Today’s News & Commentary—July 11, 2019
Dunkin’ (formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts), has been systematically cracking down on franchisees that hire undocumented workers, The New Food Economy reports. Since last September, a Dunkin’ parent company has sought to terminate dozens of franchise contracts and has filed at least three lawsuits against franchisees on the grounds that franchise operators engaged in “pervasive noncompliance” with federal law. In a complaint filed last month, Dunkin’ alleged that franchisees had “no employment documentation or incomplete information for a substantial portion of the employee files,” and had failed to use E-Verify, an online tool provided by the Department of Homeland Security, to confirm that employees were eligible for employment in the United States. Dunkin’ has a history of suing franchisees, including over alleged violations of immigration law. But these recent suits are different, says Vikrant Advani, a labor attorney who teaches at Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations. According to Advani, franchisors seeking to terminate franchise agreements have typically included immigration concerns as one of a long list of contractual violations. But it is unusual for a franchisor to specifically target franchisees for apparently employing undocumented workers — especially in the hospitality industry, which relies heavily on immigrant and undocumented labor.
Labor leaders in the United Kingdom have reached a consensus position regarding Britain’s potential exit from the European Union. A coalition of twelve Labour Party-affiliated unions—including the country’s four largest labor organizations—have agreed that the Labour Party should back a public referendum on any Brexit deal proposed by either a Conservative or a Labour government, and will campaign for Remain on any deal proposed by Tories. The position stopped short of staunchly committing to Remain, leaving open the possibility of the unions and Party supporting a Leave vote only under a deal proposed by Labour. In the event of Labour taking control of the government before any deal is negotiated, the unions agreed that the Labour Party’s position on any Brexit referendum would “depend on the deal.” The announcement is seen as a victory for Remainers—that is, those opposed to leaving the EU—if not exactly a clear resolution. Britain’s labor unions have previously been unable to agree on a position regarding any future Brexit deal, and Len McCluskey, General Secretary of UNITE, has previously said that holding a second referendum would be a “betrayal.” UNITE is both the largest labor union in the United Kingdom, and the Labour Party’s largest donor.
Earlier this week, the Guardian profiled Liz Shuler and Sara Nelson, the two women hoping to succeed Richard Trumka as President of the AFL-CIO. Shuler, current Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO and former IBEW organizer, has built a reputation within the labor movement as a consensus-builder and played a crucial role in securing labor’s post-Janus referendum victory over Missouri’s right-to-work law. Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants, has developed an increasingly high public profile, spurred in part by her call for a general strike during the federal government shutdown. While Trumka has not announced any plans to step down, anonymous sources have indicated that both Shuler and Nelson have privately sought support for a presidential bid. Both women are in their 40s – significantly younger than average for federation presidents – and would be the first female president of the AFL-CIO. The federation’s next conference will take place in 2021, and commentators say it is “very likely” that either Shuler or Nelson will be elected.