BOSTON: Massachusetts’ Supreme Court has ruled that an employer cannot fire an employee for using Medical Marijuana, and can sue under “handicap discrimination” statues.
Advantage Sales and Marketing of Foxborough fired Christina Barbuto after she tested positive after her first day at work.
The company has more than 120 locations across the country and cited Federal Drug law, which considers marijuana illegal.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected the company’s action and said Barbuto could sue under handicap discrimination statues.
Medical Marijuana as well as recreational use of marijuana are both permitted under Massachusetts' law.
Barbuto had been prescribed the Medical Marijuana to treat her “low appetite” as a result of having Crohn’s disease. Barbuto claimed that she has been able to stabilize her weight as a result of utilizing the drug.
Massachusetts Chief Justice Ralph Gants wrote, "an exception to an employer's drug policy to permit its use is a facially reasonable accommodation ."
He added, in what could be a harbinger of future litigation, "the fact that the employee's possession of medical marijuana is in violation of federal law does not make it per se unreasonable as an accommodation," Gants wrote.
|A Virginia-class attack submarine|
Washington: Even before President Donald Trump assumed office, the Navy had big plans for expansion that included new submarine work for Electric Boat. Now the ramp-up has grown, along with the Groton shipyard’s challenge to find enough skilled workers.
EB spokeswoman Elizabeth Power said the shipyard hopes to hire 2,000 new employees this year and already has hired about half of them.
Some will replace workers that are retiring or leaving for other reasons. But the company is also preparing for more work – and has already begun planning and design work on the Columbia-class submarine, a huge nuclear ballistic missile sub that would replace aging Ohio-class boats.
The Navy plans to begin construction of the first Columbia-class sub in 2021, at a cost of more than $6 billion.
In addition, concerns about increased undersea threats from Russia and China, which are increasing their submarine production, has pressed Congress to open the door to three-a-year production of the Virginia-class submarines Electric Boat builds in a partnership with Newport News Shipyards in Virginia.
Right now the pace is two a year.
Increased submarine production is also part of the Trump administration’s plan for a 355-ship Navy.
To prepare for an increase of work, Electric Boat is spending $1.5 billion expanding operations in Groton and at its shipyard in Quonset Point, R.I.
But finding enough skilled workers is the ramp-up’s growing pain. EB must assure the Navy it can meet the Pentagon’s increasing demands.
“We talk to them all the time about what we need,” said Power. “We talk to them often about potential future needs and how we can respond to them.
After the shipyard’s heyday in the 1980s and 1990s, when it produced, on average, four submarines a year, production dropped off and so did employment at EB.
So now there’s talk of a “doughnut hole” in the workforce, with many workers in their late 50s and 60s and a growing group of millennial employees, but few workers in their late 30s or 40s.
“They are stretched no doubt about it,” said James Hart, president of the Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, the union that covers many EB workers.
To Hart, finding enough trained welders and other metal works is a challenge, not a problem.
“We always meet our manpower needs,” he said.
Hart said AFL-CIO affiliates throughout the nation are recruiting skilled workers for the Metal Trades Department. But he said it’s sometimes tough to persuade young people to join a union apprenticeship program “because college is the American dream.”
One way EB could help with its labor shortage, Hart said, is to accelerate its own apprenticeship program.
Electric Boat restarted its apprenticeship program in January, in partnership with Three Rivers Community College. There are 30 in the program, six outside machinists, eight inside machinists, five welders, six ship fitters and five sheet metal workers.
Next January, another 30 apprentices will start the program.
Electric Boat also renewed another dormant apprenticeship program in conjunction with the United Auto Workers in January that also has 30 participants.
But it’s training programs outside Electric Boat that may provide more skilled workers.
A training pipeline
Mark Hill, the chief operating officer of the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board, helps the Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline turn out skilled workers – most of them a perfect fit for a job at EB. Others are hired by subcontractors and other companies that also need skilled workers
Hill said it hopes to train 450 welders, machinists and other skilled workers in 36 months, most of them for Electric Boat.
Hall said manufacturing in Connecticut was “hit particularly hard” by the recession that began in 2008. “But in the midst of these problems, we saw manufacturing coming back – led by Electric Boat,” he said.
Since the program began in April of 2016, 172 have graduated and most have been placed in jobs.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
An F-35C, the carrier version of the joint strike fighter, being refueled during sea trials on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
EB and other manufacturers have helped create the curriculum for the training program “so there’s confidence that the job seeker who trains in this program will have significant job opportunities,” Hall said.
