News & Commentary

February 2, 2023

Anita Alem

Anita Alem is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s News and Commentary, the NLRB finds Starbucks made illegal threats to workers during a union election, an Illinois bill that is likely soon to become law would require that workers accrue paid time off, and the UK cost of living strike continues.

On Tuesday, an administrative law judge at the NLRB found that Starbucks violated labor law during a union election at its flagship Seattle Roastery. Starbucks illegally told workers that unionization would be futile and threatened to reduce benefits upon unionization during a union campaign at its flagship Seattle Roastery. More than 275 Starbucks locations, nationwide, have joined the wave of unionizations; the Roastery is particularly significant as a large location with 100 workers. 

Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois is set to sign a bill that would require employers to ensure employees accrue up to 40 hours of paid time off as part of their benefits package. The bill would still permit employers to require seven-days’ notice for foreseeable needs, but provides protection from employer retaliation. While fourteen other states and the District of Columbia mandate some amount of paid sick leave time, the Illinois bill is broader, permitting time off for any reason. Several other states are also currently considering or likely to consider bills to expand leave, including Minnesota, Michigan, Connecticut, and California. 

Massive strikes continue in the UK as workers protest against the cost of living crisis, which has raised grocery prices at a record rate of nearly 17% inflation, and nearly 11% inflation across the economy. More than 500,000 workers are on strike, including 300,000 teachers, as well as civil servants, university workers, and train and bus drivers. The Parliament is seeking to stymie strikes by mandating “minimum service levels” in some sectors that would permit workers to be fired for going on strike. 

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