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Yuki Noguchi

Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Business Desk based out of NPR's headquarters in Washington, DC. Since joining NPR in 2008, she's covered a range of business and economic news, with a special focus on the workplace — anything that affects how and why we work. In recent years she has covered the rise of the contract workforce, the #MeToo movement, the Great Recession, and the subprime housing crisis. In 2011, she covered the earthquake and tsunami in her parents' native Japan. Her coverage of the impact of opioids on workers and their families won a 2019 Gracie Award and received First Place and Best In Show in the radio category from the National Headliner Awards. She also loves featuring offbeat topics, and has eaten insects in service of journalism.

Yuki started her career as a reporter, then an editor, for The Washington Post. She reported on stories mostly about business and technology.

Yuki grew up in St. Louis, inflicts her cooking on her two boys, and has a degree in history from Yale.

Companies around the world are embracing what might seem like a radical idea: a four-day workweek.

The concept is gaining ground in places as varied as New Zealand and Russia, and it's making inroads among some American companies. Employers are seeing surprising benefits, including higher sales and profits.

A few months ago, a skirmish broke out on the factory floor of a clothing maker in Portland, Ore. It had received an order to make T-shirts for the Trump presidential campaign — but some people refused to work on the project.

The conscientious objectors were allowed to opt out, says Darcey McAllister, who handles human resources for her small- and medium-size business clients.

"But then those same people were harassing the people who were actually working on the project," she says. "'And so the manager called me and was like, 'What do I do?' "

The most powerful way to get people to save for retirement in recent decades has been through benefits offered at their job. But a lot of people — about half the American workforce — don't get that from their employers.

"Over 50 million workers right now don't have access to any retirement plan at all," says David Certner, legislative counsel for AARP.

Small employers are the biggest segment lacking coverage, he says. That's because many small businesses lack the time and money to set such programs up, he says.

The experience of raising money last year bewildered Elizabeth Giorgi at first. Almost always, she pitched her startup company, Soona, to an all-male audience of investors.

"People would assume that my male colleague was the founder and not me," she says. "I would occasionally have people ask me about whether or not I have children or if I was planning on having children anytime soon."

It has been five years, but the memory still haunts construction superintendent Michelle Brown.

A co-worker ended his workday by giving away his personal cache of hand tools to his colleagues. It was a generous but odd gesture; no one intending to return to work would do such a thing.

The man went home and killed himself. He was found shortly afterward by co-workers who belatedly realized the significance of his gifts.

"It's a huge sign, but we didn't know that then," Brown says. "We know it now."

Federal workers are on the cusp of getting 12 weeks of paid parental leave, thanks to a landmark proposal making its way through Congress.

The House on Wednesday passed the measure, which is slated for a Senate vote next week and is expected to become law.

"The idea that you could be at home for 12 weeks would be a real game changer, I think, for people — myself included," says Becky Williams, who works as an analyst at the U.S. State Department.

Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, the closest thing to a rock star economist this country has seen, died Monday at 92, NPR has confirmed. He reportedly had prostate cancer.

It has been more than three decades since Volcker stepped down from the Fed. And it's a safe bet that many younger Americans do not even know his name.

There's a culture war playing out at Ernst & Young.

The accounting giant is often held up as a paragon of workplace culture. But it also faces a recent backlash over a training program that, among other things, coached some of its top female executives to wear flattering and "well-cut attire." The episode raises questions about whether — and how much — workplaces have changed after the #MeToo movement.

A common vocabulary can be an essential ingredient to creating the kind of respect, diversity and inclusiveness that many employers say they aspire to create. Here are some steps that advocates, therapists and human resources experts say can help you be a good colleague.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann is quitting as CEO amid problems with the workspace sharing company's efforts to go public. The company's valuation, once estimated at $47 billion, reportedly has dropped to less than $20 billion and its initial public offering has been delayed.

Updated at 11:54 a.m. ET

The Labor Department is expanding the pool of workers eligible for overtime pay by about 1.3 million workers.

But many critics say the rules finalized Tuesday should have been rewritten to benefit more workers who routinely work more than 40 hours a week without additional pay.

It used to take at least nine months for a patient to schedule an initial appointment with a psychiatrist at Meridian Health Services in Indiana. Now, it takes days, thanks to a program that allows doctors to connect over the Internet with patients, reaching those even in remotest corners of the state.

That has also helped with recruitment. Over the last several years, Meridian's staff of psychiatric specialists, including nurse practitioners, tripled from four to 12.

Who should qualify for minimum wage protections, sick leave or any of the other benefits typically given employees?

California's state Legislature is reopening that high-stakes, decades-long debate, as it prepares to vote on a proposal that would give hundreds of thousands of contract workers, such as Uber and Lyft drivers, new benefits by legally reclassifying them as employees.

Yoel Alonso sat in a cell for 10 months before he ever met with a lawyer. His wife had to travel 1,000 miles to visit him at the remote Louisiana facility where he was detained.

