News & Commentary

December 20, 2018

As the NLRB continues its comment period for a proposed rule to codify a more restrictive standard for joint employer status, NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb has voiced his view that the rule does not go far enough in insulating lead employers from labor law liability.  In comments made yesterday, Robb said that a joint employer should have no obligation to bargain with a union if it does not control “all listed terms and conditions of employment.”  The NLRB has again extended its comment period for the rulemaking, now until January 14.  For the time being, the 2015 Browning-Ferris decision continues to govern, meaning the Board is still able to consider “indirect control” and “reserved authority” as part of the joint employer inquiry.

Yesterday the Court of Appeal in the United Kingdom upheld 2016 Employment Tribunal and 2017 Employment Appeal Tribunal decisions finding that Uber drivers are employees entitled to basic worker protections.  The decision was 2-1.  The majority held that Uber contracts with passengers to provide driving services, which the drivers perform for it, while the dissent characterized Uber as only an intermediary for drivers working as independent contractors.  The ruling was celebrated by the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB).  Uber received permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing teachers and other non-administrative staff in the Los Angeles Unified School District, announced yesterday that it would go on strike on January 10 if its demands for a new contract were not met.  The union has been fighting for bread-and-butter issues like a 6.5 percent pay increase retroactive to July 1, 2016, but also for policies they argue will improve education for students such as smaller class sizes and less standardized testing.  The school district proposed a 6 percent pay hike with a 3 percent retroactive raise for last school year.  The district’s offer also included more compensation for teachers enrolled in professional development courses and class size caps in the most under-resourced schools.  The potential strike follows months of collective action by teachers fighting for improved working and learning conditions across the country.

Yesterday the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate for the fourth time this year, bringing it to a range between 2.25 and 2.5 percent.  Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute argues that this will harm working people, “threaten[ing] to snuff out the very beginning of wage gains that we’ve started to see recently in the data.”

In Minnesota, public sector union membership is on the rise despite this past summer’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME.  The Minnesota Association for Professional Employees saw membership increase from approximately 10,500 to over 11,000, and Education Minnesota also saw more sign-ups than opt-outs.  The unions credit the spike to their organizing work in preparation for the Supreme Court decision striking down agency fees in June.



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