Today’s News & Commentary — February 9, 2018
In the first gig economy worker classification case to go to trial, a federal magistrate judge ruled yesterday that a GrubHub worker was an independent contractor under California law. The decision could have ramifications in suits against other gig companies like Uber and Lyft. See coverage of the ruling here, here, and here.
Ben Sachs and Sharon Block have an op-ed at the Washington Post calling on the NLRB not to abandon its high-stakes trial against McDonald’s for harassing and terminating workers who went on strike with Fight for $15. The charges are significant in part because the NLRB charged McDonald’s as a joint employer that controlled individual franchises’ labor practices.
Contract workers at Logan Airport ended their strike yesterday, a day after it began. Although no deal was reached, the workers met with state officials yesterday who agreed to pressure the employers, ReadyJet and Flight Services & Systems to allow the workers to unionize.
With the comment period now closed on the new tip pooling rule, the scandal over DOL’s shelving of an unfavorable economic analysis continues. DOL’s inspector general is investigating. Democrats in Congress sent a letter to the Secretary of Labor urging him to abandon the rule. Trump’s regulatory czar, Naomi Rao, noted that DOL would publish the economic analysis with the final rule. Obama’s regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, urged Secretary Acosta to re-propose the rule for public comment with the full analysis.
BLS released its 2017 union membership data last month. Coverage has focused on two trends: the growth in union membership rates among white collar workers and among workers under 35. On the first trend, an Atlantic article argued that “[t]he contrast, between the growing number of educated workers joining unions and the shrinking pool of blue-collar workers doing so, is yet another example of an increasingly bifurcated American economy” — one where educated workers have job security and opportunities for voice in the workplace that other workers lack. In the Nation, a response countered that “[w]hite-collar workers aren’t organizing because they feel secure, but because they have more in common with precarious blue-collar workers than ever” and pointed to the ways in which white-collar unionization could be good for all workers. The Economic Policy Institute also attributes the second trend to the precarity of work in the new economy, and an article in the Nation agrees, adding that new data show that younger workers are not only interested in organizing but also have positive perceptions of unions.