Today’s News & Commentary — July 10, 2019
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t plan to impeach Labor Secretary Alex Acosta—even as Acosta faces widespread calls to resign over a plea deal he negotiated with Jeffrey Epstein, a powerful money manager accused of using his wealth and access to cover up his sexual abuse of dozens of underage girls. Epstein was charged this weekend with sex trafficking, but it’s not his first contact with the criminal legal system. In 2007, Epstein was indicted. But Acosta, then Miami’s top U.S. Attorney, approved a “non-prosecution agreement” that allowed Epstein to serve 13 months rather than a life sentence—in the cushy wing of a Palm Beach county jail, where he was granted work release to go to a “comfortable office” six days a week. Unusually, Epstein’s “non-prosecution agreement” also granted immunity to “any potential co-conspirators,” shielding any of Esptein’s powerful and wealthy friends that may have also been involved; those friends include high-profile political figures from both parties, including Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and Alan Dershowitz. Acosta now faces bi-partisan calls to resign, or for President Trump to oust him.
The Los Angeles City Council recently voted in favor of fair workweek legislation, which would require retailers to let workers know what days and hours they are scheduled to work at least two weeks in advance and provide workers at least 10 hours of rest between shifts. L.A. could become the latest of a growing number of cities passing fair scheduling ordinances aimed at unpredictable, on-call, or just-in-time scheduling that is common in low-wage jobs, especially retail. Over a third of early-career adults report that they only learn about their work schedule one week or less in advance—making it difficult for workers to plan childcare, pursue higher education, or pick up a second job to pay the bills. Fluctuating hours can also create financial precarity for hourly workers. According to the L.A. Times, L.A.’s proposal will now be drafted by city attorneys then subject to another city council vote on proposed language.
Last year, NLRB officials decided that Board Member William Emanuel should recuse himself from a major McDonald’s joint employer case over conflicts of interest, according to leaked documents obtained by Bloomberg News. NLRB Chairman John Ring has also been asked to recuse himself. Prior to their NLRB appointments, both Emanuel and Ring worked at law firms that provided legal advice to McDonald’s franchises on how to “respond to” worker organizing.
Tesla’s long list of alleged workers’ rights violations is growing—yesterday, the Guardian reported that current and former Tesla employees allege they were retaliated against for taking sick days. The Guardian reported that one pregnant employee was fired after informing management that she planned to take maternity leave, but was fired shortly before she would be eligible; another was fired after using paid sick days donated by her colleagues. Other employees report that Tesla’s attendance policy deters workers from taking sick days, lest they lose out on promotions. Also this week, a judge approved a settlement of just over $1 million between Tesla and sales workers over a class action wage theft claim.
In an interview with Vox, high-profile AOC advisor Dan Rifle makes the case for banning billionaires.