News & Commentary

October 1, 2023

Will Ebeler

Will Ebeler is a student at Harvard Law School.

In this weekend’s news and commentary, EEOC accuses Tesla of racial discrimination; more than 75,000 health care workers poised to go on strike at Kaiser Permanente facilities throughout the country; Unite Here Local 11 reaches tentative agreement with one Los Angeles hotel; and SAG-AFTRA plans to resume contract negotiations with movie and television studios.

On Thursday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Tesla, accusing it of discriminating against Black employees at its factory in Fremont, California. According to the complaint, racist graffiti was written on desks, in bathrooms and elevators, and even in cars coming off the assembly line. And employees who complained were given unpleasant work assignments or fired. According to the EEOC, the lawsuit was filed only after the agency tried unsuccessfully to work out a plan with Tesla to address the discrimination. The EEOC’s lawsuit is the latest to accuse Tesla of discrimination at its Fremont factory. Earlier this year, a jury awarded $3.2 million to a Black man who alleged that Tesla had ignored racial abuse that he experienced while working as a contractor; a group of 240 Black men and women have filed a class action against the company alleging employment discrimination; and California’s Civil Rights Department has alleged that Black workers are “severely underrepresented” in management positions.

More than 75,000 health care workers at Kaiser Permanente could go on strike as soon as Wednesday. A coalition of unions representing Kaiser workers has notified the company that it will begin a three-day strike on October 4 at facilities in California, Oregon, Colorado, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. The workers’ previous collective bargaining agreement expired last night. If the workers do go on strike, it will be the largest health care strike in U.S. history. The unions have asked Kaiser to hire at least 10,000 more workers by the end of the year and rejected a company proposal offering annual pay increases between 2 and 4 percent.

On Friday, Unite Here Local 11 announced that it had reached a tentative agreement with one Los Angeles area hotel. The union represents hotel workers throughout Southern California and has been engaging in sporadic strikes at dozens of hotels since July. In a statement, the union said the agreement will give the hotel’s 300 workers “unprecedented wage increases that keep pace with the soaring cost of housing.” The agreement also improves healthcare, addresses employee staffing concerns, improves pension benefits, and establishes a hiring process that is more inclusive towards formerly incarcerated individuals and undocumented immigrants.

Finally, SAG-AFTRA will resume contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Monday. The parties announced the resumed negotiations one day after industry writers ended their strike with a new tentative agreement. 

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