Today’s News & Commentary — June 13, 2017
On Monday, a former Tesla employee testified before the NLRB that the company stopped him from union organizing in February of last year. Michael Sanchez was reportedly asked to leave by security guards after distributing pro-union flyers to co-workers outside a company factory. The NLRB filed a complaint against Tesla in August 2017 after several employees and the United Automobile Workers came forward alleging coercion and intimidation. Tesla, which also recently announced that it will lay off 9% of its global workforce, denied the allegations. Hearings for the case will continue until Thursday and resume in September, with a ruling expected shortly thereafter.
Workers at Wells Fargo are pressuring the bank for more access to its board of directors. A union-backed organization called the Committee for Better Banks (CBB) has requested that the bank appoint an employee representative to the recently formed Stakeholder Advisory Council, which is charged with improving oversight and governance and currently includes representatives from consumer and community groups. The council was formed in the wake of several scandals in 2016, when employee whistleblowers revealed that workers were opening millions of accounts on behalf of customers in order to hit sales targets. According to the CBB, executives at Wells Fargo have not yet responded to their request.
On Tuesday, the Cheesecake Factory was found liable in a $4.57 million wage theft case in California. The company and its contractor reportedly underpaid 559 janitorial contract workers across eight locations in Orange and San Diego Counties. An investigation by the California Department of Industrial Relations found that the janitors were not allowed to leave the workplace during their shifts, were denied food and rest breaks, and were often required to stay late following “walk-throughs” by kitchen managers. As a result, individual workers accumulated up to 10 hours of unpaid overtime each week. Pursuant to two recently passed California laws, the Cheesecake Factory is jointly liable for the unpaid wages.
Union leaders from IUE-CWA will meet with General Electric today to discuss the pending closure of a Virginia factory that produces controls for the company’s power plants. GE announced last week that it plans to close the plant and lay off 265 employees due to declining demand and market competition. The company plans to outsource manufacturing to India and China. The union has two months to propose an alternative to closing the plant.
The city of Seattle has reversed a previously approved payroll tax on companies earning more than $20 million in annual revenue. The city council voted 7-2 yesterday to repeal the tax amidst intense debate and lobbying by both businesses and citizens. The tax, which would have raised around $50 million per year, was intended to combat a growing housing crisis and homelessness problem that some say has resulted from the success of Seattle-based corporations like Amazon and Starbucks.