News & Commentary

July 25, 2019

Annie Hollister

Annie Hollister is an Honors Attorney at the U.S. Department of Labor and an alumna of Harvard Law School.

Yesterday, Chicago’s City Council unanimously approved the Fair Workweek Ordinance, which requires certain employers to provide workers with “fair and equitable” work schedules.  The ordinance imposes predictive scheduling requirements on businesses in the building services, health care, hospitality, manufacturing, restaurant, retail, and warehouse industries with more than 100 employees.  Under the ordinance, which is expected to be signed promptly by Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, eligible employers will be required to give covered employees two weeks’ notice of their schedules, and will face fines for last-minute changes.  Workers’ groups say that the Chicago ordinance protects more workers than similar ordinances that have been passed in other cities.  Although San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC have similar laws, Chicago’s is the first to include hospital workers among covered employees.  The ordinance, which was drafted after more than two years of negotiation between business and labor advocates, contains concessions: only employees earning less than $26/hour are covered, and enforcement is limited to restaurants with more than 30 locations are eligible, — which means that McDonald’s Corporate is covered, but franchisees are not.  Nonetheless, representatives of the Chicago Federation of Labor called Wednesday “a great day for workers” and praised the ordinance for instituting “significant new protections for hundreds of thousands of workers.”

The New York Times reports on the history and recent development of organizing among exotic dancers.  Since the 1980s, most clubs have classified strippers as independent contractors, and have therefore not paid minimum wage or provided workers’ compensation or benefits, despite exercising strict control over hours and other terms of employment.  Dancers are hoping to take advantage of recent changes in the law and technology to gain more control over their working conditions. Since the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision last year, clubs in California have taken new measures to retain control over their workers, including shortening shifts and introducing arbitration clauses and class-action waivers into contracts (Matthew has already written in detail for this blog about the impact of the Dynamex decision on California sex workers).  In response, dancers have formed groups like Soldiers of Pole and Strippers are Workers in hopes of combating these changes through legal advocacy, rights education, and unionization.  At the same time, apps like The Dancers Resource allow workers to share information about wages, scheduling practices, and “vibe” at clubs across the country.

The BuzzFeed News Union has been certified following card-check. BuzzFeed decided to voluntarily recognize the union earlier this week following several months of conflict.  BuzzFeed News writers are now represented by the NewsGuild of New York, Local 31003 of CWA, which represents writers at the New York Times, The New Yorker, and Thomson Reuters.  Last month, the New York Times reported that NewsGuild-CWA and the Writers Guild of America East — the two largest writers’ unions in New York — have welcomed more than 2,000 new members as digital media outlets have continued to organize.

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