Today’s News & Commentary — July 6, 2018
Yesterday, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation submitted a petition to the National Labor Relations Board requesting that a group of housekeepers at a Seattle Embassy Suites hotel be permitted vote on decertifying Unite Here as their collective bargaining representative. Right to Work alleges that Unite Here and the hotel pressured the housekeepers into signing union authorization cards. If the NLRB rejects the workers’ decertification bid, Right to Work has stated that they will ask the Board to overturn Lamons Gasket, a 2011 decision in which the Board overturned Dana Corp. and reinstated a “recognition bar” that protects unions from decertification challenges within six months to a year after they have been voluntarily recognized. Right to Work also filed unfair labor practice charges against Unite Here and Seattle Embassy Suites for their alleged coercion and accused the two of colluding to get the union in. In response, Unite Here spokeperson Rachel Gumpert called Right to Work a “right-wing special interest organization with a long record of dishonesty.”
On that note, The Nation has published an article by Moshe Marvit tracing the long history and impact of the National Right to Work Committee and its offshoot Legal Defense Foundation. Drawing on a large volume of legal documents obtained from the UAW, Marvit traces the roots of the organization, and of the contemporary “right-to-work” movement more generally, back to 1953, when a small group of anti-labor businessmen banded together to “break labor from within” and established the Committee. Over the next sixty-odd years, the organization waged a multi-pronged campaign against the labor movement, including by lobbying state legislatures to pass right-to-work laws, mass mailing anti-union leaflets during major strikes, and filing countless lawsuits against unions on behalf of workers. The most recent battle in that long legal campaign was Janus, in which the Supreme Court held 5-4 that agency fees violate the First Amendment. Marvit warns that future Right to Work campaigns will likely include challenges to private sector union dues and efforts to claw back agency fees already collected by public sector unions.
In addition to previously reported action by the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association, Ryanair cabin crew based in Italy, Spain, Belgium, and Portugal have pledged to strike on July 25 and 26. The cabin crewmembers are seeking improved working conditions, the right to appoint union representatives, and equal treatment of direct employees and contract workers. They are also demanding that all cabin crew contracts be governed by local law rather than the law of Ireland, where Ryanair is incorporated. Union representatives expected around 4,000 crewmembers to participate.
Last week, economists from Stanford University and the University of Chicago released a study finding that there is a 7% hourly earnings gap between men and women who drive for Uber. While about half of that disparity was accounted for by men driving faster than women, men were also more likely to drive in areas that tend to command higher rates, including high crime areas, and to have more experience on the platform. The study noted that “[e]ven in the absence of discrimination and in flexible labor markets, women’s relatively high opportunity cost of non-paid-work time and gender-based differences in preferences could sustain a gender pay gap.” Other studies, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s Contingent Worker Survey, have found similar earnings gaps between men and women working in contract positions.