News & Commentary

July 21, 2016

Melissa Greenberg

Melissa Greenberg is a student at Harvard Law School.

While most eyes were on the Republican Convention yesterday, the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, garnered a new labor endorsement from UNITE HERE.  The labor organization is one of the last remaining unions to endorse Clinton.  With more than 270,000 members, the union is largely composed of women and people of color.  In its statement of endorsement, UNITE HERE cited Hillary Clinton’s commitment to ending the “Cadillac tax,” or excise tax on health benefits, and her support for comprehensive immigration reform.

The New York Times reports that the French labor overhaul has cleared Parliament. The law loosens rules governing hiring, terminating employees, and work schedules and has been the subject of protests since March.  For the third time in the labor overhaul’s legislative history, the government employed a special constitutional provision, which allows the government to move the law forward without requiring a majority.  Recent polls suggest that 70 percent of the French people disagree with the labor reform law.

This week, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik heard arguments in a challenge brought by the U.S. Chamber of Congress over a city of Seattle Ordinance allowing Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize.  A decision in the case is expected in the first half of August.  Read more about the ordinance here at OnLabor.

Also in gig economy news, the New York Times highlighted a different kind of gig enterprise, one in which the workers are part owners.  The article focused on, a cooperative stock photo site, as an example of a worker-owned start-up. The 900 photographers who contribute to the site are part owners and voting members of the cooperative.  Last year, revenue reached $7.9 million, and Stocksy dispersed $4.3 million in royalties and dividends equaling $200,000 to its members.  Although the article pointed out the disadvantages of competing with more established gig economy businesses, it also suggested that there was room for both types of companies in the market.

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