Alonso is not imprisoned for committing a crime. In fact, he turned himself in to immigration officials last October, seeking asylum from Cuba. Since then, he has been detained in two rural facilities — first in Louisiana, and now in Adams County, Miss. — where he is faced with daunting legal hurdles. Chief among them: Alonso has met his lawyer only once in his nearly 11 months in federal custody.

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

The Department of Justice on Friday gave its approval for T-Mobile and Sprint to merge, in what has been a protracted fight for the companies to finalize their $26 billion deal. The merger still faces a review by a federal district court, and consumer advocates worry the industry consolidation will lead to higher rates.

Last October, Osny Kidd was arrested outside his Los Angeles apartment and taken to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Adelanto, Calif.

"I was in handcuffs from feet to waist to arms. I arrived there in chains," Kidd says. Over 76 days, he says, he was strip searched, subject to filthy conditions, denied medications, and briefly placed in solitary confinement.

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET Monday

The Trump administration's immigration policies have drawn condemnation, but increasingly the criticism has also turned to a web of companies that are part of the multibillion-dollar industry that runs detention facilities housing tens of thousands of migrants around the country.

Businesses that supply goods and services to support those detention centers face increasing public and political scrutiny from investors, employees and activists.

CEOs have become increasingly outspoken on a variety of political issues — from race relations to LGBTQ rights to higher age restrictions on gun and tobacco sales.

The latest example of this corporate activism came this week, when the leaders of more than 180 businesses — including MAC Cosmetics, electronic payments company Square and clothing-maker Eileen Fisher — signed a letter opposing restrictive abortion laws enacted recently in several states.

The spam calls keep coming, offering you loans or threatening you with jail time for IRS violations. By some estimates, they make up at least a quarter of all calls in the United States.

And as the problem continues to grow, it creates a whole new set of related nuisances for people like Dakota Hill.

He estimates he gets hundreds of unwanted spam calls every month. But Hill says he also gets calls from people who think he's spamming them.

Companies with supply chains straddling the U.S. Southern border find themselves in the crosshairs of a new threat after President Trump pledged to raise tariffs on imports from Mexico.

Just last week, business leaders thought that trade disputes with Mexico and Canada were nearly resolved after the Trump administration sought congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Updated at 11:27 a.m. ET

Two years ago, Derek Rotondo told his employer that he wanted to take 16 weeks of paid leave granted to primary caregivers for his newborn son. He says he was told: "Men, as biological fathers, were presumptively not the primary caregiver." He was only eligible for two weeks' leave.

Updated at 6:13 p.m. ET

Protesting McDonald's workers were joined by Democratic presidential hopefuls in some of the 13 U.S. cities where employees staged rallies against low pay and the company's handling of alleged sexual harassment.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders joined workers gathered outside the fast-food chain's annual shareholder meeting in a hotel in Dallas via video conference.

Gaby Gemetti thought she was failing. After having a second child, she struggled to be a good mom and also a good employee.

"I felt like I wasn't a good mother," she says. "I was waking up in the middle of the night thinking about, 'Oh, my presentation,' or just work in general."

Zakary Pashak is a rare breed. His company, Detroit Bikes, is one of the very few American bicycle makers. Most bikes come from China.

At times, Pashak endured ridicule at trade shows. "I'd get kind of surly bike mechanics coming up and telling me that my products stunk. There's definitely a fair bit of attitude in my industry," he says.

But last September, the industry's tune abruptly changed. The first round of U.S. tariffs, or import taxes, upped the cost of Chinese-made bikes by 10%, and companies saw Detroit Bikes as a potential partner.

The prices of the things we buy, from floor lamps to canoes and bicycles, are slated to go up, literally overnight, as the Trump administration makes good on a promise to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of imported Chinese products.

Updated at 1:43 p.m. ET Thursday

The array of places for travelers to stay keeps expanding — from a yurt in Utah's backcountry, to a mansion overlooking Italy's Amalfi Coast, to the standard double queen room in Chicago.

There are business implications to that variety of choices: Hotel chains and home-sharing sites increasingly are competing on each other's turfs.

That means the lines between hotels and "home stays" are blurring, says Lorraine Sileo, senior vice president of research for Phocuswright, which tracks the travel industry.

Normally, a chief financial officer's job involves poring over balance sheets and bank statements. But in the pot business, the job still bears a lot of similarities to the illicit trade — transporting loads of cash under the watchful eye of big guys carrying lots of guns.

Just ask Tom DiGiovanni.

This chief financial officer and former Ernst & Young accountant leans into an unmarked armored van where there's a metal cage to protect the revenues for his company, Canndescent, from would-be thieves.

U.S. women would have to work an extra 47 days each year to earn as much as men do, says Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

"Because U.S. women earn 82 percent of what men earn," she told NPR's Steve Inskeep.

There's a lot happening on the pay equity front.

In New Hampshire, there's no requirement that employers offer paid leave to workers who are caring for newborns or taking care of elderly parents.

Wendy Chase campaigned last fall for a seat in the state House promising to change that — and won.

"This is my first term, and I'm not a politician. I'm just a mom on a mission," she says.

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