Today’s News & Commentary — November 18, 2016

Several hundred skilled-trade workers at UCLA went on a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to demand higher wages and back pay.  The day after, on Thursday, 218 UC San Diego workers staged a similar 24-hour strike.  Both strikes were organized by Teamsters Local 2010, a union chapter that represents plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and other skilled-trade workers at the two universities.  UCLA claims that the Wednesday strike was unlawful and has filed an unfair labor practice charge contesting the strike with the California Public Employment Relations Board.  Union officials claim that the workers at UCLA have been working without a contract for four years, while workers at UCSD have been working without one for two.  The union is currently in negotiations with UCLA and UCSD for workers at both schools.

Airbnb announced yesterday its expansion beyond its current business of short-term rentals and hotel-replacing stays with its new service Trips.  This move to resemble a more traditional travel-agency business comes in the face of increasing pushback and crackdown from local governments for skirting regulations of commercial accommodations and small businesses.  Trips will further entrench Airbnb’s status as a leader of the gig economy, by enabling customers to contract with Airbnb hosts offering interesting cultural experiences and tours in addition to room and board.

The number of unemployment benefits claims fell last week to a 43-year low. 235,000 applications were filed last week.  The low number of claims is in line with healthy jobs reports from the Department of Labor—the number of claims filed is a proxy for the number of layoffs.

On Wednesday, a federal district court judge converted his preliminary injunction against implementation of the Department of Labor’s persuader rule to a permanent injunction.  U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings initially granted the preliminary injunction on the grounds that the challenge to the DOL rule had a substantial likelihood of success on the merits and that the plaintiffs had shown they’d be irreparable harmed unless an injunction was granted.  Citing other federal court decisions, Judge Cummings disputed that there could be a clear line between activities deemed to be “persuader” activities and permissible legal advice.