News & Commentary

June 14, 2023

Peter Morgan

Peter Morgan is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s news: the NLRB returns to its Obama-era standard for identifying independent contractors, UPS agrees to the Teamster’s demand for air-conditioned trucks, and Alamo Drafthouse announces the likely elimination of the projectionist position days after its projectionists at a NYC location filed to unionize.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) took a crucial step to place more workers under its protections. In yesterday’s decision in The Atlanta Opera, Inc., the Board found in favor of hair and makeup workers at the Atlanta Opera by returning to the standard for determining independent contractor status articulated in its 2014 FedEx II decision, which requires the Board to assess a worker’s status through a list of multiple factors (e.g., the employer’s control over the work). The Board thus overturned its 2019 case Supershuttle, in which it had discarded FedEx II’s approach for one that centered the question of whether a position involved an “entrepreneurial opportunity.”

In a victory for the Teamsters, UPS agreed to install air condition in its delivery truck. UPS announced that all trucks purchased after the new year would include them, and trucks already deployed will be retrofitted to include a cab fan within 30 days of the contract’s ratification. UPS also touted other heat safety measures like exhaust heat shields and an forced-air induction systems.

Projectionists at Alamo Drafthouse in New York City have filed a petition to unionize, aiming to address workplace issues such as wages, benefits, scheduling, and working conditions, according to a report by Audacy’s 1010 WINS. Two days after the petition was filed, Alamo Drafthouse sent an email to employees announcing that the company aimed to eliminate the projectionist position and instead retain a “technical engineer” role in its place.

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