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Storycorps

StoryCorps 410: Standing with a Giant

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

In his early 20s, Max Starkloff was in a near fatal car accident, which left him quadriplegic and living in a nursing home. One day he came across a young woman who worked there, named Colleen. At StoryCorps in St. Louis, Colleen Kelly Starkloff sat down with her daughter, Meaghan Starkloff Breitenstein, to remember him.

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WNYC News

Airport Workers, Elected Officials Block LGA Entrance to Demand Better Wages

Thursday, January 15, 2015

WNYC
Airport workers sat down on the 94th Street bridge leading to LaGuardia to demand higher pay, benefits and a unionized contract from the Port Authority.

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Storycorps

StoryCorps 404: Taking Care

Friday, December 12, 2014

Miguel Alvarez (L) and Maurice Rowland (R) remember caring for residents at an assisted living home, where they were a janitor and a cook, when it closed suddenly, leaving many elderly residents abandoned.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

When Do You Work for Free?

Thursday, March 07, 2013

A recent blog post by writer Nate Thayer has sparked a conversation about journalists working for free. We broaden the conversation to all fields — when is it worth it to work for no pay?

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Transportation Nation

NY Airport Workers Live Below Poverty Line

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jared and Corin/flickr

(New York, NY -- Alex Goldmark) About a quarter of employees who work in New York area airports — including some who have jobs in security — make wages that are below the poverty line, according to a new study released this week.

Workers at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports who screen luggage, check tickets, clean airport bathrooms and assist customers in wheelchairs earn, on average, $16,640 a year, according to a study released Wednesday by NYU's Women of Color Policy Network and the Wagner School of Public Service. That's 25 percent below the federal poverty line for a family of four.

Area airports employ about 67,000 people. Of those, nearly 17,000 are what's known as passenger service workers — almost all of whom work for companies contracted by airlines. Researchers surveyed 300 of these workers, who are predominantly people of color, and found that the average wage was $8 an hour and the most common wage earned by these workers was the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Noting that 20 percent of those surveyed report being on government assistance such as food stamps, study author Nicole Mason said, "this means the public is paying twice" for these services: Once in the price of an airline ticket, and then in taxes that go to the social programs these employees frequently rely on.

Lakisha Williams, 29, has been working at Newark Airport for eight years. She started off as a baggage pre-screener and is now a wheelchair attendant. She said she pays for rent with Section 8 vouchers, uses food stamps and is on Medicaid.

"Basically I've just been at the airport for eight years for making the same minimum wage, $7.25," Williams said. "It's very unfair... I mean I have a 12-year-old daughter. She is very expensive, very expensive. I have to sit her down and let her know, tell her mommy is doing her best."

Study authors point out that workers employed by companies contracted by the Port Authority — the agency in charge of the airports — earned more than those who work for companies contracted by airlines. They blame the low wages on a practice by the airlines that awards contracts to the lowest bidder.

The head of the Port Authority, Patrick Foye, said he had not read the report, but has directed his staff to review it to see if there are any actions the agency should take in response. He expressed support for union hiring, touting his own experience as a union member in high school.

Full time workers union workers earn 29 percent higher wages nationally, than non-union workers he pointed out. Sixty-eight percent of Port Authority workers are represented by 13 different unions, he pointed out.

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The Takeaway

Charges of Abuse at Apple's iPad Factories

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Millions of Americans love their Apple products: from iPods to MacBooks to iPads. But there's a story behind the beloved devices. How do they get made and what price is paid? Our partner The New York Times has been investigating and this morning's story is a riveting read, in particular the safely problems at a Chinese factory that makes iPads.

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The Takeaway

Target Asks Employees to Cut Festivities Short

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving typically conjures images of spending time with family, savoring long meals, and watching sports. For those working at the Target corporation this year, they will remain only images. The mega-chain store has just asked many of its employees to put on their work clothes at midnight on Thanksgiving night to prepare for Black Friday shopping. However, many are not looking forward to the extra hours.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Moving Working Families Forward

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Verizon Strike Turns Bitter

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Steven Greenhouse, New York Times labor and workplace correspondent and author of The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker, discusses the increasingly bitter national strike against Verizon, which began on August 7.

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Features

Guggenheim Says Artists' Boycott Jeopardizes Abu Dhabi Project

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More than 130 artists have boycotted the Guggenheim's new Abu Dhabi location over migrant workers' rights.

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The Takeaway

Europeans Protest in Mass Over Austerity Measures

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

From Madrid to Brussels to Dublin to Paris, workers all over the European Union are taking to the streets today in a mass day of action. Hundreds of thousands of European workers are protesting a wide range of austerity measures proposed by their own governments—like spending cuts in Britain and increasing the retirement age in France. The BBC's Nick Childs is in the thick of the protests in Brussels. He reports on what may be the beginning of Europe's winter of discontent.

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