A rare move within the tech industry, a group of more than 400 Google works have unionized. The Alphabet Workers Union, affiliated with the CWA, formed as a minority union with the goal of structuring activism at Google. The unionization move comes after years of activism related to workplace harassment, pay structure, and ethical issues, including issues regarding Google providing technology to the Department of Defense and to Customs and Border Protection. Union organizers with CWA began meeting with Google workers in late 2019, and elections for the executive council were held in December. The minority structure of the union allows for the inclusion of Google contractors, who are more prevalent than full-time workers at the company. While the union is unable to negotiate for a contract, it is expected to use lobbying tactics and public pressure campaigns to affect change at the company.
This year, 74 jurisdictions are expected to raise the minimum wage. This includes 24 states, 20 of which already raised the minimum wage on January 1, and 50 municipalities. 40 of these jurisdictions will see minimum wages of $15 or more by the end of 2021. With these changes and more on the horizon, expectations indicate that 42% of U.S. workers will work in jurisdictions with $15 minimum wage laws by 2026.
The NLRB has upheld a California ambulance firm’s restrictive social media rules in Medic Ambulance Service, N.L.R.B., Case 20-CA-193784. The GOP-majority panel held that the social media policy, which prohibited workers from “disparaging the company and others, carrying out ‘inappropriate communications,’ disclosing confidential information, posting photos of coworkers, or using the company logo to denigrate anything,” was lawful. The case falls within a line of NLRB rulings using the Boeing standard, which balances employer business justifications against the “perspective of reasonable employees” regarding the extent of the policy, to uphold sweeping restrictive employer policies contained within rules and handbooks.
So far, pro-business predictions about the volume of Covid-related workplace safety lawsuits has been far off the mark. Litigation brought by employees regarding workplace safety violations has been much less than employer groups and some politicians warned. This is due to a combination of legal barriers already in place, including workers’ compensation laws, arbitration clauses, and thresholds for negligence claims. This is in addition to continual drives for national coronavirus liability shields at the federal level and more than a dozen states that have already enacted state-level liability shields. So far, workplace safety litigation has been a tiny percent of the amount of employment-related Covid litigation, with an even smaller percentage making it past the dismissal stage.