News & Commentary

November 17, 2021

Jason Vazquez

Jason Vazquez is a staff attorney at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 2023. His writing on this blog reflects his personal views and should not be attributed to the IBT.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit won a lottery to hear the consolidation of dozens of petitions filed by Republican attorneys general, business groups, corporations, and labor unions challenging the Biden administration’s regulation, promulgated by OSHA earlier this month, requiring that millions of U.S. employees submit to vaccinations or weekly viral testing. Several unions challenged the regulation in what appears to have amounted to a strategic effort to steer the litigation into a more favorable circuit. All told, the legality of the vaccine-or-test rule will likely be decided by the Supreme Court.

As Kevin covered over the weekend, healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente recently reached a tentative agreement with thousands of its employees, thereby averting a massive strike which would have started on Monday. Nonetheless, the firm will face labor agitation in Northern California this week, for more than 60,000 employees plan to walk off the job Thursday and Friday in support of the hundreds of biomedical engineers at the facility who have been striking for weeks in demand of pay hikes.

Michelle Wu (D) was sworn in as the 56th Mayor of Boston on Tuesday. On the campaign trail, Mayor Wu, who was, as I noted two weeks ago, endorsed by several major unions, espoused a deep commitment to distributive justice and worker empowerment. “Michelle is focused on confronting wealth inequality and building economic prosperity through a commitment to labor rights,” her campaign website reads.

In the latest labor agitation, more than 100 NYT staffers protested outside the Times’ headquarters on Tuesday, alleging the newspaper has delayed contract negotiations. The Times Guild, which represents more than 1,000 journalists and reporters at the NYT, has spent nearly eight months bargaining with the publisher for a new CBA. In labor organizing news, public school bus drivers in South Burlington, Vermont, citing “low wages” and “a grueling working schedule,” overwhelming voted to unionize on Monday, a development which reflects a broader national trend of collective activity with respect to school bus drivers. Indeed, this fall has witnessed strikes among bus drivers in nearly a dozen states across the country, which have compelled some districts to temporarily shutter schools, modify schedules, raise pay, and offer bonuses. “The drivers of the vehicles that shuttle America’s children to and from school,” an article in the Guardian observed yesterday, “are now caught in the wave of labor unrest sweeping across the US.”

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