Today’s News & Commentary — June 3, 2016
Cornell University reached a pre-election agreement with Cornell Graduate Students United, an AFT affiliate seeking to represent Cornell graduate students. The agreement will only take effect if the NLRB holds that graduate student teaching and research assistants are “employees” under the NLRA. The NLRB is currently reconsidering its decision in Brown University holding that such graduate students are not employees. In the event the NLRB modifies its position, the American Arbitration Association would conduct the election in accordance with NLRB rules.
The NLRB submitted briefs in two separate cases before the D.C. Circuit and Fourth Circuit, asking the panels to side with the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Lewis v. Epic Systems Corporation, holding that employers may not require workers to waive their right to file class action suits. The D.C. Circuit and Fourth Circuit have previously ruled in favor of such waivers.
The Asia Floor Wage Alliance, a multinational coalition of trade unions and research institutes across Asia, Europe, and North America, released a series of new reports criticizing the failure of garment industry retailers to follow through their pledges of better workplace conditions in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse that killed 1135 Bangladeshi workers. According to the Alliance, fire safety remains a major risk factor in many developing world factories despite efforts by brands to make some repairs. Fire doors are still uncommon in Bangladesh, where 79,000 laborers worked in a building without proper fire exits for H&M alone.