TV talker Jerry Springer to speak at Ohio Labor Day picnic
Sunday, September 2
CINCINNATI (AP) — Long-time TV talk show host and former Cincinnati mayor Jerry Springer will highlight this year’s AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic at Coney Island near Cincinnati.
Several Democratic nominees for the November election are also slated to speak Monday. Thousands of union households attend the annual picnic at the amusement park along the Ohio River.
The 74-year-old Springer’s namesake, raucous “The Jerry Springer Show” has halted filming new episodes, after making some 4,000.
Also a former news anchor and city councilman, Springer considered but decided against running for Ohio governor this year. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic governor nomination in 1982.
Local Woman Loses $50,000 in BBB Spoofing Scam
Columbus, OH (September 4, 2018) – There are many variations of spoofing scams, from scammers hijacking businesses’ names and addresses, to pretending to represent government agencies in order to get “tax” money or “fees” from unexpecting consumers. BBB recently received a report that scammers are spoofing your Better Business Bureau in Central Ohio.
In March, a Central Ohio senior citizen received a call from a man using the name Chris, claiming she had won a prize. She was told she would have to pay taxes on the prize money, and sent him a check with her account number and routing number. The scammers used that information to continuously make withdrawals from her account. To this date, she has lost around $50,000.
Soon after, she was phoned again by a woman claiming to be an attorney with BBB, using the name Samantha. Samantha told the victim she could sue her bank in court for allowing a scammer to take advantage of her, along with also suing the local sheriff and post office. To help gain her trust, Samantha deposited $30,000 into the woman’s account, then removed it two days later. The woman agreed to then go into a Chase branch with Samantha and withdraw $3,400. The woman’s daughter found out, told her mother Samantha was a scammer, and contacted BBB.
Since then, Samantha has told the woman that she would sue her daughter for defamation of character, and continues to call, despite the woman’s number being changed twice.
If you or someone you know has received a call from anyone claiming to represent BBB as an attorney, call your BBB immediately at 614-486-6336.
If you receive a suspicious call or email from someone claiming to be from BBB, a reputable business, or government agency, follow these tips:
Look up the organization online and find their phone number on their website. You can also search for them at bbb.org. Call to confirm that a representative from their business or agency has been trying to contact you.
Do not give any personal information to someone you do not know, especially over the phone. This includes debit and credit card numbers, bank account information, social security numbers, birth dates and anything else of importance.
If someone is claiming you have won a prize, then you will not have to pay any fees or taxes. Call the lottery or sweepstakes company directly to see if you won. Publishers Clearing House (PCH) does have a sweepstakes but does not call people in advance to tell them they’ve won. Report PCH imposters to their hotline at 800-392-4190.
Do not bring anyone to the bank with you, outside of a trusted friend or family member, to withdraw money. If you are feeling pressured by someone to go to the bank and make a payment, call someone you trust or your BBB to talk through the situation.
Remain calm if you receive threatening calls from someone claiming they could sue you or have you arrested for owing money or any other egregious reason. Aggressive calls and voicemails can be frightening, but are most likely from scammers trying to scare you into complying. It is best to hang up the phone, or not answers calls from numbers you do not recognize. If you continue to be harrassed, contact your local law enforcement.
Report scam experiences to BBB Scam Tracker to help warn and protect others in your community.
For more information, follow BBB on Facebook, Twitter and at bbb.org.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2017, people turned to BBB more than 160 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central Ohio, which was founded in 1921 and serves 21 counties in Central Ohio.
Prisoner strike exposes an age old American reliance on forced labor
August 31, 2018
Prison jobs are always low paid, often difficult, and produce many of the foodstuffs and services many Americans use every day.
Professor of History, Arizona State University
Calvin Schermerhorn does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Arizona State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Prisoners in 17 states and several Canadian provinces are on strike in protest of prison labor conditions.
Their demonstrations are compelling Americans to understand that some everyday foods are produced behind bars, for cents on the hour, in a system many call “modern slavery.” Prisoners in the U.S. harvest and process eggs, orange juice, ground beef and fish. They also staff call centers, fight wildfires and make sugar.
For this work, they receive, on average, 86 cents a day, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, an advocacy group.
Some formerly incarcerated people disagree with the comparison of prison work to slavery, saying that prison jobs teach real skills that may reduce recidivism.
But the prisoners’ strike, underway since Aug. 21, shines a light on a troubling American habit of consuming, often thoughtlessly, the products of forced labor.
Slavery and its consequences
Until Emancipation in 1865, enslaved Africans and African-Americans furnished many of the everyday items early Americans enjoyed, from cotton and tobacco to flour and sugar.
Between 1776 and 1865, an estimated 7.5 million unpaid black workers toiled out of sight, in slave labor camps – also known as plantations – railroads, households and factories across the South.
