News & Commentary

March 27, 2023

Morgan Sperry

Morgan Sperry is a student at Harvard Law School and also serves as OnLabor's Social Media Director.

In today’s News and Commentary, striking Los Angeles school workers have reached a tentative deal with the Los Angeles Unified School District, law professors have filed an amicus brief to contest the use of arbitration in former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores’s employment discrimination lawsuit against the NFL, and the Senate HELP Committee gears up for Wednesday’s Howard Schultz testimony.  

More than thirty thousand Los Angeles school workers reached a tentative agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) over the weekend, ending a three-day strike that Peter reported on earlier this week. Service Employees International Union Local 99, which represented the bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria workers on strike, stated that the agreement “addresses our key demands and sets us on a clear pathway to improving our livelihoods and securing the staffing we need to improve student services,” but noted that members still need to vote on it. The tentative agreement includes multi-year wage raises that will add up to an approximately 20 percent increase, a $1,000 bonus for current employees who worked in 2020, a $2 per hour raise for all employees effective January 1, 2024, and health care for all employees who work at least four hours per day. School workers at LAUSD are overwhelmingly women and people of color, and make an average of $25,000 year, according to union data.

Twelve law professors filed an amicus brief in the Southern District of New York earlier this week concerning the use of arbitration in Flores v. The National Football League et al., the employment discrimination lawsuit that former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores filed against the NFL last year. (Mr. Flores has sued the league and its teams for engaging in racially discriminatory hiring practices against him and other Black coaches.) Earlier this month, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that, pursuant to his contract, Mr. Flores must pursue his claims against the Miami Dolphins through arbitration. Remarkably, the arbitrator identified in Mr. Flores’s employment contract’s mandatory arbitration clause is none other than NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Amici write that “[i]t cannot be overemphasized that the NFL’s unilateral designation of Commissioner Goodell to serve as the arbitrator for these civil rights disputes is unconscionable and an egregious violation of fundamental fairness,” and warn that permitting Goodell to arbitrate a civil rights employment matter will embolden other organizations, including major companies, to update their arbitration agreements to designate a “company representative” as “the sole, designated arbitrator for employment disputes or consumer disputes against the company.” For more on recent state-level efforts to ban the use of forced arbitration agreements—which, as amici note, are baked into the employment contracts of more than 60 million American workers—read Anita’s latest reporting here.

In advance of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s Starbucks hearing (“No Company is Above the Law: The Need to End Illegal Union Busting at Starbucks”) on Wednesday, the office of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has released a report documenting a series of misleading claims made by Starbucks. The report aims to myth-bust Starbucks’s claims that it has not violated federal labor law, and encourage the company to negotiate a fair first contract with union workers. It identifies Starbucks founder and former CEO Howard Schultz, who will testify before the committee, as the key architect and director of Starbucks’s union-busting campaign. The report also notes that corporate Starbucks employees have begun organizing to express their disapproval with the company’s retail store union-busting campaign. It cites a recent petition from white-collar Starbucks support and tech workers who are calling on the company “to commit to a policy of neutrality and respect federal labor laws.” OnLabor’s own Professor Sharon Block is also scheduled to participate in Wednesday’s hearing.

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