Janet DeMaria Skadoosie

Parents Are Thankful for This Designer’s Contemporary Spin on the ‘Onesie’ | Janet Demaria

Designer-turned-entrepreneur Janet DeMaria saw that infant bodysuits had not changed in decades and came up with the idea for the “Skadoosie,” a onesie that does away with the need for buttons, snaps, and zippers. A lifelong learner and creative, Janet reimagined a modern and functional take on a parenting staple. Now, Janet hopes to drive change and inspire others to pursue their dreams.

Airplane Taking Off

With Airlines Expecting a Tenth Year of Profits, Employees Are Asking For Better Deals

Thanks to the majority of United States airlines coming to the end of yet another profitable year – the tenth in a row – many of their employees are calling for bosses to provide improved remuneration packages.

Over 120,000 unionized employees will start negotiating their labor agreements that could potentially see major American carriers having higher expenses, including American Airlines who are starting to negotiate not only with pilots and flight attendants but maintenance workers too.

Currently airline companies spend the majority of their expenses on their labor costs with 28 percent of the overall $187 billion revenue being spent on labor costs, an increase of 21% in 2008 – mostly due to higher work forces and increased compensation payments.

Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants – who has around 50,000 cabin crew members from 20 different airlines, including United Airlines and is calling for flight attendants at Delta Airlines to also join the union – commented that “there are simply more funds to get and workers are cognizant they’re turning out more value.”

This is in stark contrast to ten years ago when many airlines were hit with bankruptcies alongside several megamergers leaving three quarters of the market in the control of four carriers.

However profits started to increase and experts have forecast a net income of under 1% for each of the four big airlines, which although does not sound much actually equates to $12.44 billion.

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Kit Darby tracks the pay rate of pilots and notes that “when the airlines are making money, it’s hard to deny the increase in compensation. Everybody tries to get a good contract when times are good. If it’s a short downturn, they hold on to what they got.”

With the news that profits are continuing to increase airports across the country have started to see protests as airline workers demand better schedules and working conditions as well as pay increases.

Executives at American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have attempted to have labor talks with their employees however they have laid the blame with the mechanics’ unions for delaying talks in an attempt to gain leverage, which in turn has caused operational issues that have led to thousands of flights being delayed or even canceled, although the unions have denied this.

In March of this year a resolution between Southwest and their mechanics ended six years of discussions with the new five-year contract including a 20 percent increase in wages as well as $160 million in back pay for employees.

However the airline’s discussions with their flight attendants is still continuing as well as their discussions with their customer service agents, dispatchers, and pilots. Most of the staff is concerned regarding the Boeing 737 Max still being grounded with the unions claiming the issue has caused employees to lose over $100 million in wages.

American Airlines are still in talks with their mechanics’ unions with the airline suing the unions in May due to the travel disruptions they were causing, winning an injunction that means they can no longer get involved in the airlines’ operations.

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Josh Freed, the spokesman for American Airlines, said “since August, teams for the company and the union have met for multiple days nearly every week” confirming that both groups have “made considerable progress” although further talks have already been scheduled for January.

Another issue is the fact that although unionized airline workers’ contracts are allowed to have the dates amended they do not expire, all contracts are valid beyond the finalized date and any negotiated raises will no longer be applied.

It is worth noting that employees are not only looking for extra wages with American airlines mechanics asking for the outsourcing of jobs to be limited, especially those to foreign companies. American Airlines pilots are also requesting improved scheduling to ensure a “better quality of life.”

Eric Ferguson, Allied Pilots Association President as well as an Airbus A320 captain agrees that “scheduling is our no. 1 issue.” The union has also requested that employees on the less-desirable flights receive higher wages as well as providing easier ways for the routes to be available to pilots. This should encourage the trips to be picked up by pilots, reducing the operational problems, which in turn would enable revenue and profits to increase and therefore be shared with the airline’s employees. However Ferguson wants to make it clear that the unions are not just saying “pay us more,” but that they want the airlines to “fix the problems” they already have.

The APA represents around 15,000 pilots and although talks started in the first half of 2019, the contract would not be amendable until the beginning of 2020. However the union are asking for 16% raises over a three-year deal. The airline has countered with the same increase but over five years.

Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines, spoke at a meeting in June last year telling their pilots “shame on us if we can’t figure out over the course of a year how to get a contract done before the amendable date.”

Real Estate Meeting

Real Estate Industry In Need Of Affordable Housing Solutions

The real estate industry is like the stock market, one day you’re way up, and the next you’re crashing. The housing market always fluctuates with the economy and today is no different. Due to a slew of combined issues, the real estate industry is suffering to find and maintain affordable housing in the US for clients looking to live in metropolitan areas. Phoenix, Arizona is seeing some of the worst of it currently, according to Chamber Business News (CBN).  A combination of lack of labor, high demand for properties to be built fast, and rising development costs is taking a hit on the entire industry, (CBN).

“I refer to it as the perfect storm. It isn’t just building and labor costs, but building products have gone up, too, and, today, the most severe labor shortage is for lot development, the folks that put in the sewer, concrete curbs and gutters, dry utilities, everything underneath the house, and the infrastructure to get to and from the home site,”  said Jim Belfiore, President of the firm Belfiore Real Estate Consulting in Phoenix. 

