News & Commentary

December 3, 2023

Swap Agrawal

Swap Agrawal is a student at Harvard Law School.

In this weekend’s news and commentary, the UAW calls for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and Professors Andrias, Block, and Sachs call on Massachusetts to create a new pathway to unionizing for Uber and Lyft drivers.

On December 1, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union called for an “immediate, permanent cease-fire” in Gaza. The UAW is the largest union to have called for a cease-fire, with 400,000 active members and over 580,000 retired members. Other unions that have called for a ceasefire include the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), and the American Postal Workers Union (APWU). UAW Region 9A Director Brandon Mancilla announced the cease-fire outside of the White House alongside protestors participating in a five-day hunger strike.

“A labor movement that fights for social and economic justice for all workers must always stand against war and for peace,” Mancilla said. “Our international executive board will also be forming a divestment and just transition working group to study the history of Israel and Palestine, our union’s economic ties to the conflict, and explore how we can have a just transition for US workers from war to peace.” UAW President Shawn Fain posted on X that he was proud of the UAW international for calling for a ceasefire. “From opposing fascism in WWII to mobilizing against apartheid South Africa and the Contra war, the @UAW has consistently stood for justice across the globe.”

On December 2, Professors Kate Andrias, Sharon Block, and Ben Sachs published an article in the CommonWealth Beacon calling on Massachusetts to pass legislation establishing a new collective bargaining process for Uber and Lyft drivers. The authors argue that despite recent contract victories by unions in mature collective bargaining relationships, it is too difficult for most workers – including rideshare drivers – to form new unions under federal labor law. They point instead to the Drivers Demand Justice Coalition, made up of SEIU 32BJ and the Machinists Union, which has introduced legislation and a ballot initiative in Massachusetts to create an alternative mechanism for unionizing Uber and Lyft. Under the proposed state law, rideshare companies must bargain with any union that 25 percent of drivers designate as their representative. Any agreement must be approved by a majority of drivers with more than 100 trips completed in the previous quarter as well as the Massachusetts Secretary of Labor. Andrias, Block, and Sachs believe that this bill “gives drivers a real shot at unionizing.”

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