News & Commentary

June 10, 2022

Hannah Finnie

Hannah Finnie is a student at Harvard Law School and a member of the Labor and Employment Lab.

The Government Accountability Office released a trio of reports about the U.S. unemployment insurance (UI) system and its successes and failures during the COVID-19 pandemic. The reports found that black applicants for UI were half as likely to receive benefits as white applicants. The reports also found that UI contributed to creating economic stability during a potentially destabilizing event.

The GAO also noted that it didn’t have enough data to fully measure and therefore counteract the racism embedded in the UI system, stating that it was only able to obtain data from five states. House Democrats, according to the Politico article, are reportedly considering introducing legislation that would make it easier to collect data from states about UI that would result in having more comprehensive data to more fully understand the scope of the problem.

The Consumer Price Index revealed earlier this week that year-over-year inflation has reached 8.6 percent, with the prices of food, gas, and housing all rising. Meanwhile, oil companies continue to tout large profits. Reporting from The Guardian shows that the largest oil companies have already made $100 billion in profit in just the first three months of this year. BP’s chief financial officer said in February: “Certainly, it’s possible that we’re getting more cash than we know what to do with.” Advocates like the Groundwork Collective have called for an excess profits tax to reign in the industry’s profits.

Workers at a Trader Joe’s store in Massachusetts have filed for an election to unionize. If they’re successful, the store would be the first unionized Trader Joe’s location in the United States. As I previously wrote for OnLabor, one of the main motivations for the workers is that the company, which previously was known for relatively generous worker pay and benefits for the grocery industry, has recently made unilateral decisions that cut workers’ benefits and conditions. Like the recent successful Amazon union drive, the workers at this Trader Joe’s location are operating as an independent union, the Trader Joe’s Union, instead of planning to unionize with an established union.

Finally, a recent piece from In These Times acknowledges how reproductive rights are workers’ rights, and overviews how unions can and are using their power to protect reproductive rights.

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