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Homeowners themselves are trying to take some of the heat off the companies they work with by providing additional costs, but even the real estate agents working with them know that what they’re paying additionally is way above what’s considered “normal”. The lack of labor is one of the biggest hurdles the industry is trying to get past, especially in Phoenix. According to CBN, construction costs overall have increased almost 40% over the past four years, give or take based on the specific residential market of course. Since a majority of the market’s clients can’t keep up with the rising costs, more labor workers are left without jobs. 

The labor shortage is affecting the whole country, but Arizona is especially feeling the negative effects. With an increase in anti-immigration laws and stricter policies regarding immigrant workers, many individuals have fled the state to avoid any threat of deportation. 

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“The labor shortage has really affected the schedule that home builders can deliver on because of a lack of contractors. There are projects that are going out to bid and getting zero bidders responding with proposals. It’s not unusual once you find bidders who can’t meet their schedule,” said Ron Hilgart, managing principal of a Phoenix construction management firm, to CBN.

Arizona alone has seen one of the highest influxes in population throughout the country, but they’re definitely not alone in the struggle of maintaining the growing clientele. According to a survey done by Freddie Mac, two-thirds of renters in this country can’t currently afford to become a homeowner, this is a 59% increase compared to last years renter statistics. The biggest and simplest solution to this growing problem is acquiring more land to develop properties. The need for property space is one of the leading causes to the decline in everything else within the industry. Agents are attempting to fulfill their clients specific limitations while finding them a proper space to call their own. Clients are demanding large and extravagant additions to be made to their homes that just aren’t necessary, such as large porches, grand foyer entrances, and garage spaces. These additions increase property value, which is currently being viewed as a bad thing due to a lack of clients that can afford those spaces.

“At the end of the day, anywhere there is land to build on today that is appropriate for residential use, I think our municipal leaders and our builders need to come together and allocate some share of that remaining land towards affordable housing and we need to have different requirements” concludes Belfiore.


New California Legislation Forces Gig Economy Companies to Treat Workers as Employees

The explosion in popularity of services such as Lyft, Uber, and DoorDash has given rise to a new type of occupation, where workers make their own hours and can use their personal vehicles as part of their job, but are beholden to the operation of a smartphone app instead of working for a traditional employer. These workers, in the so-called “gig economy,” are currently legally classified as contractors, not employees, meaning they lack the protections and rights granted in more traditional jobs. In California, however, that is due to change, as new legislation which is expected to go into effect on January 1st reclassifies these workers as employees, fundamentally changing how these businesses must be run in the state. This pioneering legislation, known as Assembly Bill 5, has the potential to bring about change in other states as well, as employee rights advocacy groups lobby for similar laws to be passed in states like New York, Washington State, and Oregon.

Although the app-based companies that would be affected attempted to negotiate an exemption from the bill, this attempt failed, and the bill in question passed 29 to 11 in the California State Senate. After the bill goes through the State Assembly, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, is expected to sign the bill into law, as he endorsed the bill this month. According to the New York Times, the law would designate workers “as employees instead of contractors if a company exerts control over how they perform their tasks or if their work is part of a company’s regular business.” Classifying workers as employees rather than as contractors means they would be granted protections such as a right to a minimum wage and unemployment insurance, among other benefits. Because of the broad phrasing of the bill, several industries, including custodial services, nail salons, and construction could be affected.

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Companies that have built their business on the cheap labor afforded by contract work have fiercely opposed the bill, spending $90 million in a failed attempt to defeat it. These companies have argued that contract work gives people more flexibility and independent, and have claimed that this legislation has the potential to destroy their businesses. Although these “gig companies” have provided a tremendous amount of innovation by making it quicker and easier for smartphone users to request goods and services, they have done so by taking advantage of the loose restrictions placed on hiring contractors, many of whom complain about being underpaid, unfairly let go, or burdened by the costs of upkeep and maintenance the job imposes. Contractors for these companies, most notably ride-hailing drivers, are unsurprisingly supportive of the bill’s passage.

The passage of Assembly Bill 5 represents a major victory for contract workers for Uber, Lyft, and Doordash, who have fought for years to be classified as employees. A number of lawsuits have been brought against these companies from drivers arguing that they have the legal right to the same rights as employees, and the companies have responded by settling these lawsuits out of court. The companies have also worked to secure exemptions to rules threatening the contractors’ freelancer status in a number of states.

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While the specifics of how gig economy companies will react to the new law is unclear, it is estimated that treating workers as employees could raise costs by 20 to 30 percent, and Uber and Lyft claim that the law would require them to schedule drivers in advance, prohibiting their freedom to choose when and where to work. Experts, however, disagree, and claim that the companies are free to leave their system of scheduling workers the way that it is. Not all drivers are in favor of the bill, as they fear the law will limit their flexibility, and Uber and Lyft urged drivers to call their legislators to oppose the bill.

Reaction to the concept of reclassifying contractors as employees nationwide generally varies along the political spectrum, with people on the left praising the bill for the benefits it grants workers and people on the right complaining that the bill represents excessive government interference in the affairs of private businesses. In any case, the passage of the bill in California is sure to provide a valuable test case for how similar legislation in other states would impact workers, businesses, and consumers.