News & Commentary

March 22, 2023

Peter Morgan

Peter Morgan is a student at Harvard Law School.

Today’s News and Commentary: the NLRB’s General Counsel issues two memos clarifying priorities and a recent Board decision, LA school workers go on strike, and Bloomberg Law reports higher pay raises from labor contracts.

The National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel issued two memos since Sunday. The first provided an update on the Board’s prosecutorial priorities since the GC first outlined them in a 2021 memo. In it, the General Counsel noted that the majority of issues emphasized in 2021 had received substantial attention and follow-through by regional offices. For the 15 remaining issues, the regional offices will still be required to submit relevant cases the Regional Advice Branch for future prosecution.

The second memo, issued today, provides guidance on enforcing the Board’s new ruling on severance agreements. The General Counsel restated the basic holding of the case—that severance agreements cannot be “overly broad” in waiving section 7 rights—and then offered a question-and-answer overview of its future scope.

Yesterday, 35,000 school employees and teachers in Los Angeles began a three-day strike, citing unfair labor practices. Classes have been canceled for 422,000 students as the school workers union—SEIU Local 99—put pressure on the school district for raises of 30% and, in the case of the lowest earners, $2/hr. Average salaries are estimated to be around $25,000, and the district’s last-ditch offer—a 23% cumulative raise—failed to stop the strike.

Reports from Bloomberg Law show a marked increase in pay raises from labor contracts. Per the analysis, first-year wages increased 5.7% in 2022 union contracts (either new or renewed). This is the highest average pay raise in these contracts since 1990, even when accounting for lump sum payments and industry sector. Estimates did not include benefits.

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