News & Commentary

May 10, 2024

Esther Ritchin

Esther Ritchin is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s News & Commentary: McDonald’s affiliated-group opposes New York bill enhancing worker protections, University of Pennsylvania graduate students vote to unionize, and Finland limits strike durations.

The New York Empowering People in Rights Enforcement Worker Protection bill (commonly known as the the EmPIRE Worker Protection Act) has faced strong opposition from a group called New Yorkers for Local Businesses (NYLB), which research by New York Focus has found to be intimately connected with McDonalds. The EmPIRE Worker Protection Act would allow workers to sue employers for violating wage theft, health and safety, and retaliation laws, as opposed to relying on the Department of Justice for enforcement. NYLB has spent almost half a billion dollars opposing the bill. NYLB also has listed leadership which appears to work for McDonalds or own franchises, listed testimonials on their website from people who appear to operate McDonald’s locations, and runs a PAC that seems to be almost entirely funded by people employed by or franchise owners of McDonald’s.

On May 3, the University of Pennsylvania graduate students voted to unionize, with 95% voting in favor of unionization. The union, called GET-UP (an acronym for Graduate Employees Together University of Pennsylvania), is affiliated with the United Auto Workers, as many student unions are. This is the third unionization effort at the University of Pennsylvania, but the first to succeed. Likely topics of bargaining include wages, working conditions, and support for international students.

On May 8, Finland passed a new law limiting the duration of strikes. Industrial strikes, when unions have disputes with employers, will be limited to two weeks, while political strikes, which are to promote social or political goals, will be limited to 24 hours. Unions have protested this and other bills in the Finnish government, including with a four-week strike disrupting cargo and goods delivery.

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