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Wage Watch: Apple workers take their employer to court

Consumers Shop At An Apple Inc. Store Ahead Of Earnings FiguresConsumers Shop At An Apple Inc. Store Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Apple store.Bloomberg—Getty Images

In lawsuit, Apple workers say they never got a break

An employee lawsuit accusing Apple of denying workers breaks is moving forward as a San Diego County judge certified a class action wage-and-hour suit against the tech company this week.

Approximately 21,000 current and former retail and corporate employees say they did not receive breaks consistent with California law from 2007 to 2012 and that they received their final paychecks too late after they stopped working for the company.

Apple (AAPL) has argued that its managers didn’t prevent workers from taking timely breaks.

The company is facing a similar suit in northern California, where Apple retail employees claim that they are due compensation for the time they spent waiting in security screening lines after their shifts.

Bill seeks “basic fairness in work scheduling”

Federal lawmakers introduced legislation this week aimed at curbing hourly workers’ erratic and irregular schedules—a workplace trend that they say “wreaks havoc on working families and jeopardizes their economic security.” The Schedules that Work Act introduced on Wednesday will require employers to consider scheduling requests from employees who have to work around caregiving duties, health restrictions, education commitments, and second jobs.

The bill, which was introduced by two Democratic Senators and two Democratic Representatives, comes a week after The New York Times examined the unpredictability work hours in retail and food services, industries in which employees receive their schedules with little notice and with no guarantee that they’ll be paid for all the hours they are allotted.

“Workers need scheduling predictability so they can arrange for child care, pick up kids from school, or take an elderly parent to the doctor,” said co-sponsor George Miller, a representative from California. “This bill is about protecting basic dignity: the dignity of work and the dignity of the individual.”

NLRB: Size doesn’t matter

Micro-unions might be the next big thing. In a decision that riled up the retail industry, the National Labor Relations Board ruled on Wednesday that a group of 41 workers at cosmetic and fragrance counters at a Massachusetts Macy’s department store was large enough to vote to unionize.

The decision is considered a blip of hope for unions that have long tried to organize small sectors of industries.

It’s no surprise that the retail industry disapproved of the decision. Macy’s said it is considering its options, include an appeal. The National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association condemned the ruling, with the RILA saying that it gives union leaders the ability to “gerrymander a workplace” by “cherry picking” only employees who are most apt to organize.

In Oakland, a showdown at the minimum wage corral

Oakland voters are set to vote this November on giving a raise to its minimum wage workers. A ballot initiative proposes raising the city’s minimum hourly rate from $9 to $12.25 an hour by March 2015.

But that initiative will compete with an alternative plan proposed by Oakland’s city council president who wants to spread out a raise to $13 over three years. If the council initiative passes next week, it’ll likely be used to oppose the ballot proposal.

Even Marry Poppins wants a raise

In a video from comedy site Funny or Die that went viral this week, actress Kristen Bell plays a fed-up Mary Poppins who quits her nannying gig over unfair pay. In the skit, Bell sings that “just a three-dollar increase can make a living wage” to the tune of “A Spoonful of Sugar.” “In every job that must be done, you must be paid in more than fun,” she sings. Sing it, Ms. Poppins!