News & Commentary

December 17, 2018

Martin Drake

Martin Drake is a student at Harvard Law School.

Workers at Silicon Valley firms are using their stock-based compensation to demand changes in their companies, the New York Times reports.  In late November and early December this year, over a dozen Amazon employees filed identical shareholder petitions asking their employer to release a plan to address climate change.  The Amazon employee actions come after similar activity by Google employees this year, who helped present a petition, filed by Zevin Asset Management, that would link executive compensation to diversity and inclusion goals.  According to activist investors, the Amazon employee petition is the first time that tech employees have led their own shareholder proposal.

The UK government has introduced what it calls the biggest package of workplace reforms in 20 years, the Guardian reports.  The legislation will give workers details of their rights from their first day working, and will increase fines for employers who violate employment laws.  However, British unions said the new laws were a missed chance to empower gig economy workers.

Workers at two German Amazon warehouses went on strike today after organizing by German trade unions, Reuters reports.  The union, Verdi, has organized frequent strikes at Amazon logistics centers since 2013, demanding that the retail giant pay workers rates comparable to collective bargaining agreements in the German mail order and retail industry.  Amazon claims that warehouse pay should match competitors in the logistics sector, as opposed to retail.  Germany is Amazon’s biggest market outside of the United States.

Thousands of teachers rallied in downtown Los Angeles this weekend in anticipation of a potential strike next month, the Associated Press reports.  The teachers union in Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest school district, is threatening to strike for the first time in nearly 30 years after over 18 months of contract negotiations with the district’s administration.  The union, United Teachers Los Angeles, rejected the latest contract last month, asserting that the district is refusing to tap into a large financial reserve that could improve student conditions and increase teacher pay.  Among their demands are smaller class sizes and more full-time nurses and librarians.

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