News & Commentary

August 10, 2020

Mackenzie Bouverat

Mackenzie Bouverat is a student at Harvard Law School.

As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States surpasses five million, over a million Americans filed claims for unemployment insurance for the twentieth consecutive week. One in ten Americans report being unable to find work. Forty million are at risk of being evicted. Residential eviction backlogs are now being put into effect. Federal and state lawmakers continue to squabble over the next relief package. And second stimulus checks are conspicuously absent from Trump’s executive orders.

Machinists Local S6 is poised to end a month-long strike after reaching a tentative contract with Bath Iron Works. A subsidiary of General Dynamics, Bath Iron Works primarily builds various kinds of military vessels for the U.S. Navy. Zach has already detailed the reasons for which employees decided to strike: the company’s use of subcontractors and its revocation of employee benefits. The tentative contract preserves the existing subcontracting procedures, raises wages 3 percent over the three years of the contract, and improves healthcare coverage. The shipbuilder’s 4,500 employees will vote on the contract online and via telephone from Aug. 21-23.

Sixteen Republican Senators signed a letter calling on congressional leaders to devote an additional $25 billion to an airline support program in the CARES Act. The “payroll support program,” which was first approved in March, gave $31 billion in Federal aid to various airlines in exchange for their promise to refrain from laying off 76,000 airline industry employees. The program also banned stock buybacks and stock dividends. Securing the program has long been a priority for labor unions representing aviation industry workers

On Saturday, Epic Systems Inc. reneged on its plan to reopen its Verona, Wisconsin campus after considerable backlash from local Public Health and from its own employees. The engineering and fabrication firm informed employees by email that they would no longer be required to return to work as Epic awaits further guidance from Public Health Madison and Dane County. The decision comes after the Department wrote to Epic detailing its concerns about noncompliance with the state’s return to work plan; the Department requested that Epic explain why it was necessary to contravene the Department’s mandate for businesses to “facilitate remote work and other measures that limit the number of individuals present at an office, facility or store” to the greatest extent possible. ToneMadison reported that groups of Epic employees were so outraged by the reopening plan that they had taken the first steps toward unionization; according to the publication, Epic employee met with International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 565 organizers.

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