Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Is Microsoft a joint employer? TWA files a charge with the National Labor Relations Board

Temporary Workers of America is a small independent union born on September 11, 2014 to represent 40 or so employees working for Microsoft via a supplier, Lionbridge Technologies. The union was created because of the accumulated frustration of years without any paid leave nor pay increase.&nbsp
On March 26, 2015 Microsoft announced it would require its suppliers to provide 'at least 15 days of paid time off' to their employees but nothing was set aside specifically for paid parental leave and no paid holidays were mentioned.
From the very start we thought the requirement was too weak and we were concerned about its implementation.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Microsoft declines union's invitation to collective bargaining

As reported by Matt Day in the Seattle Times. 

Request for Microsoft to attend a collective bargaining meeting as a joint employer

Find below the text of the letter/email we sent on October 17, to Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft Executive Vice President Human resources. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The trend toward 16 weeks of paid family/parental leave

To complement the previous post here is a link to an article published October 8 in the Washington Post by Jane Waldfogel of Columbia University: Why 16 week paid parental leave policies are revolutionary for US workers.

Could Melinda Gates help us obtain parental leave and paid public holidays?


Parental Leave Isn't Just About Parents: Why It Makes a Difference to Our Kids' Health
Let's not forget what parental leave is really about: healthier babies, parents who are able to thrive professionally, and strong and resilient families.
By Melinda Gates
This post first appeared at Parents.com. We could not find the exact date and it apparently did not elicit any comment. It was then reproduced on August 21, on The Huffington Post (72 comments). We discovered it because it was referenced on October 7 by Emily Peck again in The Huffington Post in a post where she explained how Melinda Gates is taking her own advice as the Gates Foundation announced it was now offering to its employees up to one year of paid parental leave.
The question for us: is there any chance that Melinda can convince Microsoft to require that its supplier Lionbridge Technologies provide "some parental leave" instead of nothing. What does she think the parental/family leave standard should be for Microsoft's suppliers?

The news that Netflix and Microsoft will strengthen their parental leave policies was welcomed by parents across the country, including me. These announcements should put pressure on every company, in every industry, to design and implement similar policies, setting a new standard for family leave.
However, there's more to this story than we are seeing in the headlines. Yes, the new policies will help tech companies retain highly skilled employees in a competitive job market, and that's an important priority for Netflix, Microsoft, and companies like them. But let's not forget what parental leave is really about: healthier babies, parents who are able to thrive professionally, and strong and resilient families.
I saw only limited coverage--such as this article--that focused on how the new policies will help parents and babies. We can debate about how leave should be structured to maximize its impact, but what's not in question is that when mothers and fathers get paid leave, they benefit, and so do their children.
Paid leave has been linked to higher birth weights and lower rates of infant mortality. Mothers who get paid leave breastfeed more and for longer, which is one of the best ways to protect the health of a newborn. This is to say nothing of the long-term emotional health of both parents and children who are able to form a strong attachment from birth.
The benefits extend beyond newborn health: When fathers take leave, they participate more in early child rearing, and that level of engagement continues after the leave ends. The evidence also shows that mothers who take leave are more likely to get raises in the year following their leave--54 percent more likely.
Netflix and Microsoft made these changes because parental leave is a benefit their employees really want. Parents know intuitively that spending more time with each other and with their newborn is the best thing for their family.
I hope that we see more companies improve their parental leave policies. If that's how businesses start competing for the best employees, society will benefit greatly. When all Americans have the ability to stay home with their new babies without incurring financial hardships or professional disadvantages, our country will be healthier, happier, and more productive. It's a goal we should all be working towards, for the health of our children.
Melinda Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Temporary Workers of America (TWA) Timeline 2011 - 2015

December 5, 2011: Start on the Redmond campus of the Microsoft's lab to certify apps for the Windows Store (10 Tier 1 employees supplied by Lionbridge Technologies)

December 12, 2012: Email to Dan Bross (Microsoft Corporate Citizenship and Public Affairs) about Microsoft's commitment to Human Rights via the UN Global Compact (article 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:  Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay”)

January 1st, 2013: Creation of the blog Campaign for the right to paid holidays for all employees in the US

August 2nd, 2013: Marilyse B is fired by Lionbridge after having asked for benefits for the Tier 1 employees. Soon later she files a charge with NLRB against Lionbridge for retaliation.

January 2014: NLRB finds in favor of Marilyse. She settles with Lionbridge and the charge is abandoned.

March 2014: Beginning of the organizing drive for TWA with the creation and collection of authorizing cards.

August 1st 2014: TWA files with NLRB the petition to organize a vote for the union. Creation of the blog Lionbridge Union to communicate with fellow lab workers. 

September 11, 2014: vote in favor of TWA as union representing Tier1 Lionbridge Technologies employees in the Windows Store App Certification lab in Redmond (at the time). 

October 11, 2014: Publication of The Other Microsoft by Philippe Boucher (Blurb.com and Kindle versions)

October 14, 2014: Bill Gates publishes on his blog 'Why inequality matters', his review of Thomas Piketty's book, Capital in the 21st century.

November 7, 2014: Philippe Boucher is disciplined by Lionbridge with a 'written warning' for The Other Microsoft because it 'unacceptably disparaged Microsoft and Lionbridge'.