The training is held at Three Rivers Community College, Quinebaug Valley Community College, and technical high schools in the state, including Grasso Tech in Groton and Windham Tech.
|An F-35C, the carrier version of the joint strike fighter, being refueled during sea trials on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.|
An initial $250,000 federal grant awarded six years ago allowed the board to create a plan with the state’s community colleges to train workers in advanced manufacturing skills.
Since then, the effort has received at total of $20 million in grants from the federal government. The last one, for $6 million, helped set up the Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline, whose website says “no experience necessary.”
“This is to help the unemployed, underemployed and veterans,” Hall said.
He said when the pipeline first advertised for trainees, 4,000 applied. “If somehow we got more money, we could enroll even more people,” he said.
Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said the skilled worker shortage “is very widespread.”
“I think Connecticut got ahead of the curve with these grants,” he said.
But the Trump budget for 2018 has sharp cuts to the Labor Department, and that has raised concerns about the future of programs like the pipeline.
One obstacle in EB’s hiring is the slow pace of the security clearances the Pentagon demands for those involved in building the nation’s nuclear Navy.
Pressed by Courtney and other lawmakers, the Navy assigned 10 reservists to help work through a backlog of security clearances affecting the nation’s industrial base. Still, the clearance process could take up to a year – or more.
Hart of the Metal Trades Department said EB has expanded its probationary period for employees to try to address the “cumbersome background-check issue.”
A boost in commercial and defense work – including increased production of the F-35 fighter jet – also has increased the need for skilled workers at Pratt & Whitney, which builds the engine for the Joint Strike Fighter.
The company hopes to hire an additional 25,000 people worldwide in the next decade – about 8,000 in Connecticut—to cope with retirements and a boost in business.
High demand for the Geared Turbofan engine used in commercial planes has led to a backlog of more than 8,000 engines, Pratt & Whitney spokeswoman Jenny Dervin said.
On the defense side of the business “it’s really the F-35 that’s driving the ramp up,” she said.
Unlike EB, which finds many of its workers in Connecticut and other places in New England, Pratt & Whitney casts a wider net.
It has partnerships with the University of Hartford and Asnuntuck, Manchester and Middlesex community colleges, but also with schools in Texas, Florida, Maine and Georgia that run training programs with financial help from Pratt & Whitney.
PRESS RELEASE: Governor Dannel Malloy
Company’s Investments Will Bring Jobs, Economic Activity, and Tax Revenue to the Town, Region, and State
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that Amazon – the largest internet-based retailer in the world – has decided to expand its presence in Connecticut with the creation of a new state-of-the-art, 855,000 square-foot fulfillment center in North Haven. The company plans to spend $255 million on the project, where it will create 1,800 jobs at the new facility.
The company, which recently opened a fulfillment center in Windsor and a sorting center in Wallingford, currently employs approximately 2,000 people in Connecticut. With the addition of the North Haven facility, that number will increase to approximately 3,800 Connecticut-based employees.
“This is a significant win for our state’s taxpayers and our economy,” Governor Malloy said. “Amazon’s $255 million investment to expand operations in Connecticut is proof positive that when we work with companies and bring our collective ingenuity to bear, we deliver on creating jobs for the hardworking residents of our state. With plans to nearly double their Connecticut workforce – growing another 1,800 jobs on top of the 2,000 employees they currently have in the state – Amazon’s decision to open third facility here is a testament to the high quality and productivity of our workforce.”
“Amazon has established a significant footprint in Connecticut – very good news for our workforce and our economy,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. “I congratulate Governor Malloy, DECD Commissioner Smith and the partners that helped bring Amazon to Connecticut and expand its presence to North Haven.”
Amazon’s North Haven fulfillment center will be located at 415 Washington Avenue – the 168-acre property formerly utilized by Pratt & Whitney that has been vacant for over 15 years.
“Five years after announcing our first fulfillment center in Connecticut, we’re excited to open a new, state-of-the-art fulfillment center in North Haven, creating more than 1,500 full-time jobs that offer wages 30 percent higher than traditional retail roles and include comprehensive benefits on day one, bonuses and stock awards,” Akash Chauhan, Amazon’s vice president of North America operations, said. “We’ve found an abundance of talent in Connecticut’s workforce, and we are so happy to have this opportunity to expand in the state to serve customers.”
The Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is supporting the project through its First Five Plus program. The company will be eligible to earn up to $15 million in Urban and Industrial Sites Reinvestment tax credits if certain job creation and capital investment milestones are reached. An additional $5 million in credits may be available if the company surpasses initial job targets. The company may also be eligible for a sales and use tax exemption of up to $5 million on equipment and construction materials. Local approvals – to be voted on tonight – will provide additional incentives to help bring the project to fruition.
