News & Commentary

August 16, 2021

Zachary Boullt

Zachary Boullt is a student at Harvard Law School.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and United Steelworkers President Tom Conway are kicking off the USW’s “We Supply America” bus tour to advocate for the current congressional infrastructure bill. The bus tour partly hopes to highlight the connection between infrastructure investment and good-paying steelworker jobs. Starting at the USW Local 6787 union hall in Chesterton, the We Supply America campaign will visit union halls and industrial sites in Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

The November deadline for the UAW’s referendum regarding leadership election protocols may get pushed back depending on the resolution of an impasse between the UAW and the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. The UAW is pushing to amend the consent decree to allow for “limited and monitored use of union resources” to advocate for either side of the referendum question. Any current use of union resources is a violation of the rules set by the Office of Labor-Management Standards. If the consent decree amendment is successful, the election may be pushed back a few weeks to adjust to the new rules.

The presidents of the United Food & Commercial Workers, the Communications Workers of America, and the United Auto Workers have announced that their unions are resigning from the board of the National Consumers League due to funding from Amazon. The unions claim that Amazon’s funding of the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization has compromised its progressive mission and that the NCL has prioritized anti-worker donations ahead of its pro-labor commitment. The board chair is a representative of SEIU and one of the vice chairs is from the AFL-CIO; neither have commented yet on the other unions’ departures.

An Illinois state appellate court has ruled that Hobby Lobby violated Illinois’s anti-bias law by denying a transgender woman employee access to the women’s bathroom. The ruling stated that plaintiff Meggan Sommerville was “unquestionably female” and that Hobby Lobby thus discriminated against her based on her gender identity. Sommerville was disciplined in 2013 for using the women’s bathroom at the store, and the Illinois Human Rights Commission ruled in her favor in 2019 that the bathroom policy was illegal. Hobby Lobby’s bathroom ban had driven Sommerville to limit her fluid intake, causing her health problems, and given her nightmares. Sommerville still works at Hobby Lobby. The three-judge panel unanimously rejected Hobby Lobby’s argument that sex is an immutable condition.

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