News & Commentary

December 10, 2013

In major news, the Supreme Court dismissed Unite Here Local 355 v. Mulhall this morning as improvidently granted. Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissented from the dismissal, arguing that “rather than dismiss the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted, the Court should simply ask for additional briefs” on whether the case is moot and whether the sole plaintiff has standing. We have covered the case extensively, and Jack Goldsmith has written a quick reaction piece.

In other national news, the New York Times reports that “federal regulators are poised to approve the so-called Volcker Rule, the keystone of the most sweeping overhaul of financial regulation since the Depression,” today. Proponents of the rule, which is designed to separate ordinary banking from complicated Wall Street dealings, argue that “it would help prevent the buildup of the kinds of risky positions that nearly sank Wall Street in 2008.”

Internationally, the New York Times reports that several European countries “have been furiously dismantling workplace protections in a bid to reduce the cost of labor.” Proponents of this “Americanized labor policy,” including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, argue that it “is the only strategy available to restore competitiveness, increase employment and recover solvency.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that the new airline resulting from the merger of American Airlines and US Airways has already “secured temporary labor agreements that spell out how the merged airline will quickly integrate key groups of workers from the former American Airlines and US Airways.” The Journal notes that it is rare for labor issues to be resolved this early in the merger process.

In more local news affected airlines, the Seattle Times reports that a hand recount of votes regarding a ballot measure to create a $15 minimum wage for airport-related workers in SeaTac, Washington appears to have reaffirmed the victory of the initiative. Yet, “the measure faces a court challenge by Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association,” and a hearing is schedule for Friday.

In other local news, the Washington Post reports that Washington, D.C. mayor Vincent Gray received a cold reception from the Washington Teachers’ Union in his first major event since announcing his reelection bid. The union strongly supported Gray in his 2010 campaign, in which he criticized the education reform policies of former Mayor Adrian Fenty and schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, but Gray has largely continued the policies his predecessor had put in place.

Finally, the New York Times reports on an unusual event where labor leaders honored top private equity executives. The event resulted from the Carlyle Group’s takeover of a Philadelphia oil refinery that its owner, Sunoco, had threatened to close. Carlyle invested $250 million in the refinery while leaving workers “wages and benefits largely intact” with only minor concessions from the union, the United Steelworkers.



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