Today’s News & Commentary — January 28, 2019
The Oakland Education Association has scheduled a scheduled a strike vote, with voting to begin Tuesday, January 29, NPR reports. The union represents about 2,300 teachers in the Oakland Unified School District, and has been without a contract since July 2017. The union is demanding smaller class sizes, more support staff, and a 12 percent raise over the next three years. The strike would be the first in eight years, and would come on the heels of a six-day strike by LA teachers, and a successful strike vote by teachers in Denver, Colorado.
Several New Jersey state employees are fighting in court to prevent the state from enforcing confidentiality in workplace-discrimination investigations, the Wall Street Journal reports. The confidentiality rule, from the state’s civil-service code, says all investigations “shall be handled, to the extent possible, in a manner that will protect the privacy interests of those involved.” New Jersey employment lawyers say the rule hampers their ability to obtain documents and talk with witnesses for potential litigation. Related, lawmakers in more than a dozen states, including New Jersey, introduced legislation last year aimed to limit nondisclosure agreements in discrimination or sexual-harassment cases.
The Department of Labor filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing the tech giant Oracle of discriminatory pay practices against female, black and Asian employees, USA Today reports. The lawsuit alleges over $400 million in lost wages due to discrimination. The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance originally filed a discrimination suit against Oracle over two years ago, but the legal proceedings ended in October 2017 to allow for mediation. The new lawsuit alleges that Oracle destroyed evidence in the ongoing case.
According to a Washington Post op-ed by McGill University professor Barry Eidlin, LA teachers proved last week that “the common wisdom about unions is wrong.” Eidlin argues that the teachers showed that unions, and strikes in particular, are a powerful tool for employees to realize their workplace demands. The article highlights how the fallout from Janus v. AFSCME has not proven to be significant as of yet, and that public sector unions, at least initially, seem to have gained more workers than they have lost.