News & Commentary

August 8, 2018

Vail Kohnert-Yount

Vail Kohnert-Yount is a student at Harvard Law School.

In a hard-fought win for organized labor, Missouri voters repealed a so-called “right-to-work” law enacted last year by Missouri’s Republican state legislature and former Republican governor by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. The New York Times reports that the victory in Missouri follows other indicators of a resurgence in popular support for the labor movement, including polls showing rising support for unions and an increase in teachers’ union membership after massive walkouts in several states during the past school year.

Yesterday was Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, which marks how long a black woman has to work into 2018 to catch up to the same amount a white man made in 2017. In other words, on average black women in the United States must work 20 months to match what a white man makes in 12. The day is nearly four months later than National Equal Pay Day on April 10, which represents the same marker for women in the United States as a whole.

Today, the New York City Council will vote on legislation to cap the number of for-hire vehicles on the city’s streets, set a pay standard for app-based drivers, and authorize the Taxi and Limousine Commission to regulate fares for ride-hailing apps. As detailed in a recent report by the National Employment Law Project, the rising number of Uber and Lyft vehicles on the road has exacerbated traffic and depressed incomes for drivers, leading to financial devastation for many drivers. Uber has responded, as it has previously to local regulatory efforts, by lobbying heavily and launching massive consumer ad campaigns.

Ontario’s newly elected premier, conservative businessman Doug Ford, is scrapping the province’s pilot program to provide a basic income to 4,000 low-income residents. In April 2017, the Ontario government began what was intended to be a three-year commitment to give certain residents a basic minimum income in order to understand the effects of equipping people living on little resources with extra income. Not even halfway through the pilot, Ford has reneged on his pre-election promise to continue the program, leaving thousands of people who planned to rely on it to pay for schooling, housing, and other expenses in the lurch.

Uber will shutter its self-driving truck program, which completed the world’s first autonomous truck delivery, to focus on its self-driving car program. Uber’s trucks faced competition from a number of companies, including Tesla and Waymo. Instead, Uber plans to double its investment in Uber Freight, an app that links truck drivers to freight deliveries, which is one of the company’s most promising businesses and has tripled in size in the past year.

A video of over 100 workers at a UPS building site in Indianapolis walking off the job to protest what they called racist treatment went viral. On July 31, Antoine Dangerfield, a 30-year-old welder working on the same site, recorded the wildcat strike, which shut down operations for the day. In an interview with Jacobin, Dangerfield described what he saw happen as “life-changing.” He said, “I just felt that power, man. It just felt good. They were walking out with their heads up, strong. It touched me. That’s why I was like, wow, this is beautiful. It was beautiful that they came together like that–stood up for themselves and not let that dude walk all over them.” The video now has over 1,200,000 views on YouTube.

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