. Second, Krueger and Posner would support legislation making noncompete agreements “uniformly unenforceable and banned if they govern a worker who earns less than the median wage in her state.”

.. ban no-poaching arrangements altogether:

We propose a per se rule against no-poaching agreements regardless of whether they are used outside or within franchises. In other words, no-poaching agreements would be considered illegal regardless of the circumstances of their use.

.. In the 2016 election, Trump profited from the conviction of rural and working-class voters that they were on a downward trajectory. If anything, Trump appears to be gambling that letting those voters’ lives continue to languish will work to his advantage in 2020.

.. His administration has turned the executive branch, the federal courts and the regulatory agencies into the sworn enemy of workers, organized and unorganized. Trump is indisputably indifferent to the plight of anyone in the bottom half of the income distribution:

  • look at his appointments,
  • look at his record in office,
  • look back at his business career and
  • look at the man himself.