News & Commentary

February 23, 2024

Holt McKeithan

Holt McKeithan is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s news and commentary, the UAW and Ford reach a tentative agreement to avert a strike in Kentucky, the DOL investigates a Tennessee company that employed children to clean a slaughterhouse, and Starbucks faces pressure from students and baristas. 

UAW Local 862 announced plans last week to strike a Ford factory in Kentucky, as Will noted. The union and Ford reached a tentative agreement to avert the strike on Wednesday. Although the national UAW negotiated a master agreement last fall, individual unions can still bargain around local issues. Local 862 planned to strike over issues regarding health and safety, skilled trades, and ergonomics.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Fayette Janitorial Services hired 24 minors, including children as young as 13, to clean dangerous equipment in a slaughterhouse. A 14-year-old at a Virginia factory suffered severe injuries on the job. The Labor Department filed a nationwide injunction against the Tennessee-based company this week seeking to halt Fayette’s child labor practices while the Department continues to investigate. The company employs about 600 workers and operates in over 30 states. Reporting from the New York Times sparked the Labor Department’s investigation. 

Starbucks faced pressure on multiple fronts this week. Over 400 baristas from 21 stores across the country petitioned the NLRB for representation by Starbucks Workers United on Tuesday. Meanwhile, baristas in Chicago and Philadelphia filed complaints alleging their employer violated their respective cities’ Fair Workweek statutes, which prohibit employers from cutting workers’ hours on short notice. Students at 25 college campuses across the country demanded that their schools kick Starbucks stores off campus on Thursday. The students called for university administrations to cancel contracts with the chain because of Starbucks’ union-busting activity. The actions occur amid growing calls for a consumer boycott of the coffee giant.  

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