Those frisky felines are at it again! This time one of them is dishing out advice on how to improve your working life by communicating and acting with others. Jorts the cat is a Twitter celebrity that helps students understand their rights and workers understand theirs too. The key thing about the effectiveness of Jorts is not only that he’s a cat but that he communicates the struggle of modern American workers in a way that the average person can understand.
AG: In your year of public activism, you’ve been a source of information for many, especially around workers’ rights. Why is this important to you?
JTC: Especially in the United States, many workers do not know their basic rights. For example, we have a legally protected right to talk about our wages, yet forbidding that is a widespread‘policy’ in many workplaces. In truth, it is against the law to retaliate against workers for talking about their wages.
Everyone needs to talk about their wages, because so often there are big discrepancies for no real reason. These gaps are especially large comparing white men to any other demographic. (If you’re a white man, you especially should talk about your wages.)
Today is the day to celebrate workers. If you’re currently employed and don’t own the company you’re at then, congratulations, you’re a worker! We can thank worker movements of the past for weekends, health care, and many other improvements to our quality of life. In the coming decades we may add good environmentally friendly worker policies to that list. There are at least ten ways that we can support workers while also supporting a green economy for years to come.
5. Advance funding for skills development towards sustainable jobs. There is significantly more money in this bucket—more than $800 million over three years, all of it previously announced—mainly to support young people pursuing in-demand green careers. It’s smart policy and the package even includes direct job creation through 70,000 annual summer placements. It falls well short of the Youth Climate Corps championed by the Climate Emergency Unit, which would include two-year apprenticeships and in-depth training.
Unions fought hard for a five day work week and now we need to fight for a four day work week. A global study of people who get a three day weekend from their job have better health and are happier. This is quite unsurprising to anyone who has enjoyed a three day weekend. For workplaces that have made shift to a four day work week they have also noticed an uptick in productivity. What are we waiting for?
“When people go on holiday, they’re changing their everyday responsibilities because they’re not locked down to their normal schedule,” Dr Ferguson says.
“In this study, we found that movement patterns changed for the better when on holiday, with increased physical activity and decreased sedentary behaviour observed across the board.
“We also found that people gained an extra 21 minutes of sleep each day they were on holiday, which can have a range of positive effects on our physical and mental health. For example, getting enough sleep can help improve our mood, cognitive function, and productivity. It can also help lower our risk of developing a range of health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression.
“Interestingly, the size of these changes increased in line with the length of the holiday – so the longer the holiday, the better the health benefits.”
Think you’re bad at multitasking? You probably are, and if you think you’re good at it, well, you’re probably bad at it too. So why do we think multitasking is something we can do and why do we praise people who can? It has partly to do with sexism. There is a myth that women are better than men at multitasking and it needs to end. At workplaces women are given more work than men for cultural reasons and then told that they like the additional work.
How we got here is not good, but the solutions are already on the table and ready to be implemented. It all comes down to acknowledging this working myth and providing time for people to focus.
“These are usually shorter-term assignments that need to be done quickly. Can you help with that, cover for me here — these tasks are the interrupters, as opposed to the work you’re hired to do and is longer term and requires that depth,” said Weingart, who co-wrote The No Club: Putting a Stop to Women’s Dead-End Work. “These tasks tend to be less tightly tied to the organization’s bottom line, and they tend to be behind the scenes and less visible. When you define it that way, it’s much more than office housework or taking notes or getting the birthday cake.”
Now, after years of leaning into multitasking, many women are realizing that doing simultaneous tasks isn’t part of the promotion track. It’s the path to burnout. This awareness is the start of helping “women step back and figure out how to improve,” says Weingart.
Before committing to a task, Weingart suggests determining whether it’s of high value to your organization. If you still feel compelled to do it, try to understand your motivation for saying yes. Sometimes it’s guilt or fear of letting others down.
It’s one thing to have a job, it’s another thing to have a job that pays you enough to participate in society. Canada’s minimum wage, like most places, doesn’t match the reality of what a person needs to earn to make a living (thus people say minimum wage deserves minimum effort). Despite this unfortunate starting point, Living Wage Canada has found a way to streamline for both employers and employees what to expect an hourly minimum rate should be. As a result, the organization makes it easier for employers to be a certified living wage employer and will make it simpler for workers to know what to ask for.
The living wage movement in Canada stemmed from conversations around child poverty in the early 2010s. One major contribution to child poverty is parents who are working but still not able to make ends meet. Because of this focus on children the living wage was originally calculated for a family of four with two working parents. At the time, testing showed that the living wage rate for single parents with one child and single adults were fairly close to that of the reference family of four. However, over time, the living wage rates for these different household types have grown. The introduction of the Canada Child Benefit in 2016 by the federal government lowered living wage rates across the country. In 2019, the provincial government in Ontario introduced the CARE credit, which offers additional support to households with children.