November 8: contact via email with Microsoft's Board of Directors about the lack of paid leave for supplier's employees, situation described in The Other Microsoft.

November 14, 2014: collective bargaining first meeting

December 11, 204: Philippe Boucher files a discrimination charge against Lionbridge for the 'written warning' about The Other Microsoft. 

December 18, 2014: collective bargaining second meeting

January 7, 2015: collective bargaining 3rd meeting

January 13, 2015: Article in the Boston Globe 'Microsoft labmates bargain for benefits'

January 15, 2015: Article in the Seattle Times 'Labor issues at Microsoft prompt talks of policy changes'

February 3: Opening of a blog for Temporary Workers of America

February 10: collective bargaining 4th meeting in the presence of attorney Dmitri Iglitzin (with financial support of AFL-CIO) to advise TWA

February 27: collective bargaining 5th meeting: Lionbridge initial proposal with zero paid leave of any kind (in the presence of Danielle Franco-Malone to advise TWA)

March 10, 2015: Publication of L'Autre MoitiƩ de Microsoft (French version of The Other Microsoft) on Amazon-Kindle.

March 24, 2015: Presentation of TWA for the students of the Design for Social Change class at Cornish School of the Arts: they are going to produce images and video clips pro bono for TWA.

March 24, 2015: Article about Lionbridge CEO 2014 compensation

March 24, 2015: Charge for bargaining in bad faith filed with NLRB by TWA against Lionbridge (for refusing to provide the contract with Microsoft and the amount Microsoft pays for each employee). Charge withdrawn on May 19.

March 26: Brad Smith's Announcement about Microsoft new requirement that suppliers provide at least 15 days of paid time off to their employees

March 27, 2015: several articles about TWA, in the Seattle Times, the Washington Post, etc.

March 30, 2015: Creation of the blog Paid Time Off Matters to monitor the implementation of Microsoft's announcement.

April 16, 2015: Microsoft CEO invited to the White House as 'champion of change' because of their new paid leave requirement for their suppliers

May 1st, 2015: Article in Business Week Bloomberg News: 'Microsoft's contract workers are organizing'

May 12, 2015: Facebook announcement about their new policy requiring paid time off and providing paid parental leave for their suppliers employees

May 16, 2015: Article in the Seattle Times, "Image says it all for Microsoft temps', about the images produced by the Cornish Students.

May 19, 2015: TWA withdraws its charge against Lionbridge for bargaining in bad faith.

May 22, 2015: TWA petition to Microsoft on coworking.orgMemorial Day should be a paid holiday for all 40.000 Microsoft temporary workers

May 29, 2015: collective bargaining 6th meeting; cancelled at the last minute on the advice of our attorneys because there was only one union representative available

May 29, 2015: Lionbridge files with NLRB a charge against TWA for bargaining in bad faith

June 8, 2015: Department of Labor explains how the lack of paid leave disproportionally impacts low wage workers

June 9, 2015: Disengagement letter from attorneys Dmitri Iglitzin and Danielle Franco-Malone, ending legal advice for TWA.

June 30, 2015: Lionbridge contract with Microsoft is renewed. TWA is informed by a Microsoft employee that it contains a clause requiring Lionbridge to provide at least 15 days of paid time off.

July17, 2015: collective bargaining 7th meeting: Lionbridge now includes 15 days of paid time off in its proposal.

August 2, 2015: Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft Executive Vice President for HR, announces new benefits (2 new paid holidays and extendend paid parental leave of 12 weeks) for Microsoft 'direct' employees

August 13, 2015: Microsoft Chief Procurement Officer Mike Simms writes about policy changes for US suppliers (including the 15 days of PTO requirement)

August 20, 2015: collective bargaining 8th meeting: TWA accepts Lionbridge contract proposal.

August 26: TWA petition to Microsoft 'Stop paid leave discrimination' launched on  coworker.org.

August 27, 2015: NLRB decision in Browning-Ferris Industries (Joint Employment criteria)

September 3, 2015: Testimony in support of Marilyse in front of the Washington State Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals about her occupational injury claim for incapacitating repetitive stress syndrom.

September 8, 2015: Lionbridge informs TWA that they have received 'some further elaboration from Microsoft as to its expectations'  concerning the PTO requirement. Finalizing the contract proposal should therefore take 'a few more days'.

September 21: Lionbridge sends their contract proposal to TWA

September 23: TWA expresses concerns about the wording of the confidentiality clause (article 5) and the clause about the use of PTO (article 7)

October 17: TWA invites Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s HR Executive Vice President to attend the next collective bargaining meeting on October 23 as joint employer

October 23: two hours before the meeting Mike Simms, Microsoft’s Chief Procurement Officer (see August 13) declines via email TWA’s request, stating Microsoft is not a joint employer.

October 23: collective bargaining 9th meeting. TWA agrees to submit the tentative agreement to all the Tier1 employees for ratification (or not)

October 23: article in the Seattle Times: Microsoft declines union invitation to the bargaining table

October 26: TWA polls its own members about Microsoft as a joint employer (80% agree they are) and if TWA should ask NLRB to determine Microsoft’s joint employer status (90% support such a filing).

October 27: Charge filed with NLRB about Microsoft as a joint employer