News & Commentary

April 5, 2024

Holt McKeithan

Holt McKeithan is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s News and Commentary, Trader Joe’s is accused of unfair labor practices (again), the Teamsters call for a boycott, and the state of Washington bans captive audience meetings.

The National Labor Relations Board accused Trader Joe’s of unfair labor practices at a California store ahead of last year’s union election. The Board alleges a manager at the Oakland store interrogated workers about the union, threatened store closures and hour reductions if workers supported the union, and otherwise disparaged union supporters. A manager allegedly called employees who supported the union a “gang.” The Board’s complaint is the latest chapter in its dispute with the grocery chain. It has also alleged Trader Joe’s made illegal threats ahead of a Kentucky union vote and illegally fired a worker at a Massachusetts store. Trader Joe’s has responded by challenging the constitutional validity of the Board. John’s ongoing series documents those constitutional claims.

The International Brotherhood of the Teamsters is calling for consumers to boycott beverage company Molson Coors, which owns Coors Light, Miller Lite, and other alcoholic beverage brands. The Teamsters represent over 400 workers at the Molson Coors’ Texas brewery negotiating for a new contract. The workers struck on February 17th when Coors offered only a 99 cent per hour wage increase. Last week, the Teamsters returned to the bargaining table, but Molson Coors increased its offer by only 5 cents per hour. The Teamsters responded to the meager increase by calling for a consumer boycott of the company’s products, which include ​​Miller Lite, Coors Light, Yuengling, Topo Chico seltzer, and Blue Moon.

The State of Washington enacted new worker protection laws Wednesday. Governor Inslee signed a slate of bills protecting workers, including the Employee Free Choice Act, a law that prohibits employers from disciplining or firing employees who refuse to attend captive audience meetings. Otto reported last month on those bills’ progress through the legislature. With the governor’s signature this week, Washington became the seventh state to ban captive audience meetings. It joins New York, Minnesota, Maine, Connecticut, Oregon, and Wisconsin in a growing wave of regulation taking aim at captive audience meetings. NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memo in April 2022 stating her view that captive audience meetings violate the NLRA.

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