News & Commentary

May 30, 2024

Divya Nimmagadda

Divya Nimmagadda is a student at Harvard Law School.

The National Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU) announced yesterday that its members will go on a one-day strike on June 7th after negotiations between the union and South Korea-based tech giant, Samsung, have come to a standstill. The NSEU is made up of about 28,000 workers or a fifth of the company’s workforce in South Korea. The parties have been in discussion over wages since January, and though the union has accepted the company’s proposed pay raise, the two were not able to come to agreement regarding the union’s request for an additional holiday and “a transparent system to measure the performance bonus based on the sales profit.” 

This strike will be the first in the company’s history, a history riddled with sustained efforts to avoid unionization. Though the company has had turbulent performance in the years during and after the pandemic, the AI boom has increased demand for the tech giant’s high-end memory chips. It remains to be seen how Samsung will respond, and if the NSEU will further escalate, with the union spokesperson commenting that the strike next week “could lead to a general strike.”

Act 10, proposed by then Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and passed by the state legislature in 2011, is once again being challenged in state court by public worker and teachers unions. Act 10 bars automatic withdrawal of dues for public unions, requires them to undergo annual recertification procedures, and limits their scope of bargaining by allowing them to only negotiate over base wage increases no more than the rate of inflation.

The unions are arguing that the Act’s exceptions for some public safety workers – for example, firefighters and State Patrol are exempted from the law, while the Capitol Police are not – violate the state Equal Protection Clause. The complaint also noted that the exempted groups were those that supported Walker’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. The state’s Republican-controlled legislature filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the exceptions have already been upheld by other courts and are rationalized by public safety concerns. 

On Tuesday, during the hearing on the motion to dismiss, County Circuit Judge Jacob Frost interrogated whether there was another remedy to address the alleged problems “short of striking the law down.” He will issue a written order regarding the motion. In 2014, the state Supreme Court, controlled by a 5-2 conservative majority, rejected separate, but similar, challenges to the bill. In 2023, the election of Justice Jane Protasiewicz enabled a liberal 4-3 control of the body, which may be the impetus for the renewed challenge.

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