Today’s News & Commentary — June 29, 2016

James Green, noted labor historian, activist, and writer, has passed away.  As the Boston Globe reports, Dr. Green was “a scholar, a writer, a historian, and more”: he worked to protect affordable housing, wrote for numerous publications, traveled to Appalachia to advocate on behalf of coal miners, taught at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and wrote books about West Virginia coal miners and Chicago’s Haymarket Square bombing.  Encouraged by the late-historian C. Vann Woodward, Dr. Green wrote and taught “history with a purpose,” blending “life in the field with teaching in the classroom.”  As Dr. Green told the Globe in a 2002 interview, “There’s no break between what I do here and what I do outside.”  The New York Times has paid tribute to Dr. Green as well.

Judge Sam Cummings of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas has issued a preliminary injunction against the Labor Department’s “persuader rule.”  As Politico explains, Judge Cummings wrote that the plaintiffs demonstrated that the rule will “cause irreparable harms” by “reducing access to full, complete, unconflicted legal advice,” “reducing access to training, seminars, information, and other advice relating to unionization campaigns,” and “burdening and chilling First Amendment rights.”  As for what’s next, it’s up to the Labor Department to file an appeal.  Jeff Londa, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said that if the Labor Department does not file an appeal, “we would hope to turn the injunction into a permanent injunction.”

A number of states are taking steps to curb the use of noncompete agreements.  According to the New York Times, these efforts are driven in large part by a desire to spur entrepreneurship and help the economy.  Noncompete agreements, for example, were “one ingredient in the recipe that worked against Massachusetts and to the advantage of Silicon Valley, where employees can depart and start their own companies mostly without fear of a lawsuit.”  The Massachusetts House of Representatives is set to vote this week on a noncompete reform bill.

The French Senate has approved the government labor bill, 185-156.  ABC News reports that on Tuesday, thousands of protestors marched through Paris and other major French cities in protest.  The Eiffel Tower also remained closed, as many of its employees joined the protests.  Photos and videos of the protests can be found at RT, which reports that the protests resulted in up to 40 arrests.  Organizers estimated that at least 55,000 people participated in the protests, while the police estimated the number of demonstrators to be between 14,000 and 15,000.  The bill will now return to the National Assembly, France’s lower house of Parliament, for further debate.