Today’s News & Commentary — December 8, 2015

Published December 8th, 2015 -  - 12.08.151


Donald Trump has lost at least one election.  The Huffington Post reports that a majority of employees at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas have voted to unionize.  The election took place last week, and the National Labor Relations Board still has to ratify the results.  Assuming they do, the workers will be represented by the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and the Bartenders Union Local 165 of UNITE HERE.  Workers previously demonstrated outside the hotel in October before the first Democratic presidential debate, and Hillary Clinton made a surprise appearance where she expressed solidarity.

The former head coach of the University of Southern California football team has sued the university over his dismissal.  The Los Angeles Times noted that Steve Sarkisian “alleges that the school discriminated against him because of his alcoholism and breached his contract, according to the suit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.”  Sarkisian and USC dispute the degree to which he consumed alcohol while working.

Meanwhile, the appeal of another notable sports-related labor and employment suit continues to move forward. According to the Associated Press, lawyers for the NFL Players Association filed papers with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals encouraging it to affirm the District Court ruling that nullified the National Football League’s four-game suspension of star New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.  The appeal centers on whether the arbitration overseen by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in which he upheld the suspension under the collective bargaining agreement was legally deficient.

Teachers in Chicago might be moving closer to a strike.  As reported by the Chicago Tribune, teachers will vote this week on whether to authorize a strike call by union leaders and the school board has rejected the union demand to move contract talks to a final stage.  The teachers union believes talks with a mediator have run their course and wants to proceed to a three-person fact-finding panel, while the school district believes mediation should continue.  Workers have been without a contract since June, and the parties remain separated on major issues including hiring, salary increases and pay for snow days.

There have been some developments related to the successful United Auto Workers unionization of skilled workers at Volkwagen’s Chattanooga, TN plant.  The Times Free Press notes that Volkswagen’s third-largest shareholder is urging the German car maker to reduce the role of the works councils, the joint labor and management committees that help develop work rules and practices in the more than 60 VW production plants around the world.”  Meanwhile, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam was dismissive of the UAW victory in a phone interview with the Associated Press.  He characterized the win as “cherry-picked” and said it doesn’t represent any major changes in the state’s business climate. In other automobile industry news, The Detroit News reports that “the National Labor Relations Board is charging Nissan Motor Co. and a contract worker agency with violating workers’ rights at the company’s Mississippi plant,” claiming “Nissan illegally stifled workers’ right to wear pro-union or anti-union clothing when it created a uniform policy in 2014.”

Writing for The Washington Post, Lydia DePillis describes proposed legislation in New York City that would protect freelancers by increasing penalties and enforcement for clients who don’t pay contractors on time.  The bill “would require all employers to put contracts in writing, impose civil and criminal penalties for taking longer than 30 days to deliver payments, and award double damages plus attorneys fees to contractors who’ve been stiffed — similar to the protections now enjoyed by regular employees.”

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