Volcano-induced hiatus

Hello dear readers!

More posts to come, but for now I’m in Germany with fingers crossed that I’ll be able to get home to Boston by the end of the week.

I’ve been in Augsburg, Germany since Thursday, participating in what turned out to be a great little conference on transnational legal perspectives on workplace bullying, mobbing, and discrimination, hosted by the Faculty of Law at the University of Augsburg.  I’ll have more to say about the conference later.

But for now I’m one of the multitudes whose flight home was cancelled.  (Note that I didn’t use the term “great unwashed,” and hopefully it won’t apply before the adventure is over!)  If you’ve been following the global news, you know that it is a quite a scene here across the pond.  This shutdown of air space is unprecedented in Europe, and it is causing massive disruptions in travel plans and business and shipping transactions around the world.

Impact on workers

For some of us, this is proving to be an increasing inconvenience and a source of genuine anxiety.  But there are others who already are experiencing significant hardship:

  • Laborers in less-affluent nations who subsist on the farming and sale of perishables cannot ship their goods to their destinations due to the air traffic shutdown.
  • There are families who will not be reunited with loved ones on short leaves from military service because their uniformed family members cannot get home. 
  • Airlines are talking about temporary layoffs, and an already struggling industry is taking a huge hit that will impact their workers.
  • And I can only imagine what it must be like working in customer service for the airlines and other transportation carriers.  (If you’re a stranded customer, try to remember as you struggle with your understandable frustration about the honey vs. vinegar distinction.  Easier said than done, I know…)

This semester I’m teaching a course on International and Comparative Employment Law, and we spend considerable time discussing the implications of globalization.  This freakish, wholly unanticipated event is showing us just how easy it can be to send that world economy into chaos.  I’ll have some lessons to discuss with my students, assuming I can get back before the end of the semester!

(Post revised as of Monday morning)

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