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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. 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.

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."

So, even though Gemetti was moving up the management ranks at a top tech company in Silicon Valley, she gave up the job four years ago to stay home in Santa Clara, Calif. As hard as it was, Gemetti's decision was particularly driven by her son's needs, when he started requiring regular therapy.

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.

The House is slated to vote Wednesday on a bill that would require background checks on all gun sales — including those that occur online or at gun shows. On Monday, a group of four CEOs sent a letter urging Congress to pass the proposal.

Kelly O'Brien graduated from college six years ago with a political science degree and $28,000 in student loan debt.

"It was stressful, because coming out and having to have a payment of about $217 a month, it just seemed like a lot of money to pay back when you don't really know where you were going to be working, how much you're going to be making," she says.

So when O'Brien got a job at Fidelity Investments a year and a half ago, she was happy to learn she would be eligible to have the company contribute to her student loan payments.

Student loan debt in the United States has more than doubled over the past decade to about $1.5 trillion, and the Federal Reserve now estimates that it is cutting into millennials' ability to buy homes.

Homeownership rates for people ages 24 to 32 dropped nearly 9 percentage points between 2005 and 2014 — effectively driving down homeownership rates overall. In January, the Fed estimated 20 percent of that decline is attributable to student loan debt.

Even in a normal year, taxes can be complicated and stressful — for taxpayers and IRS workers alike. But this year is shaping up to be worse than usual.

The IRS starts processing returns on Monday, implementing big changes in tax law while having to run on half the staff because of the ongoing government shutdown.

The partial shutdown of the federal government is causing some financial problems for furloughed workers who can't refinance their mortgages or buy homes because lenders can't verify their income. But unpaid federal employees aren't the only ones running into problems.

Libby Anderson, for example, got her final divorce decree on Tuesday. She'd hoped that would mean her ex-husband would finally move out of their Des Moines, Iowa, home, where they've been living separate lives under one roof for eight months.

New York City is testing a new model of workforce training for the future.

In October, the city partnered with the Freelancers Union to open the Freelancers Hub in Brooklyn. It's a kind of communal co-working space that offers classes, tax and legal advice — all at no cost — to the city's growing population of freelance workers.

Its goal: To equip this population with the skills they need, something many experts argue traditional education isn't doing.

U.S. executives have long known the risks of traveling to China with cellphones and laptops. Theft of intellectual property and cyberattacks underlie trade tensions between the two countries.

But executives are more skittish than usual these days.

"Certainly Canadian and American business executives are a bit spooked about traveling to China right now," says Amy Celico of business advisory firm Albright Stonebridge Group.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Working on your own can have its rewards, such as being able to set your own hours. But being self-employed also brings with it the headache of handling taxes — something a traditional employer normally does.

"It's just excruciatingly difficult to manage our finances," says P. Kim Bui, who has been a freelance consultant off and on for two years.

In addition to the Web design and social media work she's hired to do, she must also manage all her own office functions, from accounting to payroll.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

How much besides the title is really changing in the North American Free Trade Agreement?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Once approved, this will be a new dawn for the American auto industry and for the American auto worker.

The attorney general of New York has reached an agreement with WeWork to eliminate or modify noncompete clauses from most of its employment contracts, which restricted workers' ability to find new jobs.

Noncompete agreements generally have been standard for executives and in high-tech, where companies are trying to protect intellectual property or trade secrets from being transferred to rivals.

A pair of recent, high-profile news stories are highlighting the way workplace lawsuits and culture increasingly are influenced by surreptitious recordings.

Former presidential adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman says she taped several conversations related to her firing, including one involving White House chief of staff John Kelly as well as one with President Trump himself.

An employee at the Federal Housing Finance Agency says that she secretly recorded conversations with director Melvin Watt that bolster her harassment, retaliation and equal-pay claims against Watt and the agency

In 2015, Simone Grimes had been filling two jobs — hers and one she had been promoted to. But she never got the pay increase she had been promised. That decision, she was told, would require the director to sign off.

After working at a call center for two decades, Linda Bradley's job came to an end about a year and a half ago. Since her layoff, she has combed online job sites every day looking for work — without much luck.

Bradley, who is 45 and lives near Columbus, Ohio, began suspecting age discrimination after someone at her union mentioned how recruiters often target online ads at younger candidates. "I thought to myself, 'Oh, that's why I wasn't seeing some of the ads that my daughter has seen on her Facebook,' " she says.

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