Labor

2:51am

Fri January 17, 2014
Planet Money

The Birth Of The Minimum Wage In America

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 2:46 pm

Franklin D. Roosevelt Libarary

In 1895, legislators in New York state decided to improve working conditions in what at the time could be a deadly profession: baking bread.

"Bakeries are actually extremely dangerous places to work," says Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California, Davis. "Because flour is such a fine particulate, if it gets to hang in the air it can catch fire and the whole room can go up in a sheet of flame."

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1:09am

Wed July 31, 2013
The Salt

Farm Laborers Get A Foothold With Their Own Organic Farms

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 12:01 pm

Agricultural work, which is physically demanding, is also a risky business venture.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Northern California's Salinas Valley is often dubbed America's salad bowl. Large growers there have long relied on thousands of seasonal workers from rural Mexico to pick lettuce, spinach and celery from sunrise to sunset. Many of these workers seem destined for a life in the fields. But a program that helps field workers, like Raul Murillo, start their own farms and businesses is starting to yield a few success stories.

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1:51am

Tue July 30, 2013
The Salt

Fast-Food Strikers Demand A 'Living Wage'

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 6:22 am

People gathered outside a Wendy's restaurant in New York City on Monday as part of a one-day strike calling for higher wages for fast-food workers.
Justin Lane EPA/Landov

At a Wendy's restaurant in Lower Manhattan on Monday, protesters urged the lunchtime crowd to skip the Value Menu for one day. They blocked the sidewalk and half of the street.

Shanell Young held a red strike sign over her head. Young earns the minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, at another Wendy's in New York. She says that's not enough to support her and her 5-year-old son.

"It's horrible," says Young. "Everything goes up. It's unfair. You can't find an apartment. You can't pay for children's school uniforms. Everything is unfair. We can't live off this."

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11:42am

Thu June 27, 2013
The Two-Way

U.S. Businessman Trapped By Chinese Workers Is Freed

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 12:49 pm

American Chip Starnes, co-owner of Specialty Medical Supplies, spoke to the media Tuesday from a window at a factory on the outskirts of Beijing.
Andy Wong AP

American businessman Chip Starnes finally left his factory in China on Thursday after he and a union negotiator worked out severance payments for Chinese employees.

Starnes had been stuck inside his medical supply parts factory since last Friday. That's when workers, fearing they were all going to be laid off and that the company wasn't going to compensate them fairly, blocked all of the exits out of the plant. Starnes couldn't get out.

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1:24pm

Wed June 26, 2013
The Salt

Rosie The Robot Won't Serve Your Food, But She'll Pick It

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 1:59 pm

A lettuce thinner manufactured by Ramsay Highlander removes excess seedlings from the field so that others have room to grow. Just one worker is required to operate the machine.
Rachel Estabrook

From manufacturing to cupcake sales, companies are finding that machines can often do the job just as well, or better, than humans. But some tasks – like picking and tending to fruit and vegetable crops – have remained the territory of low-wage laborers.

But labor-starved growers are now eying machines with increasing interest.

Some 90 percent of the strawberries and 80 percent of the salad greens grown in the U.S. come from California. These crops and a lot of others have always been picked by hand because they don't ripen all at once and can bruise easily.

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