Today’s News and Commentary — May 2, 2018

Published May 2nd, 2018 -  - 05.02.187


Harvard University announced yesterday that it intends to bargain with the newly formed graduate union.  University Provost Alan M. Garber wrote in an email that “Harvard is prepared to begin good-faith negotiations, guided by our fundamental commitments as an academic institution.”  Separately, University President Drew Faust stated that, while the university intends to negotiate, it will be “adamant about differentiating between matters that are appropriate for academic decision making from matters that are concerns of a labor or employment situation.”  As previously reported, graduate students voted 1,931 to 1,523 in favor of unionization last week.  The NLRB certified the election result on Monday after the seven-day deadline to file objections passed without challenge from the union or university administration.

Organizers for Arizona’s teachers’ strike stated that they will end their strike on Thursday if lawmakers pass Governor Doug Ducey’s budget proposal.  Hearings for the budget plan, which would give teachers a 10 percent raise next year and begin to restore the nearly $400 million in cuts to education funding that have occurred over the past decade, began yesterday and are expected to conclude today.  In the longer term, the governor has vowed to raise teachers’ pay 20 percent by 2020 and restore school funding to pre-recession levels.

On Monday, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to a case in which it will determine whether employees automatically waive their right to class arbitration when employment contracts mandate dispute resolution via private arbitration.  In Lamps Plus Inc. v. Varela, Lamps Plus argued that its employees were barred by their employment contract from filing a class action following a data breach that compromised employees’ personal financial data.  A divided panel of the Ninth Circuit—including Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who recently passed away—held that the contract’s arbitration agreement did not preclude the employees from pursuing their claims as a class.  On a related matter, the Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments for National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA, in which it will decide whether the National Labor Relations Act prohibits arbitration agreements that bar employees from pursuing claims on a collective basis.

Writing for the New York Times, University of Chicago Law School Professor Hiba Hafiz argues that a Congressional ban preventing the NLRB from hiring economic experts should be lifted.  The NLRB’s Division of Economic Research, which conducted economic analysis to support the board’s decisions, was shuttered in 1947.

News outlets continue to cover the United States’ ongoing labor shortage.  The Wall Street Journal reports that small towns have begun to offer financial incentives and relocation programs to attract young workers.

Finally, workers and activists around the world staged rallies for workers’ rights yesterday in observance of May Day.

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