Today’s News & Commentary—June 7, 2019


Published June 7th, 2019 - 06.07.1914


National Nurses United (NNU) and Johns Hopkins Hospital have reached a settlement affirming nurses’ right to unionize without interference from their employer.  The hospital’s 3,200 nurses began their organizing campaign last spring; by June, they had filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the hospital was deliberately impeding unionization.  In October, the NLRB sided with the nurses, finding that Johns Hopkins had interfered with organizing by prohibiting off-duty nurses from entering break rooms and from discussing the union at work.  The Board ordered Johns Hopkins to negotiate a settlement, warning that the hospital would face charges from the NLRB if the parties failed to reach an agreement.  Wednesday’s agreement, which follows a vigorous media campaign, management must post signs throughout the hospital affirming the nurses’ right to speak about, sympathize with, and join a union.  The union is calling the settlement a critical victory for nurses.  In a statement, RN Alex Laslett said that the agreement “makes clear that nurses have the right to form a union, we have a right to speak with our coworkers about a union, and Johns Hopkins does not have the legal right to target and intimidate nurses who engage in union activity.”

Members of the editorial and video staff at Vox staged a walkout Thursday in order to spur a favorable resolution to the media company’s ongoing union contract negotiations.  Yesterday was scheduled to be the last day of negotiations for the union, which is part of the Writers Guild of America East (WGAE).  At the time of this writing, management and union had failed to reach an agreement on what management characterized as “a handful of economic issues,” including wage scales, guaranteed raises, and policies regarding severance and subcontracting work.  Vox’s employees began organizing in 2017, joining a growing wave of unionized digital media companies.  The Vox union won voluntary recognition in January of 2018, and began bargaining in April of that year.  During yesterday’s walkout, websites including Curbed, Eater, and SBNation were left without fresh content, in some cases choosing to recycle previously-written stories under a generic “staff” byline.

Last month, Jared (with the help of some Vox writers) wrote about some major players in the labor movement have been reluctant to support the proposed Green New Deal, which they claim was drafted without sufficient input from labor organizations.  Yesterday, SEIU broke ranks from AFL-CIO and IBEW to become the first national union to formally endorse the plan.  The international union pointed to the plan’s express goal of combatting climate change while improving the conditions of working people.

The Washington Post explores the ways in which robots have changed Walmart employees’ relationship to their work.  Last month, Walmart announced that it would be expanding its use of “smart assistants” to conduct work ranging from maintenance to floor sales.  For many workers, this means training, supervising, and maintaining machines with the expectation that those machines will ultimately supplant them.  The increasing use of artificial intelligence also means greater specialization and less variety in the work of Walmart’s human employees.

 

14 recommended
bookmark icon