Today’s News & Commentary — July 5, 2018

Published July 5th, 2018 -  - 07.05.187


This week, attorneys for Browning-Ferris Industries and the Teamsters union argued before a D.C. Circuit panel over whether the panel should continue to review the NLRB’s 2015 decision in Browning-Ferris.  In that case, the Board adopted a loosened “indirect control” standard for joint employer status to determine that Browning-Ferris was the joint employer of workers from a staffing agency.  Consequently, the Board found that Browning-Ferris was liable for an unfair labor practice for refusing to bargain with the workers.  Browning-Ferris appealed the decision to the D.C. Circuit, where the appeal was first argued in March 2017.  In December, the Board overturned Browning-Ferris in a case called Hy-Brand, only to vacate Hy-Brand this spring over ethics concerns.  The company’s appeal was put on hold until the Board requested the D.C. Circuit to resume consideration last month.  The debate on Tuesday centered on whether the D.C. Circuit should continue review in light of the NLRB’s pursuit of rulemaking this summer for a new joint employer standard.

The New York Times Editorial Board called on the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to approve a minimum pay rate of $19 an hour for 42,000 workers at JFK, La Guardia, and Newark Liberty International Airports.  A vote by the board originally scheduled for this summer was moved to September, possibly indicating there is more reluctance about the pay raise than previously thought.  The current minimum wage for the Port Authority is $10.45 an hour, though workers at JFK and La Guardia make at least $13 under New York’s minimum wage laws.  Under the proposed plan, wages would rise incrementally until reaching $19 an hour by September 1, 2023.  The Editorial Board credited 32BJ SEIU, which has orchestrated airport worker organizing campaigns across the East Coast, for leading the campaign.

Tech columnist Farhad Manjoo considered yesterday why employees at Twitter have been absent from the recent wave of tech-worker activism taking place within Silicon Valley giants in the age of Trump.  Employees at Google successfully got the company to nix its contract for artificial intelligence systems with the Pentagon, while workers at Microsoft and Amazon have also pushed for cancellations of contracts between their employers and federal law enforcement agencies.  Manjoo explained that while Twitter has relished being an organizing platform for progressive causes and activism, the company has also benefited greatly from the President’s use of a Twitter account and the rise of online political infighting in the Trump era.  Manjoo thinks that the company and its workers will have to reckon with their role in the degradation of public discourse.

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association announced overwhelming support among Ireland-based pilots for Ryanair for a 24-hour strike on July 12, which could wreak havoc for Northern Irish travelers flying for the traditional holiday of the Twelfth.  The pilots are seeking more transparency from the airline about transfers between Ryanair’s African and European bases. The planned walkout is part of a larger campaign against Ryanair coordinated by the International Transport Workers’ Federation, but strike decisions must proceed individually by union and by country.  Cabin crews are expected to join pilots in walking out in the coming weeks.

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