Slavery was not confined to the South: New York did not outlaw it until 1827.
As my research on forced labor and industry in early America reveals, slave-made goods were everywhere in the early United States: in coffee, swaddling clothes, chewing tobacco, bread and even banknotes.
Take chewing tobacco, for example, the “filthy custom” that Charles Dickens found ubiquitous during his 1842 visit to the U.S. The English novelist was aghast to see on his tour of a Virginia tobacco factory hundreds of enslaved workers pressing tobacco under the lash of overseers.
Enslaved workers, including women and children, pulled 16-hour shifts in these dusty and dangerous factories. The leaf they processed there was grown, cut and cured by other enslaved people in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and Kentucky.
Forced labor and inequality
This violent system of keeping black people impoverished and in bondage made tobacco remarkably affordable to free people. In the mid-19th century, the equivalent of a can of smokeless tobacco cost just 50 cents in today’s dollars.
Virginia tobacconists got rich selling their cheap tobacco plugs and twists in the U.S., Europe and Australia – even to the U.S. Navy.
Cheap American cotton was shipped to Great Britain via New York, and imported back to the U.S. as clothing, enriching everyone but the enslaved workers who picked it. Fort Sumter Museum Charleston via flickr/denisbin, CC BY-ND
As a result, slavery fueled inequality in the southern U.S., depressing the wages of white workers and freed blacks while making a small elite very rich.
According to economists Peter Lindert of U.C. Davis and Jeffrey Williamson of Harvard, in the eight decades before the Civil War, the top 1 percent of earners doubled their income, while the bottom 40 percent of earners lost half of theirs.
In 1860, the Gini coefficient – which measures unequal wealth distribution – was 0.608 in most states below the Mason-Dixon line, which today would make it one of the world’s least equal places. Average inequality in U.S. at the time was much better – 0.511 on the Gini index, roughly equivalent to modern Colombia.
The northern bankers and dealers of slave-made goods also pulled ahead of other earners.
Cotton picked by enslaved workers was shipped to New York City, where it was sold to English and European factories. By 1860, cotton accounted for 61 percent of U.S. exports, and American cotton made up 80 percent of British cotton imports.
Everyday actions seemingly unrelated to slavery actually supported it financially.
Nearly every person in the Atlantic world in the mid-19th century who sweetened their coffee did so using sugar harvested by enslaved people in Louisiana, the West Indies or Brazil.
Their coffee, much of it from Brazil, was grown by enslaved people, too. Since Brazil was the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, in 1888, that would continue to be the case continued for decades after the 13th Amendment outlawed slavery in the U.S.
In the 1830s, African-Americans and Quakers in Philadelphia launched a “free produce” movement, to raise consumer awareness about the connection between slave labor and their shopping lists.
The New York abolitionist grocer David Ruggles even advertised that his sweeteners were “manufactured by free people, not by slaves.”
From slave labor to prison labor
Sugar and forced labor, in particular, were seemingly inseparable.
After Reconstruction, prisoners in the South – nearly all of them black, many convicted on minor or trumped-up charges – were forced to grow sugarcane and other crops. This system, called “convict leasing,” exploited a loophole in the 13th Amendment’s allowance of slavery “as a punishment for crime.”
Between 1865 and 1941, more than 1 million prisoners – including children and women – were sentenced to hard labor mining coal, making turpentine or constructing railroads. For big companies like U.S. Steel, the cost savings of “leased” workers gave them a competitive edge.
Even today, most U.S. states use their prison populations to furnish low-priced food and other supplies for public facilities, including schools. Thirty-seven states contract with companies like Chevron, Compaq, Boeing and Victoria’s Secret.
Some of these private companies are legally obligated to pay a prevailing wage. But at Texas’ privately run Lockhart Prison, workers take home $1.96 an hour to make computer circuit boards after 80 percent of their pay is deducted to pay for their own incarceration.
Workers in state-run facilities in eight southern states are paid nothing for regular prison work like laundry.
An economy built on forced labor
Prisoner advocates acknowledge that working can break up the monotony of incarceration and teach meaningful job skills.
And prisoners need whatever money they earn. Even basic services like phone calls cost much more in prison.
The problem, prisoners say, is that they have no control over pay or working conditions. Like enslaved workers, they cannot simply walk off a job that’s dangerous or exploitative.
As a historian, I also hear echoes of prison workers’ protests in more recent campaigns to raise consumer awareness about sweatshop labor.
The foreign factories that manufacture clothing for many U.S. retailers frequently underpay workers, require overtime and fire them for getting sick, pregnant or attempting to unionize.
