Working Notes: A possible workplace bullying-related suicide in New Mexico, NYC fast-food workers call for decent pay, and NBC to pay student interns

Here are three news items worthy of attention:

1. Bullying-related suicide in New Mexico? — Staci Matlock reports for the Santa Fe New Mexican on the suicide of a 50-year-old woman whose family is claiming had to do with ongoing bullying at work (link here):

…The family members of Annette Prada say she told them she was a victim of workplace bullying at the Public Regulation Commission.

Prada, 50, was found by police Thursday, according to her family. Prada had worked for the corporations bureau at the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission for 23 years, according to her daughter Andre Prada. “She had been dealing with bullying and stress there for years,” Andre Prada said, claiming the abuse was verbal, through email and in demotions. “She was only two years away (from retirement). She tried to stay strong.”

Hat tip to Kathy Hermes, Connecticut Healthy Workplace Advocates, for the article.

2. NYC fast-food workers engaging in labor actions — Steven Greenhouse reports for the New York Times on labor actions calling for higher wages, staged by New York City fast-food workers (link here):

The biggest wave of job actions in the history of America’s fast-food industry began at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday at a McDonald’s at Madison Avenue and 40th Street, with several dozen protesters chanting: “Hey, hey, what do you say? We demand fair pay.”

That demonstration kicked off a day of walkouts and rallies at dozens of Burger King, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants in New York City, organizers said. They said 14 of the 17 employees scheduled to work the morning shift at the McDonald’s on Madison Avenue did not — part of what they said were 200 fast-food workers who went on strike in the city.

Could this be the start of something big? Let’s hope so! I recall a talk by the late Beth Shulman, drawn from her book The Betrayal of Work: How Low-Wage Jobs Fail 50 Million Americans and their Families (2003), reminding us that all those “good jobs at good wages” in the manufacturing sector weren’t simply created that way; it took labor action and collective bargaining.

3. NBC to pay its student interns — The emerging movement against exploitative unpaid internships appears to have scored another victory. Richard Prince reports on the Maynard Institute blog that NBC is planning to institute a paid internship program (link here):

NBC News is planning to pay its interns starting in the spring of 2013, according to a well-placed source at the network, addressing a long-held contention that requiring interns to work only for the experience or for college credit amounts to favoring students with well-to-do parents.

The number of internships and the salary level have yet to be determined, the source said.

The arguments for and against unpaid internships have been made for years.

The post quotes news anchor Brian Williams’s concerns about declining diversity among “Nightly News” interns.

Hat tip to Eric Glatt for the blog piece.

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