Today’s News & Commentary — April 19, 2018

Published April 19th, 2018 -  - 04.19.188


Harvard University graduate students began voting Wednesday on whether to unionize, following the successful unionization efforts at Columbia University, New York University, and other schools. This is the second union election in a years-long effort to unionize Harvard’s graduate students. In November 2016, more graduate students voted against unionization than voted for it, but the NLRB later found that election invalid owing to Harvard’s failure to produce a complete and accurate list of eligible voters. If students vote to unionize, they will be represented by the Harvard Graduate Student Union – United Auto Workers (HGSU-UAW).

Also at Harvard, law students began circulating an open letter asking Harvard Law School to require employers recruiting on-campus to eliminate mandatory arbitration clauses, non-disclosure requirements, and class-action waivers from their employment contracts. This follows similar actions at Georgetown University, Berkeley Law, and other schools. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, students argue that these clauses allow employer harassment and discrimination to continue unabated.

On April 14, the Columbia University Graduate Student Union announced that its members had voted to authorize a strike. The Columbia administration has to date refused to bargain with the union. Union leadership stated that if the administration does not agree to bargain, graduate students will commence their strike on April 24.

Republican Senate hopeful Don Blankenship, who was convicted of conspiring coal mine safety standards after a deadly explosion in a West Virginia mine killed 29 workers, asked a court Wednesday to have his conviction thrown out. Blankenship alleges that the government withheld essential reports and other information that could have exonerated him for his role in the disaster.

Politico published an article Wednesday revealing tensions within the National Labor Relations Board. According to Politico, internal disputes center around a proposal to restructure the NLRB to reduce the influence of regional directors, who the business community sees as too pro-union, and around controversy stemming from NLRB board member William Emmanuel’s failure to recuse himself in Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors. That failure forced the NLRB to vacate its ruling in that case, thus preserving a more favorable Obama-era ruling regarding the joint employer standard.

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