News & Commentary

August 24, 2018

In an interview with the New York Times, Chinese artist Cao Fei discusses how her art examines economic development in her country and broader questions about the nature of labor. Her new video piece takes place in a factor staffed almost entirely by robots. The piece is currently on view at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Over at Bloomberg, Josh Eidelson and Hassan Kanu detail efforts by subcontracted employees at Microsoft to unionize. After a 38-person group of bug-testers unionized, the subcontractor terminated all of them. The employees brought a retaliation claim against the subcontractor and Microsoft as a joint employer, but the case languished under the Trump NLRB until the parties settled. Advocates now see public pressure on large tech companies like Microsoft as potentially being a more effective tool than unionizing subcontractor workforces.

The last remaining non-unionized front-line employees at United Airlines will soon vote on whether to unionize, after a ruling by the National Mediation Board. 75% of the 2700 in-flight catering workers requested a vote on unionization in January. United had argued that representative of the Unite Here union had misrepresented themselves as emissaries from the company, but the NMB found no evidence of such conduct.

Public Citizen sued the Labor Department over its H2-A visa program, which allows seasonal agriculture workers to come legally to the United States on a temporary basis. But Public Citizen claims the Department is allowing employers to pay the migrant workers far below the prevailing wage, despite a legal requirement that H2-A workers be paid at rates that do not depress wages for domestic workers.

The New York City Police Union drew criticism after announcing a program that promises to pay private citizens a $500 reward for intervening to help police officers in violent situations. The union denied that it was encouraging vigilantism, but the NYPD distanced itself from the enterprise, discouraging community members from putting themselves in harm’s way.

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