Today’s News & Commentary — May 9, 2019
Yesterday the Senate confirmed Janet Dhillon to serve as the new chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a 50-43 vote. Dhillon joins Republican Victoria Lipnic and Democrat Charlotte Burrows on the Commission, bringing its membership to three out of a total five seats and restoring quorum. Dhillon is most recently the Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of Burlington Stores and previously held leadership and general counsel positions at J.C. Penney and US Airways after spending thirteen years at Skadden Arps.
Democrats vying for the party’s presidential nomination courted the support of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) at the union’s legislative conference this week. The candidates each talked about their personal connections to the labor movement and committed to fighting right-to-work policies and protecting workers’ pensions. Responding to criticisms of its leadership-dominated endorsement process in 2016, the IAM recently reformed its process to include a vote by the rank and file. Several Democratic candidates also showed their support for Uber and Lyft drivers on social media yesterday as drivers staged a strike in cities in several countries.
The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act (covered by Alisha last week) was the subject of over two hours of testimony before the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions yesterday. At the hearings, two former NLRB chairs presented two very different assessments of the bill. Democrat Mark Gaston Pearce bemoaned the sorry state of existing labor law and called for fundamental reform. Republican Philip Miscimarra said the PRO Act would “weaponize labor relations.” Pearce will soon take the helm at a new Workers’ Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center.
Staffers on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign represented by UFCW Local 400 ratified their first contract yesterday. The terms include nondiscrimination and equal pay provisions, health insurance premium coverage for workers making under $36,000 a year, and a limit on management pay that ensures no manager (excluding external consultants) makes more than three times the earnings of the most highly compensated bargaining unit member. Janice Fine, director of the Center for Innovation in Worker Innovation at Rutgers, told NPR she saw the union as “a sign of the times in terms of increased activism in general and increased union activism, increased interest in unionism, particularly on the part of millennials.”
Writing for The Privacy Project in The New York Times this morning, Facebook co-founder and Economic Security Project co-chair Chris Hughes calls on the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to break up Facebook. Hughes’ plea echoes a similar proposal released by presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren in March. In the piece, he also laments the trend toward market concentration more broadly. Hughes writes, “This shift [away from vigorous antitrust enforcement], combined with business-friendly tax and regulatory policy, ushered in a period of mergers and acquisitions that created megacorporations. . . . The results are a decline in entrepreneurship, stalled productivity growth, and higher prices and fewer choices for consumers.”