News & Commentary

August 1, 2023

John Fry

John Fry is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s news and commentary, Teamsters locals endorse the union’s tentative agreement with UPS; Trader Joe’s sues its workers’ union for trademark infringement; a GOP probe into teachers unions flounders; and the DOL struggles to hire enough investigators.

The Teamsters locals representing UPS workers voted 161-1 to endorse the union’s tentative agreement with the company on Monday. The agreement, which Michelle covered on Thursday, includes an estimated $30 billion of new commitments from UPS and ends a controversial “two-tier” wage system. Rank-and-file workers will vote on the agreement from August 3rd to 22nd.

Bloomberg Law reports that Trader Joe’s has sued Trader Joe’s United, which represents workers in three states, for alleged infringement of the company’s trademark. The union sells merchandise online featuring its logo, which is a playful twist on the company’s own logo. The case may hinge on whether an average consumer on the union’s website would understand that the company was not responsible for the merchandise. The outcome of the suit could have ramifications for unions at Starbucks, Apple, and Amazon, all of which also include the company’s name in the union’s name.

A House investigation into the alleged influence of teachers unions on the CDC appears to be floundering, according to a Democratic staff memo obtained by Politico. The Republican-led Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic has interviewed leaders of the American Federation of Teachers, including its president Randi Weingarten, in an attempt to show that the union influenced the CDC’s guidance on reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the staff memo claims that numerous other groups were asked to weigh in on the guidance before the AFT, which claims to have first learned of the the guidance from the New York Times. “There’s no evidence to support the story they’re trying to create,” says Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA-42), a member of the subcommittee who accuses the Republican members of grasping at straws.

Despite a hiring spree initiated by the Biden administration, the Department of Labor is struggling to hire enough wage & hour investigators to replace those who are leaving. The agency’s Wage and Hour Division hired 100 new investigators in June alone but has only increased the total number of investigators by one since the push began in January 2022. Sources inside the agency attribute the rapid turnover to heavy caseloads and stagnant pay. As Julio covered on Sunday, the Wage and Hour Division is tentatively slated to receive an appropriations increase of $4.5 million next year, despite cuts to the DOL’s overall budget.

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