As early voting for the Senate runoff elections is starting in Georgia, the American Prospect wrote about how labor unions are seeking to persuade working class Americans in the state. It highlighted the efforts of members of the state’s AFL-CIO leadership, who exclaimed that voting for the Democratic candidates, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, is voting for “safe working environments,” “a voice on the job,” and the abolishment of “right to work” policies. The article also mentioned comments at a UNITE HERE rally that centered around the importance of the $15 an hour wage. Unions like UNITE HERE and SEIU have said they supported Joe Biden’s general election efforts by knocking on millions of doors and making millions of phone calls. They are seeking to build upon these efforts in Georgia by continuing to canvass, make phone calls, send text messages, and conduct specific outreach – including to the African refugee communities outside of the city of Atlanta. As mentioned here, President-elect Joe Biden has already signaled that he plans to enact employment and labor reforms that will benefit workers and unions – but many commentators believe that having a Democratic majority in the Senate is necessary to ensure these efforts are also considered in Congress.
The Department of Labor (DOL) recently released a final rule that bars retirement plan fiduciaries from casting corporate-shareholder proxy votes in favor of social or political positions that do not advance the financial interests of the retirement plan participants. The DOL released a fact sheet that covers the main provisions of the final rule and does not require fiduciaries to comply with the changes until the beginning of 2022. Referred to as economic, social, and governance (ESG) issues, the reform to these matters was supported by advocates like Chris Burnham, the President of the Institute for Pension Fund Integrity, an organization that advocates for transparency and accountability in the management of public pension plans. Quoted in an article about the final rule in SHRM, Mr. Burnham said these reforms were needed as the current proxy advisory system “has increasingly become subject to political pressure and personal influence.”
Bloomberg Law wrote yesterday about an update in the Tolton v. Jones Day case, a suit brought by a group of female attorneys at the law firm, Jones Day, for alleged widespread sex discrimination. This suit was originally brought in April 2019 based on the plaintiffs’ allegations that Jones Day uses a “black box” compensation system that forbids employees from discussing their pay with one another and a “no whining policy” that prohibits female associates from complaining about sex-based inequities like lower pay and narrowed career opportunities. Yesterday, three of the plaintiffs told the D.C. federal court that their analysis of the firm’s nationwide performance and compensation data between 2012 and 2018 did not show any sufficient proof of systemic pay discrimination or disparate impact. Nevertheless, they will still pursue their individual pay and discrimination claims under the Civil Rights Act, Equal Pay Act, and other state and local laws.
New York City workers at Eataly, an upscale Italian-market chain, successfully secured a nearly $2 million settlement after pursuing a class action lawsuit in court. Alleging violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in November 2017, the plaintiffs were a class that included any tipped employees who worked at the chain’s two stores in Manhattan between November 2011 and November 2020. The claimants alleged that the company failed to pay hourly wages by time shaving and to provide proper wage and hour notices and wage statements. Though District Judge Katherine B. Forrest conditionally certified the class, she explained that the plaintiffs did not have information to demonstrate that all of the employees were victims of such violations. She did note, however, that they provided sufficient evidence of specific supervisors and managers engaging in some illegal practices. As part of the settlement, the defendants denied all material allegations, any wrongdoing, or liability but said they decided to “prioritize a resolution” to settle the matter.
The New York Times wrote yesterday about a report from the Independent Mexico Labor Expert Board which found that Mexico still needs to make more progress in implementing reforms to its labor system as required by the United States-Mexico-Canada (U.S.M.C.A) agreement, which went into effect this year. These reforms sought to improve labor conditions and pay for Mexican workers to prevent companies from Canada and America from moving their factories into the country. Other reforms included making union processes more democratic and establishing independent regulatory bodies to enforce the labor reforms. Labor advocates have long been concerned about the harassment and violence Mexican worker activists have faced, which was recently exemplified by the arrest of Susana Prieto Terrazas, an activist who was arrested for trying to organize workers in the state of Tamaulipas this past June. The success of these reform efforts, as explained by Michael Wessel, a labor adviser to the United States Trade Representative who helped to create the board, will depend in large part on the Biden administration’s efforts to support the. U.S.M.C.A.