News & Commentary

July 29, 2019

Lolita DePalma

Lolita De Palma is a student at Harvard Law School.

Today, Kaiser Permanente workers will begin voting on whether to authorize a strike. The strike would begin in early October and would include workers in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Virginia, and Washington D.C. Kaiser workers have been without a contract since September 30, 2018. Kaiser mental health care workers in San Francisco already staged a one-day strike earlier this month.

The airline industry may hold the key to the resurgence of the labor movement. After TWU Local 100 won the right to represent JetBlue flight attendants last year, airlines have become a hotbed for union organizing. SEIU Local 32BJ used an aggressive campaign to win raises for airport workers, culminating in a $19-an-hour wage by 2023. Unrest is brewing among pilots in the Airline Professionals Association, Teamster Local 1224. Their contract expired in 2011 and wages have stagnated. John Samuelson, president of TWU of America, said, “The amount of organizing going on in transportation is tremendous. Transport workers are waking up. The new bosses in the transportation industry are the new robber barons. These are folks that might as well be living in the 1880s.”

The Liberty Justice Center and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation are assisting union members in bringing claims against their unions on the basis that opt-out procedures violate the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus. The Wall Street Journal highlighted one of these cases this past weekend. Cara O’Callaghan is suing the Teamsters, the president of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the California attorney general on the basis that Local 2010’s opt-out window in unconstitutional. Local 2010 will allow O’Callaghan to rescind her membership but is requiring her to pay dues until the 30-day period leading up to the expiration date of the union’s current collective bargaining agreement. O’Callaghan joined Local 2010 in May of 2018.

Bloomberg took on the $15 minimum wage and found that minimum wage goals should higher to account for inflation. Since $15 in 2025 would be the equivalent of $11.93 in 2012, when the Fight for $15 movement started, the Raise the Wage Act should instead call for $18.87 in 2025. And The Washington Post spoke out against income inequality, criticizing the Trump administration for exacerbating the problem.

In Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, the president of the local branch of the International Longshoremen’s Association, Glenn Blicht, has been charged with taking bribes in exchange for not filing arbitration claims against employers who employ union members.

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