News & Commentary

July 24, 2023

In today’s News and Commentary, the Democratic National Committee signs a labor peace agreement with Chicago-area unions ahead of next year’s National Convention, trucking company Yellow narrowly avoided a union strike after receiving an extension for late payments to the workers’ health and welfare fund, staff at Wisconsin brewery, Leinenkugel, walked off the job demanding wage increases, and Israel’s leading labor union threatens a general strike in response to recent judicial overhaul legislation.

2024’s Democratic National Convention will be hosted in Chicago, and Democratic officials are already engaging local unions to sign a labor peace agreement. Such an agreement is standard for the National Convention, but this is the earliest the committee has ever attempted to secure it. The agreement ensures that President Biden and the DNC will use union labor to put on the convention and, in exchange, the unions will not picket of cause work stoppages before the event. The agreement is scheduled to be signed on Tuesday.

Yellow, the third largest U.S. trucking company, narrowly avoided a strike by its 22,000 unionized workers yesterday. The company missed a payment to the employees’ health and welfare fund putting workers’ health benefits at risk. The fund, at the urging of the Teamsters, agreed to extend benefits to unionized workers and grant Yellow a 30-day extension to make the $50 million payment. Yellow’s request for an order to block a strike because it would send the company into liquidation was dismissed by a federal judge on Friday. The company received a $700 million pandemic relief loan and still holds $1.2 billion in debt. It has repeatedly petitioned the union for help reducing expenses through worker concessions. Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien, who is also leading the ongoing UPS workers’ negotiations, rejected this request saying that Yellow “has only itself to blame for being in this embarrassing position.”

Workers at Wisconsin’s Leinenkugel brewery walked off the job after negotiations over wages stagnated. The brewery is owned by Molson Coors, one of the world’s largest brewing companies. Workers say that wages have not kept up with inflation. The picketers are calling for a boycott of the brewery, an ask that several local bars have readily complied with. The strike comes just as the company prepares for its crucial Oktoberfest brewing season.

The Histadrut Labor Federation, Israel’s leading public sector union, says it will announce a labor dispute this week, after parliament ratified the “Reasonableness Bill.” The bill weakens the Israeli judiciary’s ability to declare government decisions unreasonable. Over 70 U.S. legal scholars, including several Harvard Law School professors, signed a joint statement against this bill, and protesters across Israel have taken to the streets to demonstrate in opposition of the bill’s passage. The government coalition’s unilateral advancement of the controversial bill pushed the labor union to threaten a general economic strike. Union leadership says the goal of the strike is a complete shutdown.

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