“Today’s announcement is great news for North Haven and Connecticut,” DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith said. “The property, once humming with thousands of workers from Pratt & Whitney, was sold more than 15 years ago and has remained idle and vacant ever since. This is a significant development that will bring jobs, economic activity, and tax revenue for the town, region, and the entire state.”
“Amazon’s decision to invest 1,800 new, good-paying, jobs in North Haven is a victory for the greater New Haven area,” Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) said. “Connecticut’s partnership with Amazon has already yielded thousands of jobs and I want to thank Governor Malloy, his administration and local officials for their work in making this agreement possible.”
“This is exciting news for the State of Connecticut and Town of North Haven,” Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) said. “I thank the Governor’s administration and town officials for working in collaboration with all parties including state lawmakers and community members to show Amazon the remarkable potential of our town to be a new hub for business growth. After seeing this piece of property remain vacant for so many years, this new development is a major accomplishment. I welcome the new jobs and opportunities and I look forward to continuing to work with Amazon as a new local partner to bring new development, growth and vitality to our entire region.”
“I am so excited that Amazon has chosen to operate out of a new fulfillment center located in North Haven,” State Representative Dave Yaccarino (R-North Haven) said. “This new addition will foster job and tax growth for the residents of North Haven. I trust that Amazon will be a good civic neighbor.”
Signed into law in 2011, the First Five program supports large-scale economic development projects to encourage job creation, new capital investment, and business expansion or relocation. The 15 participating companies have created about 3,800 jobs, well above the minimum 200 jobs per company required to be created under the program. The companies are investing almost $1.4 billion within Connecticut – more than four times the amount of state financial assistance, providing the state with a strong return on its investment.
Started in 1994 as an online bookstore, Amazon diversified first into digital media and later into a wide range of consumer products. The company has grown to be the largest cloud computing company and internet-based retailer in the world.
By Mitchell Young
New Haven: Worry warts that reacted to Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s [Nasdaq: ALXN] announcement that it was trimming its world wide work force by 5% will be surprised by the company’s first-quarter 2017 financial results
Revenues rose 24.1% year over year to $870 million, exceeding analysts expectations of $821 million. There was a small benefit from an accounting change, but reveneus increased by 20% organically.
Shares of Alexion were up more than 5% at the end of trading, in response to the better-than expected results.
The news comes at a good time for the stock as drugs competitive to its flag ship product Soliris started getting some headlines with clinical trial announcements. Soliris sales however continued to rise as the company has found new disease treatments for the drug. The best news for investors is that the company’s big acquisition bets [more than $10 billion total] are starting to show up in sales.
Fifty State Tech Reports Present Connecticut Data
CONNTACT.com Compiled Comparisons With Our State Neighbors Below
The state of Connecticut and many of its companies and institutions have spent the last two decades trying to build out the technology infrastructure of companies and jobs.
A new annual study of tech employment in all fifty states presents a detailed look at employment in the state’s technology industry and within non-tech companies as well.
The report’s data is compiled and reported by CompTIA, based in Downers Grove, IL. CompTia is a member based non-profit organization and bills itself as “the world's leading tech association, is a thought leader and an action leader.” Among the services of the association are standards development, communities of professionals, industry advocacy and IT certification programs.
Connecticut’s unemployment rate ticked upward from 4.4 percent to 4.5 percent in January, despite the gain of 5,700 jobs, the state Department of Labor reported Friday.
The number of unemployed in Connecticut rose by 3,000 in January as more people returned to the labor force seeking work. The unemployment rate calculation only considers those either employed or actively seeking employment.
The January rate still remains 1 percentage point lower than the jobless rate from January 2016.
|Matt Powers Uber's Connecticut GM|
STAMFORD: Ride sharing service Uber opened what it calls a “Greenlight Hub” in Stamford in early February.
According to the company a Greenlight Hub, is a “resource center,” and will serve as a “central help facility for Uber’s driver-partners.”
“Drivers are our customers, and this new Greenlight Hub is designed to put their needs front and center,” said Matt Powers, General Manager for Uber in Connecticut. “We’re also excited to set down roots here in Stamford, as part of our broader commitment to Connecticut.”
Uber currently operates approximately 75 Greenlight Hubs throughout the United States, along with around 200 facilities where they provide additional in-person support to driver-partners. The Stamford building is projected to see more than 600 people per month.