News & Commentary

December 21, 2023

Michelle Berger

Michelle Berger is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s News and Commentary: President Biden will re-nominate Julie Su in 2024, Wells Fargo employees unionize, and the NLRB General Counsel fails to show that wearing BLM apparel is protected concerted activity.

President Biden will re-nominate acting Labor Secretary Julie Su in the new year, as the Senate sent back hers and dozens of other nominations that they failed to pass this calendar year. As I reported in April, the Senate HELP committee advanced acting Secretary Su’s nomination to the full chamber, but there, moderate democrats such as Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have withheld their support. Su previously served as the California Secretary of Labor and as Deputy Secretary to former Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, who departed the Biden administration in March. Su has a distinguished record as an advocate for workers’ rights and would be the first Asian American member of Biden’s cabinet at the secretary level, if confirmed in 2024.

Yesterday, workers at a Wells Fargo bank branch in Albuquerque, New Mexico, voted 5-3 to form a union. Theirs is the first employee union at a major US bank. The union is affiliated with the Communication Workers of America. Workers at another location –– in Bethel, Alaska –– are voting in a representation election today.

Also yesterday, an NLRB Administrative Law Judge rejected the General Counsel’s argument that the NLRA protected Whole Foods workers who wore apparel referencing the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter’ in 2020. The ALJ reasoned that the workers were not engaged in protected concerted activity within the meaning of section 7 of the Act. A key section of the decision rejects the General Counsel’s attempt to show a nexus between ‘Black Lives Matter’ messaging and the terms and conditions of employees’ employment or their “lot as employees.”  

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