News & Commentary

August 16, 2017

Melissa Greenberg

Melissa Greenberg is a student at Harvard Law School.

Yesterday, the Boston Globe reported that four members of Teamsters Local 25 were acquitted of all charges by a jury in federal court in Boston.  The Teamsters had each been charged with a single count of conspiracy to extort and a single count of attempted extortion.  The charges stemmed from the workers’ picketing of a filming of “Top Chef” at the restaurant Steel and Rye in Milton, MA.  In statements to the Globe, Ira Sills, who teaches labor law at Northeastern, argued that “[t]he very fact that the case was prosecuted was considered by many of us [labor lawyers] to be an abuse of process” and in order to be found guilty the law demands “that the people accused were trying to extort money for their own gain.’’  Read more here.

In immigration news, the Trump Administration announced the elimination of an Obama Administration program granting parole status to immigrants who do not qualify as refugees.  Parole status allows these immigrants to live and work in the United States for a limited period of time.  Initiated in 2014 in response to the wave of unaccompanied children crossing the border from Central America, the program was subsequently extended to permit some adults to enter the country.  Read more here.

This week three Democratic congressmen, Representative Mark DeSaulnier of California, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, and Donald Norcross of New Jersey, went on a bus tour in the hopes of reconnecting with the labor movement and workers in California, Michigan, Wisconsin, and New Jersey.  These three representatives and Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan plan to launch a report titled, “The Future of Work, Wages and Labor”.  This report will build on the Democratic Leadership’s agenda outlined in the “Better Deal” but may include some positions that other members of the party are uncomfortable with, including controversial policies on trade and the environment.  Read more here.

In the New Yorker, Joshua Rothman explores whether the government should subsidize factories, and if so, how it should go about it.  Rothman spotlights “Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters” by New York Times reporter Louis Uchitelle.  The book posits that American factories have been the recipients of large-scale government spending, and voters should have stopped the closure of some urban factories, which they helped fund.  Rothman believes “Making It” “is one of several recent books that show that the shuttering of American factories was, to some degree, a matter of choice.”  Rothman says these books show that “[w]hen American manufacturers faced fundamental challenges, voters, politicians, and executives didn’t put their heads together to confront them; instead, they retreated to their ideological corners and, in a mood of polarized apathy, walked away from a massive public investment.”  He argues that neither Republicans nor Democrats are currently well positioned to rectify this “blind spot” and engage in national industrial policymaking.  Read more here.

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