News & Commentary

July 25, 2023

Iman Masmoudi

Iman Masmoudi is a student at Harvard Law School.

SAG-AFTRA plans the biggest rally yet for Times Square, OSHA proposes a new protective equipment standard for the construction industry, and HuffPost begins a new series on union-busting professionals.

This morning, SAG-AFTRA is preparing for a mass rally in Times Square, set to be the biggest rally in NYC since the strike began. Celebrities like Bryan Cranston, Steve Buscemi, Christian Slater, and many others are expected to attend the “Rock the City for a Fair Contract” rally. The guild is demanding its members’ fair share of streaming revenues, increased compensation to match inflation, and protections when artificial intelligence creates digital replicas of their performances. High-profile labor leaders and officials from various unions will also be present to show their support for the striking workers’ cause. The rally further highlights the determination and unity of workers in the entertainment industry to fight for better working conditions and fair compensation.

Yesterday, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showed her support for striking SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America workers in New York City, criticizing executives like Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav for their “insatiable greed.” She joined the picket lines at the Netflix offices in Union Square, declaring this moment a “hot labor summer,” as workers across the country face similar challenges of wealth concentration and corporate greed. Actors like Tatiana Maslany, Sandra Bernhard, and F. Murray Abraham also expressed their support for fellow workers struggling with low pay rates and lack of benefits. They highlighted the inequity in the industry and the need for fair compensation for those who contribute to making successful shows and movies. Ocasio-Cortez’s presence yesterday and the SAG-AFTRA rally today in Times Square underscore the growing momentum and importance of organized labor in the fight for workers’ rights.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is seeking to revise the national Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard for the construction industry to explicitly state that PPE must fit each employee properly. This proposed change would align the PPE standard for construction with that of general industry and maritime standards, emphasizing the importance of properly fitting PPE to protect workers from hazards. The impetus for the proposed change comes from the increasing number of construction workers who don’t fit into standard-sized PPE, especially as more women join the industry, a growing phenomenon we reported on here. OSHA expects the rulemaking process to continue for several months before the final rule is adopted, likely by the end of the year or early 2024.

Today, HuffPost begins a five-part series on the union-busting industry called “The Persuaders.” Based on dozens of FOIA requests, the series centers around the use of “union avoidance” consultants, also known as “union busters,” who try to dissuade workers from organizing and joining unions. The first story focuses on the case of a small manufacturing company in Missouri, Motor Appliance Corp. (MAC), and how they hired a consultant named Jack Black, who was, in fact, Jim Teague, a “union buster.” Teague’s firm specializes in persuading employees not to unionize, and he was hired by MAC to handle a union election among its employees. The story sheds light on the tactics used by such consultants, including conducting mandatory meetings with workers to dissuade them from supporting the union and even using pseudonyms to conceal their identities. In the end, the company fired pro-union workers, leading to a 3-6 vote against the union in the election. However, the National Labor Relations Board found merit in the claims of labor law violations, ruling in favor of the union and ordering the company to offer reinstatement and back pay to the fired workers.

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