Andrea Hsu

For 33 years, Karl Bohnak worked at his dream job delivering weather forecasts on TV for what he considers one of the most challenging but beautiful spots in the United States — Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

He became so popular that "That's what Karl says!" became a slogan at his station in the 1990s and even inspired a song.

But Bohnak's time as chief meteorologist for news station TV6 came to an abrupt end last month. He was fired after refusing to comply with the vaccine mandate imposed by his station's corporate owner, Gray Television.

ESPN college basketball and football reporter Allison Williams has joined a small minority of workers who have quit or been fired from their jobs over a vaccine mandate.

"I have been denied my request for accommodation by ESPN and the Walt Disney Company, and effective next week, I will be separated from the company," she said in a video posted to Instagram on Friday.

The workers behind Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops and Raisin Bran are striking for a better deal — for themselves and for their future co-workers.

In the quest to get more Americans vaccinated, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: Vaccine mandates work.

Nowhere is that more apparent than at United Airlines. On Aug. 6, United became the first U.S. airline to tell its workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they wanted to keep their jobs.

In early September, just before President Biden ordered 80 million workers to get vaccinated or undergo regular testing, a question went viral on the internet.

"Would y'all report your unvaccinated co-worker(s) for $200K?" asked @RevampedCP on Twitter.

The responses came quickly.

More and more employers are ordering workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 without the option of getting tested instead. Now workers are pushing back.

When Pam Goble first heard that President Biden was mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for health care workers, she had one thought: It's about time.

Goble is owner and CEO of Ability HomeCare, a pediatric home health care agency serving 900 children in San Antonio, Texas.

Of her 261 nurses and therapists, 56 have declined to get the vaccine.

Ahmad Zai Ahmadi was just a teenager when he ran into a group of U.S. Marines at a bazaar in his hometown of Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2003.

"I just started saying, 'Hi' and 'How are you,' and they say, 'OK, you speak English. Do you want to be translating for us?' I say, 'Of course, yes!' " recalls Ahmadi, now 36.

He went on to work as an interpreter for U.S. forces for nearly a decade, a job that took him all over Afghanistan. He forged friendships with U.S. service members, including a number of high-ranking officers. His nickname was Rock.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

For a lot of workers, it's been a year of questions about the future. And that's also true of office workers, who may not be on the front lines but have still had to adjust to new realities. If you're someone who's been working from home, you might now be asking, can I continue to do so? Can I split my time between home and office permanently? NPR's Life Kit has been thinking about the shift to a hybrid work schedule and has some tips on how to make it work.

Here's NPR's Andrea Hsu.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

In a move to further protect workers and customers from COVID-19, United Airlines has told employees who are seeking religious or medical exemptions to the company's vaccine mandate that even if approved, they will be put on temporary leave starting Oct. 2 while the company works to institute safety measures for unvaccinated employees.

Employees granted religious exemptions will be placed on temporary, unpaid personal leave, and those granted medical exemptions will be placed on temporary medical leave, according to an internal memo.

When Norma Jasso first started working from home in March 2020, she thought it was fun.

"I could wake up later, not have to commute, not have to put my pumps and my working clothes on," says Jasso, who was a regulatory case manager for San Diego Gas and Electric.

But soon, her days grew longer. She found herself checking email at odd hours. She missed her colleagues. She'd been with the utility for 23 years and found joy being around people.

In mid-July, David Bronner of Dr. Bronner's soaps looked at the vaccination rate among his workers. It had reached 60% — not bad, Bronner says, but not high enough given the rapid spread of the delta variant.

Bronner is CEO of Dr. Bronner's, the natural soap company known for its counterculture roots and the ramblings covering its labels in tiny print.

He was reluctant to impose a vaccine mandate on his 300 employees.

"We don't want to create bad vibes and ill will," he says.

For many, yoga is a source of calm and healing.

Those who teach do so because they love the practice, often finding it spiritually rewarding.

But it's also a business. And sometimes, a cutthroat one.

Eighteen years ago, when Justine Cohen opened the Down Under School of Yoga in Boston, poaching was rampant, she says.

"Teachers walking in with clipboards and gathering names and then opening literally upstairs or next door," Cohen says.

Crystal Rogers, owner of Cozy Couch Family Day Care in Martinsburg, W.Va., finally feels appreciated. It took the pandemic to make that happen.

For too long, she says, society has looked down on day care — as somehow less worthy than school. And no wonder. Child care is one of the lowest paid occupations in America.

"We're not baby sitters ... I've been wanting to say that," Rogers says. "We go to trainings. We do all the things that a professional child care provider does."

For a while there, it seemed like things were finally heading back to normal. Now, not so much.

