Today’s News and Commentary — June 5, 2018
Tomato pickers and labor activists from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers will protest today outside of Wendy’s headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, during the company’s annual shareholder meeting to demand that the company join its Fair Food Program. The Fair Food Program, hailed by labor rights advocates as a successful enforcement model, requires retailers to buy from growers that follow a code of conduct designed to protect workers’ rights and fight rampant sexual assault and harassment in the fields. Although many industry behemoths, including Walmart and Whole Foods, have joined, Wendy’s has responded by stopping sourcing tomatoes from Florida altogether.
ProPublica published an exposé of Sanitation Salvage, one of New York City’s largest private trash haulers, yesterday. Besides the company’s dismal record of fatal accidents and off-the-books employment arrangements, workers allege the independent union that represents them is a sham run by the company’s owners, locking them into jobs with low wages, poor benefits, and low safety standards.
Last week, sex workers nationwide took part in the first National Sex Worker Lobby Day. In the wake of the passage of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, which some argue endangers sex workers and their livelihoods, lobby day participants sought to educate lawmakers about misconceptions surrounding sex work and the challenges sex workers face.
Gig economy companies are embroiled in legal action over their workers’ employment status not only across the country but around the world. On Monday, a Spanish court ruled that a Deliveroo rider should have been treated as an employee and not as self-employed. The ruling echoes last month’s California Supreme Court decision on the status of Uber drivers, in which the court established a new, stricter test to determine whether workers should be considered employees or contractors. Amazon faces a similar lawsuit in the United Kingdom over whether its couriers are self-employed and therefore not entitled to employment rights including the national minimum wage and holiday pay.
Finally, Italy’s newly elected government has promised to roll back labor reforms installed by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Renzi’s reforms made it easier for large companies to fire people and offered fiscal incentives for employers to hire permanent workers with fewer labor protections. Proponents argued the tax breaks and lifting of restrictions would increase employment, but opponents say most new jobs created since the reforms have been the kind of temporary work the legislation was supposed to deter.