Labor in the Trump Years: A Series

The election of Donald Trump along with a Republican Congress presents a set of profound challenges and questions for the labor movement and for workers.  As the readers of OnLabor know, the election of 2016 may mean (among other things): a national right to work law for the private sector; national right to work rules for the public sector (through the return of Friedrichs-type cases); the possibility that exclusive representation itself could eventually be ruled unconstitutional; a reshaped NLRB willing to undo much of what the Obama board has done, including on questions of joint employment, arbitration, graduate student organizing, and rules for non-union workplaces; a Department of Labor, potentially led by Scott Walker, and willing to undo what the historic Obama Department has achieved; workplace raids aimed at undocumented immigrant workers; a different approach to Title VII and the EEOC.  The list, of course, continues. Continue reading

Joan C. Williams on the “class culture gap”

Joan C. Williams has a new piece up at the Harvard Business Review on What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class.  She predicts that the piece will be “so unpopular that [she] risk[s] making [her]self a pariah among [her] friends on the left coast,” and when you read the piece you can understand why she’s worried.  To take one example, she argues that:

Hillary Clinton, by contrast [to Trump], epitomizes the dorky arrogance and smugness of the professional elite. The dorkiness: the pantsuits. The arrogance: the email server. The smugness: the basket of deplorables. Worse, her mere presence rubs it in that even women from her class can treat working-class men with disrespect. Look at how she condescends to Trump as unfit to hold the office of the presidency and dismisses his supporters as racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic.

There is much to debate about the piece.  Among other things, it can be read as suggesting a “white working class” that is culturally unified to the point of being monolithic (e.g., “the white working class resents professionals but admires the rich”). But, agree or disagree (or, more likely, agree in part and disagree in part), the piece is a must-read in light of last week’s results.

Filling the Cabinet: Candidates for Secretary of Labor

Over the next few days, OnLabor will run a series of backgrounder posts on the candidates we understand to be under consideration for Secretary of Labor.  We start today with Victoria Lipnic, an EEOC Commissioner, who according to several published accounts is the leading contender.  Coming soon: Scott Walker.

Who Will be Trump’s Sec. of Labor?

Politico has a piece up on possible cabinet nominees.  Here’s what they say about Labor:

Labor secretary

As with many Cabinet posts under Trump, the campaign and transition staff have been looking for a CEO or executive to lead the Labor Department. One name being bandied about is Victoria Lipnic, commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since 2010. She also served as an assistant secretary of labor for employment standards from 2002 until 2009. The Mitt Romney transition team reportedly also considered her for a top labor post in 2012.

Paid Time Off to Vote

Bloomberg Law has a terrific map showing where paid time off is available for voting and where it is not:

The full article is behind a paywall.

Far Better than an Injunction: Philly Strike Settles

Avoiding the need for an injunction showdown, SEPTA and the Transport Workers Union have reached a tentative settlement ensuring that public transit will be operational in Philadelphia on election day.  The union’s website announced this morning “Tentative Agreement Reached. We are Off Strike.” According to SEPTA:

[T]his agreement is fair to our employees, and to the fare-paying customers and taxpayers who fund SEPTA,” agency Chairman Pat Deon said. “It provides for wage increases, pension improvements, and maintains health care coverage levels while addressing rising costs.

A hearing on SEPTA’s motion to enjoin the strike had been scheduled for this morning. The contract will be put to a membership ratification vote, but trains and buses will be running tomorrow.

SEPTA Hearing: Balancing the Right to Vote and the Right to Strike

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has, as promised, sought a court order to enjoin the strike that has shut down public transit in Philadelphia.  On Friday, the court declined to issue an immediate order but scheduled a hearing on Monday to decide the question prior to election day.  In my view, a narrow injunction – one focused on election day – is appropriate in these circumstances.  But the broader injunction that SEPTA is seeking should be denied.

As we noted on Thursday, Pennsylvania law protects transit employees’ right to strike. Like federal labor law, state law recognizes that the right to strike is critical to workers’ ability to secure fair terms and conditions of employment.  State law does allow courts to enjoin transit strikes, but only in narrow circumstances: only when “the court finds that the strike creates a clear and present danger or threat to the health, safety or welfare of the public.”  Crucially, that danger or threat must “not be one which is normally incident to a strike.”  Before a court can enjoin a strike, therefore, it must find some additional or special threat to the public welfare that is not incident to any transit strike.

SEPTA wants to shut the strike down immediately and in its entirety.   Continue reading