News & Commentary

January 6, 2016

In the lead up to next week’s oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, anti-union union members are putting on a full court press. Mark Janus, the lead plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME, voiced his opposition in the Chicago Tribune to an Illinois law requiring state workers to pay union dues or fees. Teacher Harlan Erlich, a fellow Friedrichs plaintiff, published a similar letter in the Wall Street Journal. The consistent messaging—that employees should not have to pay dues to fund political causes they don’t support—has moved politicians in “right to work” states throughout the country. Now the authors hope to sway five Supreme Court justices.

When times are rough for coal, they’re rough for coal miners too. The United Mine Workers of America Union announced a tepid victory for retired coal miners: their former employer will pay $75 million into a fund for health care benefits. The payout is significant, but only half the amount that Patriot Coal (the miners’ employer) promised the miners three years ago. After Patriot Coal’s two bankruptcies, the miners consider the $75 million agreement neither a win nor a loss, reported the Huffington Post.

How does a car manufacturer cope with the looming lack of auto ownership? Shift to self-driving cars. General Motors announced a new partnership with Lyft to develop an on-demand network of self-driving cars, following in the footsteps of Google, Tesla and Uber. But before self-driving cars swarm the streets, G.M. and Lyft plan to establish car rental hubs where people who do not own cars can pick up a vehicle and drive for Lyft to earn money, according to the New York Times. What will this mean for Lyft drivers? Read On Labor’s coverage of workers in the gig economy to learn about the potential impact.

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