News & Commentary

December 1, 2021

Jason Vazquez

Jason Vazquez is a staff attorney at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 2023. His writing on this blog reflects his personal views and should not be attributed to the IBT.

At 11:59 p.m. tonight, the contract between the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA) and MLB team owners will expire. The two sides have been negotiating for months, but the talks are, in the words of ESPN, “going nowhere fast,” rendering the prospect of a lockout increasingly likely. Such a development would freeze the entire league and, if it stretches into next year, threaten to cancel spring training programs and regular-season games. According to ESPN, “not a whole lot” remains on the bargaining table between the parties; the dispute is largely based on the MLB’s complex salary structure and circuitous path to free agency. At a high level of generality, the players seek bigger paydays earlier in their careers, greater competitive integrity in the league, and easier access to free agency, whereas the owners would like to preserve the status quo.

According to a report issued by a coalition of labor unions, at least 20,000 Amazon employees tested positive for Covid last year, yet the company reported no more than two dozen of the cases to federal regulators. The report is merely the latest in a string of allegations, studies, complaints, and lawsuits which collectively underscore the extent to which Amazon failed to protect its workforce at the height of the pandemic. For example, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), who’s currently running for Governor, filed a motion in court on Tuesday seeking to compel the firm to implement stricter Covid safety protocols. “Amazon and its leadership banked billions of dollars during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the crisis rages on, the health and concerns of the workers continued to be ignored,” she asserted in her press release.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Guardian reports that staffers, lecturers, and administrators at fifty-eight universities across England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland walked off the job today, launching a strike that will likely disrupt campus activities for more than one million students in the U.K. The strike was precipitated by a longstanding dispute over declining pay, unsafe workloads, and pension cuts. A poll conducted by student groups found that nearly 75 percent of the U.K.’s university students support the strike, and unions report that “huge numbers” of them have joined the picket lines.  

Enjoy OnLabor’s fresh takes on the day’s labor news, right in your inbox.