News & Commentary

January 31, 2017

Jon Weinberg

Jon Weinberg is a student at Harvard Law School.

2017 could be a tough year for labor unions at the state level.  According to NPR, Kentucky has become the nations’s 27th “right-to-work” state, and Missouri and New Hampshire could join it in February.  New Hampshire would become the first “right-to-work” state in the Northeast.  Advocates in New Hampshire claim that “right-to-work” will entice businesses to relocate to the state, while opponents assert that “right-to-work” creates free rider problems and constitutes political reprisal against unions for supporting Democrats.

At the federal level, things might not be much better.  The Washington Examiner reports that two Republicans will introduce national “right-to-work” legislation tomorrow.  President Trump’s purported support has “right-to-work” advocates optimistic, despite previous failures in Congress.

With respect to President Trump’s agenda, unions are prepared to fight.  Per Bloomberg BNA, “labor groups representing immigrants, women, blacks, Latinos and Asian-Americans vowed collective action against President Donald Trump at a rally in Washington Jan. 27” and “[Representatives from AFL-CIO constituency groups] promised grass-roots organizing with regional union chapters to protect immigrants and union workers and to ensure sanctuary cities remain.”

Unions are not the only parties concerned about Trump’s labor and employment agenda.  Forbes notes that “tech firms may soon need to find new recruiting ground to the fill high-paying positions that President Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to make a core part of his plan to create more jobs and put ‘America first.’  Trump is reportedly considering a draft proposal to overhaul the current work visa program that Silicon Valley uses to bring tens of thousands of temporary workers into the U.S. from other countries each year.”

Finally, For The Win published the story of Kyle Johnson, a minor league baseball player “among four active minor league players attempting to join a lawsuit against Major League Baseball, its teams, and the MLB Players Association, and the first active player involved in the case to speak about it publicly.”  The lawsuit “seeks to apply the terms of the Fair Labor Standards Act — i.e. minimum wage — to minor league players, who earn as little as $1100 a month at the rookie level, only get paid during the season, and do not receive overtime pay.”

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