News & Commentary

June 13, 2019

Annie Hollister

Annie Hollister is an Honors Attorney at the U.S. Department of Labor and an alumna of Harvard Law School.

Nevada has enacted a slew of new laws aimed at protecting workers.  Yesterday, Governor Steve Sisolak signed a measure allowing state employees to engage in collective bargaining.  Although the state will retain final say on some key bargaining subjects – including salaries – the law extends collective bargaining rights to more than 20,000 public employees.  AFSCME has called this the largest statewide expansion of collective bargaining rights in sixteen years.  At the same time, the Democratic governor signed a law increasing the state’s private-sector minimum wage, which has sat at $7.25 for over ten years.  By 2024, employers who offer health benefits will be required to pay $11 per hour, while employers who don’t offer health benefits will owe $12.  And that’s not all: larger employers in Nevada must now provide paid leave, consider employees who use cannabis, and face civil penalties for equal pay violations.

Uber and Lyft have joined forces to resist California legislation that would classify certain gig workers as employees, rather than independent contractors.  On Wednesday, the Chief Executives of the two ridesharing companies published a jointly-authored op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle opposing the reclassification of gig workers.  Rather than allow drivers to unionize, they argue, policymakers should “give workers more of a say in the decisions affecting their lives and livelihoods,” including forming “new driver associations” that “represent drivers’ interests and administer the sorts of benefits that meet their highly individual needs.”  Commentators have noted that the type of association the tech moguls are describing sounds not unlike a union.  Meanwhile, BuzzFeed reports that New York City rideshare drivers’ pay has increased from $14.22 per trip to $16.63 per trip since the city introduced a pay floor in February.  Drivers say that the pay floor has helped to improve conditions, but hasn’t done as much as drivers and lawmakers had hoped.

The Guardian investigates Delta Airlines’ campaign against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers (IAM), who are in the process of collecting signed union authorization cards from the airline’s flight attendants and ramp workers.  Delta employees say they face aggressive anti-union sentiment at work, and fear retaliation if they express support for the union.  Last month, the IAM filed charges with the National Mediation Board accusing Delta of interfering with the union election, including by wrongfully terminating workers who were active organizers.  Delta drew national attention last month for its, uh, creative reaction to the IAM’s organizing effort.

Target will be expanding paid family leave for both part-time and salaried employees.  The retailer has also announced that it will be introducing “affordable backup care solutions” for employees who find themselves suddenly without access to child- or eldercare.

Finally, the union election has begun at Volkswagen’s beleaguered Chattanooga plant.  The election, has which has spurred aggressive media campaigns on both sides, is scheduled to end on Friday.

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