News & Commentary

May 3, 2024

Holt McKeithan

Holt McKeithan is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s News and Commentary, Trader Joe’s must pay its union for bringing a meritless lawsuit, and reports show that U.S. union workers saw record pay raises and Latino worker deaths are surging.

Trader Joe’s was ordered to pay Trader Joe’s United $100,000 in attorneys’ fees by Judge Vera of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Judge Vera found that Trader Joe’s trademark lawsuit against the union was meritless and designed to harass the union during its organizing drive. The lawsuit, which was dismissed in January, alleged the union’s merchandise violated Trader Joe’s trademark rights by utilizing the store’s logo. Judge Vera said the case was “dangerously close” to being frivolous and would not have been filed “absent the ongoing organizing efforts that Trader Joe’s employees have mounted (successfully) in multiple locations across the country.” Trader Joe’s was represented by Latham & Watkins.

Unionized private-sector workers in the U.S saw record raises of 6.3%. That marks the largest increase since 2001, according to a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, nonunion workers’ pay rose 4.1% over the same period, barely beating inflation. Unions have won notable victories in the last year, including the UAW’s contract with the Big Three automakers, which included a 25% increase across 4.5 years, as Sunah reported in October. 

Latino worker deaths increased by more than 50% over the last decade, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2022, 1,248 Latino workers were killed on the job, about two-thirds of which were undocumented workers. Latino workers predominate in low-wage, risky jobs, especially in construction. The fatality rate for Latino workers is disproportionate: while on the job deaths for white people have declined over time, that number has slightly increased for Black people and risen sharply for Latinos. This news comes amid efforts in some states, like Florida, to roll back legal protections for outdoor workers laboring in dangerous heat.

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