Today’s News & Commentary — May 26, 2016

As the debate over the proposed settlement in O’Connor v. Uber continues, some advocates have focused on how deference to arbitration agreements is a fundamental problem.  Katherine V.W. Stone writes for the Economic Policy Institute that “it is now more clear than ever that everyone who cares about employment rights and the fair treatment of workers should support federal legislation to end mandatory arbitration in employment and put workers and corporations on a more equal footing.”  Stone reviews the Uber litigation in the context of  developments with respect to arbitration, and concludes that ” Uber’s use of arbitration clauses could effectively wipe out all the class actions brought by drivers in all 50 states.  Even if some judges adopt Judge Chen’s reasoning and invalidate the 2013 and 2014 arbitration agreements, Uber can and will modify their arbitration agreements to address any issues a court finds problematic going forward and require as a condition of continued employment that its drivers agree to give them retroactive application.”

The Verizon strike has entered its second month, and it’s clear Verizon has heard the strike’s effects.  CNN Money reports that Verizon shares have lost 5% of their value since the strike began, while Motherboard notes that Verizon is urgently seeking temporary replacement workers to perform necessary work.

Unions continue to wrestle with the appeal of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to their constituencies.  According to USA Today, the AFL-CIO is launching a major anti-Trump campaign in Rust Belt states in the coming weeks which “will include digital ad buys, door knocking and phone banking and is expected to reach between 5 million and 6 million voters in key swing states.”  Meanwhile, Bloomberg investigates differing union positions on the Democratic primary and how “the split amid an unexpectedly contentious Democratic primary season has exposed contrasting agendas in organized labor.  Trade unionists are exercised by international deals, which they blame for the loss of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs.  Service workers less affected by globalization advocate collective-bargaining rights and wage protection.”