Today’s News & Commentary — June 15, 2016

Do flexible return policies hurt workers?  According to the New York Times, the answer is yes: when department stores have flexible return policies, workers’ pay is painfully unpredictable.  Nordstrom, for example, allows returns for up to a year, and if a customer returns an item, the return affects the sales representative’s commission.  As union leaders explain, these windows of time “fuel a culture of returns that has added instability to the paychecks of retail workers.”  The fact that department stores are increasingly relying on part-time workers, whose jobs and incomes are already unstable, makes the return policies that much more burdensome for workers.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez has filed a complaint against the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents over 12,000 Metro workers.  The suit alleges myriad instances of misconduct that “may have affected the outcome” of the union’s officer elections on December 2.  More details are available at the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, strikes in France continue.  On Tuesday, tens of thousands of people marched in protest, leading to violent clashes with police.  Reuters reports that “gangs of masked youths hurled stones and makeshift firebombs,” and the police “used dozens of rounds of teargas and water cannon[s]” to disperse the crowds.  Police estimated that 75,000 to 80,000 people turned out to protest, while unions put the figure at up to 1.3 million.