News & Commentary

October 24, 2023

John Fry

John Fry is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s news and commentary, UAW strikes Stellantis’ largest plant; LA hotels use unhoused migrants as strike-breakers; and Biden seeks DOL funds to combat child labor crisis.

The United Auto Workers strike expanded to Stellantis’ largest plant on Monday. UAW President Shawn Fain called on the 6,800 union members who make the company’s signature RAM 1500 truck to walk out, claiming that “Stellantis lags behind both Ford and General Motors in addressing the demands of their UAW workforce.” As Swap covered on Sunday, Fain has suggested that the union and the nation’s Big Three automakers are nearing a deal. However, the union is still urging Stellantis to bolster its offer regarding retirement benefits, cost-of-living adjustments, and the pay and promotion schedules of temporary workers.

Los Angeles hotels are hiring refugees and asylum seekers from homeless shelters to break a strike by UNITE HERE Local 11, according to reporting by the Los Angeles Times. Migrant workers, including minors, report being hired without knowing the name of the staffing agency hiring them or their hourly wage. Local 11 organizers have visited a shelter on Skid Row in order to make common cause with the unhoused workers, helping them create resumes so they can seek longer-term employment. The union’s members and leaders have made a lack of affordable housing in the Los Angeles area a centerpiece of their strike.

President Biden has asked Congress to increase the Department of Labor’s budget by $100 million in order to combat a historic surge in illegal child labor. A letter from the White House describes the funds as necessary to “protect migrant children from dangerous and exploitative labor arrangements.” Thousands of migrant children have been working long hours and risking grisly workplace injuries, a trend which accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic and has become an “open secret” in industries like meatpacking. As Julio covered last week, funding shortfalls at the DOL have hamstrung the government’s response to this child labor crisis.

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