News & Commentary

February 28, 2024

Jacqueline Rayfield

Jacqueline Rayfield is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s News and Commentary, a federal judge in Texas limits Covid-Era remote Congressional voting, Starbucks agreed to start talks about a collective-bargaining agreement, and a majority of Mercedes manufacturing plant workers in Tuscaloosa, Alabama sign UAW cards.

Judge James Hendrix from the Northern District of Texas ruled that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act could not be enforced against Texas. The act would require employers in Texas to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, like they do for disabled workers. The EEOC had proposed rules for implementing this act which included abortion as a pregnancy-related condition requiring accommodation. Hendrix’s ruling rests on a challenge under the quorum clause, claiming that the law is invalid since it was passed through proxy voting, with 201 members physically present. He emphasizes that this ruling should not be applied broadly beyond this legislation.

Starbucks backtracked on its union-busting tactics in discussions last week. Both the company and the Starbucks Workers United issued statements yesterday promising a path forward for collective bargaining at Starbucks. About 400 Starbucks locations have so far voted to join the union since December 2021, but none of the locations have secured a contract, instead facing an impasse with Starbucks management.

The UAW has seen a growth in interest at auto plants in the South following its historic strike against Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. While these. Plants have historically been difficult for the UAW to reach, a majority card signing at one Tuscaloosa Mercedes plant marks a positive first step.

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