News & Commentary

July 13, 2017

Emily Miller

Emily Miller is a student at Harvard Law School.

The United Auto Workers announced Tuesday that employees at a Nissan plant in Mississippi have filed a petition for a union election.  The New York Times reports that the U.A.W. has been working to unionize the plant since 2012 and criticized, in a statement, “a pattern of labor abuses by Nissan against its predominantly African-American work force in Mississippi.”  The plant has nearly 6,000 workers and according to the U.A.W. is  “one of only three Nissan facilities in the world” that lack a union.  Nissan has actively opposed the U.A.W’s campaign in meetings with workers and the U.A.W. has filed numerous  charges with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the company of unlawfully interfering with workers’ right to organize.  The workers who filed for the election requested that the vote take place in less than a month.

Airline employees in New York and New Jersey are back to work after suspending a strike that began at Newark International Airport on Tuesday night, and which workers at JFK and LaGuardia planned to join Wednesday morning. According to Politico, the strike was motivated by the refusal of two United and American Airlines contractors to bargain with the SEIU, which represents several hundred baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants, and other service workers.  The strike was suspended yesterday morning as the parties agreed to last-minute negotiations.

In international news, the Senate of Brazil recently voted to overhaul the country’s labor laws for the first time in over seventy years.  The bill, which was opposed by the country’s labor unions, eliminates mandatory dues and prioritizes private contracting between a union and a firm over existing regulations.  The reform also increases an employer’s flexibility with respect to scheduling overtime and holidays.  According to Bloomberg, the bill passed 50 to 26, with one abstention.

USA Today reports that many Uber drivers may be working dangerously long shifts in order to compensate for low rates of pay.  Unlike Lyft, which shuts off driver’s access to the app after fourteen hours of consecutive driving, Uber has no cap on how many hours its driver’s can consecutively work.  Although Uber reports that driver earnings have remained stable despite recent fare cuts in major cities, many drivers report needing to work for longer and longer hours in order to make ends meet.  Both Chicago and New York have already taken action to limit the number of consecutive hours taxi and rideshare drivers may work.



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