News & Commentary

December 17, 2023

Swap Agrawal

Swap Agrawal is a student at Harvard Law School.

In this weekend’s news and commentary, the NLRB clarifies the law on employer non-solicitation policies, unions rally for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and the EDI releases a new job guarantee resource.

On December 15, the National Labor Relations Board held that Harbor Freight Tools USA Inc. violated federal labor law by promulgating an overbroad rule prohibiting its employees from soliciting coworkers. The Board’s decision clarified that in the retail setting, an employer legally may prohibit solicitation by employees during nonworking time only on the “selling floor.” Harbor Freight Tool’s policy allowed solicitation in non-work areas, including “cafeterias, lobbies, parking lots, break rooms, and restrooms” but excluding “any areas where customers or clients may congregate or employees perform work for Harbor Freight Tool.” The Board held that this rule was overbroad because it includes areas beyond the selling floor in the Habor Freight’s retail stores, such as the stockroom, warehouse and loading areas, and office spaces.

On December 14, leaders of the United Auto Workers (UAW), the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) held a press conference alongside Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Ro Khanna, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Andre Carson, and Rep. Cori Bush to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. Rep. Tlaib spoke of her family’s connection to the labor movement. “I’m a proud daughter of a UAW worker, and I know my Yaba (father), if he was here, he would be so proud,” she said. “The UAW taught him he deserved human dignity, even though he only had a fourth-grade education, even though he was Palestinian, even though he was Muslim. On that assembly line, he was equal to every single human being on that line. Who did that for him? The United Auto Workers did that for him.”

Shawn Fain, president of the UAW, said that the union takes pride in standing up for justice both at home and around the globe. “As union members, we know we must fight for all workers and suffering people around the world. We must fight for humanity. That means we must restore people’s basic rights and allow water, food, fuel, humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. We must also call for the release of all hostages.” Several other unions also joined the call for a ceasefire this week, including the 3-million member National Education Association and 1199 SEIU, the nation’s largest healthcare union.

On December 13, the Economic Democracy Initiative released, a resource for scholars, policymakers, and engaged citizens to share news, scholarship, programs, and data from around the world about this innovative policy. The website introduces the job guarantee by explaining its core principles and key features as well as potential benefits of the policy. It compiles research about job guarantee policies including academic research, analysis of similar policies, and polling data on these policies. The resource also includes a map with real-world programs from around the world that embody some of the job guarantee principles.

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