In the span of just a week, plans for a September return to the office have been pushed back. Mask mandates have made a comeback. And a growing number of employers, including the federal government, are laying down the line on vaccines.

For many, it was a welcome surprise. On July 15, cash flowed into the bank accounts of parents across the U.S. as the government rolled out the first monthly payments of the enhanced child tax credit passed by Congress this spring.

But as helpful as those payments are to a lot of families, they could actually create headaches for others, with some people owing money to the government next year.

As a result, some parents have already opted out of the monthly payments and are instead choosing to receive the entire credit next year when they file their taxes.

OSHA has announced 59 citations and nearly $1 million in penalties after an investigation into a nitrogen leak at a poultry processing plant that killed six workers and injured at least a dozen others earlier this year.

If you have children under the age of 18, chances are good you'll be getting some cash from the federal government this week. In fact, check your bank account — the money might already be there.

The White House says $15 billion in payments have been sent out to the families of nearly 60 million children as part of the expanded child tax credit. Families will receive the funds by direct deposit or check. How much you get will depend on income and number of eligible children.

If you've ever hesitated to add a smiley face or a thumbs-up to an email, a new survey from Adobe may put you at ease.

The software company, which conducts regular surveys on emoji use, found that the whimsical icons can make people feel more connected and more receptive to new tasks. They allow people to quickly share ideas. They make group decisions more efficient and can even reduce the need for meetings and calls.

Among Generation Z users, more than half said they'd be more satisfied at their job if their bosses used more emoji in workplace communications.

President Biden is making good on a campaign promise to curtail noncompete agreements.

As part of a sweeping executive order, Biden is asking the Federal Trade Commission to ban or limit such agreements, which restrict where you can work after leaving a job.

Job openings remained at a historic high in May, more evidence that workers are in high demand as the economy bounces back from the pandemic.

Openings reached 9.2 million, according to the Labor Department, about what they were a month earlier. They're about 30% higher than they were in February 2020, right before the pandemic.

While the May numbers remain little changed since April, there were some declines in job openings in certain sectors such as real estate, warehouses and transportation. Other sectors, meanwhile, continue to face staffing shortages.

As many people contemplate a future in which they don't need to commute to offices, the idea of working less altogether also has its appeal.

Now, research out of Iceland has found that working fewer hours for the same pay led to improved well-being among workers, with no loss in productivity. In fact, in some places, workers were more productive after cutting back their hours.

Time now for a quiz.

What do Amazon, Disney World and Dickie Jo's Burgers in Eugene, Ore., all have in common?

a. They employ low-wage workers.

b. They're in desperate need of workers this summer.

c. They're offering $1,000 sign-on bonuses.

d. All of the above.

If you answered d, you're right. (Sorry, we're not paying cash for correct answers!)

Jonathan Caballero made a startling discovery last year. At 27, his hair was thinning. The software developer realized that life was passing by too quickly as he was hunkered down at home in Hyattsville, Md.

There was so much to do, so many places to see. Caballero envisioned a life in which he might end a workday with a swim instead of a long drive home. So when his employer began calling people back to the office part time, he balked at the 45-minute commute. He started looking for a job with better remote work options and quickly landed multiple offers.

The Teamsters want to go after Amazon.

That was the message on opening day of the three-day, virtual convention of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Members from 500 Teamsters local unions are meeting to lay out priorities for the next five years. Delegates will vote Thursday on a resolution vowing support for Amazon workers across the country.

Studying the brains of fruit flies is not the kind of work that you can easily do from home. You need special microscopes and something called a fly-ball tracker, which neuroscientist Vivek Jayaraman likens to a treadmill. A very tiny treadmill.

"We position them on a little ball. The fly walks on the ball. It's in a virtual reality space," explains Jayaraman in his lab at the Janelia Research Campus, part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Fifteen months into the pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a mandatory workplace safety rule aimed at protecting workers from COVID-19. But it only applies to health care settings, a setback for unions and worker safety advocates who had called for much broader requirements.

On a walk outside his office in downtown Washington, D.C., Greg Meyer stops to peer in through the glass windows of a fast-casual lunch spot called Leon. The exposed brick interior gives it a cozy coffeehouse vibe. But the lunch crowd is nowhere to be seen. The whole place is dark.

"The pandemic put them out of business," says Meyer, region head for Brookfield Properties, which owns almost all the buildings on this block and hundreds more around the country.

Updated June 4, 2021 at 1:43 PM ET

On the day in April 2020 that Valerie Mekki lost her job, she was scared to share the bad news with her children. So she hid in her room for 45 minutes.

"I just didn't want to face them," says Mekki, who worked in fashion merchandising for more than 18 years and was the sole provider of health insurance for her family. "I had the shame and the guilt."

But her teenagers surprised her with their optimism.

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