According to a study by Bloomberg, as many as 30% of current job losses could be permanent. The study suggests that many of these jobs will succumb to what is known as “reallocation shock” in which the current economic disruption essentially leads to a different makeup of the economy. Retail stores, for instance, may never fully recover because of the ascendancy of online retail, a pre-Covid trend undoubtedly sped up by the pandemic. The study further suggests that jobs in the hospitality, leisure, retail, education, and health industries are particularly at risk. While the eventual increase in jobs in other sectors may provide some glimmer of hope, asking workers to retrain in a different industry is easier said than done.
At present, many workers are beginning to return to work in-person. As companies open their workplaces, they are also establishing new disinfection regimens to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the office. This has some worrying that the regimens themselves may pose a health risk. Many of the cleaning products that have chemicals approved to kill the current coronavirus may have significant side effects with enough exposure. Studies done on rodents, for instance, have shown that some of the chemicals could increase the risk of developing neurological, respiratory, and/or reproductive problems. Part of the problem is that CDC cleaning and disinfecting guidelines, coupled with a desire to avoid liability, will likely increase the frequency with which employers sanitize workplaces, further increasing workers’ exposure to the potentially harmful chemicals. While the desire to bring employees back to the office is understandable, employers should factor in all potential health risks in order to truly protect their workers.
In police-related news, three of California’s largest police unions released a statement over the weekend outlining plans to root out racist police officers from their departments. Among other things, the plans call for: a national database of officers fired for gross misconduct to prevent rehire of those officers by other departments; a new standard that “emphasizes a reverence for life, de-escalation, [and] a duty to intercede” in situations that call for use of force; and an early warning system that flags officer who need more training. This statement comes at a time when public discourse has turned to questioning the legitimacy of police unions within the labor movement.
And finally, in a recent internal presentation, Facebook showcased a new way for employers to crack down on unionizing in the workplace. The company debuted a new feature for its intra-office chat and collaboration application, Facebook Workplace, that allows employers to regulate content on employees’ news feed. The example Facebook used in the presentation was the ability to blacklist the word “unionize.” While the presentation was taken down, the initial instinct to use that example is pretty revealing as to the intended use of the new feature. And removing the presentation does nothing to address the problem that the feature does in fact allow employers to regulate unionization efforts on the application, which may raise serious legal questions.