After a Bangladesh factory collapsed in 2013, killing 1,138 workers, popular brands like H&M and Forever 21 agreed to enforce better working conditions at their garment suppliers, but progress has lagged.
From convict leasing to the billion-dollar prison industry, forced laborers have served American consumers for centuries. The prison strike is a very necessary reminder that they still do.
Introducing ‘Operator 4.0,’ a tech-augmented human worker
April 18, 2017
Assistant Professor & J. Wayne and Kathy Richards Faculty Fellow in Engineering, West Virginia University
Professor of Advanced Manufacturing, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey
Professor of Production Systems, Chalmers University of Technology
Johan Stahre receives funding from the National Swedish Innovation Agency, Vinnova.
David Romero and Thorsten Wuest do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
West Virginia University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has arrived. The first was the steam engine-driven Industrial Revolution; the second involved the innovations from Henry Ford’s assembly line. Third, microelectronics and computer power appeared on factory floors. Now, manufacturing businesses are beginning to integrate robotics, automation and other data-driven technologies into their workflows.
Robots have taken over difficult, dangerous and repetitive physical tasks, improving factory safety, worker comfort and product quality. The next phase of labor innovation will do the same thing for cognitive work, removing mentally stressful and repetitive tasks from people’s daily routines.
Human work will become more versatile and creative. Robots and people will work more closely together than ever before. People will use their unique abilities to innovate, collaborate and adapt to new situations. They will handle challenging tasks with knowledge-based reasoning. Machines enabled by the technologies that are now becoming commonplace – virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, wearable sensors like FitBits and smart watches – will take care of tedious work details.
People will still be essential on the factory floors, even as robots become more common. Future operators will have technical support and be super-strong, super-informed, super-safe and constantly connected.
We call this new generation of tech-augmented human workers, both on factory floors and in offices, “Operator 4.0.” There are several types of enhancements available, which can be used individually or in combination to put humans at the heart of this technological revolution.
One straightforward enhancement would let workers wear robotic exoskeletons to enhance their strength. A “super-strength operator” could let a human truly control the physical power of a large robot. In today’s warehouses and construction sites, workers risk injury and exhaustion by handling heavy objects themselves. Or they are forced to compromise, using a more powerful tool with less adaptability, like a forklift.
The benefits go well beyond the workplace. Of course, a worker in a powered robotic suit could easily handle extremely heavy objects without losing the flexibility of natural human movements. The worker would also be far less likely to suffer severe injuries from accidents or overwork. And at the end of a day, a super-strength worker could take off the exoskeleton and still have energy to play with the kids or spend time with friends.
Fighter pilots use heads-up displays, which provide them with crucial information right on the cockpit windshield and directly in their line of sight. This is “augmented reality,” because it displays information within a live view of the world. It used to be very specialized and expensive technology. Now, Microsoft’s HoloLens makes it available for consumers.
An “augmented operator” can get directions or assistance without interrupting the task he or she is working on. Often, when new equipment or processes are developed, trainers need to travel long distances to factories, staying for weeks to teach workers what to do. Designers do the same, getting feedback for refinements and improvements. All that travel takes up a huge amount of time and is extremely expensive. With augmented reality available, it is often unnecessary.
Augmented reality on the job.
A worker wearing a set of smart glasses can receive individualized, step-by-step instructions displayed right in front of his or her eyes, no matter where he or she is looking. With earbuds and a microphone, she or he could talk directly to trainers in real time.
Many manufacturing environments are hazardous, involving heavy equipment, caustic chemicals and other dangers that can maim and kill human workers. A “healthy operator” may be equipped with wearable sensors tracking pulse rate, body temperature, chemical exposure or other factors that indicate risks of injury.
This type of system is already available: Truck drivers can wear the Maven Co-Pilot, a hands-free headset that detects fatigue symptoms, like head-bobbing movements. It can also ensure drivers check their rear-view mirrors regularly to stay aware of nearby traffic. It can even provide reminders to take scheduled breaks. This helps keep the truck’s driver safe and improves everyone else’s road safety.
Possibilities are limitless. An “analytical operator” would wear a monitor showing real-time data and analytics, such as information on chemicals in a sewage treatment plant or pollutants at an incinerator. A “collaborative operator” may be linked to collaborative robots, or co-bots, like the assembly assistant YuMi. A “smarter operator” could be equipped with an intelligent virtual personal assistant, like an advanced Siri or Alexa.
There does not have to be conflict between robots and humans, with machines taking people’s jobs and leaving them unemployed. Technology should be designed with collaboration in mind. That way, companies and workers alike will be able to capitalize on the respective strengths of both human and machine. What’s more, the inherent flexibility of “Operator 4.0” workers will also help to ensure workplaces of the future that can change and adapt. That means getting ever more efficient and safer, as new technologies emerge.