News & Commentary

April 18, 2019

A taskforce charged with proposing reforms to combat workplace misconduct has chosen to leave open an important escape hatch for judges accused of sexual harassment or other misconduct: the opportunity to end an investigation by retiring. As a result, judges are able to prevent a potentially embarrassing inquiry and immunize themselves from the loss of their substantial pensions, which entitles them to receive their annual salary until their death. The refusal to close this loophole comes as current and former law clerks have pointed out the uniquely profound imbalances of power in judge-clerk employment relationships that can allow impropriety to fester.

The labor dispute between Hollywood TV writers and their agents escalated yesterday when the Writers Guild of America filed suit against the four main talent agencies. The suit, filed in California state court, alleges that the agents have violated their legal obligation to serve the best interests of the writers because of the agencies’ failure to end conflicts of interest. Namely, Hollywood studios pay talent agencies a fee for “packaging” clients from the agencies’ stable: perhaps a writer, director, and an actor. The writers allege that this encourages agencies to package them even when it is not in the individual writer’s best interest.

The enormous Stop & Shop strike appears headed to its second week, and pressure on the grocer appears to be mounting, as several presidential candidates have visited picket lines or plan to do so. 31,000 workers have stopped showing up to their jobs, making this the largest U.S. private-sector strike in years.

A union representation vote at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant will remain in limbo another week, as the NLRB has put off its decision about whether a vote for UAW representation at the plant should be held. The parties dispute whether all procedural requirements for the vote have been met, but worker’s are anxious to hold the vote. The election will hold symbolic importance for the UAW, which has failed to gain significant traction in Southern auto plants.

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