News & Commentary

July 6, 2015

Jon Weinberg

Jon Weinberg is a student at Harvard Law School.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Southwest Airlines has reached a tentative agreement with the Transport Workers Union local representing 12,000 of its flight attendants.  The deal “would run through May 2019 and provide wage increases, bonus opportunities and work-rule adjustments.”  Negotiations have been difficult and have lasted over two years.

According to The New York Times, the share of American teenagers working has plummeted since 2000 and those who most need jobs are often least likely to get them.  While experts are unsure of the reason for the precipitous decline in the summer teenage work force, possible factors include an increase in summer school attendance, a longer school year, and off-season athletics practices.  Adults may also be crowding out teenagers, and government funding for teenage summer employment has decreased.  The article discusses municipal efforts to promote paid work and pressure to take unpaid internships instead of employment.

VICE notes “a controversial piece of legislation ostensibly aimed at increasing transparency in Canada’s labor unions, and on track to become law by next week, could have negative implications for everyone from Sidney Crosby to your local shop steward.”  The legislation would require all labor unions in Canada to disclose detailed financial records and logs of time spent on political activities.  Labor unions are critical of the legislation and characterize it as political, while defenders believe the information disclosures would require unions to operate at a higher standard.  The information from disclosures would be published online.

Ross Perlin criticizes the recent Second Circuit ruling on the test for legal unpaid internships, previously covered by OnLabor, in a New York Times op-ed.  Perlin says the judges “ignored the legal standard and ethical principle that work merits pay” and noted that the ruling significantly limits the ability of interns to pursue class action lawsuits, ignoring the complicity of universities while disregarding the benefits employers derive from interns.  In response to interns lacking basic workplace protections, Perlin argues for legislation on intern protection and intern pay.

Meanwhile, USA Today reports that 94% of the members of Congress who support legislation to increase the minimum wage do not pay their interns.  The article notes government interns are not covered by Fair Labor Standards Act and the law governing them allows for unpaid internships even when interns complete “employment duties.”

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