Today’s News & Commentary — May 28, 2018

Published May 28th, 2018 -  - 05.28.187


Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis, Chipotle has asked the Federal District Court of Colorado to exclude 2,814 workers from a wage theft lawsuit because these workers signed mandatory arbitration agreements barring them from participating in class action or collective lawsuits.  In total, 10,000 Chipotle workers are participating in an ongoing class action lawsuit against Chipotle.  The plaintiffs claim that the company regularly forced employees to work “off the clock” — i.e. before or after their formal shifts — without pay.  The District Court of Colorado has not yet ruled on Chipotle’s motion to exclude these nearly 3,000 workers. However, in light of the Epic Systems decision, the judge in the case has asked the parties to submit new briefs by June 6.  As Maddy Joseph explained on this blog, in Epic Systems the Supreme Court upheld the enforceability of mandatory arbitration clauses, including those that ban class and collective legal action.  As Sharon Block and Terri Gerstein wrote in the New York Times, the Epic Systems decision will severely curtail workers’ ability to to pursue wage theft, discrimination, and harassment cases.

61% of Louisiana teachers support a statewide walkout to achieve higher pay, according to a survey conducted by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers.  Average teacher salaries in Louisiana have decreased in recent years, and 78% of the teachers surveyed reported that they have considered leaving the profession due to low pay.  Following teacher strikes and walkouts in states such as West Virginia, Kentucky, Arizona, and Oklahoma, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers is meeting this summer to develop an action plan for the upcoming school year.  

The New York Times published a profile of the Massachusetts state government’s and Boston city government’s s efforts to close the gender pay gap.  For instance, Massachusetts passed equal pay legislation, and this legislation will take effect in July. In addition to forbidding employers from discriminating on the basis of gender, the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from asking job applicants for their salary history, a practice known to exacerbate the gender wage gap.  The law also forbids employers from disciplining employees for discussing their salaries with coworkers.  In the city of Boston, the Boston Women’s Workforce Council has trained over 7,000 women in salary negotiations and aims to train another 78,000 in 2021.  The Council — a public-private partnership — is also working with major employers to and promote best practices for advancing pay equity.

David Stein of UCLA wrote in Jacobin about the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act of 1978 — and the lessons that debates over this legislation offer for present-day jobs guarantee advocates.  In his piece, Stein traces the history of the National Committee for Full Employment/Full Employment Action Council (NCFE/FEAC), an organization led by Coretta Scott King and other civil rights and labor activists.  He also discusses conflicts between Congress and the Federal Reserve, the compromises that were made in order to secure the passage of this legislation, and the ultimate shortcomings of the 1978 law.

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