News & Commentary

December 10, 2018

Labor unrest is growing at NPR, the United States’ largest radio news organization. The nonprofit group, which recently faced a staff rebellion over its handling of sexual harassment allegations against a top newsroom executive, now faces criticism that it is exploiting its temp workers. Up to 20% of NPR’s staff is employed on a temporary basis, meaning they have very little job security. NPR argues that its use of temp workers allows it to remain nimble, keeping costs low while still being able to adjust to breaking news event. But the precarious position of temps is not unrelated to NPR’s earlier scandal: one of the employees who alleged sexual harassment by the NPR executive was a temp worker.

Harvard Law School’s Pipeline Parity Project won another in a series of victories in its campaign against forced arbitration at American law firms. Kirkland & Ellis LLP, one of the largest firms in the country, announced on Friday that it would drop forced arbitration for non-attorney staff. Previously, Kirkland had only said that it would eliminate forced arbitration for its attorneys on staff, but PPP continued to pressure the firm, emphasizing that non-attorney staff were even less able to navigate the employer-friendly landscape of forced arbitration.

Chicago’s charter school teachers reached a tentative agreement yesterday to end their strike, which started a week ago. The strike was the first in the nation against a charter school operator and follows widespread public school teachers’ strikes this spring. The deal reduces class sizes and teacher hours while increasing salaries over the four years of the contract. Notably, the deal also includes provisions about the collection and distribution of student information at the 15 area schools, where students are heavily Latino. Teachers feared their students, some of whom lack immigration authorization, might be put at risk without such a provision.

Following a fourth weekend of nationwide protests, French President Emmanuel Macron will address the French people today. The speech is Macron’s first substantive response to the Yellow Vest movement, indicating that he is beginning to feel the intensity of popular anger that may threaten his presidency. The protests were ignited by a proposed increase in the gas tax, but have evolved to encompass a broader range of social ills, including cuts to social services and management-friendly labor law reforms. Approximately 70% of the French population supports the Yellow Vests, while less than 20% approve of Macron’s job performance.

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