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Port Negotiations Should be About Wages, Skill, and Technology

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We have heard a lot about ports and negotiations with workers that recently resolved itself in a tentative agreement. The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union set upon some key provisions based on wages and benefits but have not yet completed all of the details. Formal announcements are still in the works. The ports offer an opportunity to understand how wages, benefits, skill, and technology should work together to create win-win situations. This dispute has been bitter and raged on for over 9 months with the White House having to put pressure on both sides to get things done. Arbitrators were accused of bias and workers are accused of slowing down port operations intentionally. Ships waited over a week to unload their cargo that has a negative impact on economic growth. Increasing trade over the past decade or so creates more product volume throughout the ports and this can have an impact on national commerce.  Larger businesses are a

2015 Picks Up Employment Steam- Will You Will Be Getting a Raise?

The American economy is picking up steam and zooming forward. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the economy added 257,000 non-farm payroll positions in January ( 1 ). U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez characterizes this employment increase as, " 2015 is picking up right where 2014 left off – with strong, steady, sustained job growth that is leading a dynamic recovery " ( 2 ).  Great news that could have an impact on future wages but who will be getting a raise depends on market position. Even though the unemployment creaked up from 5.6 to 5.7% much of this has been attributed to people jumping back into the job market. When people are not searching for work their numbers are not counted. However, as they engage back in their searches and applying the numbers become more accurate as previously unaccounted for people rejoin the statistical measurement. The value of labor is determined in part by the availability of labor; lower unemployment numbers are good. T

Unemployment Lowers and Opportunity Rises-At least for Some

October was a great month for the unemployment rate. According to government data, 214,000 jobs were added last month and unemployment moved down to 5.8%. This is great news for those who are actively seeking employment and are counted in the rankings. Those in the lowest wage rungs haven’t seen much improvement in wages.  As unemployment numbers decline it naturally soaks up the slack in the labor market. Higher skilled workers usually get the cream puff jobs while lower skilled workers will still be picking up crumbs. Typically higher skilled workers find employment faster because they are needed in penetrating growth sectors of society that rely heavily on education and specialized skills.  Lower wage service jobs and part-timers will be stuck in lower wages until slack in the market is tighten to create demand-not so easy in a global world. Some lower wage workers may find new training opportunities that help them move into higher paying employment but others may simpl