Business Stories of the Week: June 15, 2018

by June 15, 2018

An Associated Press investigation found that a company specializing in sustainable seafood was lying about the way it captured its fish. (Photo by Pixabay user Pexels)

Texas employers not paying fair share to workers

City ordinances in Texas that penalize companies committing wage theft are sometime rendered useless by offering little to no resources in how to combat the issue, the Texas Observer investigates. The issues comes at the expense of Texas workers who are over worked and not properly compensated by companies. According to one record, a janitorial company failed to pay a worker overtime because the company either misclassified her as an independent contractor or underpaid her. Two cities, such as El Paso and Houston, have wage theft ordinances that are supposed to reprimand companies who engage in stealing wage theft, but subcontractors do what they can to avoid wage theft claims. In the two cities, businesses dodge accountability through endless appeals, declaring bankruptcy, lobbying and intimidating workers to drop wage theft claims. The cities claim they are doing their part to enforce the ordinance, and city officials confirmed that no company has lost their license or permits or have been denied from doing business in the area since the ordinance’s passage in 2015.

Media mergers are coming!

Telecommunications behemoth AT&T scored against the Justice Department to acquire Time Warner, a case hotly contested by antitrust officials over concerns of competition, the Wall Street Journal reports. A federal judge allowed the $80 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger to continue. The antitrust decision in favor of AT&T is huge for the media sector. The decision could open up a flurry of similar merger bids with both Comcast and Disney vying to buy a bulk of 21st Century Fox’s asset. As giants such as AT&T figure out their position in a growing wireless and digital world, media mergers among other companies are likely to stay competitive with declining cable TV viewership and a number of viewers flocking to Amazon, Netflix and Google’s Youtube. AT&T is now the largest U.S. pay-TV provider with the recent deal that added HBO, CNN, TNT, the Warner Bros. TV and film studio to the company’s library.

Measuring inflation in the e-commerce world

A new report claims online shopping is changing the way inflation is measure and keeping inflation below its target, reports the New York Times. The splendors Americans have found with low prices online haven’t translated with Federal Reserve officials who also suspect online spending may be keeping inflation rates from the 2 percent target, usually considered the sweet spot that prevents the economy from overheating. Online prices are dropping faster than the Consumer Price Index can measure, according to two university economists.  This creates confusion for economists and Fed officials looking for data to balance inflationary periods. It’s still unknown how much of an impact online shopping has had on inflation. But calls for a new measurement for consumer spending to encompass online shopping are growing. The Digital Price Index is one solution to track online spending that traditional barometers like the C.P.I have a hard time measuring.

Fishy problems in sustainably caught seafood

Reporters from the Associated Press tracked down deceitful fish markets, hiding their tactics under a wave of supply chain, who claimed they offer sustainably caught seafood, the AP reports. Labeling products as sustainable has been trending in many different markets bringing businesses to provide environmentally conscious products to consumers — but those sustainable products take time and money. Customers who want sustainable seafood pay a lot of money to purchase it and fish markets have been capitalizing on that demand. Sea To Table, the darling in the sustainable seafood movement, claimed its fish were traceable and wild. However, as the AP uncovered, the seafood company was in a tsunami of mislabeling and falsely advertising their products. The reporters also discovered the company was abusing its migrant fisherman, who worked 22-hour shifts without proper food and water. Those same fish the company claimed were traceable were indeed not, as the AP reports. This investigation shines the light how companies can take advantage of market demands and hide their tactics through their murky supply chain.