News & Commentary

February 27, 2024

John Fry

John Fry is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s news and commentary, CSU students form the largest student worker union; Mercedes fights UAW in Alabama; and a Texas judge delays the NLRB’s new joint-employer rule.

Student workers in the California State University system voted to unionize on Friday. The CSU Employees Union, which also represents CSU support staff, will represent the 20,000-student bargaining unit, the largest of its kind in the nation. CSUEU is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union. As Sunah reported last week, CSU faculty recently ratified a new contract as well. California’s public universities are no stranger to making labor history: workers in the University of California system staged the largest higher education strike in American history in 2022.

Mercedes-Benz held a captive audience meeting in an Alabama plant last week, urging workers not join the United Auto Workers. UAW has vowed to spend $40 million organizing non-union auto workers by 2026, and as Holt reported earlier this month, UAW campaigns have also gone public at Hyundai and Volkswagen. Meanwhile, as Gil recently reported, NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo has not abandoned her goal of banning captive audience meetings, on the grounds that they are inherently coercive in violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

A federal judge in the Eastern District of Texas has delayed the implementation of the NLRB’s new joint-employer rule by two weeks. The rule, which allows a company to be deemed a joint employer of workers based on its control over their essential working conditions—even if this control is indirect or unexercised—resembles a standard that the D.C. Circuit approved in 2018. The new rule has led to a jurisdictional dispute: while business groups have sued in the Eastern District of Texas to block it, SEIU has also petitioned the D.C. Circuit to review it. The NLRB has argued that its rulemaking should be reviewed in circuit court, not district court.

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