News & Commentary

June 7, 2024

Esther Ritchin

Esther Ritchin is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s news and commentary, workers at UC Irvine join strikes protesting treatment of pro-Palestinian protestors, electricians in Seattle set to vote on a proposed contract after an unprecedented strike, and an Australian state considers raising penalties for workplace manslaughter.

Workers at the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) are the latest to join the rolling strikes across campuses of the University of California protesting the university’s treatment of pro-Palestinian protestors. According to the United Auto Workers, which represents UC workers, 31,000 workers are participating in the strike across six campuses, including UC San Diego and UC Los Angeles. UC has attempted to stop the strike by seeking injunctions, but has been once again denied an injunction by the state Public Employment Relations Board.

Members of IBEW Local 46, a union for Limited Energy electricians in Seattle, continue their strike–the local’s first in decades. The strike has disrupted construction at projects including offices for Microsoft and Amazon. Limited Energy electricians’ working conditions are far behind others in their industry, with an average wage nearly $25 lower than inside wire commercial electricians, a similar group. The union is set to vote June 6 on a contract offered by the National Electrical Contractors Association, which has not been recommended by the bargaining committee for multiple reasons, including the contract’s lack of commitment to paid holidays and bar of the right to strike.

New South Wales, a state in Australia, is considering legislation to increase the penalties for employers found to have committed industrial manslaughter. A proposed bill would raise the maximum penalty from five years of jail time for an individual, or $3.8 million fine for a corporation to 25 years of jail time for an individual or $20 million fine for a corporation. Sophie Cotsis, the Work Health and Safety Minister, cited 300 workplace fatalities in the last five years as a reason for the bill.

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